How to Use a Nail Gun for Decking

Tips On How to Use a Nail Gun for Decking

The deck has become an integral part of most homes these days. From enhancing the value of your home to adding outdoor enjoyments, a deck brings a sense of completeness at home. So, no wonder why most homeowners look for building a deck in their outdoor. While many people will call for a professional decking service, you can accomplish the decking task all by yourself. You will need the decking materials, nails for fastening the deck, and a nail gun to fire the nails.

This guideline on how to use a nail gun for decking will aid you with the cause. Ideally, you can use a nail gun for decking as it speeds up the application and leaves a smooth and engaging finish on the deck.

How to Use a Nail Gun for Decking – 6 Easy Steps

Decking requires attaching multiple decking blanks and framing timber with nails and screws. It is a time-consuming process and will need you all day to complete it. When you use the right nailer for the job, it just gets easier and faster.

Step 1: Choose the right nail gun

You will need a pneumatic nail gun for decking jobs. However, not all pneumatic or compressed-air nail guns will be suitable for your job. Ideally, the best nail gun for building a deck is a pneumatic framing nailer.

Since framing nail guns will drive nails from 1-1/4” to 3-1/2” through the deck material, it ensures the best connection with premium durability. Framing nailers are powerful and drive through the toughest decking material with ease.

You may use the BOSTITCH F21PL Pneumatic Framing Nailer for decking purposes. It is made for heavy-duty nailing jobs with quick depth adjustment. Also, it shoots both wooden and metal nails.

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Step 2: Pick the right nails

Next, you need to pick the right nail for the decking job. Ideally, stainless steel nails are preferable as decks outside will receive a lot of weathering. So, stainless steel nails will ensure increased longevity with their rust and corrosion-proof design.

Also, the nails should be at least 2 1/2″ long to perfectly penetrate the decking material. Nonetheless, professionals prefer using 3″ nails as it reaches deep and hold the deck with enhanced power. Also, 8-gauge nails are commonly used as they are more powerful.

Also, the nail must meet the working angle of the framing nailer. For instance, if you use a 21-degree framing nailer, the nail should be compatible with it.

Step 3: Preparing the deck

Before you drive through the screws or nails through the decking material, you need to prepare it. The preparation includes applying adhesive on the joists or support. When you apply adhesive on the joists, it creates a nice cushioning between the joist and the deck’s boards. So, it stops unwanted cracks and stops the deck from coming out as time passes by soon.

When you apply the adhesive, make sure you position the boards correctly. You can mark them for proper positioning without any hassles. Also, choose an adhesive with good bonding capacity and a waterproof facility to withstand the weather and external elements at ease.

Step 4: Prepare your nails and nail guns

Once you have applied the adhesive, you can start driving the nails through the decking boards. But, you have to prepare the nail gun and nails for it. Depending on the angle of your framing nailer, choose the nails accordingly.

Now, you should insert the nails in the framing nailer magazine. The nailers can hold anywhere from 200 to 300 nails in their housing. So, determine your deck size and fill up the nailer magazine to meet the nailing requirements.

Also, test drive 1 or 2 nails on a similar deck board before starting the actual decking process. Make sure you have chosen the right pressure for the nailers too. Framing nailers can choose nails at 70-130PSI.

The actual pressure required depends on the deck thickness and hardness of the material. If you have a hardwood deck, setting the nailer over 100PSI will be helpful to drive through the nails. If the nailer works in lessor more than the required pressure, it might damage the deck. So, it would be best if you test drives a few nails to find the right pressure level.

Step 5: Driving in the nails

You have to use two nails for each intersection of the board and joist. This means you will need to fill up the magazine with 2X nails than the joist and board intersection. After turning on the nailer, you need to release the nailer tip to allow it to fire the nails.

It is essential since the trigger is locked unless you press it for safety purposes. So, you must release the trigger and shoot the nails one by one. Firstly, position the nail gun right above the nailing spot on the deck.

Apply the required pressure and pull the nail gun trigger. Also, you should hold the nail gun at a slightly angled position so that both nails are shot at an inward angle with the board-joist connection. It increases the bonding.

Step 6: Driving nails through the trim boards

Likewise, in Step 1, apply a quality adhesive on the back of the trim boards. It helps the boards to secure a better connection with the deck frame. Now, position your nail gun and drive the nails through the trim boards.

You must drive in a row of nails through the top and bottom edge of the trim board. Also, the nails should have a 16-inch distance between them. Finally, drive in three nails vertically around the seam and corner of the board to attach it with the deck frame.

Pro Tips For Decking With Nail Guns

You should leave 1/8 inches gap for every board of the deck. It helps the wooden deck to expand and shrink annually with the seasonal change. Also, apply wood filler through the nail holes. It will ensure a secure bond. Finally, apply a stain for a weatherproof decking construction.


Decking with a nail gun doesn’t need excellent proficiency in handling the nail guns. You can quickly accomplish the job with patience and attentiveness. The key is to hold the nails at the right angle and drive in the nails properly. Also, make sure you wear gloves and a face mask to protect your hands and face from any potential dangers such as flying particles.

This guideline should be useful even for beginners, and we would love to get your feedback on your first use of nail guns for decking jobs.

Check the full guide of Nail Gun Safety Tips.