Summer is fading fast and cooler weather is coming. You spent so much time barbecuing and playing badminton that you realize that the months you thought you had to winterize are now a couple of weeks. The seals on your storm windows are dried and cracking; and by the way, the sink in the kitchen is starting to come away from the counter, threatening to let water in and swell it all up. The only thing standing between you and calamity is your caulking gun, which you sadly realize that because you only rarely use it that you don’t actually own one.
Which is the best caulking gun for the price, you ask yourself. You open up a browser and a search of caulking gun reviews brings you here, where we’ve helpfully assembled a review guide of some of the models we took a look at. In the end, if you really want to make the best-informed choice possible, we’ve included a buyer’s guide with tips on what to look for.
|Chicago Pneumatic CP9885|
(Top Pneumatic Pick)
|Dripless Inc. ETS2000||Normal||4.3/5|
|CJGQ Sausage Pack XC-8362||Normal||4.0/5|
The Newborn 250 is a lock-down value. By that, we mean that you might not need to caulk every day, every week or even every month, but when you do you can pull it out certain that the situation is locked down. You can pull it out knowing that it’s going to deliver immediately, without worrying about a trip to the hardware store. That means you can get into a work groove.
We found it easy and forgiving. Its comfortable grip and even-distribution made for mistake-free caulking even towards the end of a protracted test. It maintained consistent pressure pushing the caulk out of the tube, and it worked great with butyl and silicone caulks. It was also priced for value.
Our only beef was that it dripped when the trigger was released. You’ll want to keep this in mind when you finish laying a bead and lay down a rag or scrap paper to prevent mess. This will be of special concern if you’re working in a space that requires silicone caulk since it’s near impossible to get out of your clothes.
For most home users, a caulking gun is a tool for limited use on specific occasions. For those people, a pneumatic gun is an inexpensive luxury. But if you have a ton of caulking that needs to be done at once, or if you have some kind of physical impairment that limits your hands, maintaining consistent hand pressure to deliver a consistent bead from the first joint to the last is a serious problem. A pneumatic gun is its solution.
Of those we tested, the Chicago Pneumatic CP9885 was the best. It did what a pneumatic caulking gun is supposed to do, and did it quickly. You could reseal all the windows in your house in the time it would take you to do one room with a manual. And because the pressure is delivered pneumatically, the bead is consistent from start to finish. The caulk comes out when the trigger is pulled, and stops when released, which means no messy goop to clean up before smoothing it.
The significant drawback was that it took a little time to get regulating the flow down. And if you are caulking where just a little goes a long way, this might be too much caulking gun.
We were a bit prejudiced against the Newborn 930-GTD at first because of the price tag. It was just too low to deliver quality. We were happily corrected by this caulking gun’s performance, which held right up with the best of the best. Nice, steady, consistent beads with consistent pressure made for very little mess, great application and a short clean up and evening. It was even comfortable to work with and maintained consistency across different kinds of caulks.
Our prejudices were confirmed, however, by Newborn’s claim that the 930-GTD is drip-free. It isn’t. And as comfortable as it is to use, it can require a little more strength to use and keep consistent pressure to avoid blobbing in delivery.
That brings us to where to rank it. The quality and consistency of beads are great, even if you have to use a little elbow grease to create and maintain it. It works great with different kinds of caulks, which means it has great application if you’re resealing windows or a toilet. But, you’ll want to keep an eye on the drip, which might add clean up time. What we can’t counter is the price. If you’re looking for for-dollar value, this is the one you want.
The Dripless Inc. ETS2000 might be lots of things, but dripless is not one of them. But, nevermind, we told ourselves after it started to ooze after the first tube, let us judge this on the merits rather than whether it lives up to its marketing. It’s just that being actually dripless would have been a big plus on this model’s side.
Admittedly, if you’re a casual user, the ETS2000 is not a bad value. It’s cheaper than the top-of-the-line guns, and it’s easy on the hands. It does a good job laying down caulk, and if you just have to occasionally reseal a window or something this is a model that might suit you.
On the other hand, unlike the Newborn 930, you are getting exactly what you’re paying for. Lots of plastic and performance with a steep drop-off in quality. We noticed the first drips after the first tube. It went downhill from there. We also found that while it’s good with basic acrylic caulk, and functional with butyl and silicone, that it wasn’t suitable for adhesives.
