18 Gauge Brad Nail Vs. 16 Gauge Finish Nailer [Difference]

In the current world, nail guns are available in almost every place. They reduce your efforts in using a hammer to set nails. They are price friendly and give good satisfaction when driving nails. 18-gauge brad nail vs. 16-gauge finish nailer, which is right to pick?

Before purchasing, you will be stranded between two choices on choosing a 16 or 18-gauge nail gauge gun. It will determine what you will be able to take part in and what you will not be able to do using your tool with your choice.

You don’t need to get worried about the choice to make. I will give you the adequate and appropriate information you need before purchasing one for your shop. After checking this guide, I believe you will get the right tool for your shop requirements.

Brad Nailer Vs. Finish Nailer –  the Ultimate Differences 

How do finish nailers and brad nailers differ? Or are they the same? Many people don’t know the variance between the two. They all look alike and seem to be similar, and their size is almost the same. You probably ask yourself how they differ.

For you to tell the differences, you need to use a good number of explanations, ideas, and opinions. Despite several views, some things can explain the difference in the tools. The brad nailer, at times, looks like smaller framing nails. However, similar they look, they perform different functions.

Always find yourself the right one for your function. Finish nailers use thicker nails of 15 or 16 gauge than brad nailers that only use 18gauge nails. To end the confusion caused by the two tools, I will let you know some of the differences.

  • Brad nailer has only 18 gauge while the Finish nailer has both 15 and 16 nail gauge.
  • A brad nailer’s hole size is 1.41mm per 0.055 inches, whereas a Finish nailer has a hole size of:

 i) 15 gauge-1.69mm per 0.066inches.

          ii) 16 gauge- 1.58mm per 0.063 inches.

  • The nail length of a brad nail is up to 51mm per 2inches, while both gauges shoot up to 63.5mm per 2 ½ inches for the Finish nail.
  • Brad nailer is recommended in finish lighter trim work, whereas Finish nailer is recommended for thicker finishing, for example, baseboards.

A brad nailer is always slightly smaller compared to a finish nailer. Thinking about the size can therefore bring some difference in comparison.

Smaller brad nailers technically do not use nails and therefore do not have the similar holding power to Finish Nailers.

If you look at booth nailers, it’s quite clear that a finish nailer is most versatile than the brad nailers, but the finish nailer doesn’t operate appropriately using wood or small thin pieces.

Finish nailers have a strong power to hold weighty trim pieces. A brad nailer cannot hold these effectively, and the wood might fall if you use brad nailers.

Above are some of the variances between the two nailers. To some extent, they are the same, but also they have numerous differences to note.

What Is a Brad Nailer?

This is a question that I know most of the woodworkers asks themselves and always get no answer to it. Here is a clear and short definition of a brad nailer.

Brad nailer is a simple tool. It is a pneumatic powered gun that uses compressed air to drive small nails into wood. It came after Finish nailer, and its main purpose is to provide a gun that can shoot thinner nails into the wood.

They are intended for 18 gauge only. It is essential where you don’t want to split the wood or avoid damage to the nail head. An 18-gauge brad nail will reduce the hole’s size and leave a small mark in the wood.

Brad nailer is a tool often recommended for finishing lighter trim work in small and thinner wood. It looks like smaller framing nails.

What Is an 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Used For?

It is also good to understand what is meant by gauge and its function(s). Before getting to know more about the nailers, I recommend you understand and familiarize yourself with the nail gauge. Brad nailers are normally used with thinner nails and when you want to reduce your wood’s splitting.

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18-gauge brad nailers have several functions. Here are some of the uses I looked at;

  • Baseboard.
  • Fastening decorative molding.
  • Paneling.
  • Trim work.
  • Casing.

Benefits of A Brad Nailer

Brad nailer has some advantages attached to its functions. Here are some of those advantages.

  • It leaves tiny nail heads on the wood used.
  • Nails used are always perfect for small tasks, such as making boxes, picture frames, jewelry, or attaching decorative trims to the cabinetry.
  • When worried about the splitting of wood being used, the brad nail is preferred, especially in thin and delicate timbers.
  • With the use of glue, the brad nailer can temporarily put things in place.
  • Brad nailer leaves tiny holes on the wood, and therefore the wood will require no or less filling and sanding when painting. This is because of the smaller gauge of its nails.
  • It has an advantage over the availability of lengths of ½ or 2 ½ inches.

Drawbacks of A Brad Nailer

Everything that has got advantages always has disadvantages. Therefore, a brad nailer also has drawbacks that accompany its functions.

These are some of the disadvantages of a brad nailer.

  • Brad nailer cannot work using thick and large pieces of wood. Small brads do not have the strength to hold them together.
  • In case of a choice in using a pneumatic nailer, the disadvantage is that an air pump will still be needed. This is another expense in investment.

