What is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?

Of course, this is an important question to address. Many of the users are unaware of what is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer. This is natural as the functions are almost the same. Besides, there are some other technical aspects prevail here too.

In terms of application, category, and types, the nailers are different. The cloud of confusion will vanish once you go through the texts below. The explanations here will help you find the differences. It also will help you select the best one for your respective home improvement projects. Here they go.

What is a brad nailer? 

Before we move in-depth, get some brief idea about brad nailer. This is a nailing gun for minor projects or home improvements. When you are planning to attach lightweight woods, you need to use it. The smaller framing nails will join the wood components. They also use common gauge nails.

Generally, the nails are thinner in size. Mostly they use the 18 gauge nails. The 18 gauge nails refer that you can use 18 nails in an inch. So, now you get some idea about the nail gauge used in a brad nailer. Most of the brad nailers are for the 18 gauge nails.

What is a finish nailer? 

A finish nailer is a gun that uses different nail sizes. And they are suitable for heavy-duty wood trimming. The nails are stronger and can enter into the deep of hardwood. The finish nailers use thicker nails for this purpose.

The finish nailers use different sizes of nails, and it ranges between 15 to 18 gauge. Usually, the finish nailers create a stronger bond with wood components. If you want to attach dense woods for making cabinet, baseboard or molding, this is the perfect one.


Numbers of differences are there for brad nailers and finish nailers. Few of the key differences are explained here for a better understanding.


The fundamental difference is about the performance. A brad nailer is unable to perform in every situation. This is a delicate device that cannot penetrate the hard portions of woods. So, the users can apply the nailing gun for light projects. They also need to check the thickness of the wood before using the gun.

In contrary, the performance of finish nailers is better than the earlier ones. It can enter into the deep of the hardest wood. And the process takes less time too. The users can apply the finish nailer to any types of wood or wooden products. Moreover, they also create a sustainable bond between the wood components too.


The finish nailers are suitable for different purposes. They might include attaching window, casings for doors, cabinet making, trimming exterior of wood products, base molding, wood flooring, and others.

The nails of brad nailers come without a head. So, they are usable for lightweight trimming process. You can do paneling easily with this device. But planning for any major project would not be suitable for this one. The brad nailers are the best match for delicate wood projects.

Basic applications

People mostly use brad nailers for repairs. Some of the people use it for home improvements too. The design and performance are customized for small jobs. For instance, you can use the brad trimmer for holding woods together for a short period. They are easy to remove too.

On the flip part, finish nailers help to attach larger woods. If you want to trim, you need to finish nailers. The finish nailers can create a sustainable bond between the surfaces. And they are hard to remove too. The permanent bond secures the wood surfaces.

Size of the nail

The nail size of brad nailer is smaller than those of finish nailers. As they hold the woods for a temporary period, the shorter length is okay.

However, the size of the finish nailers is longer. They need to enter into the deep of a wood. Besides, the wood surface might be harder. Considering the factors, the length of the nails has been increased comparatively.


A finish nailer is more versatile than a brad nailer. The users can use a finish nailer in almost every situation. Besides, the users can insert the nail in even tight space too. It is possible as the nail gun has different types of operation methods.

But the scenario is different for a brad nailer. The users cannot use the nailer in all situations. The other thing is that they only fire nails in a straight line. If you want to make an angel, this is unfeasible with the brad nailer.

Nail holes

The brad nailers come with smaller nail holes. The holes are so smaller that the use of putty is not mandatory here. The holes are barely identifiable.

But the finish nailer leaves a trace. They enter into the deep of wood, and the holes are comparatively larger. So, to finish the job, putty is a must here. But remember, putty helps to bring a lucrative look on the furniture.

Safety precautions

The safety precautions are the same for both the types of nailers. When using a pneumatic nailer, regardless of the class, you need to care for the airflow. As part of your security, point the exhaust vent opposite to your eyes.

Since compressed air emits from the pneumatic one, it may hurt your eye. Or you can use protective goggles while on an operation. Besides, you need to use safety gloves and other materials for the smooth functioning of both the brad and finish nailers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use 16-gauge nail to a brad nailer?

Which one is powerful – brad nailer or finish nailer?

Is there any difference in price range between the nailers?

Last words 

Hope you know now what is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer. Undoubtedly, they are essential elements for wood projects. No wonder that the home improvements shall remain incomplete without the nailing guns.

The best idea is to use a nailing gun based on needs and necessities. So, you should select the one based on your project or home improvement needs.

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