I have been researching them for days...but I can't go out and buy one of every brand to test so I figured I'd go to y'all for some advice...thanks
Best brand? Who knows, best kind, or style, the smooth push rod that backs off slightly when you release the trigger.
To go with the smooth push rod will be a thumb release that allows you to either completely release the pressure or to pull the plunger back out of the spent tube.
Probably the determining factor between a "cheap" gun and a decent gun will be if it has a puncture rod to pierce the foil seal that some types of caulk have. The second determining factor would probably be the tip snipper, that allows you to cut the tip of a new caulk tube open.
I prefer the $14 ones from home burrito
Best caulking applicator? your index finger.
Best helper? a clean and wet rag.
Ask your favorite painter- they use these more often than anyone else and won't put up with crappy ones. Most painters around here use the ones sold at Sherwin-Williams stores; they aren't cheap but they work well and last well too.
My problem is that caulking guns seem to be the most-frequently lost tool; a sin even I am guilty of :eek: so I hate to spend much on them. But by chance as I was passing through the paint section of WalMart, I saw one by Stanley that looked decent and IIRC was under 6 or 7 bucks, so I grabbed one. Sturdy with top and bottom straps so it doesn't deform; decent thickness sheet-metal handle; auto release for the plunger; and in a green bright enough to see in dark places. I've been using (and abusing) it for over a month with no problems- it still works like new. I'm going to buy a few more next time I'm there as I am very impressed, because these work as well as any I've ever seen or used at any price. Makes me feel almost like I won the lottery in finding these :cool:
I too seemed to always lose them before they broke. I always bought the relatively inexpensive kind. The built in snippers don't give a really clean cut. I preferred to cut it with a razor knife. It you are making a very small opening, often the "poker" gadget would not reach the diaphragm. I prefer t0 use the simple thumb release type, giving a smooth flow until shortly before the end of the bead when I trip the lever myself.
Lastly, a real caulk gun artist, of which I was not the best, leaves a bead that does not need to be smoothed with the finger. If the gap has been cleaned out and is relatively smooth, you should be able to lay out an exterior bead without having to smooth it out. I always preferred urethane caulks for exteriors. Their heavier body just made caulking easier than the relatively light bodied acrylics. They also last a lot longer and don't wash off if a sudden shower comes up. Urethanes will also close a lot bigger gap.
Get one that is sturdy but I look for one with a hook style rod that I can hook on a ladder or my belt. I noticed that the guns with a hook style rod is usually more heavy duty. Also, never use two hands to get the caulk out; you'll bend the mechanism inside that pushes the rod and the gun will be ruined.