16 Gauge Vs 18 Gauge Nailer: Which One Is Better?

Buying the right nailer for the right price is not as simple as it may sound. If you end up buying the wrong one, you could end up with split baseboards and tongues that will come off the wall with ease. So, what is the best option, 16 gauge vs 18 gauge nailer? Get the answer here.

Everything starts off by asking yourself one basic question – do you need a 16-gauge fastener or an 18-gauge one? While it might look spontaneous that the nails might increase in gauge, the opposite is quite true in this case. An 18-gauge nailer is smaller in size than its 16-gauge cousin. This is quite an important factor to remember because this choice will present whether you want a fastener that leaves you a smaller hole or a bigger hole.

There is no particular answer to this question. Your reply will be based on your personal preferences and what types of materials you are going to fasten together. It is also helpful to know that unless you are a professional carpenter, you will need to buy only one. So of course, you have some serious factors to consider and make the right decisions. Based on these decisions, you will be able to pick out the nailer that will prove to be of more use to you. To know more, read about both in this 16 gauge vs 18 gauge nailer article.

16 gauge vs 18 gauge nailer

What Are Some Uses of A Nailer?

Driving nails manually with the help of a hammer is not a big deal until you are handed a project that makes hammer at least a hundred times. In cases like these, having your own nailer can indeed be a blessing. Nailers, or nail guns, are quite handy tools that will help you drive a nail in a snap. These are great equipment to own since they can help in laborious projects like baseboard installment and intensive wall treatment. Additionally, there are a lot of home improvement centers that will rent you a nailer for a few days, so you do not have to worry if a brand new nail gun is not in your budget.

Nailers make use of nails, or fasteners, in long clips or collated in a plastic or paper carrier, depending on its make and type. Some specific nail guns, especially those that are used for roofing and pallet making, make use of wire collated or long plastic coils. Some full head nail guns employ the uses of clipped heads so that nails can be clipped closer together, which also provides less frequent reloading. Similarly, there are many different types of nailers that are made for different types of jobs.

How Do You Make Use of A Nailer?

The video below will explain how you can use a nailer:

What Are 16-Gauge Nails?

Also considered as a finish nailer, a 16 gauge nail gun is thicker in profile and capable of holding things better than a thin nail, which is not very reliable in these matters. Out of the two, 16-gauge is considered more popular because of avid usage and strength. While you cannot replace the nails as per the standard usage, they are still used more prominently out of the two.

These nails are thicker and bigger and fitted with better strength. Hence, most people are fascinated by these nails and end up buying for every type of small or large project.

As said above, the demand of the task should decide the kind of nailer you would require. For instance, if you are going to be involved in heavy projects such as the installation of door frames or baseboards, you would obviously want something that has better holding power. These nails are much wider and more capable of penetrating deep in the wood.

Most importantly, when you punch the nail inside the wood, a small nail head might simply break off. This calls for a larger head, and 16-gauge nails have a thicker profile and strength for this task. These nails are also great for projects like putting together a cabinet or furniture that will take a lot of beating and glue will not hold the pieces together for long. In such cases, 16-gauge nails offer the finest finish.

Additionally, you can also make use of these nails if there is an external trim that you wish to hang. This is mostly done reflect the exterior trim will be subjected to the abuse of the weather and the environment.


  • 16-gauge nails are better at holding multiple professional projects and thicker wood
  • There is more strength to the nailer
  • The wider head allows seamless penetration of the nails
  • The nails are mostly used for heavier projects


  • The wide nail marks are hard to hide
  • These nails are not suitable for DIY tasks or delicate wood

Why Use A 16-Gauge Nail Gun?

Since these nails are quite thick, they will be able to provide improved stability and better support. Connecting two wooden boards together with 16-gauge nails and nail gun will keep the project from collapsing, especially after utilizing wood glue as well.

