Home Tech how to use a caulking gun

how to use a caulking gun

how to use a caulking gun

Follow expert-backed tips for filling cracks with caulk

Do you need to create a clean, waterproof seal for your current DIY project? Whether you’re sealing a tub, filling cracks around windows, or adding a clean edge to baseboards, a caulking gun makes application that much faster and simpler. Almost all caulking guns work the same way, so no matter what type of gun you have, we should be able to help. Keep reading and we’ll walk you through your caulking project from start to finish.

Just here to learn how to load a caulk gun? Go directly to the section here.

[Edit]things you should know

  • Cut a 45-degree angle into the tip of the tube with a knife or using the hole next to the trigger of the gun.
  • Pull back the metal rod on the gun and load the gun tube into the gun. Hold the gun at a 45-degree angle to the crack you’re filling.
  • Pull the trigger and slowly move the gun to caulk in a smooth line.
  • Run your finger along the rump line to fill in the gaps and smooth it out.


[Edit]Area cleaning and masking

  1. Clean off all the old caulk with a putty knife. Place the sharp end of the putty knife on the base of the old caulk. Then, grab the handle and push the knife forward. Keep going until you’ve removed all of the caulk.
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 1 Version 4.jpg
    • Alternatively, you can use a caulk removal tool or utility knife.[1]
    • To make caulk easier to remove, apply a caulk softener, wait 20-30 minutes, and then scrape it off with a carpet or putty knife.[2]
    • By removing old caulk that could crack, you’re avoiding building a new layer over a weak foundation.[3]
  2. Wash the surface with alcohol, bleach and warm water. Dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol and hold it over the crack to soften the remaining caulk. Then, dampen a cloth with warm water and diluted bleach to disinfect the surface. Then, wash the area with another washcloth soaked in warm water. When you’re finished, dry the surface with a towel because new caulk won’t stick when wet.[4]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 2 Version 4.jpg
    • Caulking can trap anything inside the crack so make sure all the dirt is completely removed.
    • If you see any remaining grime or grime, use a plastic scraper to lift it up.
    • If you’re removing silicone caulk from tiles, heat it with a hair dryer or apply a commercial solvent.
  3. Protect the surrounding surface with painter’s tape. Stick a long strip over the crack and a long strip just below it. This tape keeps the caulk off anything nearby, so it doesn’t stick or harden where you don’t want it. It also serves as insurance in case you make a mistake later.[5]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 3 Version 4.jpg
    • Using painter’s tape also keeps the edges of your caulk line clean and smooth.

[Edit]loading the caulk gun

  1. Press the release trigger of the cock gun to pull the rod back. Look for a small metal trigger on the back of the caulking gun where the long metal rod connects. Press down on the trigger with your thumb to loosen the rod that runs across the frame. With your other hand, pull the rod back as far as you can and hold it.[6]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 4 Version 4.jpg
  2. Cut the nozzle on the tube of caulk at a 45-degree angle. Use a pair of scissors to cut the nozzle so that it is about the size of the crack. If the crack is large, consider cutting the nozzle closer to the tube to expose more caulk. If the crack is small, cut the nozzle near the end to be more precise.[7]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 7 Version 4.jpg
    • This option is permanent, so think carefully about the thickness before making a cut. It’s better to start near the end of the nozzle and enlarge the opening if you need to.[8]
  3. Pierce the nozzle with a gun piercing rod or nail. Check the front of the caulk gun for a small metal piece that is bent outward. Stick the metal piece on the end of the nozzle of the caulk until you feel it pierce through the tube. If your caulk gun doesn’t have a small metal rod, use a sharp nail to puncture the tube.[9]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 6 Version 5.jpg
    • Check the instructions that came with the tubing you are using to see if there is a specific way to pierce the tubing.
  4. Insert the tube of caulk into the gun. Hold the steel rod at the back, and place the flat end of the caulk tube on the back of the frame. Position the nozzle so that it fits into the opening on the front of the gun. Lightly squeeze the large trigger on the gun to make sure the tube is snug and level.[10]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 5 Version 4.jpg
    • If you need to, ask a friend or family member to help you put the rod back in place as you work on inserting the caulk tube.


