The 21 Main Types of Nails [The Ultimate Guide]

Nails are essential construction materials that will be around any site or even in our homes for various applications.

Depending on the structure that you might be looking to build, the number of nails required can end up in thousands.

Nails are made of different materials. The most common include steel, stainless steel, carbon, aluminum, iron, and copper. Depending on the application, you might have to stick to specific materials.

Before you can start building the structure, you need to understand the various types of nails available in the market. No one wants to end up with the wrong nails for the job.

This guide is all about picking the best nail for the application. We will look at 21 types of nails for any job you might be thinking to start.

At the end of the guide, you should be ready to tackle any job while at the same time have the right nails for it.

Well, here are the 21 main different types of nails you should know today. Let us get into the list already.

21 Main Different Types of Nails

1. Common Nails

As the name suggests, these are the most common type of nails you will get in the market. They are characterized by having a larger and thicker shank compared to what you get with box nails.

These nails also have a wide head, a diamond-shaped point, and a smooth shank. It is always easy to differentiate them from what you get with the other nails.

Workers commonly use this type of nail for applications such as framing, carpentry, and many other indoor construction projects they might have in mind.

As for the size, the nails range from 2d to 60d and 1 to 6 inches in terms of length. So, always pick the right size and length depending on your application.

It is possible to sometimes get special sizes from a manufacturer. However, the most common sizes and lengths will have multiple uses making them versatile.

2. Brad Nails

It is easy to confuse them with finishing nails. There are some subtle differences that can make them unique to finishing nails.

These nails have a small diameter making them easy for finishing projects. Once you drive them into the panel or wood trim, you would not know they were there.

Due to their slender profile, such nails can also be used on delicate material without splitting it.

Because of their subtle appearance, these nails are good for leaving you with a clean finish while working on various woodworking projects.

Most manufacturers recommend you use them on thin lumber cuts. Such can include fiberboard and plywood.

3. Finishing Nails

Finishing nails are good to act as fasteners while at the same time offer a decorative effect.

The nails have a distinct look that makes it easy to identify them. Some say these nails have the lost-head nails they seem not to have ahead.

These nails are used for finishing projects just as the name suggests. When you drive them into the wood, they will go slightly beneath the surface.

So, you can cover the area with putty or easily paint over them leaving you with a flush surface.

The nails would be made of different materials thus choose the one you feel is the right for the job. Some will have various corrosion coatings to further improve durability.

4. Drywall Nails

When you have to work on your drywall, then you need the right drywall nails for the job.

The drywall nails come with different designs so that you can choose the right one depending on the applications.

The drywall nails will have a ringed or barbed shank. This design is important for improving the overall holding power of the nail.

If you have to handle a small project, go for the drywall nails as they are cost-effective.

We must point out that the drywall nails are great for wall installation and not ceiling installations. You might want to switch to something else when doing ceiling installations.

5. Cut Flooring Nails

The cut flooring nails have a unique design that should make the finished flooring look good.

For those that might be looking for a 19th-century style, then this is it. These nails are cut from a steel plate leaving you with a distinctive wedge shape.

It is not just about looks, but also performance. These nails are good for providing an impressive grip that users want for holding down their floors.

If you want to use them for floor installation, be prepared to spend quite an amount as these are expensive nails. The worst is when you have to cover a large area in terms of flooring.

Even though they can be expensive, these nails are good in providing the right grip you need for the floor.

They will also not split the wood, but rather tear through it and anchor properly as required.

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6. Spiral Flooring Nails

It gets the name because of the spiral-shaped shank. This is a nice choice for those who want something affordable for flooring.

Depending on the manufacturer, such nails can be heat treated to improve their durability.

Such a feature is important for reducing the chances of bending. As a result, you should end up with an easy time driving the nails even into the hardwood.

The sizes vary a lot. We recommend that you take your time to check out the different size options depending on your flooring needs.

7. Framing Nails

It is easy to know where best to use the framing nails because of the name of the nails.

The framing nails are good for various framing applications that you might have. To identify them, look at their size.

They tend to be thinner than what you get with common nails.

These nails will also have a flat head and can be coated for ease of driving. Once driven into the structure, these nails remain flush with the surface.

It is good that they can remain flush with the surface as you would not want a protruding nail that messes up the look of your structure.

