Are you a total beginner and wondering how to load a caulking gun? This tutorial breaks down the step-by-step process. Plus, a brief tutorial on how to use caulk, our favorite caulk brands, and more caulking tips are below.
Caulking a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere else is not an exciting task, but it’s one that cannot be skipped. One of the most intimidating things about using caulk for the first time is figuring out how to prep the product and load the caulking gun.
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This how to load caulking gun tutorial contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.
If you’re a caulking newbie, check out our comprehensive caulking guide to learn how to use caulk, apply, and even remove caulk, plus tips and anything else you could possibly need to know about caulking.
If you’re here to learn how to load a caulking gun, we’ve got all the info you need, too. First, we’ll start with a brief refresher.
What is Caulk?
Caulk is a material that is used to fill the gaps between two materials or joints and keeps water, bugs, and other harmful elements from entering your home. For example, where sinks meet countertops, where tile meets countertops on backsplashes, where a bathtub or shower meets the wall or floor, etc.
This is usually sold in a large tube and is applied with a caulking gun to push the caulk out of the tube and into the seam.
If you’re a beginner, you’ve likely tried to apply caulk without a gun which quickly ended in disappointment.
Caulk is usually made of either latex or silicone (or a combination of the two). There are different types of caulk for all sorts of renovation and construction uses, so it’s very important that you’re choosing the right filler for the job.
When choosing caulk, you should consider your project, indoors/outdoors, and if the seal needs to be painted.
Video Tutorial: Loading Caulk Gun
Loading a caulk gun is a really easy process. Watch the video below to see the full tutorial, plus a few tips!
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How To Load A Caulking Gun
Your project is finished, now the final touches are in order. Learn how to use a caulking gun below.
Step 1: Prep the caulk.
Start by cutting the tip of the caulking tube at a 45° angle with a utility knife.
The further down you cut on the neck of the tube, the more caulk will come out.
Unless you are caulking a large seam, try to cut at the very tip of the tube so you have more control over how much caulk is pushed out. You can always trim more if needed.
Most caulking guns come with a tube cutter. This is usually located on the side of the gun. Just insert the tip of the caulking tube and squeeze the trigger to cut.
However, we prefer a utility knife for a cleaner cut and more control. You can also use a razor blade.
Next, break the inner seal of the caulking tube by inserting the thin stick that’s located on the side of the caulking gun. This must be done before the caulking can be applied.
The seal prevents the caulk from drying out, so be sure you are ready to rock before puncturing the seal.
To puncture the seal, simply insert the puncture stick (on the side of the gun) through the tip of the tube.
Rotate the tube around the stick to make sure there’s adequate room for the caulk to come out. Wipe the stick clean with a rag.
Step 2: Load the caulking gun.
To load the caulking gun, put the bottom of the caulking tube in first, then the top. Push the trigger of the caulking gun so the barrel of the gun can tightly grip the tube.
Now, you are ready to apply the caulk! All you do is squeeze the trigger and the caulk comes out.
To stop the flow of the caulk, pull back on the ratchet at the back of the gun or press your finger over the opening of the caulking tube.
Keep in mind that once the caulking tube has been opened, it should be used immediately. If you are pausing on a project, you can purchase caulking caps to prevent the caulk from drying out.
Alternatively, you can briefly cap the tube with a screw or push-pin, and sometimes with aluminum foil if you need a super quick break.
Know that as long as the air is reaching the caulk, the time is ticking until the caulk dries out. Once the caulk is dried out, it’s no longer usable or revivable.
Where to use caulk
Before applying caulk, it’s important to know where the caulk will be used: does it need to be waterproof? Inside? Outside? Will the caulk be painted?
Having these answers before beginning your project will prevent a lot of hassle and extra work for yourself.
There are two main types of caulk: exterior and interior. It’s imperative that the right caulk is purchased for the job.
- Exterior caulk is used for windows, doors, siding, trim, etc.
- Interior caulk is better for spaces like trim, baseboards, kitchens, and baths. For spaces that get wet or are exposed to moisture, make sure it is 100% waterproof.
Choosing a flexible caulk is preferred so it can expand and contract as the temperatures change without cracking or shrinking.
Also, if the caulking is paintable it should be applied before the surrounding area is painted. If the caulk is not paintable (usually for kitchen and baths), it is applied after painting.
Best Interior and Exterior Caulking Brands
Interior caulk and exterior caulk both have different purposes and uses. Here are a few of our favorite brands of caulk.
- Our favorite exterior caulk is DAP’s Dynaflex Ultra advanced exterior sealant. It’s a durable, 100% waterproof seal that stands up to the exterior elements.
- One of our favorite interior caulk is DAP Alex Plus. It’s actually America’s #1 selling latex caulk. It’s easy to apply and is ready to paint in just 30 minutes!
- Alex Flex is another great interior caulk, made specifically for molding and trim. It’s very similar to Alex Plus, but of a little higher quality.
- For kitchens and baths, it’s all about the DAP Kwik Seal Ultra. It cures quickly, is water-ready in just 4 hours, and is easy to smooth. It also comes in three different colors: white, clear, or biscuit. Keep in mind this caulk is not paintable.
Tips for Caulking
- Keep the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle during application.
- Pull the lever slowly with steady pressure and a consistent pace as you move along the line.
- If the caulk is skipping, you may be moving too fast. If the caulk lumps along the lines, you may be moving too slowly.
- Fill any gaps larger than 3/8″ before caulking. You can simply shove some toilet paper or paper towels in the gap to fill or use a backer rod. You can also purchase a foam caulking backer rod for this.
- Smooth caulk with your finger for an even finish.
- Prevent caulk from sticking to your fingers with a wet rag or small bowl of water.
- Painter’s tape can help you keep clean, even lines around the caulk. Remove the painter’s tape as soon as you’re done. (Check out our other painter’s tape tips here!)
- Never apply new caulk over old caulking, especially if it is damaged, discolored, or cracked!
- After the old caulk is removed, make sure the area is cleaned thoroughly with a scouring pad and rubbing alcohol. (More details on removing old caulk here)
- If applying exterior caulk outdoors, keep the sealant indoors before using it. The caulk should be at least 40 degrees to work properly.
Caulking isn’t the most exciting chore, but it’s one that must be done correctly for a successful project.
What other questions do you have about applying caulk?
Let us know in the comments below!
- Prep the caulk by cutting off the tip of the caulking tube at a 45 degree angle with a utility knife.
- Next, break the inner seal of the caulking tube by inserting the thin stick that’s located on the side of the caulking gun. This must be done before the caulking can be applied.
- Load the caulking gun by putting the bottom of the caulking tube in first then the top. Push the trigger of the caulking gun so the barrel of the gun can tightly grip the tube.
- Pull the trigger to apply the caulk, pull back on the ratchet a tthe back of the gun to stop the flow of caulk.
Once the caulk has been opened you should use it immediately. If you have to pause on a project you can buy caulking caps to prevent the caulk from drying out.