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How to use a caulk gun: From loading to application

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Knowing how to use a caulk gun effectively is a core skill for every serious DIYer. These tools can make household repairs and installations easier. However, if you want to achieve the best results, you need to know how to use and apply the best caulk for the task as well. Follow our basic guide to caulking guns and get sealing like a pro.

Caulking gun
Knowing how to use a caulk gun, an indispensable part of any DIY arsenal, will help you complete many projects.

How to use a caulk gun: The basics

Caulking is a common way of sealing up gaps or joints around your house, whether you do it to repair leaky areas or provide insulation and water resistance when installing fixtures, placing windows, or carrying out other household projects.

Caulk generally comes in disposable cardboard or plastic cartridges with an applicator tip and a plunger. You will need to load a caulk gun with one of them and use it to apply caulk and other products by pressing a trigger that activates the plunger. The plunger smoothly pushes the caulk towards the surface where you are aiming the caulking gun.

You can purchase many different types of caulk in cartridges and load them into your caulking gun. Loctite Polyseamseal All Purpose Adhesive Caulk is designed for use with all kinds of indoor projects and bonds to almost any surface, including wood, concrete, metal, ceramic, drywall, plaster, and tiles. Once it has cured, the caulk is paintable and resistant to moisture, mold, and mildew, making it particularly useful for kitchen and bathroom repairs.

How to apply silicone caulk and sealants

Using caulk and silicone is easy, but if you want to get great results when using your caulk gun, you will have to follow a few simple steps. Here’s how to apply silicone caulk and sealants using a caulk gun.

  1. Remove old caulk and prepare the surfaces. You can use a special scraper to peel off any remaining caulk stuck to ceramic tiles or sink edges. Remove stuck-on residue by using a caulk removal spray and rag to wipe it away. 

    Make sure all sealant remover residue is removed prior to the sealant application, as it could hamper or even prevent the sealant’s adhesion. Some caulk removers must be treated with special chemicals to remove their residue. Check the manufacturer’s instructions if in doubt. 

    Use a bleach-based cleaner on a rag to sanitize the surfaces before applying new caulk. Once the surface is dry, you can continue.
  2. Tape off surfaces. Taping will help you avoid creating overly wide caulk joints. Use painter’s tape to mask off edges around where you want to caulk. Make sure the tape is laid tight to prevent any seepage. This will help create an even layer of caulk and reduce any unwanted spills or overflow.
  3. Apply the caulk. Open the tube of caulk by snipping off the tip at a 45-degree angle, or use the cartridge’s built-in snipper if it has one. Puncture the tube’s seal with a small nail or similar item. Position the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle. Press the material firmly, but carefully, toward the surface area. Move the tip of the caulk tube smoothly along the joint as you apply the caulk for a consistent coat.
  4. Smooth the joint. Once the caulk is in place, smooth down the caulk with an appropriate tool or rag. Do not use your finger as that might contaminate the caulk, reducing its lifespan. For latex caulk, you can just use the tool/rag and water. For silicone, you may want to use alcohol to smooth the joint. Wipe away displaced excess caulk as you go. The goal is to create a smooth, clean application from one end to the other.
  5. Peel the tape. Remove the masking tape in a slow but steady motion, pulling away from the joint.
Caulking gun sealing crack
Seal up any cracks or gaps using a caulk gun and silicone sealant.

How to use a caulk gun: Common uses

When should you use a caulk gun? There are countless applications, from installing fixtures and appliances to fixing gaps or cracks in existing surfaces. A great caulking job makes a world of difference in how fixtures look. It also prevents leaks or drips that can lead to structural damage over time.

Here’s how to load a caulk gun:

  1. Pierce the adhesive cartridge tube with the metal rod on the caulk gun.
  2. Pull the plunger back and insert the caulk tube into the cradle of the gun.
  3. Push the plunger until it hits the bottom of the tube.
  4. Place the tip at the starting point, and slowly squeeze the trigger to disburse the caulk bead.

Tight seals can save you money; this is another practical reason for using a caulk gun. Sealing up leaks and drafts around your home is a great way to cut energy costs, which in turn decreases your domestic carbon footprint. It can also reduce household appliance usage, which extends their lifespan.

Caulking gun in a bathroom
Use your caulk gun for easy, water-resistant bathroom fixes that stand the test of time.

How to use caulk: Choosing the right type

Typical caulk used with caulking guns includes silicone, polyurethane, polysulfide, or acrylic sealants. Caulk comes in many blends and colors, but generally speaking, there are three varieties: latex, silicone, and butyl rubber.

Each type of caulk has its particular strengths. Latex tends to work best for dry areas, while silicone is a better choice for areas exposed to water and other moisture. Latex and silicone are best suited for interior home repairs, but butyl rubber is probably better for exterior work.

If you need a silicone sealant that’s designed for use in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas with lots of moisture, try Loctite Polyseamseal 100% Silicone Sealant. Load it into your caulking gun and apply it to create seals that are resistant to temperature, water, UV radiation, and other environmental factors.

If you want a sealant that can do it all, try Loctite PL Heavy Duty Sealant. It can be used in all conditions and provides superior strength. It is formulated with a stretch that is 5 times that of other sealants. This product is great for interior and exterior uses, including tubs and showers, fixtures, sinks, tile, trim, and baseboards. It can create durable, weatherproof seals around windows, doors, and siding.

Check out this quick video for all you need to know about using Loctite PL Heavy Duty Sealant so you can seal your cracks up tight.

Caulking a window exterior
Applying silicone sealer with a caulking gun is an easy, reliable way to keep windows weatherproof and airtight.

Products used

  • loctite polyseamseal 100 percent silicone sealant white 10oz cartridge
    Loctite Polyseamseal 100% Silicone

    Watertight interior and exterior seal.

  • loctite polyseamseal all purpose clear 10oz cartridge
    Loctite Polyseamseal All Purpose

    Provides a durable bond and seal for general sealing projects.

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