Best Caulking Guns

Updated January 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
190 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best caulking guns

If you need to create a barrier against water, dust, or pesky insects in your home, caulk may be the answer. Caulk easily fills in gaps, joints, and seams around the home and hardens to form a nearly impenetrable barrier. Applying caulk can be a little tricky, but if you invest in a caulking gun, you can put it exactly where you want it without a mess.

Caulk is a latex or silicone sealant that comes in a cartridge or tube. A caulking gun is a handheld device that dispenses the caulk in a precise, targeted manner. To load the gun with caulk, you pull back the plunger. Once the caulk tube seal is broken, you hold the gun over the gap or joint to be filled and squeeze the trigger. The pressure and speed with which you operate the gun determine how much caulk is dispensed.

Choosing a caulk gun may seem a bit daunting because there are so many on the market. We can help. In this buying guide, we compare the different types of caulking guns and highlight several interesting features you may appreciate. Read on for more information about caulking guns.

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There is a bit of a learning curve to using a caulking gun. It’s best to start with smaller projects and progress to larger applications.

Key considerations

Caulk gun types

Manual caulking guns

A manual caulk gun has a rod that pushes into the caulk tube to squeeze the caulk out. Some manual caulk guns have a serrated ratchet rod that moves up a notch every time you squeeze it. These are usually the most affordable caulking guns. They’re best for smaller projects because they can make a mess if the pressure inside the tube isn’t released. Other manual caulking guns have a smooth rod that only requires you to push a lever at the back to reduce the pressure inside and prevent a mess.

Electric caulking guns

To operate an electric caulking gun, you simply press the trigger to dispense the caulk. Because there’s a cord, you’ll need to work near an outlet. Note that the cord can sometimes get tangled while you’re working. For this reason, you might prefer a battery-powered caulking gun.

Battery-powered caulking guns also run on electricity, but they’re cordless with a rechargeable battery. Conveniently, you don’t need to work near an outlet, but if you’re tackling a large caulking job, you may need an extra battery.

Pneumatic caulking guns

This type of caulking gun requires no battery or cord. Instead, a compressor generates enough air pressure to force the caulk out of the tube. If you already own an air compressor, a pneumatic caulking gun can be a good option.

Material

A caulking gun may be made of plastic or a lightweight metal like aluminum. Plastic guns cost less than metal ones and are fairly durable, but metal guns tend to be even more reliable.

Pressure ratio

If you’re working on a large caulking project, your hands can get tired from pressing the trigger. That’s why it’s essential to consider a gun’s pressure ratio, also known as its thrust ratio. The ratio indicates how much force is created when you press the trigger. A gun with a higher pressure ratio generates more force; you don’t need to press the trigger as hard to dispense caulk. You’ll definitely need a gun with a high-pressure ratio if you’re using thick caulk or sealant, which is harder to get out of the gun.

Pressure ratios for caulking guns range from 3:1 to 28:1. Those with a lower ratio work well for water-based caulk, but you’ll want a higher pressure ratio for thicker caulk, such as epoxy sealant.

Some caulking guns include a puncture tool you can use to break the seal on the tube. You can also use this tool to clear the spout tip if it gets clogged.

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Features

Dripless

Caulking can be messy, which is why you may want to invest in a dripless caulking gun. The smooth rod inside this type of gun doesn’t generate as much pressure as a ratchet rod. Instead, the pressure is released as soon as you take your finger off the trigger, preventing caulk drips.

Frame type

The frame of a caulking gun may be closed or open. Closed-frame guns are usually heavy and bulky, which means your hand can get fatigued pretty quickly. Open-frame guns are much lighter and easier to manipulate.

The third type of frame is a revolving frame. With this type of gun, you only have to rotate the frame — not the entire gun. This makes it easier to caulk around corners without any lumps or gaps.

Handle

A caulking gun with a rubberized handle feels good in the hand and helps prevent fatigue. The handle is a particularly important consideration if you’re buying a manual caulking gun because you have to use more pressure to get the caulk out, so your fingers can tire more quickly.

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Did You Know?
Some types of caulk are white when you apply them, but they dry clear.
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Caulking gun prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable caulking guns are manual models. Those with ratcheting rods are usually the most budget-friendly, though dripless models are still relatively inexpensive. These guns typically cost between $6 and $54.

Mid-range: A lot of pneumatic caulking guns sit in the broad price range of $25 to $172. Often made of rust-resistant metal, these guns tend to be highly durable.

High-end: If you want an electric caulking gun, expect to pay a little more. Corded caulking guns tend to be less costly than cordless models, but most powered guns cost between $170 and $329.

Caulk can go bad. If you’ve had a tube in your garage for a while, check its “Use By” date to verify that it’s still suitable for your project.

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Tips

  • Remove any old caulk from the area where you plan to use your gun. Try using a caulk removal tool, utility knife, putty knife, or wire brush to remove the old material.
  • If you’re caulking indoors, prepare the surrounding area beforehand. Place painter’s tape on either side of the space where you’re applying the caulk. This will help you create clean lines and prevent the caulk from getting on nearby surfaces.
  • Hold your caulking gun at a 45-degree angle as you pull the trigger. Use even pressure on the trigger and move the gun at a steady pace across the caulking surface.
  • Apply the final touch. Once you’ve finished dispensing the caulk, use a wet finger to carefully smooth it into place.
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Pneumatic caulking guns often have specialty tips for specific purposes, such as caulking windows or caulking a sink.

FAQ

Q. Do I need a gun to apply caulk or another sealant?

A. Some caulk comes in a squeeze tube with a pointed applicator tip. You don’t need a caulking gun to dispense this type of caulk. However, these products don’t offer the same precision as a caulking gun, and you could end up with a pretty big mess on your hands because it’s more difficult to stop the caulk’s flow.

Q. What should I look for in a caulking gun if I only caulk occasionally?

A. If you won’t be using the gun often, it’s probably not necessary to splurge on a high-end product with all the bells and whistles. A dripless manual caulking gun works well for most occasional caulkers. If you do large caulking jobs, though, you may want a lower-end powered caulking gun with a rotating frame.

Q. How do I get the leftover caulk out of the gun?

A. It varies from model to model, so you should consult the owner’s manual for your gun’s precise instructions. In general, however, there is usually a lever you need to push so you can pull the plunger all the way back. Once the plunger is released, simply remove the caulking tube or cartridge.

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