What Is The Difference Between a Brad Nailer and a Finish Nailer?

Difference Between a Brad Nailer and a Finish Nailer

Installing baseboard and door trim is an easy peasy job to do when you have a nailer at home. There are other fabulous uses of this very convenient power tool as well that makes basic to advance home projects simpler and less time-consuming.

However, looking for the best nailer may bring you to the very commonly asked question. What is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer? Because these by far, are the most common categories of nailer that are equally useful and popular. The matter lies on difference of usage with both. And that is what we will be talking about today specifically. So that by the end you know which one to pick for your certain home improvement or woodworking project.

So, What Is The Difference Between a Brad Nailer and a Finish Nailer – Explained!

Not going to lie, from first look I also thought both of the nailers are pretty identical and must serve same purpose. Yes, they do have some common usages. But there’s also stuff that a brad nailer does better than the finish nailer and vice versa. Clearing things up is that’s why very necessary.

Starting with the Brad Nailer.

The look is exactly similar to a nail gun. Except for the fact that it does not shoot nails. There are brads that this nailer basically works with. The thin nails are actually what brad refers to. An average brad nail comes with an 18-gauge feature. And that means the cross-section is barely 0.0475 inches. That’s pretty small.

For molding and trims fixing the brad nailers is known to be best option. Amateur DIYers may not have yet used this small and thin nail concept for their projects. But as you start to explore more, you’ll realize there is a lot of projects that do demand thin and small nails for it to work.

Extremely thin finishing is one of the many examples. When working with a trim that is pretty thin, using a regular-sized nail will possibly break it. And that’s when brads and brad nailer can save your project. Apart from this, the nailer can also be useful for carpentry finishing touches as well as woodworking ones.

Also, the hole that takes place is pretty small to ever get noticed. So, no need for filling. You can easily use this even on half-inch plywood and baseboards.


For large boards or heavy moldings, the brad nailer won’t be enough even if you use multiple brands. Also, hard to reach areas such as corners and edges are not very well to work with a brad nailer.

Here Comes the Finish Nailer.

Now apparently finish nailer also carries a somewhat similar purpose to the brad nailer. The need to use finish nailer rarely happens and usually demands a certain specific situation. It’s great to use for trim and molding, but not typically small nail demanding ones.

The strength level of finish nailer isn’t as less as brad ones. But also, it’s not as strong as a regular heavy-duty nail gun. For example, the framing nailers.

Averagely, it will house 1 to 2-1/2 inches of nails inside. Usually, these nails don’t come ahead. So that it can easily blend within the wooden surface. However, that’s also a reason why you cannot remove them very easily.

There are both 15 and 16 gauge finish nailer available. These have better holding strength compared to the other type. For projects related to large baseboards or plywood or even furniture building, you’ll find these very useful.

Not to mention how versatile the application is with finish nailers. As you can include them in quite a few types of work. Especially, when you don’t own a regular nail gun.

You can use the nailer for attaching huge crown loading too. And the best benefit of finish nailer is its ability to reach corners with 15-gauge version.


Since the holes made with finish nailers are larger, you will need to do some filling. And this means some extra time is necessary for you to spend and work with wood putty. Until the holes are entirely covered. Also, in the case of working with narrow boards as well as thin trims, these are not very ideal.

Obvious Differences to Talk About.

The first obvious difference you’ll notice about both varieties is the size of holes. By now you already know the brad nailer is capable of making so tiny holes that you don’t even need to fill it up. Where the bigger hole-making finish nailer will require you to bring some putty for filling.

The nail types used for both nailers are also different. With a brad nailer, you cannot go beyond an 18-gauge brad. As that’s the right amount of thinness this gun demands to work with. However, with the finish nailer, thickness is a bit more. And you can easily go for a 16 or 15 gauge nail to use.

In terms of power, clearly, the finishing nailers are more on stronger side compared to brad ones. And so, they are respectively suitable for heavy or light duty nailing chores. This is one important point to note. As if you chose a brad nailer for a project that needs more holding power, things can mess up real soon.

Usage-wise, both are great and there’s no negativity. Unless you chose to opt for the less suitable one for a project. For example, a finish nailer cannot work on thin wood pieces without cracking or splitting them, a brad nailer can. Similarly, the brad nailers will terribly fail at working on corners, but not a finish nailer.

Depending on the weight and thickness of a certain project, you need to decide which nailer will fit best. Thick plywood or hardwood needs the heavier-duty finish nailer. While a softer version of material can work well with a brad nailer.

Wrapping Up

So, what is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer? There are a bunch of them! And now you have a solid idea over those differences hopefully. Taking a choice on which nailer will fit best with one of your critical projects is not a very time-consuming or complicated decision, only if you’re aware of the whole matter.

And that’s not possible without having a clear insight into both of these popularly used nailer types. I hope from now on, you will never find it difficult to pick up the right nailer for a certain project in no time. Good Luck!

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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