If you’re a newbie to the use of nail guns, you might get confused about the difference between finish and brad nailers. You might also ask why instead of calling them all finish nailers, you find that some nailers are called brad nailers. Well, obviously, both the finish and the brad nailers drive fasteners or nails. Yet, they differ when it comes to the nails they shoot.
Finish nailers, for example, shoot either a 16-gauge nail or a 15-gauge nail, while the brad nailer shoots 18-gauge brads. Besides, the brad nailer’s holding size is approximately 0.0475 inches, while the finish nailer is about 0.0720 inches. Now, if ever you decide to replace your baseboards at home, you might be asking too whether you can use either a finish nailer or a brad nailer.
Well, your choice should depends on the size of your baseboards. If your baseboard’s thickness is 1/2″ to ¾,” it will be best to use a 16-gauge finish nailer. If it is around one inch or more, you should go for a 15-gauge nailer with an angled base that lets you reach tight areas. You will find the 18-gauge brad nailer best for thin trims, shoe molding, and base caps.
Table of Contents
- Can I Use a Brad Nailer for Baseboards?
- Most Recommended Brad Nailers for Installing Baseboard
- When to Use the 16- or 18-gauge Nailers for Baseboard?
- Which Would You Choose Between 15-gauge and 16-gauge Nail Guns for Baseboards?
- Can I Use 18-gauge Nailer (Brad Nailer) for Baseboards?
- What Nail Size Should I Utilize for Baseboards?
Can I Use a Brad Nailer for Baseboards?
Your choice between a brad nailer and a finish nailer boils down to the thickness of the boards. Of course, you can utilize the brad nailer when attaching baseboards to your wall. Yet, it doesn’t use any nails. Instead, it uses 18-gauge wires that are thin, perfect for delicate trim pieces.
On the other hand, finishing nails come with a thicker grip. Hence, they are ideal for long and taller baseboard pieces. If you use the brad nailer, then it will help if you use glue before nailing to secure the baseboard.
Baseboards, however, are thin. So, if you use bigger nails, you might create more significant impressions on the baseboard, which might not be good to look at. Since baseboards are thin, it will be reasonable to use thinner nails to avoid noticeable indentations.
Of course, you can use an 18-gauge nailer (Brad Nailer) to drive 18-gauge brads for your baseboards. Yet, it doesn’t provide enough holding power than the 15- and 16-gauge nails. If you would deal with trims with 1/2″ thickness, the 18-GA nails will work perfectly. Yet, for thicker baseboards with more than 1/2″ thickness, the 16-gauge nails would be better.
Most Recommended Brad Nailers for Installing Baseboard
If you’re still a bit confused about which nailer to use for your baseboards, you can check out the following nailers recommended by experts for baseboards:
1) DEWALT DCN660B
The DEWALT DCN660B affords you the convenience of a cordless nailer, which you can carry around anywhere there’s no electrical outlet. It doesn’t need a compressor or gas cartridges. It features a brushless motor for maximum runtime and durability. It also comes with a selectable trigger for easy setup and use. You can also adjust its depth for precision nail countersinking.
With these features, you can deal with any job, whether small or large. You also need not worry about jamming nails, for it has a quick jam-release feature. It also comes with LED lights for better illumination when you work. Besides, it has a stall release feature that offers a quick reset whenever the tool stalls.
A long-lasting battery also powers it. Furthermore, it is a bit heavier than other nail guns, but it doesn’t require much maintenance and has less operating cost because you won’t need to buy gas. However, if you plan to use this nail gun for shooting thousands of nails per day, you better go for pneumatic. Nevertheless, it shoots nails fluidly and is perfect for your trim works.
2) NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic 16-Gauge
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, you should check out the NuMax SFN64. It is perfect for exterior and interior finishes., furniture making, trim work, cabinetry, window casing, baseboard, crown molding, and many other works. It drives nails of 16-gauge thickness with lengths ranging from 1 inch to 2-1/2 inches.
It is easy to release from jamming with its jam release mechanism. It also necessitates from 70 PSI to 110 PSI operating pressure. Besides, it features depth adjustment without needing a tool and sequential firing modes.
The NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic 16-Gauge comes with an ergonomic design. It is also lightweight, so you will not quickly tire your hands when using this nail gun. Additionally, it has a rubber grip handle that is comfortable to hold.
It also comes with a no-mar tip feature for preventing any damage to the material’s surface. This nail gun is durable with its one-piece blade. It also comes with an adjustable exhaust to direct exhaust away from the work surface and your face.
The NuMax SFN64 offers excellent quality and has been quality tested for durability and efficiency. It is convenient to use, and you would surely appreciate its value to your works.
3) METABO HPT NT65MA4
One best finish nailer out there is the METABO HPT NT65MA4. You can use this finishing nailer to mount base and crown moldings, install door and window casings, and do many other jobs. You can also use it to fix cabinets, chair rails, stairs, trim, and many more.
The METABO HPT NT65MA4 comes with many built-in features that you would surely appreciate, and it weighs around 4.2 pounds, making it very portable. Because it is lightweight, you can maneuver it with ease, even in tight spaces.
Despite being lightweight, it doesn’t compromise on durability, being made of aluminum. It also comes with advanced features like tool-free depth adjustment.
This NT65MA4 is an angled nailer with a 180-degree adjustment of its head. It also comes with a selector lever for easy switching between different firing modes. Moreover, it offers excellent storage capacity and makes use of 15-gauge nails.
You can use on this nail gun nails with lengths ranging from 1.25″ to 2.5.” It also has an adjustable air exhaust that you can rotate 360 degrees. Besides, it allows for ease of clearing jams and also features a no-mar tip. You can store up to 100 nails on its magazine.
