Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer: The Difference Explained

When it comes to choosing one tool between brad nailer and finish nailer, you often get stuck as you barely distinguish the differences and specifications. Because these nailers hardly bear any drastic differences as their similarities are apparent.

In fact, most of the people consider bard nailers as the alternatives to finish nailer. But that’s where they are terribly wrong!

They may seem likely and can be used in the same projects, but their application and characteristics carry diversity.

Henceforth, you need to narrow down the differences precisely so that you can choose the appropriate tool for your arch and bring the best out of it.

So, without lingering more time, let’s decode the differences by articulating brad nailer vs. finish nailer.

 

What Is Nail Gauge?

You may have already heard about the term “gauge” whenever you look for a brad nailer or finish nailer.

Undoubtedly, an 18 gauge brad nailer has the highest demand in the market place and its productiveness, drilling capacity, everything trumps over a 16 gauge or 15 gauge brad nailer.

Ever wondered what does gauge stand for? And why we prefer 18 gauge brad nailer or a 16 gauge finish nailer above everything?

Well, before you hover into the conclusion and find out the differences, you need to introduce yourself with the nail gauge!

So basically, by referring gauge, you mean how much thin or thick it is.

The higher it progress, the thinner it becomes.

And the reason why we prefer an 18 or 16 gauge nail gun is that these are utterly thin and leaves tiny holes after you strike an arc. Hence, you get a smooth surface every time as those tiny little pores can be smoothened.

Now, the equation is really easy here. By inserting an 18 gauge nailer, it will reach 18 inches per inch, resulting in relatively thinner holes than a 16 gauge or 15 gauge nailer.

 

Brad Nailer

I used to question myself that, why we do need a brad nailer whereas finish nailers outweigh the price value? And finish nailers make comparatively sturdier hold than brad nailers. But then I came across its feat, which was the magazines that progress 18 inches per inch.

Yeah! Brad nailers are basically an 18 gauge nailer gun that protects the surface from large pores.

The core aspect of constructing a brad nailer is to sink thinner nails, especially into decorative, crown molding, crafting wallpaper frames, repairing split from the surface, and DIYs.

Why Should You Include It to Your Toolbox?

Ask 5 DIY enthusiast about brad nailers. I bet at least 3 of them might already have bought it or use this on every sphere of their projects. However, professionals don’t seem to use this tool frequently as in heavy industrial projects; brad nailers don’t perform well.

The reason why you need to include it in your toolbox is to operate small woodworking projects.

They are mostly used in household repairing and decorations. Because you aren’t prone to be okay with the broken walls or large holes in your house. In outdoor projects, the holes barely matter as they aren’t for decorative purposes.

So in this regard, you must delight yourself with an ergonomic and versatile brad nailer so that you can make some magnificent DIYs and prevent splitting, as well.

 

How Brad Nailer Works?

A brad nailer primarily has 4 configurations, which are the gauge, magazines, air compressor control, and the lock.

Each of them works differently and needs proper optimization. First thing first, you need to work with your grip.

Because while using brad nailer, you need to maintain the balance. Everything that works at the level of your surface or wood piece results best.

However, you may want to have a sunk-in finish and put more pressure while nailing, but this won’t necessarily provide you a good finishing and can’t hold the pieces somewhat better as far as brad nailers are incredibly delicate and smooth.

Yes, a balanced arc may end up making the nails slightly apparent, but this won’t be an issue. Well, opinion differs.

 

Brad Nailer Variations

Now, brad nailers bear two types. One is driven with an air compressor and have a cord, and another is cordless.

Both of them shoot the nail depending on the energy of air compressed chambers.

You need to educate yourself a little before striking an arc. Because there are varieties of brad nailers that perform differently, and the operation is also contradicting.

In that case, make sure you have a precise gaze upon the instruction manual. However, there are some standard settings which I am going to tell you!

So, you need to measure the length of your brads to determine whether its gonna cut the chase or not.

For instance, if you have surface relatively thicker than 2″ inches, then using a brad nailer would be an epic failure. The nails are going to break, and the surface may get blemishes.

Herein, perceiving the length of your brad and the thickness of your wood piece is mandatory.

