Difference Between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

A nailer is used for driving a nail into any sort of material, most popularly wood. It works on the principle of electromagnetism and is usually driven by compressed air and gases. Brad nailer and finish nailer are two types of nailers typically designed for precision nailing.

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

The main difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer is that a brad nailer shoots 18-gauge nails. On the other hand, a finish nailer shoots 16- gauge nails or 15-gauge nails. The holding size of a brad nailer is approximately 0.0475 inches, whereas the holding size of a finish nailer is approximately around 0.0720 inches.

Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

Brad nailers are thin, as a result of which they work best for getting thinner cuts of wood. The brad nailer does not possess the same holding power when compared to a finish nailer because it typically does not use any nails. Most of the brad nailers are made of a very thin 18-gauge wire.

Finish nailers are larger in size when compared to brad nailers. A finish nailer has many uses and applications. It is highly versatile. It may not perform as well as a brad nailer when it comes to thin and delicate pieces of wood, but overall they offer a stronger holding capacity.

Comparison Table Between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

Parameters of Comparison Brad NailerFinish Nailer
Nail TypeBrad nailer has brads that are thin 18-gauge nails,Finish nailers have 16-gauge nails and 15-gauge nails.
Holding capacity and strengthBrad nailers have less holding power and capacity.Finish nailers have immense holding capacity and strength.
VersatilityBrad nailers are not versatile as small brad nails are incapable of holding large boards, heavy wood, and moldings.Finish nailers are highly versatile and are used for different kinds of works.
PowerBrad nailers are comparatively less powerful than finish nailers and are prominently used, driving nails into a thinner trim.Finish nailers are very powerful and are prominently used for driving nails into a thicker trim.
Hole sizeThe hole size of the brad nailer is approximately 0.0475 inches.The hole size of the finish nailer is approximately 0.0720 inches.
UsesBrad nailers are highly useful and ideal for lightweight boards and moldings.Finish nailers work best on plywood, baseboards, and MDF.

What is Brad Nailer?

Brad nailer is a lightweight machine that is used for nailing brad nails. Brad nails are comparatively slimmer and have smaller heads than finish nails. Brad nailers are used prominently for works that do not require a lot of holding capacity and power. One of the major benefits of using a brad nailer is that it can easily be operated with a single hand.

One of the major drawbacks of brad nailers is that it is not strong enough to keep up thick and heavy materials. It is highly ideal for getting thinner trims without enabling them to crack. Brad nailer must contain brads of length ranging from 5/8″ TO 2″.

The main merits of Brad nailer are:-

  • The 18-gauge nails generally do not spill the trim.
  • The hole which is formed after the use of brad nailer is very minute and small, due to which it does not need any filling.
  • It is highly recommended for attaching delicate trims and moldings.
  • It can easily be used on small baseboards and plywoods up to half inches.

The main demerits of Finish nailer are:-

  • It does not serve a number of purposes and is not versatile at all.
  • It is not ideal and recommended for hard nailing to reach into the interior of the material.

What is Finish Nailer?

A finish nailer is popularly known as the bigger brother of a brad nailer. A finish nailer possesses great strength that ranges somewhere between the strength of a brad nailer and a heavy-duty nail gun. It consists of nails of length ranging from 1 inch to two and a half inches.

The main merits of Finish nailers are:-

  • The 15-gauge nails and 16-gauge nails are comparatively bigger and have a higher holding capacity.
  • Finish nailers are highly versatile and serve a number of purposes, and have various applications.
  • The 15-gauge and 16-gauge nails that are collated can easily reach corners.
  • They are highly recommended for manufacturing furniture, fixing baseboards and plywoods, and woodworking.

The major demerits of Finish nailers are:-

  • The bigger nails produce larger holes that, unfortunately, require filling.
  • It is not recommended for the fixation of thin trims and narrow boards.

Some people ask whether brad nails can be used in finish nailers, yes one can use them, but the rate of efficiency, in this case, is highly less. An individual using finish nailers must use nails before screwing and drilling holes.

Main Differences Between Brad Nailer and Finish Nailer

  1. Brad nailers have thin 18-gauge nails, whereas the finish nailers possess 15-gauge or 16-gauge nails.
  2. The holding capacity and power of the brad nailer are less, whereas the holding capacity and strength of the finish nailer are comparatively more.
  3. Brad nailers are not versatile since small brads are incapable of holding large boards and heavy wood. On the other hand, finish nailers are highly versatile and efficient and have many applications.
  4. Brad nailers are highly recommended for lightweight boards and moldings, whereas finish nailers are recommended for plywood and hardwood.
  5. The hole size of brad nailers is approximately 0.0475 inches, whereas the hole size of finish nailers is approximately 0.0720 inches.


There should be no argument so as to one must use which nailer: Brad nailer or Finish nailer. Both the nailers have different features and use. Both have distinct pros and cons which must be taken into consideration before purchasing any nailer.

A finish nailer is highly versatile, whereas a Brad nailer has limited applications and uses. The brand of nailer one must purchase also another factor that determines consumer purchasing decisions. A finish nailer has a higher holding capacity, whereas a brad nailer has a comparatively lower holding capacity. One must go for a good brand for good results.


  1. https://egrove.olemiss.edu/hon_thesis/1335/
  2. https://www.scientific.net/MSF.628-629.197
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