Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer [Pros, Cons & Differences]

Do you need a nailer? If so, which one will suit your project best: a brad or a finish nailer? Nailers are tools that use nails to fasten wood and other materials.

Choosing the right brad nailer or finish nailer can be a difficult task.

There are two main types of nailers available on the market today – Brad Nailers and Finish Nailers.

We have created this blog post that goes in-depth into brad nailers vs. finish nailers to make things easier.

We will discuss what these tools do, how to buy one, some of their features, and which type is best for you!

What are Brad Nailers and Finish Nailers

Brad Nailers

The brad nailer is like a gun, but instead of shooting out nails, it shoots small thin nails called “brads”. It has the same caliber as other guns with 18 gauge.

Brad nails are a great and valuable tool to have around the house. They’re thin enough not to break or crack when you use them on delicate things like trim or molding.

Still, you can use brad nails for sturdier purposes, such as securing boards together in your shed’s floorboards.

Finish Nailers

As the name indicates, finish nailers are meant to be used at the end of projects instead of throughout them (it’s why the term finish is used).

If you need to put up trim or molding, a finish nailer is a way to go.

The finishing nailer is the next-generation building tool for those who want to have a professional-looking trim and molding on their project.

If you need something thinner than your average nails but not as thick as framing ones, then this could be what you’re searching for!

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer Comparison

When it comes to nailing down different materials, these two are clear winners: the brad nailer and finish nailers.

Brad nailers are perfect for attaching delicate trims without splitting the frame, while finish nails offer more holding strength.

However, both nailers play different roles and use. Let’s take a look at the comparison of these two types of nailers side by side.

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The following table compares an 18-gauge Brad Nailer vs. a 16-gauge Finish Nailer.

Difference 16-Gauge Nailer 18-Gauge Nailer
Price May vary according to the brand May vary according to the brand
Types of Woods Hardwood, softwood, plywood, baseboard, MDF Non-MDF woods, softwood
Functions Carpentry works, such as furniture and heavy moldings Excellent for delicate woodworks
Power Source Pneumatic, cordless, gas-powered Pneumatic, cordless, electric
Size/Gauge Longer and thicker A bit thinner
Holding Capacity Can hold hardwoods Better for thin baseboards

Why Should You Care About The Difference Between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

 The primary difference between a brad nailer vs. a finish nailer is the 18-gauge nails used in the former and 16 or 15, 14 gauge for the latter. 

These can be useful to make sure your trims are not split when they have delicate material on them, like moldings.

The brads also help you attach thin trim without any need to use putty as well.

While finishing nails, on the other hand, may require some filling up after securing something that needs more strength, such as carpentry work with thicker wood pieces.

The majority of people in the United States use Finish Nails. Brad nails have a smaller head, so they possess less hold power.

Still, they are ideal for sheathing and roofing applications, where their thinner profile helps to hide them behind the siding.

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The Pros Of Using A Brad Nailer or Finish nailer

Brad Nailer

Brad nailers are more popular so the price will be lower than that of a trim nailer.

Brad nails are easy to use. They go into the wood, and you won’t even notice them at all. You might not need any putty to cover it up.

Some brad nailers can hold staples, unlike finish nailers.

Brad nails are perfect for holding together small-scale crafting projects while you wait to glue. They’re easy to remove and can be used as a clamp when gluing.

These fasteners will hold things together securely while the glue sets and they’re easy to remove as well.

Another advantage of brad nailers like a pneumatic brad nailers is their versatility in materials to finish projects. You can use your gun on any type of material, including wood or metal (even glass).

Finish Nailer

Finish nailers can attach substantial woodwork and make it permanent.

The best part of using a finishing nailer is they come in two different types: straight and angled magazines.

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Angled magazine can be used when you need your nails to go into the corner studs, so there’s no guesswork!

The larger plus? You won’t have any limits on what materials you can use for this type of tool.

The finish nail is also more vital for holding heavier trim boards.

That said, these lighter-duty finish nails work best in garden sheds or anywhere. At the same time, you’ll also need these fixtures on exterior projects such as railing, fascia boards, and porch strips since the finished product looks smooth and almost invisible.

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The Cons Of Using A Brad Nailer or Finish Nailers

Brad Nailer

Brad nailers are great tools for small projects, but they don’t have the same holding power as finish nails.

Brad nailers are not typically as strong and sharp for woods, such as medium-density fiberboard. They are difficult to penetrate through hardwoods such as walnut, ash, oak, etc.

In addition, their nails may easily bend or break when driven into materials like MDF or thick plywood boards.

A significant disadvantage for brad nails is that their magazines only come in straight style instead of at an angle.

Finish Nailer

Finish nailers are three times more expensive than brad nailers but with a purpose. It is because it can do more than brad nailer.

Electrics are expensive. But they are things that you can use for a long time.

A finish nailer is not strong enough to hold a stud in place. But it can be used for small framing pieces. It can also attach some small decorative trim, but it might split the frame in two.

Also, finish nailers can be a dangerous tool. You should consider taking safety precautions or training before operating this device.

Other cons involved with finish nailers are not related to their projects per se but more because they can cause damage if misused.