Recommended Best Brad Nailer to Buy

18 gauge Brad Nail vs 16 gauge Finish Nailer

When purchasing any product, there are always factors to consider before doing so. Among the factors include cost, functions, and many more. I recommend the DEWALT 20V MAX brad nailer because of its impressive performance. It uses battery power, so you don’t need to think about a hose, gas, or compressor.

This nailer works well with the Dewalt 20V MAX batteries to give you reliable power. It has multi-purpose LED lights that illuminate your job area when working. You will also love the low nail lockout that ensures dry firing doesn’t take place. This also ensures you don’t make undesired marks on your material.

You can use this nail for various projects like shoe molding, kitchen crown, decorative molding, and casing. It can handle small to large jobs because of the cordless design and the pneumatic tool.

What Is a Finish Nailer?

Have you ever been challenged by the term ‘finish nailer’? A finish nailer is also a tool just like a brad nail, but it has some slight differences and advantages.

It can be used loosely for nailers that range between 15 to 18 gauge in size of the nailer. Finish nailers use thicker and larger gauges of between 15 to 16.

They create a much stronger hold compared to brad nailers. You can use finish nailers to attach heavy baseboards, crown molding, and cabinets. The above tasks cannot be performed with a bra nailer. Finish nailers come in two different designs, namely, straight and angled.

The angled designs can easily fit very tight and small spaces. Your choice for design will depend on the task you want to perform.

Finish nailers come in different versions of pneumatic and cordless. In terms of weight, pneumatic finish nailers are lighter and more powerful. It is also a good option if you have air pressure.

A cordless finish nailer is recommended if you have a task to be done on a ladder. This is because you can climb up the ladder and down with the tool without experiencing any challenge.

What Is a Finish Nail Gun Used for?

Mostly, finish nailers are used for tasks that will require more strength and holding power. In this case, I recommend you use 15 gauge or 16 gauge nails. Examples of the duties that can be performed include;

  • The casing of windows and doors
  • Chair rails.
  • Hard and also softwood flooring.
  • Installation of cabinets.
  • Installing base and crown molding.
  • External trimming.
  • Used in stair casings.

Benefits of A Finish Nailer

Finish nailers have several benefits that will encourage you to purchase it. The following are some of the benefits of a finish nailer.

  • No, they are often reloading because nails come in very long strips.
  • Finish nail is a versatile tool. It can be used with a wide range of surfaces and materials.
  • The finish nailer creates a permanent and robust hold of materials being attached. It does not bring any motion of nails once driven.
  • It can hold heavier and thicker wood. Its nails are wide and long. Finish nailers are suitable for use in molding, cabinetry, and baseboard.
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Drawbacks of A Finish Nailer

Nothing is ever100 percent good and okay for function or purchase. Likewise, a finish nailer has advantages; it also has disadvantages. Below are some of the drawbacks I came across while using the tool.

  • If you have or you like pneumatic nailers, an air pump will highly be recommended in your investment plan.
  • Finish nailers after working, leaves bigger and larger nail holes that will demand other expenses of filling before painting.
  • It is not recommended for use with thin materials like delicate woods. This is because of the wideness of the nails. It can easily split materials.

Recommended Best Finish Nailer to Buy

16 vs 18 gauge Nailer

Many people face a challenge when it comes to the purchase of a finish nailer. I will do away with the confusion by suggesting the HPT NT65A5 Finish Nailer. This is a convenient machine that works amazingly well to meet your needs. It features integrated LED lights to help you see your workplace clearly.

The nailer has a lightweight and compact design to give you easy operation. Therefore, you can handle your projects without fatigue. It has a powerful battery to give you cordless performance and more run time. The nailer has a magazine capacity to hold up to 110 nails (1 ¼ inch).

Quick Things to check : 18 Gauge Brad Nail Vs. 16 Gauge Finish Nailer 

15,16 and 18 gauge nailers are the best and common nailers for use. However, the higher the gauge number, the thinner the nail. For example, 15 gauge will have 15 pieces in each inch, thicker than an 18-gauge nail. The right fastener is always critical for a successful project. To achieve better results in your woodworking, you have to choose the right thickness for your nails.

Let us look at the two gauges and find out which gauge should be used when and where. An 18-gauge brad nailer is 0.0475 inches in thickness, and it comes in 0.5 to 2.5 inches in terms of length. It excels with softer or more fragile pieces, for example, casing, trim work, baseboard, decorative molding, and paneling. This gauge is handier to have, especially in final works.

18- gauge nail has a smaller head and leaves small holes in the wood after use. This means that the filling required will be less or even no filing needed when using this gauge. Also, it uses less power to avoid wood splitting, and this has a limitation of not allowing it to go through thicker woods. It has less strength compared to a 16-gauge nail.

