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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Caulking gun tips - apply dripless caulk or sealant with ease

Caulking guns are handy tools for a DIYer as they allow you to dispense cartridges of products like decorator's caulk, sealant or grab adhesive with ease. They can be a bit fiddly to load and unload when you first get started so I shared a couple of reels on my Instagram recently about how to load a manual caulking gun and a simple hack to prevent dripping and mess and got lots of feedback from people saying it was helpful because they had been confused by the mechanism of how a caulking gun works.

I thought I'd whiz a quick blog post together with all the info to ensure ease of use and add it to the DIY tips and tricks section of my blog. 

How to load a caulking gun

Cutting the seal on a caulking gun

1. Cut the seal

Locate the seal at the base of the nozzle and cut the tip with a Stanley knife or sharp scissors (as shown). Don't cut too close to the cartridge as you need enough of a tip to screw the nozzle onto in the next step.

Screwing the nozzle on a caulking gun

2. Screw nozzle onto the cartridge

Once the seal on the cartridge has been removed, take the removable applicator nozzle and screw it into the cartridge.

Retracting the plunger on a caulking gun

3. Retract the plunger rod

Press the release catch with your thumb (as shown) as this will allow you to pull the plunger rod out of the caulking gun to make room for the new cartridge.

Fully retracting the plunger rod on a caulking gun

NOTE: Pull the plunger rod back fully out of the caulking gun. Make sure you hold down the release catch or the rod won't retract enough to make room for the cartridge.

Loading the cartridge on a caulking gun

4. Load the cartridge

Place the nozzle end of the cartridge as far through the front of the caulking gun as it will go, then slide the back of the cartridge into place.

Cutting the tip on a caulking gun

5. Cut the tip

The larger you cut the hole in the tip, the more product will flow out when you squeeze the trigger, so if you have a small hole or narrow gap to fill, opt for a smaller hole. Cutting the tip on an angle (as shown) makes application easier.

Engaging the plunger on a caulking gun

6. Engage the plunger

To engage the plunger (required to dispense the product in the cartridge) squeeze the trigger a number of times until you feel resistance.

Caulking gun ready for application

7. Ready for application

Your caulking gun is now loaded and ready for use. Apply the caulk by squeezing the trigger and moving the gun along the joint or surface you're sealing. The amount of pressure required to dispense the product is known as the thrust ratio.

How to stop drips and overflow on a caulking gun

There's nothing more annoying than the product continuing to flow out of the cartridge after you've finished applying it, but it's inevitable due to the pressure build-up that you create by squeezing the trigger unless you press the release catch immediately when you've finished. Sometimes, even after you've pressed the release catch you might get some product overflow. If this happens to you a lot then you might like the hack below...

Caulking gun / sealant gun - Hack to apply dripless sealant with ease 

Over on my Instagram, I shared this handy hack to prevent the product spilling out of the end of the nozzle after you've finished applying it. All you need to do is, puncture the base of the cartridge with the end of the scissors or a utility knife and then place a small circle of foil over the base (between the base and the plunger) to catch the small amount of caulk that might escape.

This simple hack will completely release the pressure the second the release catch is pressed saving you mess and money through wasted caulk.

Is a sealant gun the same as a caulking gun?

Yes, a sealant gun is the same as a caulking gun; they are terms used in different places. In the UK, we usually refer to them as sealant guns, whereas in the States, they call our sealant 'caulk' and call them caulk or caulking guns. That said, you can also use these guns to load cartridges of decorators caulk, so you will find some DIYers in the UK who call them caulk guns, too. 

Do you need a caulk gun for sealant?

Some sealants come in self-applicating tubes that do not need to be loaded into a caulk gun, but many come in larger (better value) cartridges that need to be applied with a caulk gun mechanism. To decide whether you need a caulk gun, check the cartridge type. 

What is the purpose of a caulking gun?

A caulking gun is a metal applicator for cartridges of sealant, adhesive and caulk. A caulking gun has a trigger mechanism and push rod that allows for ease of application. Some also have a ladder hook at the end for hanging from and to make pulling easier. 

Can you buy caulk without a gun?

You can buy caulk without a gun, you can buy the refill cartridges as DIY and hardware stores and there are squeezy tubes or self-applicator cartridges that don't require a gun for application, but both tend to be more expensive.

When to use a caulking gun

Caulking guns are helpful for lots of DIY projects, but here are a few examples,

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