These nails can be made of steel, carbon, or aluminum. If you have to choose one, make sure that it would live up to your needs.

8. Roofing Nails

From the name, it is easy to tell that these nails are designed for installing the roofing material. They are easily identifiable for having an umbrella head.

Sometimes they can have a smooth or twisted shank. The head is what makes them good for roofing applications.

The design of the head is important to prevent the roofing sheets from easily tearing around the nail head. They are also good for offering a decorative and artistic effect.

Newer designs will have rubber or plastic washers to prevent any cases of water leaking. Each time you use the roofing nails, you are sure that they will keep the water out with ease.

Because of their application, they are designed to be extremely resistant to corrosion and other weather conditions.

9. Cut Masonry Nail

This nail type is made of hardened steel. The hardness is usually greater than what you get with the HRC50 steel grade.

It is easy to see that it would be a strong type of nail for various applications.

The nail also comes with a unique design you will not find with many other types of nails. The design comprises a blunt point followed by a tapered shank.

This design is good for minimal splitting and spalling when using the nail. They however offer great resistance to withdrawal compared to the other nail types.

For their performance, you will get them being used for different hard materials. Such can include masonry, concrete, and cinder block.

The nail’s head is squared or wrought to give it a decorative and distinctive finishing surface.

These nails are popular in historic and new projects alike. Make sure that you wear safety glasses when driving such types of hardened nails.

10. Weather Strip Nails

These types of nails are designed to deliver the best performance regardless of the weather conditions. You will then find them being great for outdoor use where the weather conditions are unpredictable.

The nails are good for attaching weather stripping or any other related applications.

They come with a sharp point combined with a barbed shank. These two features make it easy to securely install the nail into position.

They can be made of different materials, but the most common is copper. This is because such material can hold up quite well against different weather conditions.


11. Panel Nail

The panel nails come in handy when you have to attach a panel board to a structure. The same can be used for other indoor applications such as attaching drywall.

These nails are available in different colors. The result is that you can always choose something that blends into the surface color.

The nails have a flat head combined with a ringed shaft. This provides you with the right security needed for fastening the panel board correctly.

The grip is also good as it can prevent slipping of the board once nailed into position.

Most manufacturers would recommend not to use it in treated lumber or where corrosion might be an issue. So, it is best to use it mostly for indoor applications.

12. Joist Hanger Nails

To securely hold a joist hanger, you will need the joist hanger nails as part of the setup.

The joist hangers are brackets used for adding strength and rigidity to connections.

These connections will have wood pieces meeting at a 90-degree angle. In most cases, it could be a truss or beam intersection.

The joist hanger nails are mostly made of stainless steel or hardened steel. They can also be found in a wide range of finishes depending on your application.

There are also various options to consider when you have to look at the shanks. The most common shank options include smooth, barbed, and ring.

13. Cement Nails

These nails are commonly used for carpentry, framing, and construction purposes. Because of such versatility, such nails will be common with those who handle DIY projects.

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The nails have a cement coating, which makes it easier to drive them into different structures. The cement coating is still important for providing the strong holding power that you need for the different applications.

The cement nails will have a smooth flat head. This design is good for leaving you with an elegant finish always. Depending on the hammering technique, you can always have a flush finish after using the cement nails.

14. Annular Ring Nails

The annular ring nails are commonly used in softer woods. Because of their design, they can separate the wood fibers, and then these fibers will lock back into the nail rings. The result is a strong bond between the two thus resisting removal.

Such nails are good for deck board or drywall installation applications. Since they are pullout resistant, you should find many going for them to securely hold the drywalls in position.

Take your time to drive them into position as the incorrect use of these nails on softwood can lead to wasted material.

It is not advisable to use such nails on the hardwood. They can lead to irreparable damage if the nail has to be removed later.

15. Upholstery Nails

The upholstery nails have two main purposes. The first one is to attach padding or any other material to your furniture. The other reason is to work as a decorative accent to your furniture.

Most types of upholstery nails are not rust-resistant as they are designed for indoor use. For those that might have to clean them, ensure to rub them dry as the water left behind might lead to corrosion.

It is also advisable not to use polishing cream on such nails. The polishing cream can easily take off the finish.

Upholstery nails are small and sharp. It is advisable to take care when using them. The last thing you want is the nails pricking your finger.

