Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer: Which Nail Gun is Right for You?

Walts DIY is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Did you know that nails are one of the most used items in construction? It’s true! This is why it’s essential to choose a nailer that will work for your needs. Brad nailers and finish nailers have their advantages, but there might be a more practical option for you if you do some research.

In this Brad nailer vs. Finish Nailer article, we’ll break down the differences between a brad nailer and a finish nailer so you can make an informed decision about which nail gun is right for you.


Overview of Brad Nailers

brad nail gun is designed to work with wood and other delicate materials that need a smaller nail head. A brad nailer is perfect for tasks such as securing molding without putting any holes in the wallboard behind it.

The thin nail with tiny heads is called a Brad Nail. They’re used for delicate projects like putting up trim when you worry that a regular nail might break the wood, so they work to your advantage in these particular situations.

Buy Brad Nailers on Amazon

If you’re working with thin, lightweight wood that might crack or split when using standard nails, then a Brad nail may be the perfect option for your projects. The head of these nails is small, and they are made out of thinner metal which makes them very easy to install, especially in hard-to-reach places. 

To keep the wood in position, you only need a few brad nails. The small holes created by the head are often overlooked and don’t require any wood putty or filler.

Brad nails are often used in furniture building, trim work, moldings, door casings, or any other project where you need a thinner pin that won’t split the wood. It’s essential to keep in mind though the downside to a smaller nail gauge is that they don’t have as much holding power, so pressure might make them push right through your workpiece if you’re using something other than wood trim pieces!

 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Ideal for thin wood
  • Thin gauge and small head
  • Leaves a smaller hole
Cons
  • Less hold
  • Hole may need filling
Buy Brad Nailers on Amazon

 


Overview of Finish Nailer

A finish nailer, or finish nail gun, is a tool that’s used to drive nails through wood surfaces to give it a more finished look. Finish Nailers are often used with wooden exterior siding, decks, and other trim work outside buildings. They can also be used inside on walls or ceilings to provide additional support and kitchens, baseboards, and crown moldings.

Finishing nails are larger nails with the perfect balance between holding power and versatility. They’re thicker nails with a giant head, which is excellent for more heavy-duty tasks.

Buy Finish Nailers on Amazon

This causes them to be much more robust while also performing a wider variety of tasks such as nailing trim boards or attaching hardware without the risk of splitting through wood as some other nail types might do. They hold well but don’t leave any noticeable marks on your work!

If you install cabinets, baseboard, or crown molding and want to hide the nail head, then a finishing nailer is what you need. The finish nail will drive into the wood until it becomes flush with the board’s surface leaving no hole so that paint can cover up any evidence after installation!

The downside to the finishing nail is that you can’t use it on lightweight trim because instead of a smooth surface, your nails will leave noticeable marks. Since a finishing nail is slightly larger than a regular nail size, they have more chance of splitting the wood piece and making unsightly holes in any project you work with.

 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Fantastic hold
  • Doesn’t leave a hole
  • Larger nails
Cons
  • Can split thin wood
  • Don’t use on wood trim
Buy Finish Nailers on Amazon

A Choice of Power

A finish nailer, or finish nail gun, is a tool that’s used to drive nails through wood surfaces to give it a more finished look. Finish Nailers are often used with wooden exterior siding, decks, and other trim work outside buildings. They can also be used inside on walls or ceilings to provide additional support and kitchens, baseboards, and crown moldings.

Finishing nails are larger nails with the perfect balance between holding power and versatility. They’re thicker nails with a giant head, which is excellent for there are many ways to control a nailer, but the three types of guns you will usually find on store shelves are a corded nailer, a cordless nailer, and a pneumatic nailer.

The first step in buying any nail gun for projects around your home or business property is determining what kind it needs to be – there’s an option out there for everyone!

An electric corded nail gun plugs into main power outlets, so they’re typically only valid when working indoors where the length of an extension cord doesn’t limit electricity.

Cordless nailer options work great because they don’t need corded access from outside sources (air compressor or mains electric) as long as their battery holds up, and some even come with clips that make them easy enough to take anywhere.

While a pneumatic nailer requires an air compressor and hose to feed it the power to work.

The type of nailer you need to buy will depend on the size and depth of your projects and where they’re located about the tool’s power source. Let’s explore the three options in more detail.

Buy Nailers on Amazon

Pneumatic Nailer

The pneumatic nailer is the most powerful and lightest weight of the three types of nail guns. They also happen to be one of the least expensive options out there; they can typically cost from $150-300, depending on what’s included in your purchase.

And while it’s true that an air compressor may prove impractical if you don’t plan on purchasing anything else requiring that tool, pneumatic nailers do have advantages over electric ones – namely their power output!

So it’s great for contractors with lots to do in a small amount of time because it nails through wood better! It’s not quite as versatile or convenient, though, since you will need an air compressor hooked up nearby, which takes space and adds extra expenses, but, of course, it’s all relative to how much work you’ll do with it.

Buy Finish Nailers on Amazon

This causes them to be much more robust while also performing a wider variety of tasks such as nailing trim boards or attaching hardware without the risk of splitting through wood as some other nail types might do. They hold well but don’t leave any noticeable marks on your work!

If you install cabinets, baseboard, or crown molding and want to hide the nail head, then a finishing nailer is what you need. The finish nail will drive into the wood until it becomes flush with the board’s surface leaving no hole so that paint can cover up any evidence after installation!