The most common type of nail gun that makes use of 16-gauge nails is the finish nailer. This gun is commonly used for crown molding where the workpiece is attached to drywall and to install boards. You will need the additional power of the 16-gauge nails to keep these pieces in place. In short, if you want your work to remain in place, a finish nailer with 16-gauge nails is exactly what you are looking for.

Why Not Employ This Nailer?

There are two main reasons why you should not use 16-gauge nails. One is that you cannot use them with crown molding and thinner wooden plans and do not wish to risk producing cracks and splits. Even if the thickness of these nails is 1/16th of an inch, they can easily break a thin wooden plank on light trim mode.

Another reason why you should not make use of 16-gauge nails is that you are working on something temporarily. A finish nailer with 16-gauge nails is made to stay in the board till the end of time. Additionally, even if you manage to pull them out, the holes are easily visible and permanent.

What Are 18-Gauge Nails?

As you would have already guessed it, an 18 gauge nail gun is used for heavier lifting, then the 18-gauge nails are used for delicate types of work. As most of us already know that 16-gauge nails mostly leave behind a mark, 18-gauge nails rarely leave behind a noticeable mark behind.

18-gauge nails are so small that they are capable of penetrating a much thinner plank of wood and still not leave any sort of trail behind. In short, the hole is so small that you would not see it in an easy glance. Additionally, you do not have to put in extra work to hide these holes.

For simple DIY and delicate tasks, 18-gauge nails are considered to be perfect since they have a much thinner size and a decent holding capacity; of course, the holding strength is not to be compared to 16-gauge nails. Yet, these nails will greatly justify their uses in smaller tasks.

The main difference is in the holding power of the nails and the wear-and-tear caused when you are working with them. These nails are used mostly for lighter tasks like crown molding or with wooden pieces that are thin. For thinner planks, bigger and harsh nails will cause the whole panel to break or tear, especially at the ends.

If you are looking to complete temporary jobs like sticking together cabinets, then the 18-gauge nails are perfect for the job. They will be able to hold the panels long enough for you to glue them together. Additionally, they will also not leave behind teeth marks on the panel for you to hide later.


  • 18-gauge nails are better for temporary and delicate tasks that involve thinner planks of wood
  • There are no nail marks left behind
  • These nails are great for specific jobs that do not need high-density nails


  • The nails are not suitable for heavy-duty types of work
  • Not as strong as its 16-gauge counterparts and might break off with ease

Why Use A 18-Gauge Nail Gun?

Since the diameter of 18-gauge nails is a lot thinner, they reduce the risk of splitting or cracking through thin boards. Hardly any contact is made so even if you fire one of these nails through dry and thin lumber, you will hardly see a mark left behind.

These nails are mostly used in brad nailers, which is a type of nail gun that provides temporary holding power between two surfaces or boards for gluing purposes. Additionally, they can also fire nails through delicate workpieces. If you want to remove the brad nails after finishing your task, all you need to do is simply pull the boards apart with your fingers or hands.

Perhaps, the greatest benefit of these types of nails is that they do not leave behind visible holes in the workpiece. While of course, you will be able to see holes closely, otherwise the surface will appear quite seamless. These nails are used for more appearance than for structural integrity.

Why Not Employ This Nailer?

Similar to 16-gauge nails, these 18-gauge nails do not fit all nailing solutions. One of their major downsides is that they offer a minimum amount of support. You need to know how heavy the piece of the workpiece is and whether the nail capable enough to hold it even temporarily. You can easily attach the crown molding to drywall since it is super thin and light-weight, but anything thicker and larger might be problematic.

Another issue of these types of nails is that they are not designed for penetrating hard and dense materials. You should avoid using these nails and the nailer on MDF boards since the nails will not stick and will simply bend, no matter how powerful the air compressor’s settings are.

