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Types of Nail Guns Guide – Brad Nailers And More

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When you have a lot of DIY projects at home you may look for a nail gun or some sort. The old traditional way of using a hammer may no longer suffice and you’ve decided it’s better to go with a nail gun.

Nail guns can save you both energy and time. But you need to know which nail gun is used for what purposes. This article will serve as a guide to all the different types of nails guns so I can make your choice easier!

Table of Contents

What is a Nail Gun?

A nail gun is a power tool that shoots nails arranged in a coil or strip into a material. They contain a piston which is powered by either compressed air, battery or gas!

Nail guns are rather essential for modern jobs like carpentry, roofing, or framing. Though hammers certainly do the job, if you have to do anything more than 5 nails at a time, it can start to become difficult and quite slow. Nail guns eliminate this difficulty and provide you with great accuracy, power and efficiency.

Types of Nail Guns Guide - Brad Nailers And More

Do I Need a Nail Gun?

If you’re simply hanging pictures on your wall, then, no you don’t need a nail gun. But, if you’re eager to crack on with some home improvement repair or DIY job then a nail gun is a superb power tool that can make your job a lot easier.

Builders, carpenters, roofing, and construction specialists all rely heavily on nail guns. Some advantages they carry include:

  • Convenience – nail strip or coils carry your nails so you no longer have to lug a box around
  • Improved productivity – a lot faster and easier than using a hammer
  • No more bent nails – can drive the nails straight without damaging workpiece unlike hammers
  • Precision – precise control for accurate finishes
  • Safety – keeps your fingers intact (eliminating hammering fingers)
  • Quality – nail guns shoot nails to the correct depth without damaging the workpiece

List of Different Types of Nails Guns

There are 9 key types of nail guns and they are:

  • Brad nail gun
  • Finishing nail gun
  • Flooring nail gun
  • Framing nail gun
  • Palm nail gun
  • Pin nail gun
  • Roofing nail gun
  • Siding nail gun
  • Staple gun

Now let’s take a look at each in greater detail!

Brad Nail Gun

A brad nailer is the most versatile of the nailers. It covers pretty much all woodworking projects along with trim work and general household maintenance. Brad nailers are perfect for beginners in woodworking, as the gun has easy and strong holding power.

The nail rail inside the gun is not angled like a finish nailer and the lengths can vary from 1/2″ to 2″ with 18 gauge nails. Brad nail guns work best on projects where the appearance of the workpiece is the number one priority.

They’re best for baseboards, crown molding, and trim work. Below is an example of a brad nailer, a best-seller readily available on Amazon!

Finishing Nail Gun

Finishing nail guns are great options for efficient work on lighter projects. For instance, in a project where a framing nail gun becomes too heavy nature, you will select the finishing nail gun to continue the work.

Building furniture and cabinets, trim work, paneling, smaller crowns, and interior moldings are where you should use finish nailers. They have shorter and lighter gauge nails and can accommodate 14 to 16 nail gauges. The nails tend to be 1″ to 2 1/2″ long making it easy to nail oak and pine.

I have picked out this Bostitch finish nailer kit readily available on Amazon as an example.

Flooring Nail Gun

Flooring nail guns, as you may have guessed, are perfect for installing a new floor! They’re a lot faster and better than getting down on your knees and nailing down the floor with a hammer.

Using a flooring nail gun with air pressure makes the job a lot simpler and allows you to save energy because they do not prescribe much force. They ensure that the nails are inserted precisely at a 45-degree angle (the correct angle).

Below is an Amazon choice NuMax flooring nailer readily available!

Framing Nail Guns

Framing nail guns are one of the first selections for large woodwork or projects that may include building decks, framing houses, basement recreation rooms, fences, and construction houses.

Framing nailers are considered to be the roughest replacement for hammers. They boast great power and are very effective in industrial uses. The nails come in two varieties, either clipped head or round head and are usually 2 1/2″ to 3 1/2″ long.

I have picked out both a clipped head and round head Bostitch framing nailer readily available on Amazon.

Palm Nail Gun

As true to its name, you operate this nail gun by holding it in your palm. Palm nailers are extremely lightweight and drive nails very fast to allow you to operate them comfortably.

They are ideal for use on corners, edges, tight spots, joist hangers, ceilings, and smaller projects. They’re not meant to place or remove nails from surfaces, unlike other nailing guns.

Palm nail guns can easily drive 1 1/2″ to 3 1/2″ nails and potentially up to 6″ for heavy-duty work. Here is an example of one, the Metabo palm nailer readily available on Amazon.

Visit our Palm Nailers Explained – What Are They, How Do They Work, What Are They Used For & Buying Guide for more information!

Pin Nail Gun

Pin nail guns are best suited for small works or projects. Its small size and power make it the ideal choice for upholstery, cabinetry, crown molding, delicate trim pieces, thin veneers, and other small woodworking crafts.