16. Cut Tack Nail

This is a tack nail with a large head combined with a sharp point. For its design, you will find such a nail being good for fastening carpets and upholstery. You can still use such nails for light fastening jobs around the house.

They can be made of different materials, but we recommend the electro-galvanized cut tacks. These tacks are lightweight and easy to use.

They will also leave a clean look after driving them into the structure.

Their design makes them good for remaining resistant to pulling forces. It might be why you find them ideal for use in various fastening applications.

17. Spiral Shank Nail

These nails are designed to increase the withdrawal capacity when used in hardwoods.

You must not confuse them with spiral nails as they are designed to increase the driving power in hardwoods.

Because of the spiral shank design, they work like wood screws in the sense that they thread into the fibers of the hardwood as you drive them.

These nails are also designed to handle the dense materials better thanks to the use of reinforced steel.

They will not bend easily, thus the reason they are popular for driving into hard materials.

You can use them for softwood applications; however, they might lead to material splitting. That is how you end up with wasted material.

For softwood, we recommend you use the annular ring nails mentioned above.

18. Head-Rose Head Nail

For those that might be in the market for nails with a different look, then this one should do the job.

These nails are good for framing, scaffolding, face nailing, and so much more. There are some that use it for softwood floors. It is now easy to find them being quite versatile.

Depending on the size that you choose, these nails can come in handy for furniture repair, paneling, and batten doors. They will always leave you with an antique look on where you use them.

The nails come with quite an outstanding durability plus holding power. Once you use them, you do not have to worry that they will not hold the structure.

19. Siding Nail

The siding nails are good for various applications that you might think of right now. These nails can be used for siding, fencing, decking, trim installation, and more.

Because of such versatility, they stand out as great all-around nails to use for various projects that you might have in the house.

These nails also come with a stiff shank. The aim is to make them easy for driving even if it means going through hardwood.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommended size depending on the application. The last thing you want is to split the wood.

20. Hammer Drive Nail in Anchor

A hammer drive anchor is used mostly for light-duty fastening activities. It is why you will find it commonly used in indoor environments.

You might want to stay away from the damp and outdoor conditions when using this type of device.

To use them, you will want to purchase the hammer drive nails. These are nails designed to fit in the anchor. The anchor will now easily drive these nails into the different structures.

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The hammer drive anchor nails are quite versatile. This is because you can use them in many materials such as brick, concrete, and more.

These nails tend to be permanent applications. So, always double-check to ensure that is where you want to place them.

You can remove these nails but they might damage the surface.

21. Duplex Nails

The duplex nails are also referred to as scaffold nails in some places. These nails can also be called double-headed nails because of their design.

This unique design of the nail makes it good for working on temporary structures. This is where the workers would drive the nail until it gets to the lower head.

When it is time to remove the nail, the hammer claw holds onto the upper head. So, it should be easy to remove the nail from the temporary structure.

These nails can be made of carbon, aluminum, or steel. It comes down to what you are working on.

Because of the various strong materials used to make the nails, they can easily be used for other projects. They are also known to have great holding power and remain resistant to easy bending.

Woodworking Nails Vs. Screws: When to Use Each Fastener

Nails and screws are easily the unsung heroes of construction. You are always going to find them in carpentry too.

These two are essential for holding various wooden frames together. It is not just the wooden frames, but also kitchen cabinetry, decking, and many other applications.

Now that you know just how important they are, where do you use each one of them? It is possible sometimes even for the pros to ask themselves such a tough question.

To help you understand where best to use these fasteners, we will look at various scenarios and suggest what to use. This should help you pick the right fastener for the job always.

1. The Project Size and Choice of Tool

When working on a large project, nails are often preferred. Let us say that you want to install floors or make a farmhouse, then it is easier to use the nails compared to screws.

The nails are also stronger and cheaper compared to screws. Most nails have a smooth shaft and head. This will make it easier for you to drive the nails into the wood compared to screws.

Screws are best suited for small and mid-sized projects. Let us say you are doing some woodworking or decking.

People would choose the screws for such projects as they give you more control when inserting or extracting from the structure.

There are different types of screws out there. What is important is that you learn more about them to end up with the right screws for the job.

