Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer; Which is the right power tool for you?

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Although there are many types of nail guns, brad nailer and finishing nailer are the most commonly used options. Moreover, they look alike, making it a bit difficult for most people to differentiate them. As a result, some people end up using them in projects they’re not intended for. So, how do you differentiate between brad nailer Vs Finishing nailer and which is the right one for you?

Relax! In this post, I’ll take you through the basics of each type of nail gun to help you make an informed decision for your upcoming project! 

Let’s get into it! 

What’s a brad nail gun? 

A brad nailer is an electric or pneumatic nail gun that is used to drive 18-gauge nails that are about ½” to 2” long into the wood. These nails are referred to as brad nails. More notably, they offer a strong bond and are ideal for attaching thin/ narrow wood pieces to thicker, large wooden objects. Best of all, they don’t leave noticeable holes, thus eliminating the need for putty to fill them in. 

Pneumatic brad nailers are budget-friendly but they require an air compressor to operate. On the other hand, electric brad nail guns are a bit pricey, but they’re more powerful. 

The best thing about braid nail guns is that they don’t split wood trims regardless of how lightweight they are. In addition, they leave a clean finish on your wood trims since brad nails have small heads that are almost invisible to the naked eye. For that, this nail gun is suitable for attaching lightweight trim and small moldings to your project. 

Uses of a brad nail gun

One drawback of brad nails is that they don’t have  enough strength to hold large boards or large moldings in place. Also, they have difficulty going through MDF, hardwoods and thick pieces of plywood. 

Other than that, an 18-gauge brad nail gun is an excellent option to use when large nails may split the workpieces. For instance, they’re a perfect way to attach narrow molding and thin trim pieces. Moreover, you can use brad nailers for other projects like; 

  • Installing decorative molding 
  • Tacking workpieces together while the adhesive dries
  • Attaching lightweight trim on DIY furniture projects and cabinets 
  • Assembling small projects such as birdhouses, picture frame and jewelry boxes 
  • Installing door stop molding, quarter round & shoe molding 

Benefits of brad nail guns 

As already mentioned, brad nailer are suitable for delicate trims. This is because the thin brad nails can easily go through thin & delicate trims without splitting them. Another benefit of using brad nailers is that they’re relatively affordable and available from various power tool manufacturers. 

In addition, brad nails are simple to remove with pliers, making them ideal for use in temporarily holding glued pieces together. Better yet, the thin fasteners will not leave significant holes behind or damage the wood pieces when you remove them. On the same note, the thin 18-gauge nails have small heads. This eliminates the need to fill them since they’ll disappear once you paint or stain the surface. 

What’s a finish nailer? 

A finish nail gun drives 15 or 16-gauge headless 1” – 2.5” long finish nails into various wood surfaces. This means that finish nails are thicker than brad nails. Similarly, they have more holding power, making them ideal for attaching heavy wood like plywood and MDF. 

On the downside, finish nails leave larger holes on wooden surfaces. Therefore, you have to fill them to hide these holes. Also, they’re not ideal for narrow moldings and trim pieces since they might cause them to crack. 

Another interesting thing about finish nailers is that they can be classified into 2 types when it comes to shooting. One type is intended for angled shots, while the other is designed for straight-shooting. This makes it easy to use the power to shoot nails in tight & small places. 

Uses of finish nailers 

Generally speaking, finish nail guns are more versatile than brad nails. They can easily drive nails through thick pieces of plywood, MDF and hardwoods. Besides, finish nails have enough strength to hold large boards and moldings in place. 

However, these nails can split narrow molding and thin pieces. Other than that, you can use it to drive nails in; chair rails, baseboards, door & window trim, staircases, crown molding and wide/ heavy boards. 

Benefits of finish nail guns 

More versatile – Finish nail guns are ideal for a wide range of purposes since they work with several types of materials. For instance, you can use them on drywall, plaster, MDF, baseboard, etc. 

Greater hold strength- The 15/ 16-gauge nails used by finish nailers offer more hold strength compared to what you get with brad nailers. Also, the nails are longer than brads, thus providing a stronger connection between larger workpieces. 

Perfect for heavy trims – Due to their great holding strength, finish nailers are perfect for attaching heavy trim pieces like crown molding and baseboards. 

What is the right tool for you; Finish nailer or brad nailer? 

By now, I’m certain you’ve got a pretty idea about brad nailer vs finishing nailer, as well as how they work. But, which is the perfect tool for you? 

In essence, both types of nail guns have a different application. Therefore, determining what tool to choose will depend on the type of job you’re doing and the type of wood you’ll be working with. 

That said, brad nailers are intended for accurate, & finishing tasks. For that, you can use them for making cabinets, installing baseboard to your floor, attaching crown molding and adding some strength to your cabinets. Also, you can use them to temporarily hold some partitions for gluing. As for the material, brad nailer is a great tool for various kinds of wood crafting that involve thinner wood pieces. This is because a brad nailer doesn’t leave marks or split the wood. 

On the contrary, a finish nail gun works better for hard & thicker woods than brad nailers. So, if you want to make a permanent wooden structure or use thicker woods for your baseboards and cabinets, you can choose a finish nailer! 

Conclusion; Brad nailer vs finishing nailer. 

To sum up, although finish nailers and brad nailers may look similar, they’re intended for different types of tasks. Their main difference is that finish nail guns work with larger 15/ 16 gauge nails, while brad nailers use smaller 18-gauge nails. 

In addition, brad nailers are suitable for creating temporary joints and joining thinner boards while finish nailers are ideal for creating permanent joints and attaching thicker boards. So, if your work most deals with thick woods, finish nailers is the perfect option for you. But if you want a tool for regular household tasks, a brad nail gun might be the preferable choice for you. 

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