Pin nailers use nails between 3/8″ to 2″ with a very thin 23 nail gauge. These nail guns are ideal for finishing any small projects quickly and perfectly.

Below I have picked out this Metabo pin nailer kit available on Amazon!

Visit our Pin Nailers Explained – Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer, What Are They, How Do They Work, What Are They Used For & Buying Guide for more information!

Roofing Nail Gun

Roofing nail guns, true to their name, are ideal for fitting new roofs. When you attach fiberglass or asphalt shingles to a rooftop, these nailers will come in handy. You need to be wary of the depth-drive adjustment so that not too much power goes through the shingle.

The nails have large flat heads to allow you to control the power. It is different from other nailers because they use coil-type pins that are not the same as regular fasteners. The benefit of using coil-type nailers is that they can hold more nails at a time in the magazine.

Not only this but they to improve nailers ergonomics by keeping the load in the center of the magazine. Here is an example of a roofing nailer, the DeWalt DW45RN which is readily available on Amazon!

Siding Nail Gun

Siding nail guns are the specific nailer for nailing siding to your wall. It’s the newest nail gun out of the 9 here as people used to use framing nailers to do this job.

Its best characteristic is solving all the siding-related problems. Its soft tip contains the perfect amount of power to efficiently complete siding jobs on both soft and hard materials while keeping the materials safe.

This Freeman siding nailer below is a great example, and is readily available on Amazon!

Visit our Siding Nailers Explained – Siding Nailer vs Roofing Nailer, What Are They, How Do They Work, What Are They Used For & Buying Guide for more information!

Staple Gun

Staple guns are the most commonly used for furniture upholstery. They leave bigger holes than any other type of nail gun and will always keep the materials in places. They’re also very commonly used in construction and home repair.

Staple guns do not require any oil and so will not cause any oil splattering issues. Using staple guns on furniture won’t leave any marks on its surface, making them the ideal choice to maintain perfection.

I have picked out this 3 in 1 REXBETI staple gun as a fine cost-effective example, readily available on Amazon!

Different Nail Gun Loads

Nail guns typically come in to form of how the nails are actually loaded into the gun. These are coil-style and strip-style.

Coil-Style Nail Guns

Coil-style nailers work by having all the nails joined together using wire, which is coiled together. They have a drum magazine that can hold around 300-350 nails on average (of course this can vary).

In terms of nail capacity, these types of nail guns are next to none. If you want to complete jobs without having to reload, look no further! Though they’re typically bigger than their counterparts, the drum magazine doesn’t jut out of the nail gun as a strip-style magazine does, so a lot of professionals find them easier to use even in tight spots.

Strip-Style Nail Guns

Strip-style nail guns use a single, long magazine that juts out of the bottom of the nail gun, held together using wires, plastic or paper. They can only hold around twenty to forty nails and because of the jutting out the bottom, they’re difficult to use in tight spots.

However, they cost a lot less than coil-style nail guns and so if you’re on a budget, these may suit you a lot more. Due to their strip-style magazine, it is a lot easier to accurately drive in nails and handle because the weight is distributed evenly, as opposed to the front-loaded coil-style nail guns.

Which Nail Gun Do I Need?

The table below should help you decide which nail gun is suitable for your applications!

Nail GunApplications
Brad nail gunBaseboards, crown molding, and trim work
Finishing nail gunBuilding furniture and cabinets, trim work, paneling, smaller crowns, and interior moldings
Flooring nail gunFlooring
Framing nail gunBuilding decks, framing houses, basement recreation rooms, fences, and construction houses
Palm nail gunCorners, edges, tight spots, joist hangers, ceilings, and smaller projects
Pin nail gunUpholstery, cabinetry, crown molding, delicate trim pieces, thin veneers, and other small woodworking crafts.
Roofing nail gunRoofing
Siding nail gunSiding
Staple gunUpholstery, construction, and home repair

Other nail gun related pages you may be interested in reading:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the different nail guns?

The different nail guns are brad, finishing, flooring, framing, palm, pin, roofing, siding, and staple.

What is the best all purpose nail gun?

Brad nail guns are the best all-purpose nailer. They are the most versatile of the nailers and cover all woodworking projects along with trim work and general household maintenance.

What is the best type of nailer?

Brad nailers offer the most versatility between all the different types of nail guns. Not only can they cover almost all woodworking projects, but they also can facilitate efficient trim work and most general household DIY and maintenance.

What is a brad nailer vs finish nailer?

Finish nailers are generally slightly thicker in diameter compared to brad nailers. This means they can hold more power and offer better strength than brad nailers, with another key difference being that finish nailers are angle whilst brad nailers are not.

If you have any questions regarding nail guns, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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