Secondly, you will need to set the air compressor level and push the trigger. If you need the brads to reach deeply, then the pressure should be high, and if you want the brads to remain slightly apparent, then keep the pressure moderate.

Lastly, load the nailer gun with the magazine lock function. You’ll need to hear that crisp-click sound instantly to be assured!

 

Perks of a Brad Nailer

  • It uses 18 gauge nailers, which is the thinnest amongst 15 and 16 gauge nailers. Hence, it doesn’t leave large holes and blemishes.
  • Brad nailers excel on small projects; crafting lightweight boards, plywoods, baseboards, decorative, molding, attaching wallpaper frames, making a birdhouse.
  • It also works well in holding glue with broken surface. However, this doesn’t last long. You can use them as a temporary quick trim fix!
  • Prevents splitting if you are working on a delicate surface.

 

Downsides of a Brad Nailer

  • It’s utterly inappropriate for heavy-duty projects.
  • Doesn’t hold the woods efficiently, or you can say it has poor durability when it comes to the connection between the wood pieces.

 

Is It Worth the Money?

You definitely expect that your investment will bear sufficient value. Here when you intend to get a brad nailer, the price is generally affordable.

Even if you want to get an advanced, lightweight, and sturdy one, still it won’t cost you much.

But the problem begins when it comes to buying the air pump as it’s quite expensive.

Still honestly, some investments are worthy as far as they are offering optimal features.

As you can’t deny the importance of brad nailers in small trim works and split-resistant, you should extend your investment a little more!

 

Finish Nailer

If you want to excel on trim work or any sort of finish work, a 16 gauge finish nailer will be utterly intimidating to other tools in this aspect! The reason why woodworkers prefer to finish nailers over anything is that it holds the compound as tight as possible and works tremendously on thick and heavy surfaces.

Without any extra hustle, it can drill into 2.5 inches long, and the fasteners go deeper than brad nailers.

However, finish nailers are interchangeable with brad nailers in some extents, but you will end up having thick holes that you don’t admire. Isn’t it?

Also, finish nailers are pricy and require more expertise to master the skill of running it further.

Now, as it’s superior thickness, you can use this pneumatic tool in big projects like cabinetry, casings of doors and windows, heavy trims, base and crown moldings, etc.

Why You Should Include It to Your Toolbox?

The reasons are obvious and precise to get a finish nailer. So, the first and foremost aspect of including it to your toolbox is because finish nailers run through whether it’s a 15 gauge or 16 gauge nailer, which is thicker and reach deep through the component.

Secondly, it effectively holds the splits together very well.

Not temporarily but with a durable finish. My research resembles that a finish nailer is thicker than an 18 gauge brad nailer, but when it comes to versatility, a finish nailer outshines over a brad nailer.

Anyways, moving forward to the purpose of using it, I almost forgot to tell you that finish nailers will cost you a lot, but for good! Trust me.

However, some of the sellers will just bluff without providing any good in real. So, you have to be careful before investing in a finish nailer. Also, make sure you know the proper demonstration, and the types of projects you are expecting to work on!

 

How Does It Work?

So in this segment, I will let you know about the process of using a pneumatic finish nailer.

Make sure you have scrapes before you get into the task.

Because you want to know for sure either you are ready to work with the finish nailers or not.

Now when you have a finish nailer, there should be a standard size gauge such as 15 or 16 gauge finish nailer. A 15-16 gauge finish nailer will keep up with you till it reaches two and a half inches.

To proceed with the operation, you need to narrow down what length fasteners you are gonna use. You have to load the pins from the bottom and push the nail upwards. After that, to pull the trigger or the spring-loaded catch for loading the gun promptly.

The finish nailer has a safety tip on top of its head, which requires to be pressed for the gun to fire. So while inserting the nails, you have to push the safety tip down and try giving a sharp glance over the angles that you are pointing at.

After getting everything somewhat organized, start sinking the nails to the surface. Make sure you buy finish nailers that offer adjustment depths for utmost precision and control.

 

Finish Nailer Variations

Also, there are a few things to consider. As you have the options as in cordless and pneumatic, the decision might become notoriously tedious.

