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What Is The Difference Between A Brad Nailer And A Finish Nailer?

Brandon Carter
  Mar 27, 2023 7:36 AM

It could be challenging to distinguish between a finish nailer and a Brad nailer when they are placed side by side. Additionally, there are commonalities when comparing brad nails with finishing nails. However, it's obvious that there must be distinctions; otherwise, why would both be so well-liked?

This guide was created to assist in resolving the brad nailer vs. finish nailer controversy. In addition to providing a technical description of each tool, it provides instances in which you may utilize one nailer rather than the other. To learn how to choose the best tool for your DIY projects, keep reading.

1. Size of Nailer

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

Source: Pinterest

Larger 16-, 15-, and Even 14-Gauge Nails Can Be Fired By Finish Nailers

The gauge, or wire diameter, used to create nails is used to specify them. Higher and lower numbers have different thicknesses. A nail has more gripping strength the thicker it is.

Compared to brad nailers, finish nailers typically employ thicker gauges. They are often 16 gauge nails cordless. There are a few 14-gauge types, although they are uncommon. The length of finishing nails ranges from 1 to 312 inches.

But when it comes to brad vs. finish nailers, a finish nailer is more potent and weighs a little more than a brad nailer since the bigger nail diameter takes more force to drive it.

Brad Nailers Use Smaller 18-Gauge Nails

Brad nails, often known as brads, are 18 gauge (cordless 18 gauge brad nailer), or 0.0475 inches. They range from 12 to 212 inches in length. A 16-gauge finish nail is 0.0625 inches thick in contrast. Even while the difference may not seem like much, the shorter length is a reliable indication that a brad nail won't be able to support materials that are as thick as finished nails. They might need to be stronger to cut through the dense wood. Being thinner can decrease the likelihood that the brad will break the wood when piercing it.

Additionally, it is harder to see brad's head. Filling and sanding may only be necessary after painting, reducing the overall work time. This depends on how the brad nails are applied.

2. Choose The Right Nailers for Suitable Works

A Brad Nailer Works Great For Fine Finishing Touches

Focusing on the functional features of these instruments and the tasks they are best suited for helps you understand the differences between a brad nailer and a finish nailer.

A brad nailer is a simple tool. It might cover stair treads or add thin ornamental moldings to basic panels. Crafters and model makers love using these tools. They are frequently employed to create bat boxes and birdhouses. Because brads are simple to remove and leave a tiny hole, some woodworkers employ them as a temporary repair while gluing cures.

Hardwoods, plywood, and heavy particle boards like MDF are difficult for Brads to handle. They can't be pushed through the denser materials since they need to be sturdy enough. Most of the time, they collapse on themselves, and occasionally, they clog the nailer. Therefore, dealing with softwoods is the main use for a brad nailer for woodworking.

Brad Nail for Trim

Brad Nail for Trim

Source: Pinterest

Go For A Finish Nailer - Nail Gun For Trim and Baseboard

When a situation demands more than the brad nailer can handle, the finish nailer takes over: For denser materials, the nailer has the necessary power. It is used to install baseboards, crown moldings, window trim, and door casings, making it the finishing touch tool for building projects.

Woodworkers and a useful tool for home remodelers widely use finish nailers. Finish nails are large enough to be utilized for the construction of furniture and large-scale workshop projects, especially carcasses. However, nail heads are still tiny and may be covered with filler.

Cordless Nail for Fencing

Cordless Nail for Fencing

Source: Pinterest

When It Comes To Magazine Designs, Finish Nailers Provide Two Alternatives

While most finish nailers and brad nailers are physically similar, there is one sort of finish nailer that is simple to distinguish. The nail magazine of an angled finish nailer is either at a 21-degree or 35-degree angle to the gun, not at 90 degrees. As a result, using the nailer to install crown moldings or fit them into tiny areas is simpler. The magazine is frequently longer, increasing its capacity and reducing loading frequency.

The majority of angled finish nailers do, however, accept 15-gauge nails. It's critical to start with the appropriate equipment since 15- and 16-gauge nails cannot be used interchangeably. Although the ability to nail at a 90-degree angle using an angled nailer is quickly taught, it might also be claimed that it is less simple. Angled magazines are not available for brad nails.

3. Finish And Brad Nailers Are Available In Cordless And Pneumatic Versions

After reading in depth about the brad nailer vs finish nailer debate, you can now decide which equipment is best for your forthcoming tasks. Dedicated DIYers and remodelers could discover they want one of each. Another decision needs to be taken: Is it preferable to purchase a pneumatic tool (a well-liked professional alternative) or a cordless model?

Much less expensive than cordless nail guns are pneumatic instruments. It is common for them to cost only 25% as much. Because they lack a motor and a battery, they are also lighter. As a result, fewer components might malfunction or wear out.

Pneumatic Finish Nailer

Pneumatic Finish Nailer

Source: Pinterest

The drawbacks of pneumatic tools include the requirement for an air compressor, which will add to your costs if you still need to get one. Additionally, it implies that you either have a portable generator or a suitable power source to put them into. 

On professional job sites, having access to a compressor or electricity is rarely an issue, but it might be troublesome at home. Therefore, although cordless brad and finish nailers are often more costly, most DIY users find them simpler to operate.

4. Finish Nailers Cost More, While Brad Nailers Are More Affordable

You could anticipate pricing to be around the same, given how comparable brad and finish nailers are (apart from power output). However, brad nailers are frequently between 10% and 20% less expensive when comparing equipment from the same brand.

Unsurprisingly, the costs of tools from luxury brands and those from affordable ones range significantly. To make sure that you are receiving value for your money, it is essential to compare features carefully. We've evaluated a few of the best brad nailers and finish nailers on the market here to help you assess some of the best equipment.


There are a few key differences between brad nailers and finish nailers. Brad nailers are smaller and lighter and typically used for delicate work. Finish nailers are more powerful and are used for tougher projects. A cordless finish nail gun is a good option for most projects if you are still determining which one you need.

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