brad nailer vs finish nailer

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer | Which Nail Gun to Use?

A nailer is an important power tool whether you are a DIY maker or workshop owner. Woodwork if you need to hold several pieces of wood hold together in the furniture or carpentry work you have to use the nailers. Nailers reduced the use of hammering. Hammering can split or make a crack in your delicate work, on the other hands nailer can do it more precisely and leaves a small scarce on the surface that is easy to cover up with putty. Here we’ll tear up the differences between Brad Nailers and Finish Nailers.
These two nailers might sound similar or the work of these two kinds of similar but for an expert, they have different fields to give the best performance. Whether you are new or old to trim work this article will definitely help you the right way and you will have the answer to your question which nailer is best for your work we’ll have an honest comparison of Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer.

Brad Nailer

Brad Nailers are similar to other nailer tools but the major difference is a Brad Nailer uses thin nail than other nailing tools. The nails are specially made. You might think there are lots of nailing gun available why do you need Brad Nailer! What is so special about that! For these types of questions my friend I want to say that Brad Nailer is essential for those who work on delicate projects where they need to hold their piece of wood, board other molds until the glue gets dried.
They are handy and easy to use. Nailers are two types one that is powered by a compressor and the other powered by a battery. A Brad Nailer usually nails an 18 gauge nail. Those who already know what is the 18 gauge nail, they are thin and easily penetrate through without leaving marks on the surface little amount of wood putty can hide that easily. 18-gauge Brad nails may make you wonder that is enough to hold or does they have that holding power like a bigger nail!
For this Brad Nailers are used on shallow spaces where bigger nails may break or make a crack on the trim you are working on. This can hold much than it looks. Brad Nailer is one of the tools that a DIYer must keep around. This tool can be handy whether you work as a carpenter, on your home projects, making custom design furniture. This single time investment can handle different types of work.

Best For

From above you might have got some overview of what type of job is suitable for a Brad Nail gun. Brad nail guns are not that bigger and the nails are thinner than finishing nailers that allows them to penetrate small trims without breaking them. Here are some of the work areas where these nail gun can perform their best and are mentioned below.

  • Can be used on shoe molding.
  • On narrow wood trim.
  • Fixing trim with windows.
  • Joining trim with doors.
  • DIY decorative works.
  • Holding small baseboard.


  • Perfect for delicate work where you have to be attentive whether the work is done precisely.
  • Does its job best on little space.
  • Brad Nailer penetrates without leaving a big mark and wood putty will make it disappear.
  • The spot made by the nailer is so small that hard to notice.
  • Does best on a piece of wood, boards and plywoods.


  • The nail size is not that big so you can not use this nail to hold a large board.
  • Not ideal for industrial or heavy duty work.

Finish Nailer

Finish Nailer is similar to the Brad Nailer except it uses more thick nails than the Brad. Finish Nailer can be two types one is 15-gauge Finish Nailer and the other is 16-gauge Finish Nailer. Knowing that the nail size is quite similar but you cant use a Brad Nail in Finish Nailing gun or a nail of Finish nail gun into a Brad Nailer. If you try so the gun will jam.
This Finish Nailer is also used on woodworking projects. These nails are more strong than the Brad Nailer. Finish Nailer is helpful to install windows, doors even baseboard. Finish Nailer can be used for installing different parts of furniture. Finish Nailers are designed to give the Finishing touch that your work needs.
If we talk about the strength of a Finish Nailer then I must say that they are quite stronger than the Brad Nailer. They are the bridge between the Brad Nailer and the other heavy duty gun with large nails. The 15 and 16 gauge nails are thicker than the 18 gauge Brad Nails. They even leave a bigger scar on the surface and you must have to use wood putty.

Best For:

As mentioned, we already know that Finishing Nail guns are mid level nails guns and they are tough than Brad Nailer but you have to be sure where to use them. If you accidentally use a Finish Nailer in a place that is narrow and small, those nails can break the trim. So have to be very careful about what you are working on. Let’s see some of the work areas where you can use a finishing gun.

  • Can hold large baseboard.
  • Joining heavy furniture parts.
  • Have to use on the wide surface.
  • Good for mid level woodwork.
  • Installing doors and windows.
  • Installing decorative furniture.


  • Both the 15-gauge nails and the 16-gauge nails have more strength to hold.
  • Finish Nailers can perform well in different types of jobs. Like different types of furniture, woodwork, baseboard set up etc.
  • You can choose from a straight magazine to angle magazine nail guns. Angles one can easily reach different spaces.


