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What is a Caulking Gun?

By Kris Roudebush
Updated May 16, 2024
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A caulking gun is used in the application of caulk. Most caulking guns are shells that hold a caulk tube and allow pressure to be controlled by the user through a trigger-like handle. Whether you opt for a basic model or shell out for a fancy electric model, using a caulking gun can take a little practice. However, almost everyone can pick up the basic technique.

The caulking gun was invented by Canadian Theodore Witte. Mr. Witte is described as the sort of individual who looked for inspiration where ever he could. It was in 1894 that he put a ratcheted piston to use squeezing out window putty for a clean, smooth seal. His caulking gun is very similar to a cake decorator’s gun, showing that he might have gotten his inspiration from the kitchen. Mr. Witte’s invention didn’t initially get a warm welcome, despite its functionality.

As caulking guns became more popular, so did the availability of caulking tubes. In fact you can even get reusable caulking tubes for pushing out cured epoxy. Some have even taken the idea of the caulking gun and moved it into the tube. Pressurizing the tube allows the caulk to be pushed out using a similar procedure as the caulking gun.

Despite its cool reception, today caulking guns are required by nearly all do-it-yourself-ers. Caulking is a cheap and effective way to prevent water damage and its ideal for weather proofing. It can also be used for filling in small cracks and sealing doors. Remember to use mold and mildew resistant caulk when working in the bathroom.

When it comes time to actually use a caulking gun here are some tips to remember. First, always read and follow the instructions on the compound cartridge as there can be differences between compounds. The best adhesions are on clean, dry surfaces. They should be free of any paint and old caulk. A putty knife works great to scrape off old caulk and paint. Hold the gun at forty-five degree angle. The best way to make sure that you’ve got the right angle is to see the caulk being forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube. Try to caulk in one even line without stopping. Push the caulk to the bottom to avoid bubbles. Apply to both sides of a crack for better protection. Sometimes caulk will shrink, if it does reapply.

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Discussion Comments
By anon302704 — On Nov 11, 2012

I need to caulk some areas on my roof that are about 5 feet beyond my reach. Does a tool exist that will enable me to dispense caulking material at a distance?

By oscar23 — On Jun 08, 2011

I have never heard of an electric caulk gun before! Does it really work better than the regular manual kinds?

I do all kinds of odd jobs around my house and for my parents, and you really use a caulking gun more than you might think with just regular upkeep.

Weatherizing the windows and doors, keeping the showers from leaking and even just hiding some cracks around moldings and stuff all require the aid of a caulking gun. They can be kind of tough on your hands, though.

If an electric one wasn’t that expensive, I’d love to have one!

By tlcJPC — On Jun 07, 2011

Have you ever needed to do a home improvement project and just couldn’t get your husband to put down the remote long enough to handle it?

I have found the solution to the problem, ladies!

We desperately needed to caulk around our windows, but my husband would rather see the curtains blow in the draft and freeze to death than to put a little caulk in. So I took it upon myself to do it.

He sees me with the cordless caulking gun and was all like, “What are you doing with that?” He says the ‘that’ as if I’m holding a handful of dog droppings rather than a caulking gun. I reply, “I’m going to caulk these windows,” sweet as you please!

He was up out of that chair quicker than you could say, “Honey do!” However, I was not that easily derailed. I began to caulk as he hovered nervously behind me, peeping over my shoulder. Every time he tried to show me how to do it, I just shooed his little hands away with a smile. "That's okay, sweetie. I know you need to watch that football game. Why don't you get some chips and a soda?"

After the first window, I suddenly had a bladder attack – or at least that’s what I told him. I went to the bathroom and flipped through a magazine for about 5 minutes. When I returned, guess who was caulking as if his life depended on it?

Worked like a charm!

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