While it’s a good value for doing simple work, that means overall it has limited functionality and based on construction limited operational life. Consider yourself forewarned.
This one was certainly visually stimulating. In fact, you can choose your own very bright color to match either your taste or your mood. We got the gold model because we were feeling fancy. That’s as far as we can go with compliments.
It did squeeze out caulk when the trigger was depressed. On the negative side, it was difficult to get a consistent flow. You need the strength of Samson and the patience of Job to not have to spend considerable time cleaning and evening caulk after laying it down.
We found it to be cheaply made and were a little surprised that something didn’t break during our tests. Because it didn’t, we decided to put it through a little wear and tear common when used. While the drop off in delivery wasn’t as considerable as we’d feared, it was still more noticeable than with better-made models. If you buy it and actually use it, you can expect to be replacing it in pretty short order. Considering its pricing relative to its competitors, that makes it a terrible value.
Considering the price range against how often you’ll use it, buying a caulking gun isn’t a decision to spend a lot of time dwelling on. Most people use it infrequently to do simple things and leave more complicated work to licensed professionals. But, we’d suggest that you do spend a little more time considering your purchase because despite what it appears on the surface, caulking guns are a lot more versatile around the house. We’ve collected these shopping tips.
Most people will get no further than using a basic acrylic caulk. It’s the most common caulk for resealing windows and other places where cracks allow outside air into the house. If you plan to caulk in a high water area, you will probably want to use a silicone caulk; and a butyl caulk for metal joints and masonry.
Beyond caulks, there are adhesives that are applied with a caulking gun. If you foresee that being a need, you’ll want to look for models that offer versatility. That was one of the primary reasons we ranked the Newborn 250 as our best caulking gun. It worked well with different caulks and adhesives.
On the other hand, if you just need to reseal window seams or gaps in an old wall once in a while, you can probably get away with a much cheaper one-trick-pony like the Dripless Inc. ETS2000.
An underappreciated element to a successful caulking experience is operator comfort. Comfortable, stress-free hands can keep a consistent, steady pressure on the trigger. A good caulking gun will turn this into a consistent, steady bead of caulk, which means less mess and smoother evening. But it all starts with the hands, which means it also starts with whether the caulking gun is constructed for comfortable use. This is less a problem if your caulking time is short, but the longer it goes on the more impact the gun’s design will have on the finished product. This was a big plus when we reviewed the Chicago Pneumatic CP9885. It was not priced obnoxiously more expensive than hand models, but the big bonus it had was that there was next to no stress on the hands because the pressure was maintained pneumatically rather than physically.
Dripage means mess and waste. The more a gun lets out when you don’t want it to, the more time you spend cleaning up and the more money you spend buying caulk. That means what might seem like a bargain at half the price is actually not at all a bargain when those associated costs are figured in, and no one likes to spend a lot of time trying to scrub silicone caulk out of clothing.
Lots of models promise to be drip-free, but in truth very few of them are. In looking for a caulking gun, you might be tempted to go all-in on the cheapest one available on the grounds that you won’t use it very often, but you might wish to look at how much it’ll drip because that could mean spending more time cleaning up than you ever wanted to.
All of these might seem like overcomplicating what in dollars and cents seems like a simple choice, but some wise decisions at the outset could save you time, money and especially hassle in the long run. And, for a tool that you only use once in a while, there is no better feeling than knowing that the caulking situation is handled.
We liked the Newborn 250 the best because it was the most versatile and best designed. It’s a gun you can haul out when you need to caulk a window, reseal a sink or adhere two pieces of wood together, and it’ll do so dependently, smoothly and as clean as the operator skill allows it. We liked it better than the best pneumatic, the Chicago Pneumatic CP9885, because the Chicago had just a little too much oomph for working with silicone, where cleanup can be an absolute nightmare. The Newborn 930 was almost as good as those two in terms of quality and versatility, and while our best value, it wasn’t nearly as comfortable to use. As for the other two, the Dripless is okay for occasional use filling simple gaps with acrylic caulk, and the CJGQ just made us sad, even if we did like its bright color.
We hope you find this review of caulking guns helpful. If you expand your search beyond the five we’ve offered here, we hope that you find useful tips in our buyers guide and that your eventual purchase is just the thing you’re looking for to make your tool collection a source of personal pride.
You may also be interested in reading our paint sprayer buyer’s guide found here.