How To Use A Caulk Gun For The First Time (Do’s and Don’ts Included)?

No more cracks or gaps in your home when you have a caulk gun. The caulk can be either latex or silicone and it works like a charm to bond among wood, ceramic, metal, and glass.

For every serious DIY enthusiast, learning how to use a caulk gun for the first time is a must. It’s a precondition to get the sealing like a PRO.

Handling the gun like a PRO will ensure exactly how much caulk is released and where you want it to come out. Use this guide to learn all about loading and using a caulking gun like an expert.

How To Use A Caulking Gun?

using a caulking gun

Any hole or tiny gap on your wall won’t be trouble as long as you know the right way to loading and using your caulk gun. Only then the sealing will be unnoticeable even to your house guests.

You can even seal all the holes to cool your attic bedroom!

But you need to get everything right. Follow the below-mentioned steps carefully for the first 2 or 3 times to become a PRO:

  1. Remove Existing Gunk

Clean the mold, paint, old caulk, or rust around the area to avoid over-layering. This is a must to have a long-lasting and invisible sealing with a strong foundation.

There are several tools you can use to clear the existing gunk like a wire brush or putty knife. Place the putty knife at the base of the old gunk and keep pushing it forward until the gunk comes out.

You may need to use a needle-nose plier if you have to get rid of old silicone caulking. If there are any hard-to-reach dirt and debris, you can use a small vacuum to suck up such debris.

  1. Get The Area A Thorough Cleaning

Now that you have dealt with the old gunk, it’s time to give the area a deep cleaning you are about to caulk. If you notice a sturdy grime leftover, try to remove it using a plastic scraper.

Now, there is a simple way to give the area a thorough cleaning.

You can use a liquid caulk remover, bleach, or vinegar to wipe the area down.

Get any disinfectant and some hot water. Use the mix to wash the area slowly. Use a wet rag to wipe the area gently. Then use a dry rag to the area again. Make sure it’s completely water-free to avoid growing mold in the future.

FYI: If you lock the moisture with the caulking, this will lead to the mold problem.

  1. Use Painter’s Tape

This is the precaution step to get it done smoothly and precisely. As a part of preparing the area for caulking, apply painter’s tape to the area. Take your time. No rush!

Applying the tape will save your hard works that may be ruined for any mistakes later. Now, this is what you should do.

You need to place the tape both above and below the area you are about to caulk. This will ensure nothing but the gap is touched by the caulk to deliver you an aesthetically pleasing result.

Once you are done with caulking, you will need to quickly pull out the caulk.

  1. Loading The Caulk Gun

You will see the release trigger located at the handle of the gun. Press it and pull the metal rod all the way back. Depending on the type of the caulk gun, you may need to pull the metal rod differently.

Ask someone else to help you keep the rod back to insert the tube easily. Some people use a piercing rod and a tip cutter to place the tube inside the frame.

Insert the caulk tube as soon as the rod is back. You need to place the tube base at the back of the gun and allow the nozzle to rest at the front. When everything seems okay, gently push the metal rod to its place.

If anything of this step seems ambiguous, read the manual that comes with the gun tube. Even better, watch the video on how to load a caulking gun.
  1. Cut The Caulk Tube

Getting the right thickness is important to seal the crack precisely. And keep in mind that, once you cut the tube, there is no turning back. So, read this step very carefully!

You need to make a fine opening to the caulk tube. And you can have it if you cut the opening at a 45-degree at the pointy nozzle.  But if it’s a rougher job, you can make a bigger straight cut in the middle or bottom of the nozzle.

The opening size should be depending on the task. So, understand your task and decide later about the opening size. This is how I usually do it.

Even if I need a bigger opening, keep the cut at the pointy end of the nozzle. So, this will give you a thinner result.

Now, if it’s a larger crack where you need additional thickness, you can make another cut. This is how you can stay safe. Remember, once you make a larger cut, there is no going back!

I believe I have made my point clear. Now, use scissors to cut open the caulk tube at that angle and size. When everything is right, use a pin or nail to poke through the internal seal and opening of the tube.

  1. Practice The Gun Release

running caulking trial

I have written this guide on how to use a caulk gun for the first time. So, I can safely assume you are quite new to this.

That’s the reason I strongly recommend doing a trial and error run before you get to the main action. Let me help you with this trial. This trial will teach you to achieve the optimal speed of moving the gun.

Run a trial on a piece of paper. Hold the gun strongly and point the nozzle downward at a 45-degree angle over the paper. Squeeze the trigger of the gun gently and move steadily over it.

To have greater control, you need to master the movement of the gun.

If you move it too slowly, you will get chunky caulk and it will become unworkable. But with too fast movement, you will get thin and uneven results.

Keep practicing until you find the right balance. If the caulk stops coming out of the gun even if have pulled the trigger all the way back. No need to worry. Let it go gently and start over. This should fix the problem.

  1. Triggering The Caulk Gun

Assuming you have gained the optimal speed, let’s get to the real work sealing the crack. Use both of our hands to tightly hold the gun.

For a better flow of caulk, hold it in angle. Carefully apply the caulk over the surface of the wall. You need to be consistent and steady with your movement along the line.

  1. The Right Control

With steady hands, you should have greater control of moving the gun and releasing caulk into the crack holes. That’s the only way you should be using a caulking gun.

