Why should a DIYer purchase a nail gun?
A nail gun (or a nailer) is a hand tool used to drive nails into wood or any other suitable material.
Using nailers is a less labor-intensive method of carrying out DIY projects around the house and backyard.
As you start out doing projects around the house, you’ll eventually find that having the right tool makes the project so much easier.
Many DIYers will start to tackle small interior trim projects around the inside and outside of their houses.
Projects such as craftsman window and door trim, tall baseboards, or even quarter round molding for new floating floors add value to your home.
But, only if they are done well, which is possible if using a nail gun to not mar the wood face.
We will explore the different type of nail guns that would be useful for DIYers use. All types of nailers that I have personally used for indoor and outdoor projects and what type of projects they are best suited.
We’ve picked eight of what we feel to be the best nailing tools out there for home projects. We’ve reviewed each one of them to highlight their strengths and weakness, and help you make a guided decision on the right partner for your next project.
Table of Contents
Compressed Air vs Battery
There are two different types of nail guns that we will cover in our review. One that uses compressed air to fire nails and one that uses battery power to fire nails.
The air nailer needs a compressor plugged into an electric outlet and a hose to connect the two. The pros of a compressed air nail gun that the guns are generally cheaper and lighter in weight than the battery operated guns.
That said the initial setup of compressor, hose and gun is just about the same price as one cordless nailer.
The biggest con of a compressed air nailer is having to lug almost 50 lbs. of a compressor around even if you only a few nails to shoot. Going up and down stairs with a compressor can wear you out quickly.
A cordless battery operated nailer simply uses the gun to shoot nails without any compressor or hose.
To get this convenience you will pay much more than the combined air compressor and nail gun kit. The nail gun is also twice as heavy with a battery so shooting crown molding over your head can get very tiresome.
It’s best to know how you will use the nailer to know which type will work best for you.
If you have other uses for the compressor such as airing up tires, using it with tools for your car, etc. then that would be a great way to start out using a nail gun.
Types of Nailers
There are quite a few types of nailers but we’re only going to describe the ones most used around the house that a DIY would be interested in purchasing.
A brad nailer is useful for using on smaller trim projects such as quarter round molding, chair molding, cabinet molding and some smaller baseboards and window trim.
The nail used is smaller and thinner, typically 18 gauge with the head barely visible in the wood. These nails are meant to support anything heavy or big.
A finish nailer uses a nail slightly larger than a brad nail. 15 or 16 gauge nail is used for projects such as large profile interior door and window trim, tall baseboards, crown molding on ceilings, and even installing pre-hung interior doors.
Finish nailers have a straight or angled magazine holder and dictates the type of nails used. Angled finish nailers allow you to get in corners easier than a straight finish nailer.
A framing nailer is used for larger projects that need to support a lot of weight. Installing a fence, deck framing, backyard shed framing, outdoor kitchen frame, to name a few.
Unlike the brad or finish nailer, framing nails are not described by the number gauge. Framing nails are described by the actual diameter of the nail in inches .113″ to .131″. and most are 2 3/8 to 3 1/2 inches.
Framing nailers come in several different degree angles and you can only use the same angled nails. Most common is 21 degree and 30 degree framing nailers.
The 21 degree nailers use full round head nails while most 30 degree nailers use clipped head nails.
Most building codes require a full round head nail for any type of framing that supports a lot of weight. The biggest downfall of the 21 degree nailer is that it can’t hold as many nails as the clipped head nailer so you’ll be refilling it more often.
Coil nailers describe the type of magazine that holds the nails. Nails that are coiled around each other in a circle, rather than stick magazine nailers as above.
The 2 biggest benefits of a coil nailer is that it can hold a lot more nails than a stick magazine and can shoot shorter nails.
If you’re putting up wood pickets on a fence rail, you need a 2 inch nail or less.
Some coil nailers can only shoot specific types of nails which is why they are considered roofing or siding coil nailers while coil framing nailers are more versatile.
Our Picks for Best DIY Nailers
Combo Nailer Set
If you’ve just bought a new home and already have a long honey do list, then the Bostitch Combo Nailer set will be your best bet for handling a wide variety of projects.
Bostitch has been one of the best pneumatic nailers for a long time. They produce a reliable product which is why this complete set of compressor and 3 nail guns is a great deal at a lower price than one cordless nail gun.
This set includes an oil free 6 gallon compressor, 18 gauge brad nailer, 16 gauge finish nailer and a crown stapler and air hose. This set includes everything you need for multiple DIY projects around the house.