  1. Pull the trigger and point the gun at a piece of paper to practice. Hold the gun at a 45 degree angle with the nozzle facing down. Then, on top of a piece of paper, depress the trigger on the back of the gun while continuing to rotate the caulking gun in one direction. When you do it right, the cock will come out in a smooth, steady stream.[11]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 8 Version 4.jpg
    • If you move the caulking gun too fast, the caulk will look too thin and uneven. If you move the caulking gun too slowly, the caulk will become hard and tacky. Take your time to find a good balance between the two.[12]
    • It may take a few pulls on the trigger to start your caulk gun the first time. Simply take the pressure off the trigger and try squeezing it again.
  2. Hold the caulking gun at 45 degrees to the crack. Hold the caking gun with both hands so that one is on the trigger and the other is supporting the tip of the gun. Tilt the entire gun at a 45 degree angle so that the cock comes out evenly. The caulk should start flowing towards the nozzle.[13]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • Although the trigger will push some of the caulk out of the tube, by holding the gun at 45 degrees, gravity helps the process.
  3. Press the trigger to push the caulk into the nozzle. Once you pull the trigger, the steel rod will push against the back of the caulk tube to force it out of the nozzle. Press the trigger firmly and continuously to cock the cock in a slow, controlled manner.[14]
    Use a Causing Gun Step 10 Version 2.jpg
  4. Move the caulking gun along the entire length of the crack. As the caulk comes out of the nozzle, slowly move the caulking gun along the entire crack. Try to go at a single, steady pace so that the caulk fills the crack evenly.[15]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 11 Version 3.jpg
    • If you missed a spot, don’t worry. Just come back and fill them with another pass.
  5. Smooth the rump line with your finger. Put on a disposable glove and wet the tip of your finger with some warm water. Drag your finger quickly along the line of caulk to smooth it against the surface and create a clean finish.[16]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 12 Version 4.jpg
    • Wearing gloves helps prevent caulk from sticking to your hands as it can be difficult to clean off.
  6. Remove any painter’s tape and allow the caulk to dry. Peel off all of the painter’s tape and leave the caulk to dry. Each caulk tube will direct you with the exact amount of time to wait until it’s completely dry. Generally, it takes at least 24 hours for the caulk to set completely.[17]
    Use a Caulking Gun Step 13 Version 3.jpg



  • Press the release trigger after applying caulk to prevent dripping.[18]
  • When you’re done, caulk the caulk nozzle so it doesn’t dry out.
  • Some caulk may be better for your problem than others. Acrylic caulk is a versatile and popular alternative to caulk, but it can shrink when it dries. Silicone caulk makes a strong bond, but it can be expensive and is difficult to paint over. A butyl rubber caulk is very mobile, so it works best near hinges or doors where the caulk is going to move often.[19]

[Edit]Things you’ll need

  • putty knife
  • painter’s tape
  • surgical spirit
  • bleach
  • pinch off
  • caulking gun
  • Scissor
  • piece of paper


[Edit]quick summary

  1. [v161695_b01], 13 January 2021.
  2. [v161470_b01], 20 August 2020.
  3. [v161695_b01], 13 January 2021.
  4. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-remove-caulk/
  5. https://todayshomeowner.com/painting/guides/homeowners-guide-to-caulk/
  6. https://youtu.be/C3QmFIk3EPM?t=405
  7. https://todayshomeowner.com/painting/guides/homeowners-guide-to-caulk/
  8. [v161470_b01], 20 August 2020.
  9. https://youtu.be/jufcpLs-Hkk?t=69
  10. https://youtu.be/61CSfFkQQbk?t=80
  11. https://todayshomeowner.com/painting/guides/homeowners-guide-to-caulk/
  12. [v161470_b01], 20 August 2020.
  13. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/caulking
  14. [v161470_b01], 20 August 2020.
  15. [v161470_b01], 20 August 2020.
  16. [v161470_b01], 20 August 2020.
  17. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/bathrooms/21015082/laying-down-a-perfect-bead
  18. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/caulking
  19. https://www.thisoldhouse.com/bathrooms/21015082/laying-down-a-perfect-bead


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