Keep moving it as the caulk is coming out of the gun. Evenly fill up all the cracks. And you need to fill the crack holes in one go as the caulk solidifies very fast.

Don’t get confused when I say to fill those crack holes in one go. If by chance you miss any spots, you can fill out those missing points later.

  1. Let It Dry

Before it gets dry, use a metal spoon to even out the applied caulk for a smoother look. Heat the spoon in hot water and let it heat up for about 30 seconds. Then you can use the spoon to even out the application.

Once you are done fine-tuning the application with the hot spoon, let it dry for at least 24 hours to have a solid sealing.

Multiple Usage of Caulking Gun

usage of caulking gun

The application of a caulking gun is countless. Not just filling the gaps and cracks, you need to use it for installing various applications and fixtures.

Because of its huge usage in numerous areas, it’s getting evolved on a regular basis. Instead of old ratchet-rod designs, most professionals now use the smooth-rod dripless gun. This latest version lets them squeeze it easily.

Here are some common projects where you can apply the caulking gun to have smoother sealant:

  • Sealing the cracks or holes around the doors and windows.
  • For your cracked bathtub, showers, or for any silicone sealant requirement in your bathroom, it comes in handy.
  • You can use the viscous sealant as concrete epoxies.
  • Preventing airflow to the interior by caulking the cracks and other areas.
  • To soundproof your room.
  • You can use it at the top of the baseboards too and make it still printable.
  • For your landscaping task, you can use the landscape adhesive to attach the caps.
  • Caulking around the outdoor lights and outlets.

Areas To Avoid Using Caulk Gun

I have seen lots of people have been using it in many wrong applications. The reason they do it simply because find it very convenient to seal up any gaps they come across.

But the problem with the wrong applications is that you won’t get the desired result from it. So, you will end up questioning its utility altogether.

There are some applications where you will get a better result if you use plumber’s putty instead of caulk. Here is a list of such wrong applications:

  • Filling screw or nail holes.
  • Applying caulk between the concrete slabs and pavers expansion joints.
  • Sealing P-traps leaking.
  • Brick tuck-pointing.
  • Sealing cracks around shower drains or tub.
  • Trying to smoothing out defects and surface depressions.
  • Filling butt joints of two boards.

Types of Caulking Guns

It’s good to learn all the available types of them. Only then you will be able to decide which one to use under what circumstances. You will get a better result that way.

  1. Manual Caulk Guns

As the name suggests, it requires manual force to make it works. It has a rod with a disk at the end of the handle. Using your hand force, it provides an even and flat surface.

There are two variations of manual caulk guns: regular and dripless. If you are familiar with the ratchet of a car jack, the rods of the regular guns work exactly the same way.

The slow ooze of caulk that occurs when you finish a pass is common trouble of such manual caulk guns.

The difference between the dripless caulk guns and the regular caulk guns is nothing but the rods. Whereas the dripless guns have smooth rods the regular guns have ratcheted rods.

  1. Powered Caulk Guns

If you hate to squeeze the handle because of wrist fatigue, you can use a powered caulk gun instead of a manual gun. For a little bit of a bigger project, many homeowners use this a lot nowadays.

Since you don’t have to use your hand to squeeze it, it’s convenient for bigger caulking projects and it saves a lot of time doing so. That’s the reason it’s widely used in commercial applications by contractors.

Almost all the powered caulk guns run by powerful lithium-ion batteries. Once fully charged, you can use it to empty almost 200 caulking guns! So, if you have a larger home remodeling to complete, you should get one of these.

Tips From Experts

Here are some beyond the box tips from the expert DIY enthusiasts to follow:

  • If there are some areas where it’s hard to maneuver, you can use a plastic straw instead of a caulking gun.
  • People just don’t become PRO working with their wrist only. You need to work on your legs and upper body as well to be able to draw a straight line.
  • Tubes are reusable. Make a new cut (a bigger one) and you can use it again.
  • You should use polyurethane to seal cracks of doors and windows. Use shiny silicone caulk to fix the bath and kitchen areas. Latex is preferable to seal interior trims.
  • To caulk a concrete area and keep it invisible, use concrete mix dust over the caulking line while it’s still wet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you push or pull a caulk gun?

Answer: You should pull the gun towards you leaving the caulk coming out behind the gun. Pushing it will result in an uneven result.

How do you stop caulking from coming out of a gun?

Answer: Use the lever to turn the push-rod upside down. This will disengage the ratchet teeth. Now, pull the rod back to relieve the pressure. This will stop the flow of the caulk.

Can you sand caulk after it dries?

Answer: Yes, but that should be your last resort. You should smooth it when the caulk is wet and moist. It will be hard to smooth once it dries. If for some reason it dries, then you can use sandpaper to smooth it.

What happens if caulk gets wet before it cures?

Answer: It will lead to the growth of mold and mildew if there is too much moisture stuck. But the least damage you can expect that there will be less adhesion if the caulk gets wet before it cures.

How long should caulking dry before painting?

Answer: For acrylic latex caulking, you should let it dry for 2 to 4 hours. But if it’s clear acrylic latex, you should let it dry for 7 to 14 days.


Now that you have learned everything about how to use a caulking gun, you should feel comfortable and confident doing it yourself.

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