Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer- Guide on how to choose the Best

Last Updated on October 8, 2021

There are about 18 or so different nailers out there you can choose from; they all have different uses and purposes. They have a few differences with each other, and that is what you will see for brad nailers and finish nailers, as well.

So, if you are having a hard time understanding and picking between the brad and finish nailer, then this brad nailer vs. finish nailer guide will be of great help for you. We will go over each one and their differences so that you have a much easier time identifying what you really need.

Now let’s get into the good stuff!

Brad Nailer

It is wise to start off with a little introduction of the nail guns before we move on to the details. The name brad nailer comes from the content that shoots out of the gun. Whereas all nailers essentially have nails in then, this one, however, has brad. They are similar to nails but are longer and much thinner than what we normally see.

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Other than that, the working and the mechanism of this is pretty much like any other nail gun.

This nailer is not all that common, especially when it comes to at-home projects, as well as DIY projects. And most people do not even know what a brad is; this only comes in handy for a few specific kinds of jobs. You might have to use them if you are dealing with very thin trimming. For that, a regular nail might be too thick.

Even though this might not be a go-to tool for you, but it does have its uses, as, at times, you might need something like this but do not have it in hand.


  • Are made specifically for thin moldings and trims
  • The hole made from brad is very thin
  • The thin brad does not result in the trim breaking
  • Can be used on objects other than molding


  • You will be able to get a good hold with brads on heavy pieces
  • Not of much use on a day-to-day basis

Finish Nailer

Now let us move on to finish nailers, there are certain tools that you only use on a few particular occasions or for very specific tasks. Those are the kinds of things finish nailers are used for, as well. Just like brad nails, they are very good for certain tasks that cannot be done properly without them.

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The nails used in this is not like a regular nail, but it is also not like a brad, it is somewhere in the middle. And the gun itself is also not very weak, so I would say that it is actually of good use. The nails in this are much thicker and therefore have an easier time holding on to heavier pieces of wood.

It might not have a hold as good as a normal nail, but it is not all too bad either.


  • Works great with furniture and cabinets; that is especially true for plywood
  • The nails have stronger holding power
  • Can be used for different types of work
  • Easier to work in angles with this type of nailer


  • Thin moldings do not allow nails with such thickness
  • The gaps left behind by the nails need to be filled in

Similarities between Brad Nailers and Finish Nailers

We have already gone over what these two types of nailers actually are, and to some extent, we understand that they are similar in certain aspects, but also have a number of differences between them. But before we tackle the differences, we should talk a little about the similarities between the two.

Moldings and Trims

Both of these nailers are typically used for things like moldings and trims, as the regular nailer is just too thick for this kind of work.

Power of the Tool

Even though the two of these do not absolutely go neck-to-neck when it comes to the brad nailer and finish nailer, but they are, for the most part, similar in this regard. They both have significantly less power than a regular nailer. But a finish nailer is slightly more powerful than a brad nailer.

Differences between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

nailing with brad nailer

As we can see, there are a couple of similarities between the two tools, but there are actually more differences between them. So much so that you will not really be able to use one over the other in cases. They can be used for the same task, but only in certain cases.


When it comes to versatility, there’s one clear winner here: finish nailers. It can accomplish more tasks than the brad nailer and thus is more versatile. So, if you have a wide range of tasks to complete, finish nailer should be your go-to option.


From the information mentioned above, you can already gather that the nail size of these two nailers is very different. The nails or brads used in the brad nailer are comparatively thinner than the nails used in the finishing nailer.

Brad nailers usually come in only one length, and that is the 18-gauge, whereas the finish nailer has two different ones, one is a 16-gauge, and the other is a 15-gauge. The smaller the gauge, the greater the cross-section of the nail is. So, as the 18-gauge of the brad is the highest, its cross-section is the lowest.

Size of the Hole

This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking or considering nail sizes, but it actually is a big concern. The nail makes a hole in the wall. That isn’t much of a problem if the nail stays in place, and the hole is never opened, but the problem starts when you have to take the nail out.

The hole left in the wall will be visible. But thankfully, when it comes to the brad, you will not have to worry yourself over this. Also, the brads are very thin, and therefore, you should not really be able to see the whole it leaves behind on the wall.

But as for the nails in the finish nailer, they are much thicker, and therefore, the hole can be seen once the nail is taken out. So, you have to fill in the gap left being with some plaster so that people do not notice it.


