Comparing the Benefits, Disadvantages & Use Cases of Three Common Caulking Guns
Caulking guns are versatile tools that are used to apply caulk to joint and seams. Caulk, traditionally used in wooden shipbuilding, is applied around door and window frames as well as other small areas to provide a seal around the edges. This helps to create a more energy-efficient space by keeping air, moisture and dust inside and outside where it belongs. Caulking guns range in size, design, and function in order to provide the precise application of sealant required. Three of the more common caulk guns used on the market today are the ratchet rod, the compression ratchet, and the electric gun.
The ratchet rod caulk gun is a type of gun most commonly used by DIYers and home renovators. It has a push rod with a ratchet feature, which when turned produces pressure used to dispense the caulk. Ratchet rods usually have a thrust ratio of 5:1, meaning a lot of pressure is needed to begin dispensing the caulk. To open the cartridge, a razor knife must be used to cut and release the seal.
The compression ratchet caulk gun is similar to the ratchet rod except it has a higher thrust ratio of 10:1, meaning less pressure is required for the caulk to begin coming out of the cartridge. Instead of a ratchet feature, it has a spring-loaded platelock that holds the pressure rod at a constant level. Squeezing the trigger adjusts the flow of caulk and when released, it will automatically stop the caulking action.
The electric caulk gun is an ideal tool for more experienced caulkers and those tackling larger, commercial tasks. It is a bigger and heavier than the manual ratchet and compression models. An electrical cord or batteries power the gun and its higher thrust ratio makes it easier on the hands, creating a steady bead of caulk with just one squeeze of the trigger. Before you jump right in and start using an electric gun, make sure you understand the caulk being used, the application required and the gun being used. It’s also a good idea to practice on a piece of scrap wood or drywall to get comfortable with the gun.
When choosing the right caulk gun for the job, you should consider the size, weight, strength and ergonomic needs of the application. Ratchet rod and compression ratchet caulk guns work well for small to medium jobs and are relatively lightweight. If you’re considering a larger task that requires a lot of caulking, an electric gun may work best. They provide a steadier flow of caulk, allowing for faster, more even application. No matter what type of gun you choose, make sure to follow instructions just as you would when working with any other power tool.