They are often taken for granted and used indiscriminately as an alternative to hammers or screwdrivers.

When it comes to woodwork, there may be problems associated with chip-outs (gaps at joints due to overdriving) and splitting caused by nails driven too close together.

Which One Is Right For Your Project

When choosing a tool for your job, there isn’t one answer. There are many types of tools that range in size and weight.

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For example, you could choose to use a significant spike for wood pieces or small plastic spikes for picture frames. You could also use heavy wall molding at home where furniture goes on top.

With the nail gun, you need both.

You can’t have a brad nailer without also having an offset or finish nailer to do more hard-to-reach work like trim wood and other materials that are difficult for your basic staples to penetrate.

It is essential when choosing which one of these tools will be best suited for your needs.

You may also take into consideration whether it is for power vs. aesthetics (what looks nicer) because each has its advantages and disadvantages in different situations.

Just like a review made by Brad the Painter where he said that nail guns are like hammers, you need both.

“But if I had to pick one first… Well, the 15 gauge finish nailer is my favorite of the two, and it does everything a 14 gauge can do but even more” – Brad the Painter.

With these tools, there are no hammer marks or damaged fingers holding them together. They’re smooth finishes with nothing getting in your way!

Brads may be hard to insert manually, but not when using a brad nail gun which will make things so much easier on yourself!

If you don’t have enough money, then at least buy a combo kit because it’ll save time and honestly just really helps get jobs done quicker than doing each individually by hand.

Before deciding on which nailer is right for you, it’s important to consider the type of project you’re working on.

You need a brad or finish nailer.

They both drive nails but have some specifications according to when and where you use them while making joints.

How To Use Them Correctly

The brad nailer is not a device to be taken lightly.

It can do some serious damage if you’re not paying attention, so we must learn how to use the tool properly and safely with good maintenance practices in mind.

If you’ve used a hand-stapler before, then an 18 gauge brad gun should work fine for your needs. Only this time, you are using an innovative power drill instead of brute force!

There are many things people often forget about when learning how to use their new toy, from handling safety procedures, such as loading the weapon only after unplugging it (because nobody wants those injuries!) to the brad nailer’s position in the hand when firing.

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Studies show that there are about 37,000 emergency room accidents per year in the USA due to nail guns.

Manufacturers of nail guns even provide safety glasses with their products. It’s an indication that they know how dangerous these tools can be!

And while it may seem like you’re only covering up your donkey’s eyeholes, think again! What could go wrong is when a nail flies out and injures someone nearby.

If you’re a DIYer or an avid home improvement enthusiast, the finish nail gun is your best friend.

You can use it for quick and efficient baseboard installation without having to worry about any paint spilling onto a primer, and that’s not even all!

Watch this video to get some tips for using a finish nailer:

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In this video, George Vondriska explains some key features and shows the convenience of using one with these three quick tips:

  • make sure that there are nails left for work ahead by loading them into the magazine before starting up
  • practice good safety habits when handling this tool
  • wear protective eye gear so as not to get hit or hurt during the operation
  • remember where your hands are at all times while operating near others


What is the brad size?

Brad nails typically have an 18-gauge wire which makes them less sturdy than finishing nails but more popular because they’re usually cheaper too!

How much energy does a brad gun use?

Brad guns are powered by air or electricity, so they don’t need any fuel like gas or oil. It’s important to remember that these tools can create some noise because they work with compressed air!

Which nail gun should I buy for my home project?

Everyone’s needs are different, and it would be difficult to say what will work for you specifically.

Brad nailers are generally used to nail wood pieces perpendicular to the surface, usually for construction purposes and rough carpentry.

Finish nailers, on the other hand, can be used both vertically and horizontally through materials like plywood or vinyl sheet.

If you’re not sure of your project preferences or need specific advice, it’s best to contact a carpenter or do-it-yourself expert near you.

What are Brad Nails and Finish nails?

Brad nails are thin, small nails that can be hammered into very tight spaces. They are used with a brad nailer to put up trim or in an electric drill to attach the molding to walls.

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Finish nails are similar in shape and size but have more of a flattened and wide head, which lets them sink into the wood without splitting it as easily for finishing work on furniture and other woodwork projects.

Are brad guns good to use on drywall?

Brad guns are generally not recommended for drywall. If you need to reattach a board, then use a finish nailer or pneumatic stapler.

How do you load a brad nailer without bending the brads?

You load brad nails by sliding the coil into the throat of the nail gun, working from left to right, and sliding them in at an angle so that they form a neat, centered line.

The crucial step is ensuring your fingers are on opposite sides of the brad as you slide it in.

In this way, you’ll keep your fingers away from each other and prevent accidental contact, which can make for a very uncomfortable experience should one finger slip through before getting stuck!

Can I use a brad nailer for baseboards?

Yes. However, the difference between a brad nailer and other types of nailers is that a brad nailer has wide nails which are used for low-duty projects such as trimming up molding.

They’re slightly longer than standard nails, so they don’t go all the way into the wood.

Will my finish nailer accept brad nails?

No. brad nails are 18-gauge wire and finish nailers use thicker 16 or 15-gauge wire, which will cause the brads to bend as they try to slide through.

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