Fix-It Chick: Choose the right caulk gun in 7 steps

With so many choices available today, choosing the right caulk gun can be almost as difficult as choosing the right caulk. Here are a few things to look for when purchasing a caulk gun.

Step 1: Think about what the caulk gun will be used for and how often it will be used. For those once and done or really messy jobs, a less-expensive gun with minimal features may be the right choice. For typical homeowner repairs or long-term jobs, a better-quality, full-featured gun is usually the way to go.

Step 2: Certain basic caulk gun features are designed to save any user time and frustration. These must have features include a spout cutter and a seal puncture tool. The spout cutter safely snips off the tip of the caulk tube, and the puncture tool breaks the inner seal of the tube. The puncture tool can also be used to clear the spout of the tube if it becomes clogged.

When buying a caulk gun, think about what it will be used for and how often it will be used.

Step 3: Choose a smooth plunger over a ratcheting plunger. Smooth plungers allow more control over the flow of the caulk and make smoother beads of caulk. Ratcheting guns with notched plungers usually have less thrust to push the caulk out and can leave hands sore after even a small job.

Step 4: Think about the weight of the gun. Full-bodied guns often weigh more than open-frame guns. Heavier guns can be more difficult to handle.

Step 5: Dripless caulk guns automatically pull back the plunger when the gun’s trigger is released. This process stops the caulk from flowing and allows for clean, smooth transitions and less mess to clean up. Some guns offer an optional dripless feature, allowing the gun to be used with or without the plunger retracting feature.

Step 6: When it comes to power, all guns are not created equal. Less-expensive guns tend to have a lower thrust ratio than their more expensive counterparts. A 6:1 ratio is fine for latex caulks, but adhesives, butyl and silicone caulks have a higher viscosity and require at least a 10:1 thrust ratio for proper application. Urethane and cement products require a 12:1 ratio.

Step 7: Look for added features such as a rotating shaft that allows multidirectional applications without sacrificing comfort and ease. Ladder hooks, finger guards, adjustable thrust ratios and cushioned triggers are also great options to consider.

— Have a home improvement question for the Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at