Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer – Which’s the Best for Beginners & Professionals

Stressing over a simple wood-related task and pondering which nailer to choose? Either this is your first time building furniture or you are confused about picking the right nailer. There is a possibility that you do not want to mess things up and ruin wood pieces to avoid repeating the previous experiences.

Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer

Well, now that you are on this page, you can sit back and relax. The finish nailers and brad nailers have multiple similarities. Both of these items are used by carpenters for assembling and other purposes.

However, there are major differences between the two that one must consider before doing related tasks. Knowledge about this aspect is necessary for ensuring high-quality and durable work. This comparison and contrast between a brad nailer and a finish nailer will surely help you.

Brad Nailer Vs Finish Nailer

This comparison and contrast between a brad nailer and a finish nailer will surely help you.

Size of Gauge Nails

The major distinguishing factor between a brad nailer and a finish nailer is the features of the gauge nail they shoot. A finish nailer is used for 15 or 16-gauge nails, while the brad nailer gun uses 18-gauge nails. The diameter of brad nails is 0.0475 inches, and that of finish nails is 0.0625 inches (16-gauge) or 0.0720 inches (15-gauge).

Size of Gauge Nails

The smaller the number, the thicker the nail and larger the diameter. It means finish nailers or guns shoot thicker nails than the other guns. You can use a brad nailer to attach slim trims or moldings without cracking or breaking them. Also, you do not require putty in the process.

However, the attachment is not as strong as in the case of finish nailers. On the contrary, finish nailers are efficient for trims of moderate and larger thickness. Generally, carpenters and those whose work involves wood utilize finish nailers. Thick nails offer more strength to hold the sheets together. However, putty is often required in this case.

Appearance of Nails

In brad nailers, straight or angled nails are used. In the case of straight nailers, one has to hold the gun straight for shooting nails. Similarly, the nailer has to be at a specific position in the case of angled nails to allow the gun to drive nails in the right direction.

On the other hand, finish nailer guns shoot particular types of nails, which depends on the magazine shape. Usually, 15-gauge finish nailers have angled magazines, thus requiring angled nails. 16-gauge nailers have straight magazines and only drive straight nails.

Diameter of Holes

Another major difference between the two nailers is the cross-sectional area of holes that they create. Since, finish nailer guns result in holes in the wood, carpenters require putty to fill them. This is not the case with other nailers.

On the other hand, brad nailers generally do not leave holes. They only do generate small holes sometimes when the molding is extremely thin. Fortunately, you will only require a small putty for filling purposes.

Diameter of Holes


Brad nailers are less powerful as compared to finish nailers. If you are working with a thick trim, it is ideal to choose finish nailers over the brad ones. It is because the holding is long-lasting and secure.

For thinner trim, driving 18-gauge nails is the best option, since they work well with the delicate structure of the trims. Thus, brad nailers are a better option here for you to choose. Finish nailers will only create problems in this situation.


In terms of their versatility, finish nailers take the lead. They are perfect for manufacturing furniture, assembling wood parts, holding together large and thick crown molding, and correcting heavy plywood or large-sized baseboards.

They also perform well when installing hardwood floors. In the case of the baseboard, I will recommend closing the corner of the board through the finish nailer. This facilitates avoiding the splits in the material. In addition, the size of the predrilled hole should be smaller than the nail diameter.

Brad nailers are perfect for smaller baseboards, lighter plywood, faux shiplap installation. Also, they are more preferable for doing corners since they do less damage than the other nailers. Moreover, they are best for molding shoes. For this purpose, you will require an 18-gauge nailer and half an inch or one inch long nails.


Both of the tools have some disadvantages that limit their use in certain situations. One nailer that is ideal for some situations might not completely be a good option for others. Knowing about these aspects provides help to a great extent when dealing with wood items. The limitations of finish and brad nailers are as follows:

Cons of Brad Nailers

  • Hold less power.
  • Nonpreferable for wooden flooring.
  • Unsuitable for reaching tight spaces.

Cons of Finish Nailers

  • Create holes in wood.
  • Time and effort consuming.
  • Not suitable for edges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do they call it brad nailer?

18 gauge wire is used in brad nailers. They are particularly used for thin moldings and lighter baseboards. These nailers shoot brad nails for delicate woodwork.

What can you use a brad nailer for?

Basically, one can say that brad nailers are a smaller version of finish nailers. They are excellent for assembling small trims and other small pieces in carpentry.

Can brad nails be used outside?

Yes, you can utilize brad nails outside. For this, stainless steel nails are the best and provide protection from weather conditions. They are perfect for crown molding, small trims, window, and door casings, and assembling parts for constructing furniture.

Can you use Finish nailer for exterior trim?

Yes, Finish nailers can be used for various purposes. These include shooting nails into studs in case of large casings, installing doors, risers, large and heavy baseboards as well as thick crown items.


Both brad nailers and finish nailers are perfect for dealing with wood. It’s just that they work better in some specific situations due to the characteristic features that I have mentioned. Finish work better for large-scale projects or heavier items, while the other is most suitable for smaller sheets.

I hope that after reading this detailed article, it will be easier for you to decide which one to purchase or select in particular situations. You will also feel content that you were able to do an outstanding job since you did not have any confusion.

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