Finish Nailer VS Brad Nailer


A nailer is one of the most important tools used by professional woodworkers and DIYers. When it comes to brad and finish nailers, people often get confused. These two types of nailer are very similar, and they use nails that are also quite similar. Their similarities make it hard for people to choose between them. Regardless of how similar these two nailers might be, they have different uses. However, it is crucial to have an understanding of both tools before you decide which one is best for you.

What Is A Brad Nailer?

A brad nailer is a pneumatic nail gun that uses compressed air to drive brad nails into wood. It is designed to shoot 18 gauge brad nails that are about 5/8 to 2 inches long. They are used to attach delicate woods like trim and mouldings. Due to the small size of brads, they can attach this lightweight wood without splitting the material. The brad nailer is also used to add finishing touches to your woodwork project as well as to restore old furniture.

There are two types of brad nailer; electric and pneumatic brad nailer. The electric brad nailer runs on an electrical power source. It has an electric motor that powerfully drives nails into wood. The electric brad nailer can either be corded or battery-powered. The other type of brad nailer is the pneumatic brad nailer; it makes use of compressed air to drive nails into wood. It uses an air hose to pass air from the compressor to the nail gun. To know more about brad nailers, see What Do You Use a Brad Nailer For?

What Is A Brad Nailer Used For?

Brad nailers are used on woods that are too delicate to be attached by regular-sized nails. If you are concerned about splitting the wood or you want less of a hole in your wood, then the brad nailer is the ideal church. It can be used for the following projects

  • Trim work
  • Rejuvenate antique furniture
  • Paneling
  • Casing and Baseboards

Benefits of a Brad Nailer

  • It is ideal for thin and delicate wood that can be damaged easily
  • It leaves small nail head holes because brad nails have small heads
  • It can be used to hold two wood pieces in place when using glue
  • It can also be used for plywood of about ½ inch

Disadvantages of a Brad Nailer

The major disadvantage of the brad nailer is that it cannot be used with larger pieces of wood. It is not big enough to go through plywood or MDF. It can only be used for thin pieces of wood. The finish nailer is much better at handling larger wood pieces.

What Is a Finish Nailer?

A finish nailer is very similar to the brad nailer; it is used for wood that requires a more holding power. It is also used to hold trims or mouldings, but unlike the brad nailer, it uses thick 15 gauge to 16 gauge nails. This makes it capable of holding larger pieces of wood, and due to its large head, it may leave behind larger holes. They can be used for heavy cabinets and baseboards that require a lot of strength and holding power. The finish nailer can either come as an angled or straight finish nailer. The angled finish nailer fits better into tiny spaces and corners.

There are also two types of finish nailer; electric and pneumatic finish nailer—this difference is based on their power source. The electric finish nailer can either run on batteries or direct source of electricity. The pneumatic finish nailer is known to be more powerful than the electric. It is the best choice if you already have an air compressor.

What Is A Finish Nailer Used For?

The finish nailer is used with heavier and thicker pieces of wood. They are ideal for heavy-duty projects that require more strength and holding power. You can use the finish nailer for projects like

  • Installation of crown and base moulding
  • To fix chair rails, cabinets and staircases
  • It can be used for window and door casing
  • It can also be used for hard and softwood flooring

Benefits of Finish Nailer

  • They work with 15-gauge and 16-gauge nails that have higher holding strength and are much bigger
  • They can be used to fix thicker and heavier wood
  • Their high holding power makes them ideal for baseboards, cabinets and mouldings
  • They permanently hold pieces of wood together
  • The finish nailer is very versatile and can be used with various types of wood and materials

Disadvantages of a Finish Nailer

  • The finish nailer cannot be used with thin and delicate material. Due to their high firing power, they are more likely to damage these types of material
  • The finish nailer use large 15 and 16 gauge nailers that have large heads and leave behind large nail holes in the material

Differences Between Brad Nailers And Finish Nailers

The Brad and Finish nailer are used for different specific purposes. Despite their similarities, they are designed for different projects; some of their differences are

Nail Size

The brad nailer and finish nailer are designed to accommodate different sizes of nails. In comparison, the brad nailer uses 18-gauge brad nails which are very thin and have small heads while the finish nailer uses 15-gauge to 16-gauge nails which are much bigger than the 18-gauge brad nails.


When it comes to power, the finish nailer operates more powerfully than the brad nailer. It is powerful enough to drive nails into heavy and thick wood and other heavy materials. The brad nailer can be used for thinner trims, but it does not have enough power to hold larger trims or mouldings.

Hole Size

The brad nailer and finish nailer use different sizes of nails; this makes the size of holes they leave materials different. The finish nailer uses large-sized nails that tend to leave large holes in the material. This holes often require that you use some wood putty to fill them. The brad nailers, on the other hand, barely leave holes on the wood. The holes they leave behind are really small and almost unnoticeable.


Purchasing a brad nailer or finish nailer is dependent on the project you’re working on and the type of wood being used. If you are working on a project that requires a lot of thick and large pieces of wood, the finish nailer is the better choice. If you are using more delicate or thin wood, it is advisable to purchase the brad nailer. Now that you understand the difference between the brad and finish nailer see also Best Brad Nailers in 2020