Caulk is a somewhat flexible material—latex and silicone are common types—used to fill in gaps or seal joints, as well as provide protection against moisture in many areas inside your home, including around tubs and showers, between walls and vanities, and around pipes. While it's technically possible to apply caulk without a caulk gun, these tools make the job much easier by magnifying the pressure applied to the tube. Because there are many types of caulk and other sealants, there are caulk guns with different amounts of pressure, called thrust ratio, designed to handle different thicknesses of caulk.
Says Deane Biermeier, a former general contractor and member of The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board: "All of my caulk guns are light in terms of weight, and have varying thrust ratios from 10:1 to 20:1. The low weight helps to keep fatigue at a minimum. I use the low ratio gun for general use like filling gaps or sealing plumbing fixtures. The higher ratio gun, I use for thick adhesives or cold tubes of caulk."
We evaluated caulk guns based on durability, ease of use, effectiveness, "drip-free" performance, and value.
Here are the best caulk guns available online.
Newborn 250 Smooth Rod Revolving Frame Caulk Gun
Sturdy handle and trigger
Not entirely dripless
This sturdy steel caulk gun is no flimsy tool that'll be tossed at the end of the project. This is a caulk gun designed for people who want a tool that not only will get the job done, but will make the job easier and faster, and then go on to do the same for the next project and the next.
The Newborn 250 has a revolving frame that makes it easy to caulk smoothly around corners without having to lift and reposition the caulk gun. The smooth pressure rod applies force at an 18:1 thrust ratio, making this a suitable caulk gun for use with fairly thick sealants, including silicone, construction adhesives, and polyurethane. The handle and trigger are made of a zinc alloy, so they won't corrode or break easily, and it doesn't take too much pressure to get the caulk flowing smoothly from the gun.
This isn't a truly dripless caulk gun, as you need to depress a thumb-release tab to stop the caulk from flowing, but it's a caulk gun with superior performance and durability. And unlike some other high-ratio caulk guns, this one has a built-in spout cutter and seal puncture tool, so you won't need other tools to open the tube of caulk. There's also a ladder hook so you can hang the caulk gun nearby when working up high.
Price at time of publish: $26
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Steel | Thrust Ratio: 18:1 | Revolving Frame: Yes | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: Yes | Caulk Gun Weight: 2 pounds
Bates Caulking Gun
Truly dripless performance
Few complaints of rod slipping during use
Requires a fair amount of hand pressure to use
There's no need to spend a fortune on a caulk gun if you only expect to use it for one or two projects around the house. But that doesn't mean you have to settle for substandard performance. The Bates Caulking Gun has a smooth rod that is as nearly dripless as far more expensive models, yet it has a very reasonable price. The thrust ratio is 10:1, making it suitable for most common sealants, including acrylic, butyl, and cement sealers.
While this might not be the sturdiest gun, it's not so flimsy that it can't get the job done. And like more expensive models, it has a built-in spout cutter and tube piercer. There's no hanging hook, however, and the frame is not revolving, so you'll need to lift the gun and reposition to caulk around corners.
Price at time of publish: $10
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Metal | Thrust Ratio: 10:1 | Revolving Frame: No | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: Yes | Caulk Gun Weight: 1 pound
Best for Thick Sealants
JES 26:1 High Thrust Caulk Gun
Requires little pressure to squeeze trigger
Excellent for thick sealants
No spout cutter
When you are working with very thick sealants or adhesives, or when you are working in cold temperatures, which tends to make even thinner sealants become stiff, you need a high thrust ratio. And for that, it's hard to beat the 26:1 thrust ratio of the JES High Thrust Caulk Gun. This metal beast makes your job much easier, greatly reducing the effort required to dispense the thickest caulks.
The gun has a 360-degree rotating barrel, allowing you to work with precision in tight spots, such as behind toilets and tubs. Its ergonomic grip is easy on your hands, which is a major bonus on lengthy projects. There's a hanging hook and a built-in tube piercer, but no spout cutter. Still, this professional-quality caulk gun is a worthy addition to your toolbox if you are facing a tough project.
Price at time of publish: $26
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Metal | Thrust Ratio: 26:1 | Revolving Frame: Yes | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: No | Caulk Gun Weight: 1.8 pounds
Dripless ETS2000 Caulk Gun
May be difficult to use with very thick sealants
The lightweight, cage-like design of this dripless caulk gun makes it easier to use on lengthy projects, and the ergonomic grip reduces strain on your hands. Made of a strong composite material, the Dripless ETS2000 will stand up to job after job, dispensing most common sealants, including latex, acrylic, and silicone, with a 12:1 thrust ratio. It's fairly easy to use, even for those whose hands might not be the strongest.