The 2.7 lb. SB-1850BN 18 gauge brad nailer and 4 lb. SB-1664FN 16 gauge finish nailer are lightweight, use a no-mar tip, and has a tool-free adjustable exhaust to keep air from blowing in your face while using the nailers.
The dial-a-depth tool on both nailers enables quick setting of fasteners to convenient depths for accurate countersinking.
As with any of the pneumatic compressed air nailers featured in this article, it is always important to oil the nailer before each use to keep it running properly.
Too many times I hear people having problems with nailers jamming and not working only to realize they didn’t keep it properly oiled. 2-3 drops of oil each time you use the gun will keep it running smoothly.
The 6 gallon compressor is rated at a max 150 psi and weighs 29 lbs. making it easy to carry around. It has two connectors allowing up to two different nailers to operate at the same time.
If you plan on using a framer nailer with this compressor, I would probably limit it to just one nailer as the compressor motor could run continuously burning it up.
I bought a Bostitch combo set in 2006 when we bought our third house and decided to tackle some DIY projects.
I installed baseboard, quarter-round, door trim, made several pieces of outdoor furniture, added a framing nailer and built a fence and new deck. It has been great purchase and I highly recommend it.
Cordless Brad Nailer
The DeWalt brand is well regarded in the construction business. Go to any job site and you’ll find many DeWalt tools being used.
This cordless brad nailer excellent for small projects that you don’t want to break out the air compressor and lug around.
The nail gun’s handle is contoured for a firm grip, and its cordless build makes it portable and easy to use anywhere.
The nail gun runs on DeWalt’s 20V battery platform which is one of the best in the industry. The kit comes with a charger, 2 amp battery and carrying bag.
This nailer eliminates the need for compressors, hoses or costly gas cartridges. The gun’s magazine loads via the bottom-load system, and you can equip up to 100 nails at a go.
Additional features of this product include a no-mar pad, LED lights, 2 mode firing selector, a belt/rafter hook, and a tool-free jam clearance and depth adjustment.
It also has a low-nail lockout to prevent you from marring your work piece with extra holes.
I use this nailer all the time around the house. I already had several DeWalt 20V battery tools and bought the tool only version of this nailer for when I didn’t want to drag the compressor out.
I use this tool even on larger projects more than I use the corded version brad nailer I have since it’s so easy to use.
Sometimes you need just a bit more holding power than a 16 GA finish nailer. I use my 15 GA nailer for installing pre-hung interior doors and exterior trim. Also when you’re nailing into 2×4 studs or certain hardwoods, a 15 GA nailer will drive all the way through where a 16 GA may not.
The Metabo 15 GA nailer is only 4.2 lbs. and drives nails from 1.25 inches to 2.5 inches long. This nailer has tool-less way to clear jams and to adjust nail depth as well as 2 nailing modes, sequential or bump. The Metabo brand is very reliable at great price points.
The Metabo (formerly Hitachi) framing nailer is perfect for your bigger project list. Once you get used to your brad nailer and finish nailer, a framing nailer is a natural progression. It allows you to build more substantial projects around the house.
The Metabo framing nailer is lightweight at only 7.5 lbs. and uses 21 degree plastic collated nails. It will fire nails from 2 inches all the way to 3.5 inches long. It’s angled design let you toenail in the tightest corner. It has a tool-less depth adjustment to drive the nails to whichever depth you need.
Hitachi brand nailers have been around for a long time, I bought my first one nearly 15 years ago and it still runs like a champ. I have built many fences (mine and friends), framed several decks, built work tables and a lean to shed just to name some of the projects I’ve used my Hitachi nailer. The Metabo nailer will be a great addition to your DIY tool chest.
This nailer is probably a stretch for a DIYer, but if you move a lot and/or have friends that you’re always helping then this nailer is worth the splurge. It’s able to hold way more nails making your projects go by a lot faster. It drives nails ranging from 1.25 to 2.5 inches. It has a tool-free depth adjustment and no mar tip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy a brad nailer or a finish nailer?
The choice between a brad nailer and a finish nailer depends entirely on the DIY project you intend carrying out with your tool and the nail gauge. For smaller holes and DIY projects that require delicacy, a brad nailer would do just fine, like chair rail or small crown molding.
The finish nailer is intended to handle tougher tasks, like installing baseboard or door trim. Brad nailers work best with 18 gauge nails, while the finishing nail gun is best suited for the bigger 15 or 16 gauge nails.
Can a finish nailer use brad nails?