Finish nails are quite thick and they can make a noticeable hole on the surface. A Finish Nailer can make a crack on the working on the thin surface as its nails are thick. Difference Between Brad and Finish Nailer Till now reading the upper portion you might start to think these two nailing guns are similar but unfortunately, they are not. They have some distinguishable differences. These two nailers are less powerful but they have their speciality that keeps up the demand of Brad Nailer and also the Finish Nailer. There is no such option to use them back and forth. You have to be sure when and where to use that tool otherwise you might end up damaging the work. In this section, we will focus on some very specific differences between Brad and Finish nail guns and this will be a help for your decision making.

Used Nails Size

These two specific nail guns use different types of nails. Depending on their types and magazines. The precise working Brad Nailer uses 18-gauge brad nails. They are considered one of the delicately working nailers as they leave a tiny spot rather than a big one.
Finish Nailers can be 2 different depending on the sizes of nails. One is a 15-gauge Finish Nailer and the other is a 16-gauge Finish Nailer. They are thick and use on the thick surface so that it doesn’t crack the trims.


Nail guns are used so that the worker does not have to hammer. Hammering may damage things too. In a single strike, it’s hard to drive a nail but nail guns made it easier for us. They put the nail in a single shot. There are different types of nail guns. They are different from each other depending on their features, strength and work field.
Brad Nailer uses thin nails. These nails are for delicate work they help to join different parts together. The small piece is ideal for these nails they are not meant to hold heavy parts. For example, if you try to join heavy furniture together with nailing Brad nails the parts might come off sooner or later as the nails are not that much thick and strong.
For Finish Nailer strength is a plus. They are thick and have the ability to hold together. They are considered at mid level of nail guns. They are thick but not much like a fencing nailer. They are perfect for plywoods, joining windows and doors and some other woodwork.

Impact Level:

Different Nail guns have different impact level. Impact levels can be different because of several aspects. Mainly power sources can be identified as one of the main reasons. Build quality is also a factor that affects the impact ability of a nailer.
Nailers are made with the purpose of serving manners. The model and type of nailer will have that particular power that it needs. Otherwise this tool can hamper the work. For example Brad nailer requires more impact power than the Finish nailer. The level of impact set by the manufacturer is safe for the work you are doing. And this ensures that you do not mess up your work.

Size of the Holes:

We are talking about two different nailing guns and the nail size is also different. For this reason, we can clearly expect that these two nailing guns will certainly make two different hole sizes. The Brad Nailer makes smaller holes. If you are not looking so closely it will be harder for you to notice. On the other hand, we have a Finish Nailer which uses 15 and 16 gauge nails. These are quite thicker than the Brad Nailer. So they make a noticeable hole while they drive into an object. But nothing to worry about you can easily remove that hole by putting some wood putty and it’s an easy solution to cover up the holes. The stronger the nail the bigger the hole size is.

Cost of the Nailers:

The cost is totally up to the brand. You have to choose from various options. The cost will be less or higher whether you take extra parts while purchasing. In the market, you will find plenty of manufacturers making nailers with the same features. But specific models and some extra features will make the cost difference. In this article, we have reviewed 2 nailers one from Brad Nailer DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless and the other is Finish Nailer Metabo HPT NT65MA4 Pneumatic. You must check these two and you’ll understand the rest that why the price has differences.

Which one should you choose between Brad and Finish:

Your work type will determine what nailer you need. It’s not an easy task to the mindset that this one is the perfect choice for me. On single notes, I can give you a suggestion that might help you a little bit. Firstly you have to determine what your working area is. Are you a commercial worker? Do you work too often? Does your job require holding heavy parts? If no then go for the Brad Nailers and if yes choosing Brad will be a bad idea. Brad uses thin nails on the other hand Finish nailers can be more powerful when holding.
But the finish nailer is thick so when you are driving nails into small pieces of wood you should think about using thin nails. Or crack can hamper the work. These nailers have their potential in their working way.

Our Favorite Finishing Nailer: DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer kit

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer is the favourite and it’s on the top of our choice list. This is a one hundred percent battery powered nailer. Here you do not have to worry about keeping a gas cylinder or hose or an air compressor for sure. It has a brushless motor that is powered by a 20v max lithium-ion battery. The plus point is this nailing gun is always ready to operate. Whenever you trigger it, the nailer will drive a nail without any laggyness. You will get bump mode. Whenever it touches the surface it will be activated otherwise it will remain depressed that’s a good point for personal safety.

