What Are The Differences Between Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer?

Brad nailer vs finish nailer look kind of similar to each other. Most of the time, people think that these two nailers are interchangeable. In a way, a brad nailer looks like a smaller framing nail. However, the hard fact is that these nailers are quite different. Hence, they need to be used for different purposes. To clear some confusion, we are going to compare brad nailers vs finish nailers in this review.

brad nailer vs finish nailer

Differences Between Brad nailer vs Finish nailer

#1. Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: Definition

What is a brad nailer?

Brad nailers work best for finishing touches such as wooden accents or trim. These nailers shoot tiny brads up to 18 gauges. When we talk about nail size, the higher number indicates the smaller gauge. Here, 18-gauge sounds pretty thin.

If one tries to use brad nailers with a normal hammer, they would definitely bend. In terms of length, these nailers fall under the range of 5/8-2 inches. The best part about them is that they do not leave behind large holes. Brad nailers are of two types, electric brad nailers and pneumatic brad nailers.


  • Offer a finished look
  • Hold things perfectly with glue
  • Ideal for small ventures like making picture frames or jewelry boxes.


  • Not fit for MDF or thick plywood
  • Require an air pump if choose pneumatic nailers

What is a finish nailer?

A finish nailer makes use of bigger nails as compared to brad nailers. It uses 14-gauge to 16-gauge brads. This nailer is also a bit longer, where it goes up to 2.5 inches in length. Most of the finish nails do not have a head and hence, sink completely into the wood. However, these nails leave behind a noticeable hole.

Here, you do not have to worry about reloading as these nails come in strips of around 50 to 100 nails. The best thing about finish nailers is that they are available in both angled and straight designs. They are of two kinds, pneumatic finish nailers and the cordless ones.


  • Longer and wider nails
  • Construct a permanent hold
  • Highly versatile
  • Long strips make it easier to use


  • Not for delicate and thin materials
  • Leave behind nail holes
  • Require an air pump if opt for pneumatic nailers

#2. Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: Uses

Why use a brad nailer?

A braid nailer makes use of finer wires with a smaller diameter. These nails offer less hold strength. They work better for smaller jobs such as hanging panels, decorative trim or molding, and other craft works.

The small-sized nails avoid splitting, which even makes them perfect for hiding in wooden trims. Here, you do not have to conceal holes using wood putty.

Why use a finish nailer?

A finish nailer makes use of 16-gauge wires. Hence, they take more force before they bend. Tasks like baseboards and crown molding are ideal for finish nails. These heavy duty nails offer more resistance and support. That’s why finish nailers work well for installing woodworks like large trim.

As this nailer uses larger nails, they require a little effort on your park. You need to cover the nail head with some putty.

#3. Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: When to use

When to use which nailer entirely depends on the work. A brad nailer cannot work with finish nails. So, you need to make sure that you opt for the right equipment for carrying out the job. Look for several examples below to check out their uses!

When should you use a brad nailer?

Brad nailers can be used for small home repairs and improvements. For instance, one can use a brad nailer for securing loose trim to cabinets along with adding some crown moldings or baseboards. You can even use these nailers while installing interlocking floors for some extra hold.

Brad nailers are great at holding surfaces temporarily. They can hold things for a while when you wait for adhesives or glues to set. One can easily remove them afterward. A brad nailer is ideal for small craft projects such as making birdhouses, picture frames, or models.

When should you use a finish nailer?

Finish nailers help to attach thick and large pieces of molding’s trim. They are good for door casings and crown molding. With these nailers, you can fix baseboards and chair rails.

These nailers are perfect for tasks where you rely on these nails for structural integrity instead of appearance. So, use this braider for most paneling or molding projects as it offers a more permanent hold.

#4. Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: Features and Accessories

Nail size

A brad nailer usually supports 5/8- to 2-inch 18 gauge nails. This tool makes use of brad nails with heads and often, headless nails. This nailer uses nails having a diameter of about 1.22 millimeters.

Meanwhile, a finish nailer supports 14-16 gauge nails having a length of 1-1.25 inches. They support headless nails to merge better with furniture.


Brad nailers use nails with heads and hence, they are good to be used in hidden places that remain out of sight. Flatheads on brad nails make them easier to pull out. Meanwhile, finish nailers form a strong bond.