The simple answer to this is No. Brad nails are made from thin 18-gauge wire, and would not fit in the hole of the finishing nail gun. Also, trying to fit in brad nails in a finish nailer could lead to damage of the equipment.
Do brad nails have heads?
Yes, brad nails have heads. However, this head is typically smaller than usual, and is only slightly larger in diameter than the body of the nail itself.
How long of nail gun nails should I use?
For a successful woodworking operation, you should use a brad nail that is at least, three times longer than the thickness of the material you’re working on. This is to ensure the nail will securely fasten such material.
Can you use a hammer with nail gun nails?
You can use a hammer to drive in some of the larger gauge nails, mainly framing nails. However, this requires extreme accuracy, patience, and using just the right amount of force. More times than not, any brad or finish nails end up bending when hammered.
Will nail gun nails rust?
As with every piece of metal out there, galvanized nails will eventually rust, when constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions. To prevent rust, use nails made from type 304 stainless steel in your construction.
There you have it! A brief description the the different type of nail guns that a DIYer might expect to use and the ones we consider to be the best for your DIY projects.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of nailers as most DIYers need just a few different nail guns for most projects around the house and backyard. If you stick with the tried and true brands, such as Bostitch, DeWalt and Metabo, you’ll find a nailer at a reasonable price that will last a long time.
- Best Roofing Nailer: Metabo HPT Roofing Nailer.
- Best Brad Nailer: DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit.
- Best Framing Nailer: NuMax Pneumatic Framing Nailer.
- Best Cordless Nailer: CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer Kit.
- Best Starter Kit: BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit.
- BEST OVERALL: DeWalt 20V MAX 16 GA Angled Finish Nailer Kit.
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Porter-Cable 20V MAX 18 GA Cordless Brad Nailer Kit.
- BEST FRAMING NAILER: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 21-Degree Framing Nailer Kit.
- BEST BRAD NAILER: Bostitch Smart Point 18 GA Brad Nailer Kit and Nails.
16-gauge nails are the most versatile size, so a 16-gauge nail gun is a great option if you need it for many different projects. 15-gauge nails are most often used for installing thick trim. 18-gauge and higher-gauge nail guns are best used for fine detail work, furniture repair and thin trim work.What is the best nail gun in the world? ›
- 1 Stanley Electric Nail Gun.
- 2 Porter-Cable Cordless Brad Nail Gun.
- 3 Freeman Nail Gun.
- 4 NuMax Pneumatic Nail Gun.
- 5 BOSTITCH Framing Nail Gun.
- 6 Metabo Angled Finish Nailer Kit.
- 7 WEN Pneumatic Brad Nail Gun.
- 8 DEWALT Finish Nail Gun.
A finish nailer is a versatile tool, and drives either 15- or 16-gauge nails. They are used for smaller projects than framing nails, such as crown molding, baseboards, cabinets, chair rails, decorative trim, millwork, and hardwood flooring.What is better a brad nailer or finish nailer? ›
Brads are excellent for trim work, including narrow trim around windows or doors, shoe moulding and quarter-round moulding. Finish nails are versatile nails with a 15- or 16-gauge diameter. They're designed for thicker cuts of wood.Which is better 16 gauge or 18 gauge brad nailer? ›
Gauge is actually the number of nails that are lined up. This indicates that 16-gauge nails are thicker and can hold better when compared to 18-gauge brads. You will have to keep in mind that a low gauge number will have a thicker nail.What nail gun is best for quarter-round? ›
If you're doing lighter molding, such as quarter-round at the bottom of your wall, or installing a chair rail, an 18 Gauge Brad Nailer is fine for the job.What is the best nail gun for tongue and groove? ›
The 16-Gauge Nailer is Versatile
Carpenters use them for a wide variety of tasks including interior trim, baseboard, and crown. You can do stair risers with them, and they're a good option to nail down tongue and groove flooring like near a wall or in a closet where a flooring nailer won't work.
It delivers good power and user-friendly ergonomics. The average weight for a cordless framing nailer was not burdensome in any way. But it will be a noticeable change for users switching from pneumatic framing nailers. But the hose-free maneuverability more than justifies the weight.
15 Gauge vs 16 Gauge | Rule Of Thumb
If you're working with thick, dense wood, or hanging doors you need a heavier 15 gauge nail. The 15 gauge finish nailer is ideal for heavier jobs. If you're working with thin wood, delicate molding or want a smaller nail head to fill, then the 16 gauge nailer is the better option.
