Brad nailers and finish nailers are designed for precision nailing opposing the common bulk nailing. However, both the nailers are meant for different roles and use. To give you a more detailed view of finish nailers and brad nailers, we have drawn a comparison between both of them. Let’s check it out…
Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer – A Comparison
What is a Brad Nailer?
A brad nailer is a modern type of nail gun that shoots brads, unlike other nailers that shoot nails. If you are unfamiliar with brads, they are essentially a thin nail normally with a gauge of 18 and only 0.0475 inches in cross-section which is quite small for a nail. Brad nails are extremely useful for putting up extremely thin and delicate finishing. It goes with ease in cases where a regular nail could crack or break the trim. This is why brad nails are used to ensure that the trim doesn’t break.
Generally, brad nailers come in very handy when you need to apply delicate trimming and molding. They are also great to apply the finishing touches to woodworking projects.
- Perfect for delicate trims and moldings
- No chances of trim splitting
- The resulting hole doesn’t require filling
- Used on baseboards and plywood up to ½ inch.
- Can’t hold large boards, moldings, and wood
- Not ideal for tight spaces
A Pro Tip
If a brad nail failed to go through, don’t try hammering the nail head as it is very thin and can bend easily. It may cause damage to the already done work. Instead, pull out this brad nail and drive a new one in its place for better results.
Read More: What is a Brad Nailer Used for?
What is a Finish Nailer?
A finish nailer also serves a similar role to a brad nailer but you don’t use it for a majority part of the job. It has been used for some specific and delicate situations of a project like putting up a trim or a mold. A finish nailer is stronger than brad nailers but not as strong as framing nail guns. An average finish nailer can accommodate nails from 1ˮ – 2.5ˮ in length. Headless nails are used in a finish nailer that can’t be removed easily when needed.
- Nails offer high holding strength
- Excellent for a number of woodworking applications
- More versatile and handy tool
- Use 15-gauge nails that can reach corners easily
- Produce bigger holes that require filling
- Additional work for a carpenter
- Not recommended for thin trims and narrow boards
Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer Comparison Table
|Feature||Brad Nailer||Finish Nailer|
|Nail Used||Normally 18-gauge thin brad nails||15-gauge and 16-gauge nails|
|Capacity||Holding power is less||High holding power|
|Hole Diameter||0.0475 inches||0.0720 inches|
|Best Use||1) Ideal for thin trims attachments without splitting.
2) Best for lightweight boards and moldings.
|1) Ideal for furniture finishing, door casing, and carpentry work.
2) Used on plywood, MDF, and baseboards.
Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer – Some Differences
You have got an in-depth analysis of what both nailers have to offer. Now it’s time to list some key differences between the two nailers that will clarify that these nailers can’t be used interchangeably.
1. Hole Size
Both these nailers create different sized holes when used. When you use a finish nailer, you need to use some putty to fill them just like with regular nail guns.
Brad nailers don’t leave noticeable holes in the material they are used on. However, if the material is incredibly thin or weak, you will notice some little holes that are needed to be taken care of.
Finish nailers are more powerful comparing these two nail guns. If you have some heavy or thick trimming work, a finish nailer is better as it will keep the trim secure in such a scenario. If you are driving nails into thinner trim, you need to use a brad nailer as the power of a finish nailer will become a hindrance in this case.
3. Nail Sizes
When it comes to nails, the general rule of thumb is that the higher the gauge number the smaller their diameter or cross-sectional size is. Here is a table that presents the respective nail size difference…
|Nail Type||Nail Size (Inches)||Nail Size (Millimeters)|
|Brad Nailer 18-Gauge||0.0475||1.207|
|Finish Nailer 16-Gauge||0.0625||1.588|
|Finish Nailer 15-Gauge||0.0720||1.83|
Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer – FAQs
1. What type of nailer is preferred to use for baseboards?
An 18-gauge brad nailer is preferred for installing baseboards. You can use 1.5ˮ nails for the best results. If the baseboard is heavy then it is better to use a finish nailer. It is recommended to predrill when using a finish nailer close to the edge of baseboards. This way you can avoid the splitting of the board.
2. Can you use brad nails in a finish nailer?
Don’t ever use different nails for different nail guns as there is a considerable difference in nail diameters. If you load a brad nail in a finish nailer, it will result in jams and will break your nail gun. You could also face injury by the flying metal shrapnel in such a case.
3. Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer, which is better for a hardwood floor?
A 15-gauge finish nailer will work better for the hardwood floor. The brad nails will not penetrate easily through the tough hardwood. The best solution is to use a flooring nailer for installing hardwood.
4. Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer, which is right for crown molding?
A brad nailer will work fine as crown molds are usually lightweight. However, when the crown molds are heavy, brad nailers will not penetrate through them, so, a 16-gauge finish nailer will be better in this scenario.
This guide presents a thoughtful insight into the finish nailer vs. brad nailer problem. After reading this guide, you should be able to determine which nail gun to use for your next project. If you are still having some confusion, ask the local vendor for the nail guns about his opinion. This way you can move in the right direction.