How to Choose and Use a Caulking Gun

Caulking gun
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  • 01 of 05

    Introduction to Caulk Guns

    caulk guns
    Ratchet and Smooth Rod Type Caulk Guns.

    Caulk guns used to be cheaply made and hard to use. The "ratchet rod" caulk gun was the gun of choice for the weekend warrior.

    Why? Because it was the only choice in the hardware stores.

    Ratchet rod caulk guns are ratchet driven with a serrated push rod that ratchets its way down the caulk tube. To stop the flow of caulk you have to turn the push rod upside down using the lever (disengaging the ratchet teeth) and pull the rod back in order to relieve the pressure.

    Ratchet rod caulk guns are...MORE still available and may require a lot of hand pressure with only a 5:1 or less thrust ratio. The caulk never seems to stop flowing when you want it to stop and caulk flow is hard to control. Cutting open the caulk tube spout requires a knife or razor blade and reaching down into the tube spout and opening up the caulk tube seal is difficult unless you had a coat hanger handy.

    Well the days of a ratchet rod monopoly are over.

    You now have the smooth rod dripless caulk gun type readily available in most home improvement centers and work great on silicone caulk, acrylic or vinyl latex caulk. Actually, any type of caulk works with this caulk gun.

    The smooth rod dripless caulk gun requires about half the effort to squeeze. Besides its 10:1 thrust ratio making caulk removal from the tube very easy, dripless caulk guns have many convenience features. It's almost like having a cup holder for your caulk gun!

    Let's take a look at some of the features of this great tool.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Advancing the Pressure Rod (smooth action)

    caulk gun locking mechanism
    Caulk Gun Rod Locking Mechanism. © 2007

    The smooth rod dripless caulk gun works with a simple mechanism. A spring loaded metal plate locks the pressure rod wherever you stop it. Unlike ratchet drives that force the pressure bar to move in set increments, the smooth rod design of the dripless caulk gun provides you infinitely adjustable settings.

    As you squeeze the trigger the pressure bar lock plate is released slightly to allow the pressure bar to move and discharge the caulk. Once you release the trigger, the bar is locked in place...MORE by the spring loaded pressure bar.

    This design provides twice the pressure on the caulk with the same amount of hand pressure. That means less work for you and less fatigue.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Releasing the Pressure Rod

    caulk gun release button
    Caulk Gun Pressure Rod Release Button. © 2007

    Releasing the Pressure Rod to release the pressure rod, simply push the locking plate down and pressure is released. To remove the caulk tube, press the lever and pull back on the rod to expose the tube, then remove from the gun.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Cutting the Tube Tip

    caulk gun spout cutter
    Caulk Tube Spout Tip Cutter. © 2007

    Here's where these newer caulk guns get very convenient. Instead of looking around for a pair of scissors, knife or razor blade to open the tube of caulk, you now have a built-in cutter.

    Just insert the tip of the caulk tube and squeeze the handle. As you squeeze the handle a knife edge cleanly cuts the plastic caulk tube tip for you. No extra tools to look for or carry along.​

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Piercing the Caulk Tube Seal

    caulk gun tube opening rod
    Built-In Tube Seal Opening Rod. © 2007 2007

    One of the most convenient features of these caulk guns is the built in rod for breaking the foil seal at the bottom of the caulk tube spout.

    In days of "yore" you'd have to scrounge up a coat hanger or something similar to stick into the caulk tube spout and break the tube seal. Now you will always have this at the tip of your fingers and stowed neatly out of the way when not in use. Just remember to wipe clean!