- Quality Nail File Kit. These are basic supplies and they are necessary. ...
- Cuticle Exfoliator. ...
- Reusable Nail Forms. ...
- Diamond Nail File. ...
- Sable Brush. ...
- Towelettes. ...
- Toe Separators. ...
- Cuticle Oil.
Brad Nailers – This gun is great for woodworkers. This universal nailer can assist with most woodworking builds and other related projects. Not only can it easily nail in delicate trim like crown and baseboard, but it's also great for cabinetry.What do nail beginners need? ›
You'll need: Natural nail files – for smoothing out any edges before application. Acrylic files – for a precise edge to finished applications. (Optional) Electric file – a multi purpose tool that can adapt to the task required, using different strengths and textures.What projects can I use a brad nailer for? ›
A brad nailer is a smaller version of a standard finish nailer and typically is used for attaching small moldings and trim to a woodworking project.What is the difference between a nailer and a finish nailer? ›
A finish nailer is a slightly bigger gauge nail than the brad nailer at either 15 or 16 gauge, which means the nails used and the hole they leave is bigger. The bigger gauge also results in a stronger hold that the brad nailer can't achieve.What size nails should you use for baseboards? ›
What gauge nails to use for baseboards? Based on nail size, you should be looking for anything between 15 gauge and 18 gauge. With these gauges it you can easily find nails up to 2.5'' long which is an ideal length for baseboard nails.When would you use a 18 gauge brad nailer? ›
The small 18-gauge brad nail helps you to attach delicate trims without splitting the trim. In contrast, finish nail guns that drive thicker nails offer more holding strength. With a brad nailer, you can attach thin trims and moldings without the need for using putty.Which nailer is best for baseboards? ›
Brad nailers are suitable for baseboards. Most fire brads as long as 2 inches, which is enough to penetrate a 3/4-inch thick molding, 1/2-inch thick drywall, and bite into the framing lumber in the baseplate or wall studs.What size brad nailer is best? ›
The rule is simple: a brad should be three times as long as the thickness of the material you are fixing. Example: if the material is 15 mm thick, the brad should be 45 mm long. Choose a brad gun that takes the length of brad you need.
15-gauge – For the outer nail on casing (through drywall) and for base trim or other large trim , and sturdy install of door jambs, particularly heavy, solid-core doors. Non-structural interior applications such as crown molding, door casings or chair rail offer the most choice in the tools and fasteners you use.What is a 16 gauge nailer good for? ›
Similarly, 16-gauge finish nailers are ideal for many of the same applications as their 15 gauge counterpart. This includes projects such as installing door and window trim, baseboards, paneling, crown modeling, door jambs and more.What kind of nail gun does not need a compressor? ›
The advantage of cordless nail guns is that they're the ultimate mobile trim tool. Unlike the pneumatic variety, there's no compressor in the room with you, and you don't have a hose snaking along behind the tool or hanging down from it. You can see why finish carpenters and DIY woodworkers have taken to these tools.What is the most common framing nail gun angle? ›
The most common angles for framing nailers are 15, 21, 28, 30, and 34 degrees. These are fixed angles and are not adjustable, so it's critical to buy nails that match the angle of the nailer.Will Brad nails hold tongue and groove? ›
A finish nailer or brad nailer is the easiest and most efficient tool to use when installing your new shiplap or tongue and groove. They can be purchased/rented relatively cheaply from your local hardware store, they're lightweight, and are simple enough that even a 12 year old can use them!What nail is easiest to hammer wood? ›
A blunt nail penetrates wood easily compared to a sharp nail.How far apart do you nail tongue and groove? ›
Place shims or spacers in the gap between the flooring and the walls to hold it firmly in place. Holding the finish nailer at an angle, shoot nails through the tongue every 8 to 10 inches.Are any nail guns made in the USA? ›
CINCINNATI — KYOCERA SENCO Industrial Tools Inc. (SENCO) announced the launch of an all-new, built-in-the-USA pneumatic framing nailer.Are Bostitch nailers any good? ›
Bostitch performed well in our toenailing tests as well. We attribute this to its nose design, which not only allows for great visibility of the work surface, but also has the excellent barbs to grip into the wood at awkward angles. It scored 95 points in the toenailing testing.Are Dewalt Brad nailers good? ›
Dewalt took a great brad nailer and made it better. The smaller tip makes it easier to put the nail exactly where you want it on smaller trim, which is what you'll be using this on most of the time. Since you don't have to press the tip in hard to enable the trigger it won't mar the surface either.
