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16 vs. 18 Gauge Nailers

16 vs. 18 Gauge Nailers

Deciding the size of the nails that you will use is an essential step that you need to take before purchasing a nail gun. There are many different sizes, but the most common and most used are 16 and 18. 

So which should you choose, what are the differences between them and when to choose each one of them. In this article, we will do our best to answer these questions to help you make a wiser decision.

Short Answer:

To put it simply, the determining point should be what you will use them in. If you want a nailer that provides you with better stability and support than get a 16 gauge nailer. However, if you are going to use it to sort of glue boards together and not leave a mark, then buy an 18 gauge nailer.

16 vs. 18 Gauge Nailer – Full Comparison

16 Gauge Nailers Overview

They are thicker than their counterparts; this makes them stronger and capable of providing more support when used. When you pair a 16 gauge nailer with wood glue, you create a much stronger cohesive. It is used to install boards and crown moldings that are attached to the drywall.

  • Stronger
  • Capable of handling larger projects
  • Need professional users
  • The holes created cannot be hidden

18 Gauge Nailers Overview

Much smaller than 16 nailers, they are so small that if you hold them between your fingers and pressure them, they could bend. They are mostly used in attaching trims and in crown moldings as well. This nail is all about being delicate, it greatly reduces the risk of cracking, and they will not leave a hole in your workpiece.

  • Holes created do not leave marks
  • Suitable for beginners and DIYers
  • Ideal for small end projects and tasks
  • Not as strong as 16 gauge nailers

We will now talk about the differences between the two types of nails as we tackle each one of them individually.


16 Gauge Nailers: They are used in larger-scale projects as they are larger in size and capable of holding pieces together better than their counterparts. They are also used in door frames installation and baseboards as well. Their larger size and width makes them capable of penetrating most materials.

18 Gauge Nailers: Their most significant advantage is that they do not leave a mark. They are generally used in crown moldings. Unlike 16 gauge nailers, when an 18 gauge nailer penetrates a material, it doesn’t leave a mark, and most importantly, it doesn’t break the material. Large nails such as the 16 have a much higher chance of breaking the wood.

For Whom?

16 Gauge Nailers: Professionals and more seasoned users mostly use them as they are stronger and more suitable for larger projects.

18 Gauge Nailers: They are more suitable for beginners and DIYers due to their smaller size.


16 Gauge Nailers: They are very strong and capable of withstanding pressure as they are used to pin things to drywalls. Their strength comes from their diameter and size, as they are capable of penetrating almost all materials. 

18 Gauge Nailers: They are relatively smaller than their counterparts; this is also due to their smaller size and a smaller diameter. This makes them brittle and not capable of withstanding pressure; however, they are perfect for more delicate tasks that involve thin planks of wood.

Best Picks

Now we will review a 16 gauge nailer and an 18 gauge nailer. They are:

  1. Hitachi NT50AE2
  2. Hitachi NT65M2S

16 Gauge Nailer Best Pick: The Hitachi NT50AE2

Hitachi NT50AE2
Hitachi NT50AE2

This is a compact and durable model, and it is a 16 gauge nailer. It uses 16 nails, which are strong and durable nails that are capable of providing fantastic stability. It is very lightweight as it only weighs 3.7 lbs. Its pump is capable of dishing out 2.52 PSI (pressure per square inch). If a jam occurs, the nose is very easy to clear. The tip protects the surface you are working on from damage.

  • Comfortable to hold
  • Lightweight design
  • Reliable and durable
  • Magazine plunger might jam

This is an overall excellent 16 gauge nailer, and it will be an amazing addition to your collection.

18 Gauge Nailer Best Pick: The Hitachi NT65M2S

hitachi nt65m2s

This model is an 18 gauge nailer; it is also lightweight as it only weighs 2.2 lbs. It is very comfortable when held. The selective actuation feature allows you to switch between bum fire and contact fire with a press of a button. One of the best things about this model is that it can be easily cleaned as everything is clear and easy to reach.

  • Holes created do not leave marks
  • Suitable for beginners and DIYers
  • Ideal for small end projects and tasks
  • Not as strong as 16 gauge nailers

Final Thoughts

Finally, it is safe to say that the differences between the two nailers lie in their diameter. That difference leads to all the other differences, including their strength, ability to penetrate, and many more.

So if you need a strong and durable nail gauger that can penetrate almost any material, then a 16 nail gauger is the one for you. However, if you need a gauger that is suitable for delicate material, then opt for an 18 gauge nailer.

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John Graham

My name is John Graham, a 32-year old avid DIY-er. Ever since I was young, my father used to prompt me to help fix things around the house or even building my own cupboards and shelves. That’s why I developed the habit of doing everything on my own. And since this is the only way to reach the unique results I really want, I don’t like depending on any services. With all the projects I’ve worked on, I’ve gained a lot of experience and wanted to gather it all in one place. And that’s where the idea to create “Tool Dizer” dawned on me, and here I am trying to connect with all the DIY enthusiasts out there.

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