This Dewalt cordless nailer has a micro nose that allows you to have clear sight. It’s easy to free the jam of the nailer. Within a single charge this nailing gun can fire up to 850+ nails more or less. The holding capacity of the magazine is 110 nails at a time. The nailer body is equipped with 2 multi-function led lights. These will allow us to work efficiently.

Our Favorite Finishing Nailer: Metabo HPT NT65MA4 Pneumatic finish nailer

Metabo HPT NT65MA4 Pneumatic nailer is made by Hitachi. Which is a well known brand for their contribution making quality tools for a long time. The actuation switch allows you to change modes. You won’t require any extra tools to do that job. The nail gun is powered by an air compressor and you will have a pre-installed air fitting. This is a 15 gauge finish nailer and the magazine is tilted. This type of magazine allows you to work in a narrow space. The nailer itself is better for driving nails from 1-1/4-in Up to 2-1/2-in In length. This one is compatible with crown molding, baseboard, shelves, furniture and other similar kinds of jobs.

This Metabo NT65MA4 heavy duty nailing gun comes in several packages and have a warranty of 5 years provided by the manufacturer. So you get less tension. This beautifully made tools is also lightweight compared to any other cordless nailer as here you don’t have to carry any battery.


Difference between Pneumatic vs. Cordless Brad Nailer?

Nailers can be of different types. Pneumatic nail guns weigh less than a cordless nail gun. A pneumatic nail gun uses the power to create impact to shoot the nails. Pneumatic Brad Nailers used an air compressor that can be attached to the nail gun with cords. You can control the air pressure from the compressor and set it to the level you need depending on your nail guns requirements. On the other side, we have cordless Brad Nail guns. They are quite heavier. As the use of the battery power and some mechanism to convert the electronic power to pressurize the nails to drive into objects.

Here you don’t have to carry an air compressor with you all the time. Rather have to charge the battery before using it. And if you are going to work for a long hour you must not forget to carry an extra battery with you. Otherwise, your work will be interpreted and have charged them sitting shiftless.

Brad Nailer or Finish Nailer for a hardwood floor?

For a hardwood floor, I definitely think that a Finish Nailer will be more suitable than a Brad Nailer. The nail is thin in Brad Nailer but the sizes for Finish Nailer is thick that have the strength to stick longer than a Brad nail. For this reason, hardwood floors are definitely a place where you should go with a Finish Nailer. Brad Nailers are for fancy work with small items where you are not allowed to give greater impact with larger nails.

What Is a Brad Nailer?

The nailers which shoot the 18 gauge slim nails are called Brad Nailer. The nails are bigger than pins but smaller than the Finish Nailers. They are one of the smallest nailers. These nailers are for narrow trims where it’s risky to put bigger nails than Brad Nailers come handy. Brad might be a thin nail pusher but for plenty of work you won’t find another nail gun option than this.

What Is a Finish Nailer?

Finish Nailers are those which use the 15 and 16 gauge nails. They are the mid-level nailer. These types of nails are stronger than brad nails which can hold much weight. Finis nailers are suitable for floors, woodwork, furniture and other slim trim work. From the name we can understand that they meant to sum up our work and they are the means to give finishing touch.

Can you use finish nails in a Brad Nailer?

The idea of using nails of a Finish Nailer in a Brad Nailer is really bad. The sizes of the pins are different. Finish nails are 15 or 16-gauge that means they are thicker than 18-gauge brad nails. If you try to use them they will surely be stuck. For me, I can tell that this is a big no. This way you can damage your nail gun too.

What is the ideal nailer for crown molding?

Crown moding is not a very tough material. Here if you use Brad Nailer this will be quite ok. Depending on the situation you may choose between finish and Brad that is totally up to you. If you think your molds can take the impact of a Finish Nailer you can certainly go for it.
The tough impact can make cracks for this choosing Brad is a safe option. Always consider the weight that the mold will have. If it’s heavier and not much then you must go for a Finish nailing gun. Crown molding is for good decoration so do not make mistakes and make your crown molds look weird. Choose wisely.

Final Words

Though we have discussed both nail guns. But from the title above you must have got the idea, though these are nailers they are different from each other. Each of them has different features, working areas. You must not mix up. And never try to use nails interchangeably. Each of the nails is specially made depending on the nailer they will be using. If you do so, surely going to mess up.
Hope that my post regarding Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer will help you to choose the nailer you need and get you in the right direction to saving your precious time and money. Hope that I can help you. And thanks for staying with us.

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