Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer-What is the Difference

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

If you’re a DIY or woodworking enthusiast, one of the essential tools needed for most of your projects is a nailer. Two of the most common nailers on the market you get to choose from are the finish nailer and the brad nailer. But which one should you go for? This is the challenge that many woodworking professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike find themselves. If you also are experiencing a similar issue, worry no more.

This article is a detailed review of the brad nailer vs. finish nailer. Thanks to this information, you’ll know which to go for that best serves your needs.

What Is a Brad Nailer?

This tool gets its name brad nailer because it shoots tiny brads that generally have a gauge of 18 plus with a length of between 5/8 and 2-1/2 inches. It’s the go-to option once you’re done with carpentry, as it does a great job finishing cabinets or trimming.

The reason for this is that this tool is very versatile and comes in handy when doing different types of finishes effectively. Its lightweight design also makes it easy to use, allowing you to shoot the thin nail without breaking a sweat. This is furtherer aided by its small size; therefore, you need not put in a lot of force when shooting the brad nails compared to when using other guns.

Therefore, if you want a nailer that helps you secure fragile and thin moldings firmly in place, look no further. As you do this, you shouldn’t worry that the brad nails will get destroyed through this entire process.

One of the reasons woodworkers love the brad nailer is that there’s a very low likelihood that it will split wood. This is because the brad nails are smaller in size, thereby have a lower impact. Therefore, you won’t notice even a minor mark on the wood. When using certain wood types, it might be necessary to fill the left spaces with caulking or wood putty before you can start staining or painting.

When Should You Use a Brad Nailer?

The small size of the brad nailer and the small brad nails make it ideal for projects. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about the size of the hole created after the shot. It’s also an excellent choice for performing projects which need little holding power and strength. Some of the projects where you can use a brad nailer include;

  • Installing the baseboard
  • Fastening a paneling
  • Holding pieces temporarily in place as you use glue
  • Joining decorative molding
  • Creating picture frames and other small woodworking tasks

Advantages of Using Brad Nailer

  • It doesn’t split the wood since the nails come in a thin gauge; therefore, your effort won’t go to waste.
  • It creates holes that are smaller compared to those created by the finish nailer.
  • Ideal tool for molding and narrow trimming thanks to its 18-gauge nails with a thinner cross-section compared the finish nails with a gauge between 14 to 16.
  • You can effortlessly fasten a material in place with this nail gun and still nail it into position instantly.
  • They’re lightweight, so you can use one hand to operate it without experiencing even significant strain.

Disadvantages of Using Brad Nailer

  • Not suitable if you want to nail tight spaces and hard to reach corners
  • It isn’t appropriate when fastening large pieces

What is a Finish Nailer?

The finish nailer is a nail gun that’s designed to attach finishing materials such as trim and crown molding using finish nails. It has a 15- or 16-gauge thickness, whereas the brad nailer has a gauge of 18. When using finish nailers, you’re guaranteed a more robust grip, and it is useful when attaching crown molding, cabinets, and baseboards.

Another reason why you should consider the finish nailer is that it’s available in both angled and straight designs. The difference between these two options is that the angled design can fit into tight spaces with ease, unlike the straight design. Thus, you should factor in the kind of work you intend to do before deciding which of these two best suits your needs.

Finish nailers also come in two versions, that is, a cordless and pneumatic version. You should opt for the cordless model if the job you’re doing entails working over a ladder since it’s easy to climb up and down without dragging the air hose. This helps improve your safety when using this nailer. In contrast, the pneumatic model provides you with more power while still being lighter to carry, and if you already own an air compressor, it’s a great option.

When Can You Use Your Finish Nailer?

It’s no doubt that the finish nailer is the ideal nailer if you want an all-around gun practical on many non-structural projects. Some of the most common projects you can do using your finish nailer include;

  • Installing hardwood floors
  • Making cabinets
  • Building staircases
  • Creating furniture as well as other woodworking joinery
  • Installing chair rails, crown molding, baseboard and other kinds of trim

Advantages of The Finish Nailer

The finish nails are more robust and thicker than the brad nails, which is an excellent choice for making permanent joinery.

  • It’s versatile as you can use it on different surfaces and materials such as some plywood and MDF and unlike brad nails.
  • Its headless nails leave small nail holes that need less sanding and filling.

Disadvantages of the Finish Nailer

  • The nails still require filing despite being small since they vanish into the wood’s surface
  • Not an excellent choice for fragile materials and trim, which is a great disappointment after the tedious efforts of completing your project.


The choice between the brad nailer vs. finish nailer is one many people often struggle to identify the best fit. However, after reading through this detailed guide, you are now knowledgeable about these two nail guns. Therefore, you’re a better placed knowing which one is the ideal choice depending on the task you want to do.

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