How to Use a Caulk Gun

[Cover] How to Use a Caulk Gun

Caulk is a must-have material which every homeowner should possess. Whatever you have to seal, using a caulk gun facilitates the task.

Caulk guns are tools that are designed as holders of sealing materials. They help release caulk out of their tubes.

Why Use a Caulking Gun?

Caulking guns help you achieve a perfect result. In fact, they moderate the amount of caulk released, and help you apply the caulk on the right, exact place you want.

They are used to fill gaps around windows, doors, or bathtubs.

Types of Caulk Guns

Caulk guns come in three varieties: Ratchet, Electric, and Smooth rod dripless guns.

Ratchet rod caulk gun

this type is the most commonly used one and is found in hardware stores. Generally, ratchet guns have a thrust ratio of 5:1, which may make it a bit hard for you to control how much caulk is being released. This type is constituted of a push rod whose role is to release the caulk. It works with pressure, and you have to reverse it upside down to pull back the rod.

Recommended Ratchet Rod Caulk Gun:

Smooth rod dripless caulking gun:

having a thrust ratio of 10:1, you don’t need to apply much pressure. You’ll get double the pressure in comparison to the ratchet rod caulk gun. With its spring-loaded plat lock, you only have to squeeze the trigger to moderate the pressure. When you let off the trigger, the flow of caulk will stop.

Recommended Smooth Rod Dripless Caulk Gun:

Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun with Gator Trigger Comfort Grip, 1/10 Gallon Cartridge, 10:1 Thrust Ratio
  • Steel half-barrel (also called cradle) frame caulking gun for 1/10-gal. cartridges
  • Thrust ratio of 10:1 for use with low viscosity materials
  • Smooth pressure rod requires less force and is quieter than a ratchet-style pressure rod

Electric caulk gun:

this type is made for projects larger than the daily small home tasks. If you’re one of those who use are acquainted with caulking guns and use them frequently, this type may serve you.

Recommended Electric Caulk Gun:

DEWALT 20V MAX Caulking Gun, Cordless, 10oz, Variable Speed Trigger, Interchangeable Canister Trays, Bare Tool Only (DCE560B)
  • Variable Speed Trigger allows for increased control over the flow of your adhesive
  • Variable Speed Dial allow for setting maximum and minimum flow rates
  • Anti - Drip Feature automatically retracts the plunging rod preventing excess adhesive from dripping out

What Criteria to Consider When Purchasing a Caulk Gun:

  • The quality: the best caulk guns are made of hardened steel.
  • The size: caulk guns have various sizes, generally ranging from 10 to 32 oz. The most commonly used ones are 10 and 11 oz of size. 32 oz guns are for bigger tubes.
  • The Seal poker (some caulk guns lack this feature).
  • A shutoff valve (an off button).
  • Thrust Ratio: this depends on your project. For example, painting requires only standard medium ratio, while for bigger tasks, you need a higher ratio.
  • Spout cutter
  • The hook: to hang into when dealing with belts and ladders.

How to Use a Caulk Gun?

To use a caulking gun, you need to have these tools: caulk, caulking gun, scissors, and a nail.

Achieving perfect caulking depends mainly on three things: the position of your caulk gun, the opening cut you make, and the speed with which you use the gun.

Here’s how to use a caulk gun:

  1. First step: put you’re the thumb on the plunger at the rear of the gun and press the release. Release the plunger at the back of the gun.
  2. Second step: pull back the plunger, and fix the tube in the gun. Have the nozzle in the front. Push the plunger towards the back of the tube. Once the caulk is well placed, remove your thumb.
  3. Third step: to load your caulking gun, you will need to cut the tip of the caulk to make the hole fit for the size of the gap you’re sealing. It’s advisable that you cut smaller than you first thought; to prevent ending up with a bigger hole. You can re-cut it if it’s too small. Larger gaps require larger cut openings, be proportionate.
  4. Fourth step: now you’re going to puncture any foil seal, making the caulk flow easily. Each caulk tube contains a foil seal between the nozzle and the cylinder. To puncture the seal, push a nail, a coat hanger, or pin through the hole you made.
  5. Fifth step: position your caulking gun at 45 degrees along the target gap.
  6. Seventh step: while pushing the gun towards you, squeeze its trigger slowly and keep a steady pace. When you feel unable to squeeze the trigger, release it. In this case, it would spring back automatically. Squeeze again when it reverts back to its initial position. You will always get more caulk released at the end of each squeeze, so mind how much pressure you put throughout.
  7. Eighth step: finally, using your finger- or a damp fine cloth-, smooth the caulk.

How to Use a Caulk Gun in a Shower?

  • Using a caulk removing tool, remove any existing old caulk.
  • Clean the place with alcohol and leave it to dry.
  • Apply your caulk, then mist it with a spray of alcohol.

How to Use a Caulk Gun for Your Bathtub?

For bathrooms, it’s essential to use waterproof, silicone-based caulk.

  • Start with cutting the tube’s tip at a 45-degree angle. It may have marks indicating where to cut.
  • Don’t start randomly with any given corner. Decide beforehand so that you don’t lose control as you move along the joint.
  • When dealing with enclosed tubs, begin with caulking at one corner, then turn the bead at the end.
  • Put the caulk in the joint in order for the tube’s tip to be at 45 degree vis-à-vis the surface.
  • Squeeze the handle, moving the gun around the surface.
  • Wait for the caulk to drop, then you can squeeze again.
  • Smooth the caulk with your fingertip in downward pressure.

How to Paint over Caulk?

  • Make sure to clean the caulk if stained. You can use alcohol.
  • Over it, put on some paint-able caulk.
  • Once the two caulks melt, you can paint.

How to Get Smooth Bead of Caulk Using a Caulking Gun?

Silicone-based caulks: with this type of caulk; you only need some alcohol. Use a spray of alcohol, apply the bead of caulk, cover it, and then smooth it with your finger.

Non-silicone caulks: you can use a damp cloth by putting it over your finger. For water-based caulk, you can add some water. Be careful as too much water may ruin it.

Removing Old Caulk

Before applying new caulk, always remove the old one. This is quite important to have proper, clean, and lasting caulking with a strong foundation.

  1. Begin with softening the old caulk by applying caulk-remover
  2. Using a utility knife, push it forward until you remove all the caulk.
  3. Apply alcohol, disinfectant, and hot water to clean the crack.

If you liked our guide, check the rest of our tuts and buying guides, where we like trying and reviewing different tools and machines, such as chainsaws, table saws, laser levels, and plasma cutters.


Jeffrey Alfaro

Jeffrey is a craftsman and writer who specializes in testing tools and covering the tool industry for construction and woodworking professionals.

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