4) Ryobi ZRP320
If you want extra mobility when punching nails into the baseboard, you should check out Ryobi ZRP320. It is a battery-powered nail gun that is also budget-friendly. It features a simple design, and it is lightweight, which means you won’t tire your hands quickly when using this nailer.
The Ryobi ZRP320 has an ergonomic design with a non-slip texture. Yet, despite being lightweight, it is powerful and robust. It offers excellent balance and delivers incredible power.
Moreover, its decent speed is commendable. It is easy to use and requires only minimal maintenance. Nevertheless, this kit doesn’t come with a battery. So, you need to buy the battery separately.
5) Porter-Cable PCC790LA
If you’re a beginner in the use of nail guns, it will be best to use the PORTER-CABLE PCC790LA. This was my favorite, too, when I was just beginning to use nail guns. It is a battery-powered nail gun. Thus, you won’t need to buy a compressor to use this one.
The PCC790LA is intuitive and easy to use with color-coded settings and controls. You will never get confused in using this one because the directions are pretty straightforward, and the illustrations are clear.
It also comes with LED lights to alert you of any issue. Compared to the pneumatic ones, this one is heavier. So, it is a challenge to use for larger projects requiring long hours to finish. Yet, this one is perfect for you if you’re after mobility and convenience of usage.
When to Use the 16- or 18-gauge Nailers for Baseboard?
Well, you might think that the 16G is perfect for baseboards. But the 16-gauge nailer is not without any disadvantages when using it for baseboard. One challenge you will encounter when using the 16-gauge is its fatter nails. The thicker your nails when working with the baseboard, the more likely you would split the baseboard.
So, if you’re a bit wary of splitting your baseboard, it will be best to pre-drill holes. Another disadvantage of heftier nails is that they produce more prominent and more pronounced dents or holes. Of course, you can remedy such an issue by smoothing down and filling up the dents or ugly holes.
Of course, you might consider using the 18-gauge as an alternative. But the 18-gauge is best when dealing with very delicate and thinner boards and crown moldings. However, in the last analysis, the best option for baseboard installation is the 16-gauge nailer.
Which Would You Choose Between 15-gauge and 16-gauge Nail Guns for Baseboards?
When choosing a nail gun for baseboards, you must consider several factors. Of course, you need to consider the thinness of the baseboard. Baseboards, of course, are naturally thin. So, if you use bigger nails to attach the baseboards, you run the risk of splitting them. Moreover, the nails will leave noticeable indentations on the materials.
So, it is but natural to opt for thinner nails as well. Thin nails reduce the risk of splitting the baseboard and making noticeable indentations. However, the nails should be sufficiently long to attach the baseboard securely to the wall.
The 15G and 16G nails are perfect for attaching baseboards. These nail guns can drive up to 2-1/2″ nails effectively. The difference between the nails they could drive lies in the thickness of the nails. The 15G nail is bigger in diameter. The 15-gauge nailers also have an angled base that allows easy maneuvering in challenging spaces.
The 15- and 16-gauge nailers are best for baseboards. The nails they drive are long and large enough for baseboard attachment. Yet, they are not thick enough to leave a noticeable mark on the baseboard surface.
Can I Use 18-gauge Nailer (Brad Nailer) for Baseboards?
Experts would surely not recommend using the 18-gauge brad nailer because the 15- and 16-gauge nailers are better for baseboards. Yet, if you don’t have a 15- or 16-gauge nailer, and your only option is the 18-gauge brad nailer, then you might be forced to use the `18-gauge brad nailer.
The 18-gauge doesn’t have the holding power that the other two have. So, you better confine the use of the 18-gauge nailer to 1/2″-thick board. If you would work on baseboard thicker than the ½,” you better go for the 16-gauge.
The nails driven by the brad nailer have a smaller diameter, and their length is only from 1-1/4 to two inches. Since the 15G and the 16G have larger diameter nails, they also have a stronger hold.
As mentioned above, the brad nailer does not use nails. Instead, it uses thin wires, perfect for delicate trims and moldings. Brad nails, however, aren’t versatile enough to hold large boards, moldings, and heavy wood. It is less powerful compared to finish nailers.
Nevertheless, it is perfect for lightweight moldings and panels. Besides, it is easy to operate using a single hand. If you have both 18-gauge brad nailer and 16-gauge finish nailer, always go for the 16-gauge nailer for attaching baseboards.
What Nail Size Should I Utilize for Baseboards?
The ideal length of nails for baseboards should be about two inches. It might be too much if you use something longer than two inches. Nevertheless, using shorter nails than two inches would be problematic likewise for you will not have enough hold on the studs.
The rule is simple—you should use a nail about three times the thickness of the material you’re nailing. If you would nail a half-an-inch board, for example, then it will be best to use a 1-1/2”-long nail. The thing is—the nail should be long enough to secure the board.
Furthermore, it is unnecessary to use brand nails, for you will find the finishing nails suited for baseboards. You can use 15-gauge nails or higher. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to use common nails, for they are pretty big. Besides, they might split baseboards. Moreover, they leave noticeable indentations that you need to patch later.
In some cases, however, you can use a brad nailer for your baseboards, though a finishing nailer would do better in most cases.
The introduction of finish nailers and brad nailers in the market has facilitated the works of woodworkers when it comes to installations of crown and base moldings and other jobs that require driving multiple nails onto boards or any materials. However, given the myriads of brands and models of finish nailers and brad nailers, you might get confused about which one to choose.
The abovementioned most recommended brad nailers and finish nailers will make it easy to narrow down your options to the best options. With the help of this list, you can quickly zero in on the ideal brad nailer or finish nailer for your needs. Lastly, your choice of finish or brad nailers will determine the quality of your works.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.