Due to being headless, these nails offer a more finished look as they blend completely with the material. Unlike brad nails, these nails are not intended to be removed.

Depth Analysis

An excellent nailer arrives with a depth adjustment, where you can adjust the puncture depth to manual or automatic depending on the wood thickness. A depth adjustment offers splinter-free and better results.


Most of the nailers make use of magnetic strips to keep nails in place when loading. It prevents spills and offers more control. There is another option for loading called canister loading, where you buy nails in a pack and load them into the nailer.

Adjustable Belt Hook

This interesting accessory allows you to hook the nailer to a belt. A belt hook makes them portable and close at hand. In this way, you can even work with other tools without putting away the nailer.

Angle Adjustments

This feature allows you to adjust the nose of the nailer at diverse angles. It comes handy when performing touch-ups or renovation around the house. An angled nose penetrates nails deeper and offers long-lasting outcomes.


In the market, there are cordless nailers as well as the corded ones. Brad nailers are usually corded and finish nailers are often cordless except pneumatic nailers. Corded nailers punch stronger then cordless nailers. However, cordless nailers are quite heavier due to an in-built battery.


Before selecting the product, one takes into consideration the price. When it comes to price, brad nailers differ from finish nailers. Brad nailers are the most admired pneumatic nailers, which are also available at cheaper prices. On the other hand, finish nailers are quite pricey but offer more versatility.


While looking for a nailer, you should also consider the warranty. Warranties cover the repair cost due to flaws in workmanship or material. One gets warranties for one, three, or even five years on nailers. So, you should check the warranty before buying a nailer with the manufacturer.

#5. Brad Nailers vs Finish Nailers: How to Use

Let’s learn how to use a finish nailer and brad nailer for effective results!

How Do You Use A Brad Nailer?

Brad nailers are well-suited for delicate nailing ventures such as trim or cardboard nailing. While handling this tool, always use protection. Before you set out to work, wear a hearing protector like earmuffs or earplugs, thick gloves, or a pair of safety goggles.

Keep the brad nailer close but not on the cardboard edge to avoid splitting. If you are using pneumatic brad nailers, ensure that the nailer is firmly connected to the air compressor. Also, do not forget to lubricate and load the nailer with the correct-sized nails.

Do not use a hammer to sink the nail al through the material. It may bend or even cause damage to the project. So, it is better to get rid of the nail and work again.

How Do You Use A Finish Nailer?

A finish nailer is helpful for thrusting in broader nails to achieve sturdier results. It can perform molding and trim work just like a brad nailer. In addition to this, finish nailers work great for baseboards and door casing.

Before using a finish nailer, wear thick gloves, eye and hearing protectors. Now, you have to depress the safety nudge and pull off the anti-marring rubber over the nose tip to avoid damage.

Next, position the tip and set the nail perpendicular to the trim. Just in case, the nail does not go all the way through, use a hammer for the same.

#6. Pneumatic Vs. Cordless Nailers

Pneumatic nailers whether finish or brad work with compressors to thrust in nails using powerful air pressure. These nailers offer easy handling. They are lightweight and even, cheaper than other kinds of nailers. They are even best for beginners due to their ease of use.

Additionally, one can use an air compressor for other ventures. These projects include filling up tires, spray painting, and cleaning off. On the other hand, you do not require an air processor in cordless nailers. These nailers are more maneuverable and powerful as compared to pneumatic nailers.

Pneumatic Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

Pneumatic nailers use compressed air to run. If you opt for these nailers, you need to get an air compressor. Most of the people go with pneumatic nailers. The best part about these nailers is that you never lose the strength at which nails drive into the wood. Plus, pneumatic nailers are much cheaper than the cordless ones.

Cordless Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

Cordless brad nailers are great due to many reasons. Here, you do not have to worry about carrying a hose and a compressor to accomplish the task. When you decide on which kind of nailer you require, it is really important to understand what all you need to make each kind function.

For instance, when you go with a pneumatic nailer, you need a long hose, an air compressor, and power supply to charge your compressor. On the other hand, a cordless nailer does not require an air compressor. To make it work, you need batteries and fuel cells. However, these things will be as expensive as compressors over a period of time.

