Can I Use A Brad Nailer For Shiplap?

Shiplap is one of those architectural styles that’s getting more popular as time goes on. It’s a type of wood paneling that is great for both the interior and exterior of your home, and it’s especially popular as a replacement for traditional cedar shingles.

You can install shiplap using traditional methods, but that will be a time-consuming and a bit daunting task. So the easy way to attach shiplap is using a nail gun.

But, what nail gun is most suitable to serve your purpose? Or, Can I use a brad nailer for shiplap? To know it in detail, stay tuned with us. We’re going to explore what shiplap is? How many types of nail guns are available and the efficacy of a brad nailer for shiplap in our next journey.

What is a Shiplap?

Shiplap is a common building material that looks similar to siding combines the beauty of wood, the durability of vinyl cladding, and the affordability of wallpaper. Its origins are unclear, but it seems to have evolved during the early 20th century. Although the name is fairly self-explanatory, there are several variations of how to use it.

Initially, shiplap was utilized to waterproof boats (from where the name came from), is a particular kind of wood framing with a rabbet (groove) joint at the top and lower part of each board so they cross over to shape a tight seal.

It was a demonstrated lodging material against water and wind and initially served a pragmatic as opposed to stylish reason. It was seen to be used in sheds, barns, and other rustic buildings.

In present days, shiplap is utilized more for decorating the living room, kitchen, or entry ways as opposed to earlier days wind or water protecting plank. Its uses are far and wide after Chip and Joanna Gaine presented them in their famous TV show Fixer Upper.

Can You Use A Brad Nailer For Shiplap?

To determine the answer, first, we really need a point-by-point outline of nail guns and afterward, we need to look at the size of a shiplap and the necessary nail size to attach it.

A nail gun is smart handheld equipment that drives nails into the wood using either compressed air or electromagnetic power. It helps you to drive several nails at a time with a precise depth of drive, which ultimately works for increasing the productivity of a framer or carpenter tremendously.

Based on the length and thickness (gauge) of nails, there are several kinds of nail guns available. Let’s get a brief about them below –

Framing Nailers:

A framing nailer, by definition, is a tool used by carpenters and builders to drive nails into timber frames in order to construct a home. A framing nailer may be used for a lot more than just erecting frames, and there are many different types that can be used for different applications such as roofing shingles, flooring, decking, and so on. They generally construct to drive nail sizes up to 3-1/2 inches, which is ideal for most heavy-duty applications. So they’re not ideal for joining shiplap in the first place.

Finishing Nailers:

Finishing nailers, as opposed to frame nailers, are designed to drive small nails and are used for finishing woodwork such as crown molding installation and furniture assembly.

It is divided into two types. A brad nailer, which is designed to drive brads (long thin wire nails, 18 gauge, and typically small head) and is suitable for finishing or trim projects, is the most widely used finishing nailer.

A finish nail gun, on the other hand, utilizes finish nails with gauges of 15 to 16 gauges. Finish nails are a little thicker than brads and can give more holding force for heavy molding, baseboards, furniture assembly, and other finish woodworking projects.

Pin Nailer:

A pin nailer is the youngest of the nail gun family, and it uses a pin rather than a nail. To drive pins into the wood, plastic, and other materials, pin nailers are employed. Headless and exceedingly thin (23 gauge), the pins are even thinner than the brads. As a result, they are unable to provide sufficient holding force for heavier boards or planks such as shiplap or wainscoting.

Based on the explanation of several types of nail guns above, it is evident that finishing nail guns are most suited for installing shiplap. But, once again, which finish nail gun (between the brad nailer and the finish nailer) is best? To discover this, we must wait a little longer and examine the next argument.

What Is The Standard Size Of The Shiplap?

There are two types of shiplap available. One is genuine, fashioned of a solid plank of wood and in use since antiquity. Another is constructed of MDF or plywood and is intended for decoration of indoor walls including bathroom, kitchen, or living room.

A solid hardwood shiplap is normally 3/4 inches thick if it is pre-finished, or 1 inch thick if it is un-sawed. The false or ornamental shiplap, on the other hand, is often 1/4 inches thick. We won’t go over the entire dimension of a shiplap because we only need to drive nails through the thickness.

Another factor to consider is the weight of a shiplap board or plank. A 1×8 12 ft. pine shiplap typically weighs roughly 12 pounds.

What size nails for shiplap?

Because we usually attach shiplap to drywall or wood frames, it’s important to make sure the nail is long enough to keep the shiplap in place for a long time without collapsing.

If the shiplap is 3/4 inches thick, the nail size should be at least 1-3/4 inches, according to the rule of thumb. That means it should be at least an inch longer than the shiplap thickness.

Sometimes we may need to hang a shiplap on drywall which itself attached with a frame. In this case, if the thickness of the drywall is ½ inches, we may need to drive 2-¼ to 2-½ inches nails.

We know that the brad nailers are usually designed to drive ⅜ to 2 inches 18 gauge brads and finish nailers are designed to drive 1 to 2-½ inches long nails.


The following conclusions can be drawn from the preceding discussion. To install shiplap correctly and effectively, we must first choose between a brad nailer and a finish nailer.

If the shiplap is constructed of solid wood and is somewhat hefty, a finish nailer is preferable because it is designed to drive 2-1/2 inches long 15 or 16 gauge nails, which can provide more holding capability than brads.

On the other hand, if the shiplap is ornamental, constructed of plywood or MDF, and of a thinner thickness, a brad nailer should be used. Because bards are thin and frequently headless, they will require less or no filling, which is significant for ornamental purposes.

So, you can use a brad nailer to install shiplap, as well as a finish nailer, but never a framing or other heavy-duty frame nailer (since framing nails leave enormous holes in the shiplap and can split it).

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Comment