Generally, manual screwdrivers make more people opt for nails. This is because you have to use a lot of twisting force to drive the screws.

However, with the increase in the types of cordless drills and impact wrenches, it is now easier to install these screws.

2. Structural Joining

If you have to do structural joining, then it is best to opt for nails. In this case, you will focus more on using the framing nails.

Nails are a better choice because they can remain flexible even under pressure. The same cannot be said for the screws as they can easily snap.

Nails are commonly used when securing plywood sheathing on exterior walls, attaching roofing and siding, installing hardwood floors, and more. In all these applications, you will not get screws being used.

Whenever a person has to do a job such as framing, carpentry, and construction, common nails are the first choice.

This is because the right type of nails prevents the wood from splitting making them good for the job.

Also, it is generally easier to drive the nails into the wood compared to screws.

3. Temporary Jobs

If you have to work on temporary jobs, then the screws are your best option. The screws are good for creating a tight bond and remain easy to remove compared to nails.

Woodworkers love using screws when setting up jigs. They know that at some point, the jig has to come apart. It would be easier to use screws for such an application.

The screws are still good for mounting trim and hardware, joining the furniture parts, constructing cabinets, and more.

Since screws do not vibrate as much as nails, then they are less likely to cause damage to the surface upon insertion.

It is why you might consider using screws when working on delicate material.

The delicate materials include plaster and drywalls. When you use nails, sometimes they can split the workpiece.

4. Flexibility Over Tensile Strength

Nails have better flexibility, but the screws have better tensile strength.

Tensile strength is the ability of the material to resist breaking when under pressure. The screws will do better in such situations compared to nails.

For this reason, the screws will be used for projects where the joined pieces will remain under constant pressure or tension.

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Good examples include kitchen cabinetry and porch railings.

The screws are also resistant to withdrawal pressure or the tendency of the surfaces trying to pull apart. As such, they can keep these surfaces together better than nails.

As much as the screws have better tensile strength, nails of the same length will be stronger. They can also withstand shear pressure better than screws.

Shear pressure is the tendency of two joined pieces trying to slide past each other.

So, for your next project, determine if the joined parts are likely to move apart or slide over each other. If it is sliding, then choose the nails and if it is pulling apart, then choose screws.

5. The Two Can Be Used Interchangeably

As much as we have seen from the above scenarios that nails would be better than screws in some cases, they can still be used interchangeably.

If you plan on installing drywall or subfloor, it would be better to use screws as the fasteners as they can hold tighter and for longer.

You can use an electric drywall screw gun to make the whole process easier.

Screws are still the preferred choice when installing subfloors as they can be removed with ease. They also come in handy to prevent cases of squeaky floors thus creating tighter joints.

Nails are often a great choice when laying down the hardwood floorboard as they will not split the wood compared to screws. Also, they do not end up marrying the wood surface as screw heads would do.

Nails can also flex better than screws. This allows for the expansion and contraction of the wood without necessarily loosening its grip.

6. Use Ring Shank Nails for More Gripping Power

It is common to see most nails having flat heads combined with smooth shafts. The ring shank nails are a hybrid design. They are all about providing more gripping power.

You can refer to them as offering the best of both worlds. This is because they deliver on better gripping power of screws and more flexibility strength associated with nails.

It is estimated that ring shank nails will have 40 percent more holding power compared to common nails.

As for applications, the ring shank nails are good for softwoods. This includes shingles and plywood attachment.

The nails will provide a tighter and more permanent grip compared to using the smooth-shank nails.

The ring shank nails are also good for installing subflooring and drywall, but their flat head design makes it harder to extract them.

They will end up leaving a jagged hole when removing them.

At this point, you should know where and when it is best to use either the nails or the screws. If you have to interchange them, make sure to use the right type.

This is especially important for those who have to install delicate material. Some of these materials are easily split, so use the right tool for the job.

Galvanized Concrete Nail – A Sharp Penetrator of Masonry

The use of galvanized concrete nails has been on the rise. People are now using them for securing different types of objects into masonry and many other hard and brittle surfaces. It is why such nails are also known as masonry nails.

These nails are characterized by having a thick shank. The thick shank makes it a popular nail in the construction world.

Here is a list of projects you are likely to find it being used in today.