Thanks to its revolving frame, you can easily caulk around corners with this tool, and when you release pressure on the trigger, the caulk stops flowing for nearly dripless performance. There's a built-in tube piercer and spout cutter for convenience, as well as a hanging hook. All in all, this caulk gun is an excellent choice whether you are facing your first caulking project or your hundredth.
Price at time of publish: $18
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Composite | Thrust Ratio: 12:1 | Revolving Frame: Yes | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: Yes | Caulk Gun Weight: 1.2 pounds
DEWALT DCE560B 20V MAX Cordless Caulking Gun
If all you need a caulk gun for is one simple job, this isn't the tool for you. But if you plan on caulking multiple areas around your home, or caulking is a part of your job, then you'll appreciate the ease of use and the elimination of strain and fatigue to your fingers and hands that the DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Caulking Gun provides. Compatible with any DEWALT 20-volt battery and charger (sold separately), this electric caulk gun has variable speed control for increasing or decreasing the flow of caulk, as well as an anti-drip feature to prevent messy drips of caulk.
You can use this caulk gun with just about any sealant from thick to thin, merely by adjusting the flow rate and speed. It has a swiveling frame to make it easier when caulking around corners. There's even a built-in worklight to illuminate your path, helping you remain accurate as you lay down the caulk. This gun works with the typical 10.1-ounce tubes of caulk or with sausage-packed caulk. It has a tube piercer and a hanging hook, but does not have a spout cutter.
Price at time of publish: $199
Type: Battery | Frame Material: Plastic | Thrust Ratio: Not applicable | Revolving Frame: Yes | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: No | Caulk Gun Weight: 5 pounds
Best Adjustable Pressure
SolidWork Professional Adjustable Caulking Gun
Adjustable thrust pressure setting
Not entirely dripless on higher thrust ratio
If you do a lot of caulking, then you likely use a variety of sealants, and some are quite a bit thicker than others. That usually means needing several caulk guns to suit the viscosity of the caulk you are using, but with the ingenious SolidWork Professional Adjustable Caulk Gun, you can choose from a 12:1 thrust ratio, which is good for most standard caulks, or a powerful 24:1 thrust ratio, which works with very thick sealants.
The gun has strong steel construction with an ergonomic, rubberized handle that's much easier on your hands than many other models. The dripless design cuts down on mess, although it drips a little more on the 24:1 setting than the 12:1 setting. Still, this is a very useful addition to your tool collection if you expect to be doing a lot of caulking around your home.
Price at time of publish: $40
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Steel | Thrust Ratio: 12:1 or 24:1 | Revolving Frame: No | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: No | Caulk Gun Weight: 1.6 pounds
Albion Engineering Company B12S20 B-Line Sausage Caulking Gun
Easy on your hands
Includes different sized nozzles
This professional-quality caulk gun is made of strong but lightweight aluminum, and handles 10-, 13-, or 20-ounce sausage packs of sealant. You don't need to squeeze too hard to dispense your caulk, and with a 12:1 thrust ratio, you can work with most common types of sealants. The gun is designed to fit even into tight spaces, making it easy to deal with tough caulking situations such as behind a toilet or bathtub. It has a rotating barrel, as well, for even more versatility.
The tool is designed to apply pressure smoothly without slipping or tangling in the sausage pack wrapping. The grips are comfortable to hold, even if your hands are small or not too strong. And the gun comes with six nozzles in different sizes so you can adjust to the viscosity of your sealant.
Price at time of publish: $54
Type: Sausage | Frame Material: Aluminum | Thrust Ratio: 12:1 | Revolving Frame: Yes | Tube Piercer: No | Spout Cutter: No | Caulk Gun Weight: 2.8 pounds
Red Devil 3989 Extreme Duty Caulk Gun
Ergonomic, rubberized grip
High thrust ratio for thick sealants
Can drip with thinner sealants
Working with thick sealants can be hard on your hands. But with the Red Devil Extreme Duty Caulk Gun, even pushing out the most viscous materials will be pain- and fatigue-free, thanks to its ergonomic rubberized grip. This steel caulk gun has a 26:1 thrust ratio for dispensing tough materials such as epoxy and hybrid sealants. The frame is very sturdy and designed to last; this won't be tossed halfway through your project.
