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Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

Brad nailers and finish nailers confuse many DIYers; this is because of their similarity in their shape and size. Many people cannot distinguish the difference between them by the naked eye.

So what are the differences between them and when to use each one of them?

Short Answer:

If you need a nail gun that suits smaller projects and can handle delicate projects, then a brad nailer is the one for you. However, if you need a stronger nail gun that can penetrate tougher materials, then you have to buy a finish nailer.

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer – Full Comparison

Before we talk about the two models, you must know that both of them come in pneumatic and cordless versions. Each of them has an advantage over the other as well as a drawback.

If you decide to opt for a pneumatic nailer, then you will also have to purchase an air compressor alongside it to power the gun with pressurized air. However, pneumatic nail guns are not very versatile as if you have to use them on rooftops, the air hose will be very problematic.

If you decide to purchase a cordless model, then you will no longer need an air compressor as batteries power them. Moreover, they will be very portable as you will no longer need an air hose.

Brad Nailer Overview

Primarily, brad nailers are made for thinner and smaller nails from 18 all the way to 23. As we talked about before, they are best used for smaller projects that need delicate handling. They make very small holes in whatever piece you are using them on. These holes are barely visible, which will increase the quality of your work.

  • Leave very small holes
  • Perfect for thin pieces of wood
  • Suitable for small projects
  • Cannot penetrate large or thick pieces of wood

Finish Nailer Overview

Finish nailers are made for bigger nails, either 15, 16, or even 17. This makes them capable of tackling larger projects that need strong nails. They have a much stronger hold, and can even attach cabinets.

  • Nails come in long strips so you will not reload as much with brad nailers
  • Create strong permanent holds
  • Can penetrate almost any material
  • Create large holes
  • Not suitable for thin pieces of wood as they might break them

We will now discuss the differences between these two models.


One of the most important things that you need to know is that brad nailers cannot use finish nails. Therefore, you always have to make sure that you have the appropriate type of nails.

Brad Nailer: As we said before, brad nailers are suitable for smaller projects that require delicate handling. They are perfect for home use; you can use them to secure loose trims or to add baseboards or crown moldings. Whenever you want to make a hole that cannot be seen or is barely visible, then a brad nailer is the one for you.

Finish Nailer: They are about power and strength; they are perfect for large scale projects. You can use them to attach large and thick pieces of moldings, door casings, baseboards, and even chair rails.

Read also: Dewalt DW734 vs. DW735 vs. DW735X Planers Full review

Hole Size

Brad Nailer: Brad nailers are the clear winners here, they utilize smaller nails, and therefore they leave very small holes that are hardly seen. However, if the material is extremely thin, then the hole will be visible. But you can use a very small amount of concrete or putty to close it.

Finish Nailer: They leave large holes after their usage due to their strength and their use of larger nails, either 15, 16, or 17.

Power and Strength

Brad Nailer: They are the weaker of the two, as they use thinner and smaller nails to be optimized for thinner materials. So if you risk using a brad nailer on thicker pieces of wood, you might not be able to create a hole, and if you are lucky enough to do so, then it will eventually fall.

Finish Nailer: Extremely strong and robust; they are the stronger of the two models. They can finish the work that a brad nailer cannot do in mere seconds, as they will make quick work of any piece of wood in front of it no matter its thickness.

Best Picks

We will now talk about and review two of the best brad and finish nailers, they are:

  • DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit
  • DEWALT Finish Nailer

Brad Nailer Best Pick: DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit

DeWalt never disappoints us with its amazing products, and this one stays true to that. This is an amazingly lightweight model as it is made from magnesium; it has great stability and feels very comfortable when holding it as its grip is made from rubber.

It does not require much maintenance as it is very durable and efficient. Moreover, it has an adjustable belt hook that makes it very easy to store. 

  • Does not break or crack your wood
  • Makes small barely visible holes
  • Needs more reloads
  • Not suitable for thick pieces of wood

Read more: Best Electric Brad Nailers – Buyer’s Guide

Finish Nailer Best Pick: DEWALT Finish Nailer

This model offers you all the features that you would find in an expensive nailer but at an affordable price. It has a tool-free jam release that helps you whenever a jam occurs; it also has a no-mar head that doesn’t damage the material you are working on. Finally, it has an adjustable rafter hook that eases its storing.

  • Less reloads
  • Suitable for large construction sites
  • Heavy-duty nailer
  • Leaves large holes in wood
  • Can break thin pieces of wood

Final Thoughts

Finally, it is safe to say that each one of them has its uses and specifications. So if you want a nail gun that is suitable for delicate and thin pieces of wood, then a brad nailer is perfect for you. However, if you need a strong nail gun that is capable of handling large scale projects, then you should buy a finish nailer.

Read Also : Best Cordless Finish Nailer – Buyer’s Guide

John Graham

John Graham

I am a 35-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.

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