In terms of determining which is ideal for your task, you need to contemplate your working genre, capacity, and obviously the budget.

So the pneumatic ones are relatively powerful than the cordless ones. Moreover, it’s quite expensive because of the air compressor. However, cordless finish nailers can also accomplish the task effortlessly.

Also, cordless tools are appropriate for all age workers as it doesn’t bear any extra attachments.

So, whenever you are working on top, you don’t need to hold an extra weight on your back!

Just the tool!

Even in your 60s, you will be able to work with it!

 

Perks of a Finish Nailer

  • It can bond deep and thick with the wood. Hence, it’s convenient for heavy tasks.
  • Finishing nailers are supremely versatile, which can be used in numerous projects.
  • It leaves a sturdy and stable hold, which remains as long as you expect where other nailers fail.
  • You are free from persistent loading as the strips are long enough.

 

Downsides of a Finish Nailer

  • If you are working on a decorative project that will be visible to everyone and you don’t want any large holes or blemishes to remain transparent, then finish nailers aren’t your feat.
  • For small woodworking projects and trim works, finish nailer doesn’t work well.
  • The worst decision if you are working on narrow boards.

 

Is It Worth the Money?

Regardless of the magnanimous features and outcomes, finish nailers do cost a lot, which can be an issue for anyone.

However, the values pay fair compensation. Apart from everything, you should spend your penny on something that you actually need.

Accordingly, if you aren’t looking for any sort of heavy tasks or professional DIY’s, then owning a finishing nailer won’t be any of your convenience.

On the contrary, in case you are looking forward to improvising your crafting skills with more versatility and want to work on some substantial projects, then this nailer will do the math for you.

 

18 Gauge Brad Nail Vs. 16 Gauge Finish Nailer

Here I have compiled some primary differences between a brad nailer and finish nailers in a chart. Check it out!

Brad Nailers Finish Nailers
1. These nailers don’t need any putty or sealers to fix the trims. 1. Finish nailers often need putty or sealers to attach the trims.
2. Brad nailers work best for small repairs and decorative projects. 2. These are great for heavy-duty projects like cabinetry, exterior trim, crown and base moldings, etc.
3. They can’t hold the wood for long. 3. Finish nailers can hold deep and thick woods perfectly.
4. It is utterly inexpensive. 4. They are quite expensive.
5. Brad nailers leave tiny nail head holes. 5. It leaves larger and deeper holes.
6. It’s not a versatile tool. 6. Finish nailers are supremely versatile.
7. It’s driven by 18 gauge nailer. 7. The standard gauge for finish nailers is 16 gauge.
8. Brad nailers aren’t that sturdy as long as you don’t use a quality nailer gun. 8. Finish nailers are habitually sturdy.
9. They are ideal for delicate wood projects. 9. It ridiculously fails when working on a sensitive surface.

 

Things to Consider while Shopping for Brad Nailer & Finish Nailer

There are some crucial facts that you should consider while shopping for these tools so that you don’t regret it later!

  • Make sure your brad nailer and finish nailer has adjustment depths to control the depth and length.
  • Always try to stick with a tool that offers a comfortable grip. Hence you can work with ease, and it lifts your productivity as well.
  • Nothing compares to durability. In this regard, even if you need to invest more, try to buy something with sturdy construction.
  • A tool with versatility is a tool with power! If you are getting a tool that provides multi-purpose usage, that shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, we all love “extras.”
  • You need to buy a tool that provides a clear instruction manual, as every tool is different to operate.
  • No matter the tool is extensively advanced or renders numerous features, spending a lot of money won’t ever be in your preference. That’s why determine which features you need the most; measure them separately, try to narrow down the projects you will possibly work in the future. Your grip and productivity level, etc. will help you to make the right decision.
  • Learn the proper demonstration of each tool practically by the staff, or if you are buying online, there should be plenty of videos regarding “how to use” one particular tool. It will help you to encounter possible complications.

 

Final Word

If you have gone through the whole article thoroughly, I am sure you can now differentiate brad nailers and finish nailers without any confusion!

And honestly, either an 18 gauge brad nailer or 16 gauge finish nailer both can benefit you significantly if you use them in the right projects.

Good Luck!

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