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Should the dope be applied directly to the male threads or should the tape go on first?

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Use one or the other, not both. Frankly, I've never heard ANYONE suggest using both, and have never seen anyone do this, and I didn't even fathom there would be debate about this. Personally, I typically use dope for metal fittings, and tape for plastic, but it's not set in stone. Using too much tape OR dope with plastic can cause the fitting to break, and certainly that's a bigger concern if you have both. – gregmac Nov 29 '12 at 19:33
@grecmac some casual googling will turn up plenty of people recommending to use both. – Matthew Nov 29 '12 at 22:04
Note: A discussion on chat caused this related question to be opened: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/21117/…. FWIW, no one else had ever heard of using both. – gregmac Dec 3 '12 at 17:31
Ive heard of a lot of guys using both (personally pipe dope alone is all I use). Really wont hurt to use both just makes whomever does this method feel like they have a better seal – user15447 Oct 5 '13 at 20:57
Go on what? Context, please. – isherwood Dec 29 '15 at 15:28
up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you're using both, the tape would go on first. Which is immediately evident, if you've ever tried to apply them the other way round. There's open debate over whether or not there are any advantages to using both products together, or if each product by itself is adequate.

Pipe dope

Pipe dope; also known as pipe joint compound, is used to seal and lubricate the threads of a threaded pipe joint. It's available for both water and gas lines. It's applied by simply brushing it on the male threads of the pipe joint, before the joint is fit together. Pipe dope never hardens, and will not crumble and fall out of the joint.

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Teflon Tape Dope

Teflon Tape dope; also known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Tape, or thread seal tape, is also used to seal and lubricate the threads of a threaded pipe joint. It's available in high-density and low-density flavors, for water and gas pipe. PTFE tape is applied by wrapping it in a clockwise direction, around the male threads of the threaded joint. PTFE tape is available in color coded versions (pink for water, yellow for gas), as well as the common white variety.

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Just glancing quickly through International Plumbing Code (IPC), I noticed for threaded joints of various materials it says "Pipe-joint compound or tape shall be applied on the male threads only". Notice it doesn't say "and/or"... Just sayin' – Tester101 Nov 28 '12 at 20:55
yes, but I have widely read advice about using both. I've also used both with success. I was just curious if there was a "right" way to do it... and I didn't think of the fact that it doesn't make sense to put dope on before tape – Matthew Nov 28 '12 at 22:40
Dupont would prefer you not call it Teflon tape. – Jeremy Stein Nov 29 '12 at 4:33
Dupont will have a lawyer call you and explain that Teflon® is a registered name as well as Viton® and that in order to not dilute the trademark, you must refer to it as Tape made of Teflon® or Seal made of Viton®. Joke is that we used the manufacturer's description on the seals and I highly doubt they called Parker-Hannafin to tell them to revise all their manuals. Explained all the Aeroquip manuals where they referred to all this hose stock as Stainless Braid with tube of Teflon® – Fiasco Labs Oct 5 '13 at 21:43

Many people frown on tape being used for gas piping. If the fitting was ever taken apart for service, shreds of tape can travel to gas valves, etc. Gas controls with shreds in them may very well not be covered by the warranty. Also, putting pipe dope on the male only keeps dope from being pushed into the system. Wiping any from the end will help. If the fittings leak they are probably just some of the cheap junk you can buy today, or someone locally ran the pipe tap/die in too far. As taps/dies are tapered that will oversize the female or undersize the male thread.

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Use tape first, then apply the pipe dope on top.

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What?? Why? I've NEVER seen this done, and can't imagine any need to ever do this: both products have the same ultimate purpose. I typically use dope on steel and brass fittings that I'd use a a big wrench on, and tape on plastic pipes. I see no benefit whatsoever to using both, and in fact, I'd say it's more likely to cause problems than doing it properly with one or the other. I'll remove my -1 if you can update with a good rationale, but just saying to use both is bad advice in my opinion. – gregmac Nov 29 '12 at 19:29
I was actually just answering the question that was asked by the OP (before Tester101 put is more complete answer up). I have never used both at the same time but I have read advice from those who do use both (and starting with the tape and then the dope). As @Tester101 stated above it does look like the IPC does not recommend using both. – auujay Nov 29 '12 at 21:46
I don't see why this warrants downvotes. If this answer presumes that I am going to use both, as I stated then his answer is perfectly valid (albeit not as complete as others) – Matthew Nov 30 '12 at 0:11
It's not a good answer in general since it provides no reasoning or citations as to why this might be correct. Normally I would just not upvote, but answering like this is implying the original question is valid, and I don't think it is (and I'm by no means alone, judging from responses of other users and this question). – gregmac Dec 3 '12 at 17:40
I've had to do it, and it does indeed work. I had metal threads going into a tankless water heater that I re-taped 5 times, using two different types of tape... I tried pipe dope, by itself, and it didn't work. I tried both, and bingo, the 7th attempt at fixing the water leakage worked! – Derrick Oct 23 '15 at 22:53

Put on some high density yellow or pink Teflon tape, then a thin layer of Rectorseal Tru-Blu. I have had good luck with this dope. DO NOT use low density Teflon tape or non setting pipe dope, in my experience it does not work as well. Only apply pipe dope lightly with a BRUSH, not a shovel.

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Why do you recommend using both types of dope at the same time? Is there an advantage to using both together? – Tester101 Jun 25 '14 at 10:51

A long time ago, when I installed gas lines for furnaces, using both was the approved method of the contractor that I worked for.

We used one to one and a half turns of Teflon tape, and then doped the threads of the gas line(s).

The reason as explained to me was that the tape sealed it, and a light doping lubricated it to make putting it together easier, as well as aiding in the seal of a more poorly machined fitting.

I've rarely had to use both on a plumbing fitting though. Only on a stubborn old fitting or two that were leaking with tape alone.

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I'd use t-tape first and a small amount of pipe dope on the tape.

I've worked on 30 inch water main breaks And have installed hundreds of copper water services with brass fittings,fire hydrants ive taped live water mains worked on cla- Val's installed 10" gate valves, PVC plumbing. Installed thousands of water meters and customer shut off valves. 15+ years of plumbing outside of working for a water department for 10 years.

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Did you use tape and dope together in all of those situations? – BMitch Feb 19 at 13:36

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