16- gauge nail has 0.0625-inch-thick and is supplied in 1 to 3.5-inch lengths. The advantage of this is that it holds attached materials stronger than 18gauge nails. Used in denser pieces of wood. Other uses include;

  • Flooring
  • Cabinets
  • Chair rails
  • Exterior trim
  • Crown and base moldings
  • Staircases
  • Casings

From the above list, it shows that 16 gauge is versatile. Despite all the advantages of the 16- gauge nail, it also has disadvantages, for example,

• It’s thicker and may split the wood being used.

• With its large head, it leaves big holes that call for extra expenses to fill and paint wood after driving the nails.

Buy Guide; 18 -Gauge Brad Nail Vs. 16- Gauge Finish Nail.

Finish nailer and brad nailer vary because of the nail gauge they use. A finish nailer needs 15-16 gauge nails while a brad nailer uses 18 gauge only. Before you buy these nailers, you have to think about some things. The following are some of the factors to consider before purchasing a gauge nail;

Power Source

This can either be battery or air. Both 18 and 16 gauge nails come in battery and pneumatic versions. Before making a purchase, you will need to consider the power sources.

  • Battery power

This is great in workshops without compressed air. You can easily move the nailer where you need it without the hose tying the gun to a compressor.

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Batteries normally reduce the noise and also the expenses that are caused by an air compressor.

Batteries need frequent charging.

  • Pneumatic power

I prefer using what you have. Many workshops have compressed air, so it will be useful to use it instead of a battery.

With compressed air, you will not need frequent charging and renewal of batteries. It enables nonstop working other than reloading nails every time.

Compressors are always good to use; however, they are loud and cause pollution. It can also scratch surfaces while being dragged into the worksite.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you use 16 gauge nails in an 18 gauge nailer?

No. The higher the number of the gauge, the thinner the nail will be. Therefore, it will not be possible for 16-gauge nails to fit in an 18 gauge nailer.
It means that a 16- gauge nail will have 16 pieces per inch, thicker than 18 gauge nailers.
The higher the gauge number, the smaller the head and the bigger the head, the bigger the hole, and a good and better hold of the wood.

Q: Should I get a 16 gauge or 18 gauge nailer?

Generally, a 16 gauge is more versatile and best to use. It can easily move inside boards and hold them permanently in a firm and good position.
If you want to attach trim delicate pieces or trim molding, I can advise you to purchase an 18-gauge nail. In terms of size, a 16-gauge fastener is bigger than an 18-gauge fastener.
I prefer you to purchase a 16 gauge nailer and find its services wider and effective.

Q: What is an 18-gauge brad nailer used for?

I know you are now tired of hitting your fingers when driving nails. The best option for this is to buy yourself a nailer for your activities in the workshop.
Brad nailers are used instead of hammers. It’s used to bind together lightweight wood trims. 18 gauge, small nails that make it hard to use a hammer to drive into a surface.
In case you need to repair your cabinets, drawers, and closets, then brad nailers can help you perform the task. They are thin and cannot split wood. They can be used in baseboards and crown molding.

Q: Which is better, 15 or 16-gauge finish nailer?

Normally, a finish nailer does not operate effectively with delicate or thin wood pieces like a brad nail.
15 gauge nailer is commonly used in several ways, namely;
Angle nailing
Door trimming
Overhead molding works
Carpentry tasks
Hanging of large casings.
It has nails with round heads that enable it to gain more power.
16 gauge nailer has the following uses;
Bed molding- smaller in size.
Baseboard molding.
Trimming tasks
From my comparison, a 16 gauge nailer can be used in any function. Any project can be done using a 16gauge nailer.
It is smaller and lighter, which makes it more advantageous, and also, they are shorter than 15 gauge in diameter.

Q: Should I buy a brad nailer or a finish nailer?

It is clear that many carpenters use a combination of brad and finish nailers. For a new starting worker, you should way options of purchasing between either two nailers.
The initial tool that is usually purchased is brad nailer and after that followed by finish nailer. This is because this nailer performs small, simple tasks more effectively than the finish nailer. Therefore, you should buy a brad nailer for a start, and after that, you can purchase yourself a finish nailer.

Q: Are 16 or 18 gauge nails thicker?

As I stated above, the higher the gauge number, the thinner the nail will be. This number is about the number of nails per inch. For example, an 18-gauge nail will have several pieces adding up to 18, and this clearly shows it is thinner than the 16 gauge nails.

Final Verdict

I believe the above information will help you in your day to day activities in the workshop. I have made some comparisons between 18- gauge brad nail and 16- gauge finish nail. Also included are the similarities which might be in both the two products.

I now hope that the confusion you have experienced when dealing with nailers will end simply by going through this information.

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