#7. Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: Comparison Table

FeaturesFinish NailerBrad Nailer
Function and UsageDoor Casing, baseboards, trims, etc.Fragile work: Small moldings, stops, and trims
Wood TypesMDF woods, softwoods, hardwoods, and plywoodThin and softwoods
Gauge14 to 16-gauge18-gauge
Nail Head Size1.63-1.83mm1.22mm
Nail Length1 to 2.5-inch5/8 to 2-inch
BrandDEWALT, Bostitch, Freeman, PORTER-CABLE, Numax, and HitachiDEWALT, Bostitch, Freeman, PORTER-CABLE, Numax, and Hitachi

#8. Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: Which one is the best?

So, which nailer should you go with, a finish nailer or a brad nailer? The answer to this tricky question is, the one you require. Both of these nailers are intended for specific purposes. Hence, a finish nailer and a brad nailer are both considered to be different power tools.

Meanwhile, finish nailers are versatile and able to perform similar functions as brad nailers. However, they are kind of expensive. If you do not require to nail door casing or baseboard, we just to settle with brad nailers and save your hard-earned money.

On the other hand, it all depends on what you actually want in a nailer. If you are looking for a nailer, let’s have a look at our favorite picks!

Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge Brad Nailer

Editor’s Rating:

4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)


Hitachi NT50AE2 is a pneumatic brad nailer with 18-gauge brads. It is fit for 5/8-inch to 2-inch nails. This brad nailer supports a magazine that one can load from below. In this way, you can load it really quick and easy.

The magazine’s average capacity is 100, where it varies depending on the head size of nails. Hence, the frequency to load nails reduces too much extent. There is even a visual indicator that allows you to see how much nails are left.


  • Comes with a selective actuation with two modes
  • Well-balanced and lightweight
  • Supports good grip due to elastomeric grip
  • Great nail penetration


  • Sometimes, it keeps jamming up
  • Requires oiling

Hitachi NT65MA4 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer

Editor’s Rating:

4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)


Hitachi NT65MA4 is an angled finish nailer with 15-gauge nail style. This model is really durable and reliable. One can use this finish nailer for base and crown molding, door and window casting, staircases, chair rails, and cabinets.

This finish nailer supports 15-gauge nails having a length between 1/14 inch and 2-1/2 inch. Due to its angled magazine, one can work in the toughest spaces and corners. The average capacity of the magazine is 100, where it is really easy to load.


  • Comes with an integrated air duster
  • Supports a 360-degree exhaust
  • Offers a selective actuation with two modes, contact fastening and sequential
  • Comprises of a non-slip elastic grip trigger


  • Requires oiling
  • Nail jam occurs sometimes
  • Often misfires

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

1. What is the difference between finish nails and brad nails? Which one should I use?

  • “Brad nails are smaller in diameter while forming from 18-gauge wire. These nails usually have less holding strength. They are best for tasks like molding, decorative trim, crafts, and panel installation. Meanwhile, finish nails comprises of 16-gauge wire. They handle better payload. So, choose one of these nails based on your task.”

2. Should I buy both a finish nailer and a brad nailer?

  • “It entirely depends on the type of tasks that you normally carry. If you work with both delicate and strong materials, then you should go with both of these nailers.”

3. What type of finish nailer should I use?

  • “Some users prefer 16-gauge angled finish nailers while others go with 15-gauge angled finish nailers. The latter one is a more popular size than the other one. Apart from these two, there are also the straight finish nailers that are useful for specific applications. So, choose the one depending on your needs.”


From what we have gathered so far, brad nailers are basically for fragile projects. Additionally, these nailers use smaller and thinner 18-gauge nails. Brad nailers are inexpensive and excellent at nailing trims. Meanwhile, finish nailers are a little bit stronger as compared to brad nailers. They can handle MDF woods like hardwood, plywood, etc.

On the other hand, finish nailers are quite expensive than brad nailers. On the whole, these nailers can be utilized for numerous projects.

If you require to get done with detail work, a brad nailer is what you need. However, there is a distinct difference between these two nailers. So, choose the one based on your venture requirements and needs.

5/5 - (8 votes)

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