  • Fishing off basements
  • Building garages on poured slabs
  • Securing of handrails on concrete patios
  • Fastening ledger boards to foundations
  • Securing wood framing and furring strips to concrete blocks and walls, etc.

Manufacturers use hardened steel to make these types of nails. The results are that you end up with nails having a higher rigidity that keeps them from bending or breaking. You can use such nails on sold concrete and they will penetrate with ease.

Having a flat head with a sharp conical design makes it easier to drive these nails into concrete.

The thick shank is also a nice addition to making the nails have a strong holding power compared to some other nail types.

As much as most will have flat heads, the galvanized concrete nails can also be designed to have no heads.

It comes down to where you want to use the nails. Such would be great nails for finishing applications.

Styles and Designs of Nails

Learning about the styles and designs of nails can go a long way in helping you pick the right nail for the job.

We will look at the most common styles and designs you will get with the nails below.

Nail heads

The checkered flatheads are good for framing and they are still textured to avoid slipping.

The countersunk heads offer a conical shape, making it easier for you to push them into the wood surface.

Thus, they will be good for finishing jobs then filled with putty to improve the surface aesthetics.

The flatheads are the most common nail types you will find in the market. They offer a strong holding power and will be good for insulation and sheathing.

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The cupped heads have a concave shape that makes them perfect for applications where you need to conceal the nails. Such include when putting up drywall.

Nail points

The diamond nail points are the most common in various types of nails. This makes such nails good for general-purpose jobs.

There are also the long diamond points. These points will work well on drywall and they are still a good option when working on harder materials too.

The blunt points can be hard to work with because of their blunt tips. They are however a good choice if you want to prevent the wood from cracking.

Nail shanks

Ringed shanks are good for those who want to work on soft to medium-density wood pieces.

The fluted or knurled shanks have a vertical thread important for making them stronger. As such, these nails will be great for cinder blocks and masonry where more strength is necessary and reduced cracking is desirable.

The smooth shank makes the nails quite versatile. You can easily use such nail types for various applications that you might have.

The barbed shank nails offer excellent holding power. It is why they are great for working on strong hardwoods.

Nail coatings

Vinyl coatings are quite popular and they help reduce friction so that you can drive the nails into surfaces easily.

The vinyl also melts when driving the nail into the surface to provide better adherence between the two materials.

You end up with a somewhat permanent joint between the two.

The hot-dipped galvanized coatings will make the nails to be corrosion resistant. If you are worried about moisture deteriorating the nails faster, then consider using galvanized coated nails.

The stainless steel coatings are also good for keeping the nails rust-resistant. As much as they can be a bit more experience than regular nails, they remain worth the extra cost.

You will not have to go back to replace these nails even when exposed to the weather elements such as moisture.

Tips for Working More Successfully with Nails

Nails are awesome to use when working on various materials. However, you need to know how to use the nails correctly if you want the job done correctly. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. When working on the harder woods, consider drilling a pilot hole before driving the nail. This will reduce the chance of splitting the wood when you start driving the nail into the wood.
  2. Drive nails at an angle to improve joint durability and strength. This is common when you could not use a longer nail or the backing material is very thin and does not allow the use of longer nails.
  3. We recommend that you use heavy mallets when driving masonry nails. They work better compared to the regular hammers.
  4. Blunting the nail a little bit reduces the chances of splitting the wood. You can do this by hammering the tip of the nail with the hammer several times.
  5. Use a hammer to completely drive the head into the wood making it sit flush with the surface. This ensures that the overall look of the project is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
  6. Do not drive several nails on the same grain line. This is likely to prevent more stress on the grain and thus the wood will not split. Sometimes it might be hard to follow this rule, but it helps to keep the wood from splitting.
  7. To make the nails lock in position better, try to drive the nails against or through the grain. For those who drive the nails with the grain, they find that such nails can easily slide out.


If you are going to work on any construction or woodworking projects, then nails are crucial to make the project a success.

Not all nails are designed to do the same job, so from the above guide, you will know which nails to use and where they apply to.

The nails have to be driven correctly too. This is because incorrect driving of nails can split the workpiece leading to material wastage.

So, it is worth taking your time to ensure the nails are driven correctly depending on the material in hand.

We have also looked at some of the tips for using nails correctly. From the tips above, go ahead and try them out.

They can help you make better joints than before and improve your workmanship too.

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