The gun has a swiveling barrel for easy use around corners or in tight spots, and it's close to drip-free once you release the trigger. There's a hanging hook and tube piercer, but this tool does not have a built-in spout cutter. But while excellent with thick materials, it might not be the best choice if you are working with thin sealants or caulk.
Price at time of publish: $28
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Steel | Thrust Ratio: 26:1 | Revolving Frame: Yes | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: No | Caulk Gun Weight: 1.7 pounds
Siligun Super Compact Heavy-Duty Caulk Gun
Handy compact design
Doesn't always grip the tube well
Most caulk guns position the trigger and handle at the bottom of the caulk tube, which adds a few inches to the total length of the tube. While this is no problem most of the time, when you are working in a tight space, such as behind a toilet or underneath a sink, a caulk gun with a compact design, like the Siligun Super Compact Heavy-Duty Caulk Gun, makes the job far easier. Instead of a trigger and handle at the bottom of the tube, this tool positions them underneath and around halfway down the tube, reducing the size of the caulk gun to a mere 4 inches in length, as opposed to the typical 10 to 14 inches of most caulk guns.
But that's not the only benefit of this tool. It has a 12:1 thrust ratio that works with acrylic, latex, silicone, and polyurethane sealants, and it's very easy to load and unload the tubes or sausages of the caulk. The dripless design prevents a mess, and once the job is finished, the gun easily fits in your toolbox.
Price at time of publish: $30
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: ABS plastic | Thrust Ratio: 12:1 | Revolving Frame: No | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: No | Caulk Gun Weight: 0.6 pounds
Best for Comfortable Grip
Newborn 930-GTD Drip-Free Hex-Rod Cradle Caulk Gun
The steady squeeze required to work most caulk guns can be tiring and even painful to your hands when the job is long. If this is an issue for you, then you'll appreciate the Newborn 930-GTD Caulk Gun, which has ergonomic, padded handles that make it far more comfortable to keep a steady grip on the trigger, even when you are caulking a large area.
The dripless gun has a 10:1 thrust ratio which is ideal for thinner sealants, such as latex or silicone. The tool's performance is very smooth, with an easily adjusted rod and pressure release after each squeeze to prevent caulk dripping from the front of the gun. And its strong steel frame will last for job after job after job. It even has a built-in spout cutter for convenience.
Price at time of publish: $12
Type: Smooth rod | Frame Material: Steel | Thrust Ratio: 10:1 | Revolving Frame: No | Tube Piercer: Yes | Spout Cutter: Yes | Caulk Gun Weight: 1.6 pounds
If you want a heavy-duty caulk gun with a revolving frame that makes it much easier to lay a smooth line of sealant around doors and edges, plus with a high thrust ratio that handles thick caulks with ease, then the Newborn 250 is your top choice. But if you just want an inexpensive caulk gun that does a fine job with thinner sealants, then you’ll appreciate the Bates Caulk Gun’s price and performance.
What to Look for in a Caulk Gun
There are several types of caulk, with the most common being latex, silicone, or a combination of the two. Whatever the type, caulk is a thick sealant used to fill in cracks, keep out drafts and weather, or provide waterproofing capabilities. It typically comes in either a squeeze tube or a gun-compatible tube. Because caulk is normally applied in a thin line around windows, doors, plumbing fixtures, and pipes, and because of its high viscosity, it can be difficult to apply caulk out of a squeeze tube by hand for more than a few minutes. That’s where a caulk gun comes in handy.
These devices are simple in function: They hold the tube steady and multiply the pressure applied to the tube to make it easier for you to apply caulk in a precise line without too much fatigue.
There are a lot of caulk guns on the market, but knowing the basics of what to look for will help you choose the right one for your projects.
The majority of caulk guns are manual, requiring your own muscle power to push the plunger rod against the tube of caulk. However, battery-powered caulk guns are becoming more popular, especially for those facing big projects, people who need to caulk frequently, or people with weak hands. There are also pneumatic, or air-powered, caulk guns, but these are not often used by homeowners or DIYers.
The pros of a manual caulk gun include lower price, lighter weight, and unlimited use time. On the downside, you’ll need to squeeze steadily while using the tool, which can be tiring to your hands and wrists.
