brad nailer vs finish nailer

Elaborate Explanation of Brad vs Finish Nailer

Brad and finish nailers are popularly called “finishing nailers.” They are very similar in terms of their exterior appearance. They are perfect and efficient, and they are excellent in specific nailing tasks, unlike bulk nailing.

Use Finish nailers, mainly at the end of your responsibility. Regardless of what their names indicate, these nailers play different roles as well as uses. That is why we compare these two perfect nail guns:

Main Difference Between a Brad and a Finish Nailer

The main difference between the braid nailer vs. finish nailer is that the brad nailer shoots up to 18-gauge nails while its counterpart, finish nail gun, shoots only 16-gauge nails. Brad nails guns attach’ delicate trims without destroying it.

On the other hand, the end nailer drives thicker nails. They also offer a good grip. When using a brail nail gun to attach the delicate trims, you will not require putty. On the other hand, you will always use the finish nail in all the carpentry and woodworking projects, but you will need putty.

Understanding the Gauge

Understanding the GaugeIf you do not understand the gauge, then before jumping into our complete guide, let’s get acquainted with the gauge.

You can see the three most common nailer gauge sizes on the market, and they are 15, 16, & 18. Keep in mind that a higher number gauge size means it is a thinner nail and a lower number gauge size means it is thick nails.

Let’s make it easier,

The gauge number here basically means how many nails will be delivered per inch. For example, 16 gauge means 16 nails per inch, which means 16 gauge is much thicker than 18 gauge, and 18 gauge is much thinner.

18-Gauge Brad vs. 16-Gauge Finish Nailer Comparison Chart

Brad nailer Finish nailer
Type of nail 18-gauge 16-gauge
Hole size Approximately 0.0475 inches Approximately 0.0720 inches
Capacity A weaker holding power Withstands higher payload
Uses Attaches delicate trims without splitting Recommended for lightweight boards as well as moldings. Suitable carpentry and woodworks Use on MDF, plywood as well as baseboards

What is a Brad Nailer?

brad nailer

Best brad nailer resembles and functions like a nail gun, but it does not shoot the nails.

It shoots Brad instead. It is worth mentioning that brads are thin and have delicate nails. It is only 18-gauge and has a length of 0.045 inches. This is such a small nail, to begin with. Did you know that most people have never used such short and thin nails, especially amateur carpenters?

Also, read our reviews on 18-Gauge Pneumatic Brad Nailer.

What are these small nails for? Brads fix extremely thin finishing, such as a fragile piece of trim. Brads prevent delicate trims against damages. There is no doubt that brands are necessities in every tool shed.

They are quite useful in applying mold as well as trimming. You can also use them to enforce finishing touches to woodworking as well as carpentry.

Also, read our reviews on 18-Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer.

A point to note:

Do not hammer the brads in case they do not finish because they are delicate, and this will destroy them. Instead, pull it out and do it once more to drive the brad nail in.

  • The 18-gauge nail cannot split the trim
  • Use it on smaller baseboards as well as plywood of up to 1/2-inch
  • Suitable for attaching sensitive moldings as well as trims
  • You do not need to fill the resulting holes since they are tiny
  • Not a suitable tool for nailing challenging to reach corners as well as tight spaces
  • A smaller brad nail is unable to hold large boards, moldings as well as dense wood

What is a Finish Nailer?

finish nailer

Finish nailer almost plays the same role as a brad nailer. Keep in mind that you will not be using this tool for a better part of the project. You only use this for specific reasons. Use this tool to put up a delicate trim as well as molding.

It is less potent in strength than brad nailers as well as heavy-duty nail guns such as framing nailers. Did you know that finish nailers are durable, unlike the brad nailers are? Well, framing nailers are stronger than finish nailers.

Also, read our reviews on 18-Gauge Cordless Finish Nailer.

It is f medium size as it can accommodate either one or 2-inches in length. They are headless hence blending perfectly with different surfaces of wood. However, it is quite challenging to remove the headless nails if need be.

Also, read our reviews on 18-Gauge Pneumatic Finish Nailer.

  • Finish nailers are more flexible compared to others and are quite handy in different types of work.
  • 15-16-gauge nails are the right size and offer considerable holding strength.
  • The nails guns collate at an angle, making this 15-gauge nailer easy to use on hard-to-reach corners.
  • This nailer is perfect for building furniture and woodworking, as well as fixing large baseboards and attaching extensive crown molding.
  • Not recommended for fixing thin trims as well as narrow boards
  • The nails are significant, thus leaving big holes that require filling.

Pneumatic vs Cordless

When you go to buy brad or finish nailers, you will find another massive confusion with pneumatic nailers and cordless nailers. Because brad nailers and finish nailers both come with pneumatic and cordless, and these two have advantage side as well as disadvantage sides.

Pneumatic nailers are very lightweight as well as compact sizes, which makes them much easier to handle. But it also has an air compressor, which is continuously supplied to the air to pneumatic nailer with the help of air hoses; that’s why it’s very limited mobility.

On the other hand, Cordless nailers are much more flexible than pneumatic ones and do not require the use of air compressors and hoses, although they are more portable. However, a cordless nailer requires the use of a separate battery, which makes it several times heavier, which is challenging to handle for many at the beginning stage.