16 Gauge Vs 18 Gauge Nailer – Which One To Choose?

If you plan on delicate trim and crown molding, you should opt for the brad nailer and the 18-gauge nails. However, if you plan to do the opposite, you should stick to a finish nailer and 16-gauge nail. Here is a product review on both types of nailers:

Hitachi NT65M2S 16-Gauge Finish Nailer

Editor’s Rating:

4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)


The Hitachi NT65M2S Finish Nailer has been designed specifically for advanced builders like building contractors or any people who have more experience in building homes and woodworking. The air duster on the appliance allows the air in the compressor to avoid the nailing function, which means that any dust in your work surface will be cleared away without causing any hindrance by air produced by the appliance.

This Finish Nailer by Hitachi is quite a lightweight and compact nailer that allows its users to easily aim and hold for precise nail placement. The appliance can be used on cabinetry installation, finish applications, and chair rails alike. The switch is selective and allows you to fire the nails on contact or sequentially. All these factors depend on the job you plan to do. The switch is also very easy and straightforward to use, so you do not have to employ additional tools or components.

As mentioned previously, the nailer features a 360° exhaust port that is designed specifically to blow air away from you and protect the work surfaces. Any type of fasteners or nails is accepted as long as they are not more than two-and-half inches. The appliance can hold more than 100 nails in total.

This Hitachi NT65M2S Finish Nailer is a type of pneumatic nailer that is considered an excellent alternative to traditional nailers because they are packed with much more power. Coupled with the quality Hitachi is known for in the market, you can easily invest in this machinery.

This particular nail gun has been designed with ergonomics in mind so that they can be used for long hours without tiring out your hands. It is considered as one of the most comfortable nail guns in the market today that also provides excellent performance. This nailer is definitely one of the top nail guns that will make sure that your job gets done in the best manner possible.

Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

Editor’s Rating:

4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)


The Hitachi NT50AE2 is one of the top brad nailers in the market today. It is an excellent choice of 18-gauge nails for completing any delicate carpentry jobs without causing any problems. The nailer is made to deliver exactly what is expected out of a brad nailer. You will be able to finish small woodworking projects in a given time span and get beautiful and elegant results.

The nailer has already been in the market for quite some time now. The tool has earned quite a solid reputation from users since it is one of the least expensive brad nailers in the market today, especially after considering its quality and the brand name. The appliance is quite light-weight since it is built with an aluminum core, which makes it durable as well. The grip is made of elastomer that ensures precision, comfortability, and efficiency.

The selective actuation mechanism allows for making tool-less firing transitions and saves you from constantly adjusting the nailer. The appliance can be used for a wide variety of applications simply by sliding the controls up and down with your hand. The two modes available are intermittent and continuous firing. The nailer can hold about 100 nails in one go.

The compact design of this nailer will allow you to use it in both tight and open spaces. This brad nailer will run efficiently on standard pressure and the light-weight body ensures that you can use it for a long time without exhausting.

This nailer by Hitachi is quite a solid performer that comes with an incredible value with top performance level. It is a must-have for professionals as a starter or a backup nailer. If you are a DIY worker than is looking for professional-level performance, then this nailer cuts the mark.

* Similar to 16 Gauge Vs 18 Gauge Nailer, read more: The Differences Between Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer.

Final Thoughts

If you have a specific job that needs you to purchase a finish nailer, your pick will be determined by the specifications you choose, including the types of materials you use, etc. If you are a professional and have a lot of experience, you can easily work with many different types of gauge nailers. However, if you are a first-time user and do not have much experience, ignoring these specifications can prove to be bad for you.

A 16-gauge nailer is considered as more versatile equipment if you are willing to look for the materials that fit the requirements of a 16-gauge nailer. This type of nailer is a good choice because it is quite a general equipment and will allow you to perform a lot more tasks.

On the other hand, an 18-gauge nailer is made for much thinner nails that create a very small hole. If you are looking for a nail gun for a job where people will critically see your work, you will need a smaller footprint. So, choose a nailer out of 16 gauge vs 18 gauge nailer based on your preferences.

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