For delicate finishing touches, a brad nailer is best.
A brad nailer is a light-duty tool. It might be used for adding narrow decorative moldings to plain panels or under stair treads. These tools are popular with crafters and model makers. They are often used for making birdhouses and bat boxes.
Can You Use 18 Gauge Nails (Brad Nailer) for Baseboards? Yes, you can use an 18-gauge Brad Nailer for your baseboards. However, it doesn't have the holding power compared to a 15 or 16-gauge nail.Where do nail techs make the most money? ›
"Manicurist" is sometimes used interchangeably with "nail technician." Like nail technicians, manicurists are licensed professionals. Most states reuire nail technicians to pass an exam and complete a training program, 'apprenticeship, or both.What can a nail technician not do? ›
- Never Forget The Theory. A good nail technician knows so much more than how to do a neat, long lasting manicure. ...
- Never Remove Cuticles. ...
- Never Underestimate Preparation. ...
- Never Compromise on Product. ...
- Never Stop Learning.
Brad nailers are the nail gun most commonly used by DIYers. Most shoot 18-gauge brad nails up to 2 inches in length. These are very versatile tools with a wide range of applications, including furniture building, light construction, and repair tasks around the home or yard.What nail gun should I buy for DIY? ›
The best nail gun for home use is the CRAFTSMAN Cordless Brad Nailer Kit. This cordless brad nailer removes the hassle of purchasing an air compressor by utilizing rechargeable batteries that are capable of accurately driving nails for small home improvement projects, such as decking.What is a good nail gun for DIY? ›
Brad nailer: A popular DIY option, the two-inch nails you'll find in 18-gauge brad nailers make them the skirting board nail gun of choice. Also available in 20-gauge, brad nailers are also the best nail gun for furniture making.What are the 5 main nail types? ›
Most clients lean toward one of five basic nail shapes: square, round, oval, squoval, or pointed.Why is it called a brad nailer? ›
A brad nailer is a powered nail gun that shoots 18-gauge brads (small nails).
Gauge is actually the number of nails that are lined up. This indicates that 16-gauge nails are thicker and can hold better when compared to 18-gauge brads. You will have to keep in mind that a low gauge number will have a thicker nail.What kind of nail gun do I need for drywall? ›
When it comes to the tools for installing drywall screws, we recommend investing in a collated screw gun, or a screw gun attachment for your driver motor.What is the most commonly used nail for construction? ›
Nail Materials and Finishes
Steel is the most common material, but it's vulnerable to corrosion. Steel nails that'll contact moisture or be used in pressure-treated wood need a corrosion-resistant coating or plating. Bright nails are untreated steel, suitable for interior use.
What gauge nails to use for baseboards? Based on nail size, you should be looking for anything between 15 gauge and 18 gauge. With these gauges it you can easily find nails up to 2.5'' long which is an ideal length for baseboard nails.Can you use 16 gauge nails for baseboards? ›
For attaching baseboards, 15 or 16-gauge nails work the best. They have enough size to firmly attach the baseboards in place without being too big to split the material. When using the right nailer, you might go up to 18-gauge if the baseboards are thicker and stronger than normal.Why do builders use nails instead of screws for drywall? ›
Nails are often preferred for large projects, like house framing and installing hardwood floors, because they are typically stronger and less expensive than screws. Since most nails have smooth heads and shafts, they insert easily and speedily with a hammer or nail gun.Are drywall guns worth it? ›
Though a standard drill and a drywall bit can be used, a drywall screw gun speeds up the drywall hanging process. Because of the increase in speed, many drywall professionals, remodelers and even DIYers prefer to use a drywall screw gun on larger projects.Is it better to screw or nail drywall? ›
Drywall screws provide a stronger hold, but cost a bit more than nails. When choosing drywall screws vs. nails, consider the size of your project and the materials you'll be using. Use screws instead of nails when you are working on a ceiling installation or working with metal studs or frames.What PSI is needed for a nail gun? ›
Specifications for air-powered nailers detail the cubic feet per minute (CFM) and pressures (PSI) needed. Minimum pressure is at least 70 psi while 90 is a more useful target level.What gauge finish nailer is best? ›
If you're shopping for a finish nailer, I'd recommend the larger 15-gauge gun, simply because the fatter nails provide more holding power.
Gas- or battery-powered brad nailers handle these jobs just as well as their pneumatic cousins, but without the fuss of dragging around an air compressor and hose. They also make the perfect tool for a trim carpenter returning to a job site for punch-list work.