Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer for Baseboards: What’s The Best For You?

Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer: What’s The Difference?

Are you currently working on a project that requires fastening of some sort but you are unsure of the right nail gun to use?

Have you recently been to a hardware store and held a brad nailer in one hand and a finish nail gun in the other and just shrugged your shoulders?

You may very well be skilled to do a job, but you may not be an expert on the suitable apparatus, especially considering that the two nailers look to be the same. They each use nails that are similar, and they both are almost identical in size.

When thinking of a finish nailer vs brad nailer, what is the difference? I have written this article in the hopes that it can serve as a handy reference guide to help you determine which tool is best for the needs of your task.

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brad nailer vs finish nailer

Snapshot: What Is A Brad Nailer?

If the name is not any indication, the brad nailer is made to work with fine wire, 18 gauge brad nails. The brad nails are little which make it hard to be driven into the material manually.

They are practically imperceptible once pierced into a material. With larger nails, carpenter’s putty may be required to conceal the nail, but when brad nails get removed, the holes are minuscule — making doing so a step which is unnecessary.

Snapshot: What Is A Finish Nailer?

brad nailer vs finish nailer 2019

If you have baseboards or crown molding, using brad nails will fail to provide the strength needed for sufficient holding. Here in lies the purpose of a finish nailer.

With the capacity to run 15 or 16 gauge nails — which are distinguishably larger than the brad nail — the finishing nailer is ideal for projects which require the use of wood that is cumbersome in size and bulky.

As you can probably imagine, the holding strength you get with finish nails is far greater than what can be expected from the tiny brad nails.

It should get noted that with finish nails you stand the risk of splitting the wood or causing unwanted imperfections with the larger nails.

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Nailer Analysis: Differences Of A Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer

1. The Gauge and Size of Nails

brad nailer vs finish nailer

The 18 gauge nails of a brad nailer are slender, wire nails that ordinarily range anywhere from 5/8″ to 2″.

The diameter is only about 1.22 mm which, cylindrically-speaking, is a profoundly small dimension for a nail. As a matter of fact, brad nails are the second to smallest nails that can fit into a pneumatic nailer.

A 15 to 16 gauge nails of a finish nailer can range between 1″ to 2.5″. Sizably, they make for the most prominent distinction from their counterparts.

The larger size allows finish nailers to drive the nails with more firmness and power. Another noticeable acumen is the absence of a nail head on finishing nails which alternatively can be found protruding and deep on brad nails.

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2. Different nailer uses and their distinct functionality

brad nailer vs finish nailer

For trim carpentry, such as doors, moldings, and casings, many carpenters take to the brad nailer. Whereas, many contractors find that they get the best usage from a finish nailer when used for detail or “finishing” carpentry, as with wooden storage containers or cabinets.

Since finish nails are headless, they can remain embedded in the wood pieces that are held together and do not require removal for the finished product.

The driven nails are not aesthetically disruptive and paint can cover them adequately. On the other hand, due to the visibility of brad nail heads, they serve a temporary purpose.

Typically used in conjunction with glue, brad nails are removed once the glue has dried between the fastened pieces of wood – doable with the help of pliers.

As is common in trim carpentry, brad nailers are used by carpenters to hold corners or areas close to the edges of wood together. Since the brad nail is tiny, there is no risk taken by nailing near the rims of the wood because the nails will not cause splitting.

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It is easier to drive nails with a finish nailer into a material if they have no head than with a small, blunt-headed brad nail. Finish nails are not ideal for jointed wood pieces because they can cause damage to the wood due to the impact that the nails so easily permit.

Brad nailers and finish nailers share a functional duality when it comes to working with a soft or hard wood. Carpenters use one or the other with discretion.

Since a brad nail is thinner than a finish nail, it is not uncommon for it to be the preferred choice when working with soft wood.

Depending on the project, a brad nail could be used on hard wood, especially, if you need a nail that is short in length.

In many cases, a hard wood needs the benefit of the finishing nail’s longer length, but as with brad nails, there is no absolute rule the holds finish nails to the exclusivity of a hard wood.

A finish nailer might be a better fit for a project using soft wood. The way finish nails subdue within a material make it the appropriate choice for use on that particular wood.

3. Price considerations

18 gauge vs 16 gauge

Brad nailers are perhaps one of the most favorited of the pneumatic nail guns on the market, which makes its manufacturing extremely competitive in the scope of product cost.

The brad nailer has a lower retail value than the finish nailer, but you can still purchase a finish nail gun at an affordable price. When it comes down to the brand of a nailer, then the cost of a finish nailer can seem significantly high.

An average brad nailer will run you about $70, but a finish nailer from a more trusted brand can start at $150. Part of the appeal and cost-worthiness of a finish nailer is the tool’s versatility.

It can easily function in its standard capacity, but it can also do the job of a brad nailer by running it with just the right nail.

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When Do You Use A Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer?

The two primary considerations for deciding on whether to use a finish nailer vs brad nailer boils down to the size and gauge of the nails you need and the type of project you are undertaking. You would want to use longer and larger nails for fastening material that requires a significantly ardent holding power.

Brad nails are short in length and little in diametrical size compared to the finish nails. Therefore, you may decide to use a brad nailer when you are working with any fine material.

The right nailer depends greatly on the nature of the project you are trying to complete. For some cabinetry, wide crown molding, attachments of bulky trim to baseboards or installing onto drywall.

For example, you probably would not want to use the brad nailer because the brad nails would detach with ease from the anchor.

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A Few Final Thoughts On Finish And Brad Nailers

One last thing to think about is the efficiency demands of your project. After determining the need for either a finish or brad nailer, do you think it would serve you best to use a cordless, battery-run nail gun or a pneumatic nailer that is powered by air?

A cordless nailer can get into places where reach would otherwise be difficult to accomplish. A battery-operated nail gun is suitable for moderate use on DIY projects around the house.

The only mildly unimpressive aspect of a pneumatic nailer is its need for an air compressor to function.

For regular, heavy-duty use, the air-powered nailer would be the most ideal because of its long-lasting reliability and lacking need for recharging.

Hitachi is a popular brand that offers air-powered nailers high in quality for both brad and finish types.

The company, Senco, manufactures premium pneumatic nailers as well, but they are most noticeable in the industry as being a standout brand when it comes to their cordless finish and brad models.

Have another nail job to do?

  • Be clear about the project you are trying to complete before hand.
  • Review and make sure you understand the ideal purposes and differences between a brad and finish nailer.
  • If you already own an air compressor, probably purchasing a pneumatic nailer would be best.
  • If you are someone that has a regular need for the use of a nail gun, like a contractor, the most practical buying choice would be a cordless nailer.
  • As always, when using power tools, be careful.