9 Types of Nail Guns – Understanding & Choosing

Nail Gun Guide

A nail gun is a tool used to drive various types of nails into wood or any other type of material. Compressed air, a highly flammable gas such as propane or butane, or a small explosive charge usually drives nail guns. In many ways, nail guns have replaced hammers as the tool of choice for builders.

Due to the variety of nailing tasks, there are many specialty nailers designed for specific jobs.

1. Brad nailers

 Brad Nailer

Image source: Aconcordcarpenter.com

Brad nailers use what are called brads. These are essentially thinner gauge nails used to attach lightweight trim, baseboard, interior molding, paneling, crafts and come cabinetry.

Due to the use of thin brads, these nailers do not have the same holding power as other types of nailers. They however, hold the most fasteners per load. Different models of brad nailers support different lengths of nails between 5/8” and 2” in length.

They are ideal for serious professionals engaged in regular trim work, shingling, framing and all-day jobs. The biggest benefits of brad nailers is that since they fire small diameter faster, there is no need to cover the nail openings with putty.

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2. Finish nailers

finish nailer

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Finish nailers run 15 or 16 gauge finish nails, which are slightly larger than the 18 gauge brads used in brad nailers. This gives them greater holding power which makes it possible to use them to install heavier pieces such as baseball or crown molding.

Finish nailers have the advantage of being versatile since they can be used to attach heavy pieces of trim such as wide crown molding, baseboard, or even cabinetry. They have larger diameter heads which hold well with substantially heavy pieces of wood.

3. Flooring nailers

flooring nailers

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Flooring nailers are designed to make the installation of wood floors easy. They install the flooring cleat into the floor at just the right angle so that it seats correctly in the tongue of the hardwood flooring.

Their impact is designed in such a way to not only drive the cleat into the wood and the subfloor below, but also drive one plank of hardwood flooring tightly against its neighbor. They also drive the cleats into the floor at a speed and direction that minimizes risk of tongue damage. They are available in two variations, manual and pneumatic.

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4. Framing nailers

framing nailer

These are used for sheathing, framing, wood siding, fence building and carpentry- works that require joining large pieces of wood together. The body of a framing nailer consists of a pistol with a nail magazine and a trigger. Nails are released into the magazine when the trigger is pressed.

They use two types of nails, round head and clipped head. Clipped head nailers are capable of holding more nails but are not allowed to be used in all jurisdictions. Round head nail guns hold fewer nails but are allowed in all building jurisdiction codes. Due to the large capacity nails used, they have superior holding power.

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5. Palm nailer

palm nailer

Image source: Popularmechanics.com

Palm nail guns sit comfortably in the palm of your hand and make driving anything from a 1.5 to 3.5-inch 16 nails effortless.

There are some types of heavy duty nailers available that will fit in your hand and drive anything from a 2 - 6-inch nail. The biggest advantage of using these nailers is that they are capable of getting into tight spaces while holding the nail on its magnetic hammer face.

Although they are small and portable, air powered palm nailer, require a hose and an air compressor, which makes them a little less convenient to use.

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6. Pin nailers

pin nailer

Pin nailers are the least used type of nailer. They use 23 gauge pin nails, which are sold in a sheet and lightly glued together, but they don’t have any head. They are straight and really, thin.

When shot into wood, the hole is barely visible, and even though the pins have heads, they provide surprising holding power and can penetrate even the hardest woods with ease. They are used to fasten trim molding and small pieces of wood instantly and invisibly. The pins can be used to replace clamps in many situations by adding a little glue to the pinned joints to increase durability.

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7. Siding nailers

siding nailer

These lightweight tools are meant to help you install siding on your home. They have but one job: joining thinner pieces of non-wooden material into a wooden mount. They feature adjustable nail depths to allow you to work on a wide range of siding materials, including soft woods. They can be set for 1 ¼ inch to 2 1/2 inch, nails and most have 350 plus nail magazines that make it possible to knock out plenty of work with a single load.

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8. Roofing nailers

 Roofing nailer

These are perfect for driving nails into roofing boards, insulation and fiber cement, offer an incredible driving power of 410 in. /lbs hey use roofing coil nails that run between 1/2 inches to 1 1/2 inches, and most have a depth dial with a number of different settings.

Flooring nailers use tow type of drivers, full round and crescent. Full round drivers make full contact with the nail head while crescent shaped drivers only make contact with one to three quarters of the nail head. They are the best type of nailer to drive nails through shingles and roofing sheets with ease.

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9. Staple guns

staple gun

These are handheld machines used to drive thick metal staples into plastic, wood or masonry. They are used in many different applications and materials, including house wrap, insulation, wiring, roofing, carpeting, upholstery and hobby-craft materials.

They are convenient to use thanks to their long nose design that allows for the application of staples into recessed corners. There are manual, electric and pneumatic staple guns. The power staple guns are capable of setting staples at a t quicker rate than hand powered models. However, their main advantage is that they can be used continuously for a long time.

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A nail gun will save you valuable time and effort on any project that involves driving nails. They are safer for your fingers and eliminate the need to carry nails around. Different nail guns are available for driving various types and sizes of nails which means that you have to identify the nature of the job you’ll be performing before buying one.