As finish nailers tend to be usually cordless, they are a bit more portable than the other. However, you can also find cordless brad nailers for your tasks.

The Applications

Nailers, in general, have a very specific kind of use, mainly to hold objects together in place, just like a pin. But there are certain differences in these uses, as well. The use mainly varies because of the size of the nail itself.

Brad nails are mostly used when thin trims. This is very important to keep in mind as the brad is needed in this situation as otherwise, the trim split of the nail is too thick. There is no real worry about that happening as brads are very thin.

As I said before, finish nailers, have a bit more versatile use than the brad. You can use these nails to furniture and cabinets made out of plywood in particular. Also, you can use normal wood, but make sure they are not too heavy as it will not be able to hold on it if the weight is too much.


Now for the very last difference between these two tools, it comes down to the power. Even though before I did say they have similar power, but the word similar is operative here. They are close but not exactly the same, and at times this small difference can make all the difference in the world.

The finish nailer is for sure more powerful then a brad nailer, so if you are looking for something a bit more powerful, then it will be your best bet. But if you do not really care for how much power your nail gun has, then there is no need to ponder upon this. Rather think about whether the pieces you put together will stay put or not.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions people might have when it comes to both the brad nailers as well as the finish nailers. People want to know more about their operation as well as their uses. So let’s go-ahead to the answers.

Q: What do you use a brad nailer for?
A: Typically brad nailers are used to attaching lightweight items together. This is used instead of a regular nailer as they are much thinner, and therefore, are perfect fits for smaller and thinner items of wood. But rather than furniture, people usually use this with wall molding, as well as trims.

Q: What are 18-gauge brad nailers used for?
A: The 18-gauge basically signifies how thin the nails or, in this case, brads are. There are certain tasks that require the use of nails of a certain kind of thickness. And these are mainly used with plywood that is very thin and sometimes breaks if regular nails are inserted inside them.

Q: Can a brad nailer be used for a baseboard?
A: Yes, it is possible to use brad nailers for baseboards. You will have to use a 1.5-inch nail with the board. And pre-drilling the holes is a good idea as there is a chance that there will be less chance of splitting.

Some people might think it is fine to use finish nailers with baseboards, but it is a better option to stay away from that as the nails used in the finish nailers are much thicker than brad, and this might result in the baseboard splitting.

Q: Should you use a brad nailer or finish nailer for hardwood floors?
A: First and foremost, it is important to realize these two nailers are not really the same. And you have to keep in mind the brad nailer is used for smaller jobs that do not deal with heavy items. And the floor is pretty heavy.

If you are given the option to choose only between the brad nailer and finish nailer, then I would suggest you choose the latter. A 15-gauge finish nailer will be more suitable for this job as the nails have a bigger cross-section. This allows the nails to hold on to heavier objects.

Q: What is the main difference between angled and straight finishing gun?
A: A straight finish nailer is a tool you would mainly use for exposed surfaces that do not require you to manurer the nail gun too much. Also, the nails that come out of this are very fine.

As for the angled finish nailer, this is primarily used for heavy-duty items. Also, due to the design of the tool, it allows you greater access to corners and tight areas.

Q: Which option would be best for crown molding?
A: Moldings on walls are usually very lightweight, and that is exactly what brad nailers are made for. So, for crown molding, you can use a brad nailer. There is no need to go for a finish gun. But for heavier molding, the other will be a better choice.

We have covered everything there is to cover on this topic, have gone over the pros, cons, similarities, and differences between the finish and the brad nailer. Hopefully, you were able to learn everything you need and are able to use this in your work.

Brad Nailer vs. Finish Nailer – What’s the Difference?

After all this, you might still see that some of the concepts about the two nail guns might be unclear to you. So, let us tackle the question you might have regarding when to employ a brad nailer and when to go for a finishing gun.

The first thing you have to do is figure out how much the items you are putting together weigh and how thick they are. And the heavier and the thicker the material is, the more you should opt for using the finish nailer. A brad nailer will not be able to hold it in place.

However, the scene will be totally opposite if you are working with something that is on the thinner side. For those, a brad nailer might be a much better option. That is because the nails from the finish nailers can be much thicker than brad, and in some cases, the thickness of the nail is unwelcome inside the object you are putting together.

Apart from this point, there is not much you really have to consider and think about when choosing what type of nailer you should use to get your work done.

But overall, a finish nailer might come to better use than a brad nailer. You will be able to get much more work done with the former than the latter.

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