The main pro of a battery-powered caulk gun is that it does the squeezing for you, making the admittedly somewhat tedious task easier on your hands. On the downside, however, these tools are far more expensive than their manual counterparts, the battery adds quite a bit of weight, and you’ll need to recharge the battery periodically, typically after two or three hours.
One very important factor to consider when choosing a caulk gun is its thrust ratio. This number refers to how much the tool will multiply the pressure you apply while pushing on the rod. The most common thrust ratio is 10:1, which means that for every 1 pound of pressure you exert while squeezing the trigger, 10 pounds of pressure are applied against the tube of caulk to squeeze out its contents.
As a general rule, the thicker the caulk, the higher the thrust ratio required to easily squeeze it from the tube. There are caulk guns with ratios as low as 3:1, which are only suited for the thinnest sealants, and caulk guns with thrust ratios as high as 28:1, which are best suited to very thick sealants such as those used in construction.
For most typical DIYers facing a home caulking project, a gun with a 10:1 or 12:1 ratio is sufficient, but if you are working with a thick sealant, then go higher.
Note that thrust ratio only applies to manual caulk guns. The measurement is not used for electric or battery-powered guns.
A caulk gun is basically a frame that holds the tube of caulk securely with a trigger that’s pulled by the user to drive a rod against the tube, thus pressing out the caulk. There are two basic types of rods on caulk guns.
Ratcheting rods are usually lower ratio tools, and have small “teeth” on the rod that squeeze out a set amount of caulk. You need to release the trigger between each squeeze and slightly pull back on the rod to stop the caulk from leaking out of the gun. This is the most basic type of caulk gun, and the least expensive, but is somewhat less popular now that dripless guns are so available.
Smooth, or “dripless” rods come in higher ratios than ratcheting rods. With these guns, once you release the pressure on the trigger, the rod stops pushing out the caulk, thus eliminating—at least somewhat—the problem of unwanted caulking material dripping out of the gun.
Almost all caulk comes in a tube, and the vast majority of caulk guns are designed to work with these tubes, which typically hold 10 ounces of sealant. There are caulk guns designed to work with larger tubes of sealant, but these are most often used by professionals on construction job sites.
However, you’ll find some caulk guns referred to as “sausage” guns. These tools hold caulk that comes in a sausage-shaped packet, rather than a tube. While not as commonly used by DIYers, sausage-packed caulks do have some advantages, including less wasted caulk, less packaging to dispose of, and longer shelf life for the sealant. Typically, waterproofing sealants are sold in sausage packaging.
There are two common frame types for caulk guns. Open-framed tools are much lighter, but may not be as durable. Closed-frame tools are likelier to last, but do weigh a little bit more.
Another frame type that is helpful, but will add to the cost of your tool, is a revolving frame. This makes it much easier to run a smooth, accurate line of caulk around corners without having to stop and readjust the position of the caulk gun and your hand.
Do you have to use a caulk gun to apply caulk?
Some caulk is sold in squeeze tubes which dispense the material when you squeeze the container with your hand. Most caulk, however, comes in cartridges or sausage tubes which require the use of an appropriate caulk gun to dispense.
Is caulk the same as sealant?
The terms "caulk" and "sealant" are often used interchangeably, and both are products used to fill gaps and joints between building materials. Both are applied with a caulk gun, as well. But there are subtle differences between them. Generally, sealants are somewhat more flexible than caulks and less prone to shrinkage as they dry. Sealants tend to be more water-resistant, as well. The right choice for your project depends on the materials being sealed, the temperature extremes they will be subjected to, and the amount of moisture to which they will be exposed.
Why won’t the caulk gun’s rod pull back?
If you are having a hard time getting the rod to pull back, be sure you aren’t holding the gun’s handle and trigger at the same time, as this will “lock” the rod, making it impossible to pull back.
If your gun is a dripless model, you should be able to pull the rod back by hand. If you are using a ratcheting gun, then you’ll need to rotate the rod so the “teeth” are facing up before you’ll be able to pull the rod back. Once you are ready to push the rod forward again, you’ll need to rotate it so the teeth are facing downward.
Is it better to push or pull the caulk gun?
When working with a caulk gun, consider the crack you are filling before deciding whether you’ll push the caulk gun forward along the crack, or pull it back toward you as you work. Generally, push the caulk gun forward when filling small cracks and pull the gun towards you when filling large cracks.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, Ullman considered dozens of caulk guns, evaluating each for effectiveness, ease of use, and overall performance, as well as value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative, and received further input and advice from The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board member Deane Biermeier.