Caulking guns are indeed some very convenient tools, ones that can be used to seal everything from your kitchen sink to your bathtub. Of course, there are many different kinds of caulking out there, and which one you choose depends on your needs. Some might even be used without a caulking gun.
That said, there are also various types of caulking guns, six to be precise, and today we want to take a quick look at each of them.
Manual Caulking Guns
The first category of caulking guns is the manual category. Manual caulking guns use your own muscle power to push the caulking out of the tube or cartridge. Both types of manual caulking guns feature a trigger which the user must press to dispense the caulking. There are two types of manual caulking guns, the ratchet rod and the smooth rod varieties.
Ratchet Rod Caulking Guns
Ratchet rod caulking guns are perhaps the most commonly found ones in hardware and home improvement stores. This is the most basic kind of caulking gun, one that features a ragged push rod that is fitted onto a spring with a trigger. To use this kind of caulking gun, you must pull the rod all the way back, cut open the tip of the caulking tube, insert the tube into the gun, and then push the trigger to dispense the caulking.
Each push of the trigger will dispense some caulking, and after each trigger push, the trigger must be let go of to allow it to reset, to allow the spring to return to the neutral position, so you can then push the trigger again to dispense more caulking. This type of caulking gun usually features a pressure ratio of 5:1, which means that you need to push on that trigger quite a bit to dispense caulking.
The benefits here are that ratchet rods are very affordable, they can be found almost anywhere, and they are fine for basic use. On the other hand, they take a bit of work to dispense caulking, it can be hard to control the flow, and it can be hard to maintain consistent flow. Moreover, to stop the flow of caulk, this type of gun needs to be turned upside down and the rod pulled back.
Smooth Rod Caulking Guns
The second type of manual caulking gun is the smooth rod caulking gun. These are a little less common and also a bit more expensive to purchase, but they do function better and are more user-friendly. In terms of the appearance, they look more or less the same as ratchet rod guns. It’s their functionality that’s different.
This type of caulking gun usually has a force ratio of 10:1, which means that they dispense more caulking with less required force on your behalf. Compared to a 5:1 ratchet rod gun, a single squeeze of the trigger on a smooth rod gun dispenses twice as much caulk.
This type of caulking gun is a bit easier to use, not only because you can dispense more caulk with less force, but also because when you let go of the trigger, the caulk stops flowing right away, which is why these are often referred to as dripless caulking guns. Moreover, because they have twice the force ratio of the ratchet rod variety, controlling how much caulking is dispensed at once is much easier (allows for more precise work).
Power Caulking Guns
The next category of caulking guns is the power caulking gun. As you can tell, instead of using rods, springs, and levers to dispense caulking, these use a power source, something that can definitely help make life easier.
Electric Caulking Guns
When it comes to speed and convenience, electric or battery-powered caulking guns are definitely up there with the best of them. In essence, this is just a smooth rod caulking gun with a battery or a power cord. When you push the trigger, instead of a manual pressure plate and spring pushing the rod forward, it’s just a mechanism.
Instead of having to continuously press and depress the trigger, you just hold down the trigger for as long as you want. As long as you hold the trigger, the caulk will come out. You could technically dispense a whole tube of caulk at once with a single press of the trigger. It’s a small battery or AC-powered motor that pushes the rod forward, thus dispensing caulk.
These are of course more expensive than either of the manual caulking guns, but they also function much faster, thus making them ideal for professionals who need to use caulking guns all day long. They are also convenient because on many models you can adjust the pressure and rate of dispensing.
If this is the type you think you need, check my cordless caulking gun recommendations.
Pneumatic Caulking Guns
These guns work by using air pressure to pump the caulk out of the tube. They are connected to an air compressor. You can then adjust the air pressure to adjust how much caulking is dispensed. As long as you hold the trigger, the caulk will continue to flow, and it will stop flowing as soon as you let go. These are ideal for large-scale professional use.
Types by the Style of Caulking Containers They Accept
The other thing to consider here is that caulking guns can take two styles of caulking containers.
Let’s take a quick look.
Tube/Cartridge Caulking Guns
With this type of caulking gun, the caulking is held in its own plastic tube, which is then placed into the tube holder on the caulking gun. To dispense caulking, the tip of the plastic tube must be cut off.
Sausage Caulking Guns
This is then inserted into the caulking gun, with the big difference being that with sausage caulking guns, they come with a solid tube attached to them, into which the sausage caulk container must be put inside of.
Moreover, instead of cutting the tip off the caulking tube, like with the tube/cartridge variety, sausage caulking guns come with their own tips (tip is on the gun, not the tube).
As you can see, there are many different kinds of caulking guns. For basic home use, the smooth rod variety is recommended, and for professional use, the electric or battery-powered option is probably your best bet.
If you are not sure about how to use these, make sure to also check my article about how to use a caulking gun.