Another downside of cordless nailers is that they are much more expensive than pneumatic nailers, as well as having to purchase batteries at a different cost to operate them portably. On the other hand, when you operate the pneumatic nailer, you must purchase an air compressor separately.

The last word, I would suggest using a pneumatic nailer, one of the special reasons is that it is very easy to use, you just need to tap the trigger. Moreover, there is no problem ending the battery charge quickly. On the other hand, it is very lightweight, so there is no problem with weight to control. In particular, it is much more cost-effective than a cordless nailer.

What is the difference between brad nailers and finish nailers?

There is no doubt that these two nailers have many similarities. They are not perfect for general use but specific projects instead.

They are less powerful and employ smaller nails compared to other nailers in the market. In simple reality, do not use these two nailers interchangeably.

Let us look into the critical difference between finish nailer vs. brad nailer as discussed below:

The size of the hole

When used, both two lead to different sizes of holes. According to carpenters as well as woodworkers, after using a nail gun, you will require putty to fill the spaces left by the hole gun. This only applies to finish nailers and not brad nailers, as they do not leave spaces. Brad nailers can alone leave spaces if the material is weak as well as thin.


Finishing nailers are more potent than brad nailers are. If you have a thick trim, use a finish nailer and not brad as brad will not keep the trim secure. If you are driving nails into thinner trim, then brad nailer is the best.


As mentioned earlier, brad nailers shoot 18-gage nails while the finish nailers employ either 16-15-gauge nail guns. It is worth mentioning that the higher the gauge number, the smaller the diameter and its cross-sectional size.

Which is Better Brad Nail or Finish Nailer; Which One Is Great for Your Work?

As you may have already noticed, both nailers are best for different jobs. So which one is best for you depends entirely on your work. You need to choose the right nailer depending on your job.

Use the Brad Nailer for…

When you do small crafting jobs like small repairing, loose narrow trim, thin baseboards, birdhouses, picture frame making, models, and small DIY projects then brad nailer will be an outstanding choice.

Use the Finish Nailer for…

A finish nailer is an outstanding choice for door casings, baseboards, large and thick pieces of wood repairing, etc.

I think you have already cleared that brad nailer is mainly used in the field of thin wood and small projects. On the other hand, in the case of thick wood, heavy large, and more challenging projects, finish nailer is the most perfect choice.

If you do not have any of these two tools, then I will suggest you figure out first which one you actually need. If you always have small tasks like jewelry boxes, frames, and dollhouses, you undoubtedly need a brad nailer. Otherwise, if you have regular heavier modeling, extensive and complicated work, you can choose a finish nailer.

But you must keep in mind that you can never use these two tools as an alternative to each other. You must use it depending on the job. If you always do both types of work, then choose both nailers.


Also, after knowing the complete difference in this guide, many of you may have more usually asked questions, so we have shared short answers to some of the most common quick questions in this section.

Can brad nailer use finishing nails?

Brad nailer is much smaller in size, which is 18 gauge; on the other hand, the finishing nailer is a much larger size which is 15 or 16 gauge. So if you try to use it, there is a possibility of size accuracy damage as well as nail jam.

Is a brad nailer the same as a finish nailer?

The quick answer is “No.” brad nailer is not the same as a finish nail gun. One of the biggest differences is that the brad nailer is designed to use 18 gauge. On the other hand, the finish nailer is designed to use 15 gauge or 16 gauge.

In other words, there is a huge difference in the diameter of these two nailers. Even then, if you are going to use a finish nailer like brad nailer, then it jams or chances to break your nail gun. Plus, anything can accidentally fall away from the gun and injure you; that’s why there is a risk for you too.

Can I use brad nails for plywood?

Yes, if you want, you can use brad nails for plywood, and this is a suitable option. But before that, you must ensure the thickness of plywood. If the plywood is too thick, do not use brad nails. Use 15 or 16 gauge nailers here.

What is an 18 gauge brad nailer used for?

18 gauge brad nailer basically means thin nails, which are 3/8 inches to 2 inches depending on the model. It creates small holes to attach different thinner woods. 18-gauge brad nails are used to attach thinner wood instead of thick wood.

Can I use a braid nailer for baseboards?

The short answer is “No.” Because baseboards are much thicker, it is not perfect for thinner gauges like brad nailer. For baseboards, you need to use a 15, 16 nail gauge finish nailer.

What is a finishing nail gun used for?

A finish nailer is basically a nail gun, which is primarily made for attaching and installing various wood surfaces like cabinets, hardwood floors, crown molding, trim. It is mainly used in the case of thick and hard-working surfaces.

When to go for brad or a finish nailer?

It is not easy to determine when to go for brad or finish nailer. It all depends on the weight as well as the thickness of your project. If your project involves plywood as well as hardwood, then a finish nailer is perfect.

If you are dealing with thin pieces, then a brad nailer is a perfect option.

It is worth mentioning that many people find finish nailer more useful than brad nailer.

In case you do not what to buy both of them for your tool shed, then I would recommend the finish nailer.


After reading our guide, you should now be in a position to choose between the finish nailer and the brad nailer. It all depends on your project, strength for holding, specific functions of the nailer, and your requirements.