The downside to the finishing nail is that you can’t use it on lightweight trim because instead of a smooth surface, your nails will leave noticeable marks. Since a finishing nail is slightly larger than a regular nail size, they have more chance of splitting the wood piece and making unsightly holes in any project you work with.

 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Inexpensive nail gun
  • Powerful framing nailer
  • Lightweight finish & brad nailer
Cons
  • Air compressor needed
  • Not easily portable

 

Buy Nailers on Amazon

 


Corded Nailer

The corded nailer is the best of both worlds: it has the power and accuracy as its pneumatic counterparts, but with almost none of the inconvenience.

The plug-in feature makes them versatile enough for any job you can think up while also making it much easier on your wallet to maintain one tool that’s just as powerful whether you’re at home or in a professional setting.

They are probably more straightforward to use than pneumatic tools, and they require less effort thanks to their power cord connection instead of a battery or air compressor hose. Plus, you won’t need an additional charger because it plugs into your wall!

With a corded nail gun, you will need to be close enough, so the wire doesn’t interfere with your work. Not only that, but if it’s too long or heavy for you, then it can throw off balance and increase fatigue.

Another drawback for an electric brad nailer is that they have a short cord, so you will need an extension cord for them to be used in different locations.

 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Just as powerful as a pneumatic brad nailer
  • Lighter than a cordless brad nailer
  • Affordable nail gun
Cons
  • Short cable
  • Cord may get in the way

 

Buy Nailers on Amazon

 


Cordless Nailer

A cordless nailer is a battery-powered tool that doesn’t require an air compressor or hose to function. The power of this gun lies within the battery, which is charged and unplugged for use at any place without being tethered down by cables, hoses, or wires. This gives you much more freedom when it comes to your work location.

A big downside is a battery is rarely included with the purchase of a cordless nailer, so you will need to buy one separately. However, some manufacturers like DeWALT and Ryobi have universal lithium-ion batteries that you can use with all their cordless tools, making it easy to use the same battery for your nailer and other power tools.

 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Highly portable
  • Versatile
  • Available for both an angled nailer and straight nailer
Cons
  • Battery is expensive
  • Tend to be heavy
  • Limited run-time

 

Buy Nailers on Amazon

Best Brad Nailer | Our Recommended Pick

WEN (Model 61721) Pneumatic Brad Nailer

 


Best Finish Nailer | Our Recommended Pick

Metabo HPT Pneumatic Finish Nailer Kit

 


Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer | Frequently Asked Questions

 

Can you use brad nails in a finish nailer?

People often mistake loading a brad nail into their finish nailer by accident, as they are sometimes confused about which gauge to use. However, suppose you load your finish nailer with a smaller 18 gauge nail. In that case, it will jam and break when firing outwards -sometimes even injuring whoever is unfortunate enough not to have noticed in time- so always double-check before using!

You should use the finish nail gun for either 16 gauge or 15 gauge nails. Never use an 18 gauge as it will break the nailer.

Buy Nailers on Amazon

Can you use a brad nailer for crown molding?

Since crown moldings are usually lightweight, the answer is yes. However, wider crown moldings are generally a lot heavier, so the nails can’t hold them up independently. We recommend using 16 gauge finishing nails instead of the 18 gauge brad nailer to keep your project from failing halfway through!

Can you use a brad nailer for baseboards?

When installing baseboards, it’s essential to use the appropriate tools for your project. For smaller and lighter boards that are only a few feet in length, you can get by with 18 gauge brad nails but, if they’re large or heavy, it’s recommended to use a finish nailer, which will produce cleaner results without splitting the wood as often. 

A top tip would be to pre-drill the nail hole first, as this almost eliminates the chances of the wood splitting.

Buy Nailers on Amazon

Brad nailer or finish nailer for a hardwood floor?

Hardwood floors are more difficult to install than other types of flooring because you must nail them at an angle, which requires skill. Flooring nail guns are great for installing hardwood floors, but there’s a catch. You can only use them on one project type! This puts people off buying them and looks to use alternative power tools instead.

Well, then what if you want to install a hardwood floor? Can you use your finishing nailer too? The right tool for the job is a finish nailer, which shoots nails in straight lines that can penetrate hardwoods without splitting or tearing them up. You can also use it on other flooring types.

A brad nail isn’t suitable for the task because it lacks the power needed to drive through hardwoods.

For installation on other types of flooring, a brad nailer is used because it shoots smaller nails that are thin enough for installing carpet or vinyl floors and can also be retracted if they go too deep into the material.

Buy Nailers on Amazon

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer Conclusion

It’s essential to take into consideration your project before deciding on which nailer you should purchase. Suppose there is no wood trim in need of installation. In that case, we recommend purchasing a finish nail gun because it has more applications outside the construction field and can also be used for installing shelves or cabinets.

If you are working on a project with wood trim and other lightweight and thin materials, the best option would be to purchase a brad nailer because it is suited for complex projects.


Here are some other articles you may like:

9 Best Finish Nailers for Your Home Improvement Needs | Reviews & Buyers Guide

7 Best Pin Nailers for the Money | Reviews, and Buyers Guide


Here are our favorite finish nailers

CLICK any image to see Ratings & Reviews on Amazon

 

Walter Snyder

Similar Posts