Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

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If you have a nail shop, then chances are you use a Nailer to build your trim and finish. Some use finish Nailers, while others use Brad Nailers. They are similar, but how do they compare? In this comparison, we’ll look at the benefits and drawbacks of each type and show you the top brands and models. 

We’ll be comparing the TYPE OF NAIL, HOLE SIZE, AVAILABLE NAIL LENGTHS, NAIL, POWER, USES, LIMITS, and more to see which one is best for you.

BRAD NailerFINISH Nailer
RECOMMENDED NailerSDeWalt XR 18 Ga. Cordless Brad Nailer Kit 20 VCRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Finish Nailer Kit

What is a Brad Nailer?

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA (DCN680D1)

In a Brad Nailer, the motor turns an arm that goes from a wheel on the machine to a shaft that goes up to the machine. That means there are two openings on each side of the machine. 

The holes on the machine allow nails to enter one end of the arm and then pull nails out the other end. Nails are chucked into the holes.

What is a Finish Nailer?

CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA (CMCN618C1)

Finish nails are the preferred nail type because of their versatility, range of size, and durability. A typical finish Nailer takes a variety of nails, such as #4 nails and different sizes of toe, acrylic, or high-tensile, and it will squeeze a nail and remove it. 

You’ll then place a shim under it so that it sticks to the bottom of a table, work surface, or pole. This is where the tool differs from a traditional Nailer. 


Features Comparison:

Types of Nail

A Brad Nailer uses 18 gauge nails. These are thin nails used for a huge variety of light tasks. Putting together picture frames, installing paneling, and things of that nature.

Finish Nailers use 15 and 16 gauge nails. These are tougher nails than brad Nailers and of course, handle heavier tasks. The installation of hardwood flooring and building things like staircases are good examples of how powerful a finish Nailer is. 

Hole Size

Brad Nailers use an 18 gauge hole size So the main factor to consider is the width of the hole. 

Far a Brad Nailer, the hole diameter is going to be 0.0475 inches or 1.2 millimeters across. This is an excellent size for handling a wide variety of light tasks.

Hole sizes for a finish Nailer will vary between 15 gauge and 16 gauge. So the hole diameter sizes you will have are between 0. 0625 inches for a 16 gauge and 0. 0720 inches for a 15-gauge.

Available Nail Lengths

Brad nail lengths can be anywhere from ½ inch all the way to 2 ½ inches. These lengths are suitable for more delicate work.

Finish nail lengths start at 1 inch and go up to 3 ½ inches. These are more suited to tougher tasks like carpentry jobs. 


Depending on what you are working on will decide what nail you need. Brad nails are much more delicate than finish nails. At the same time, this nail is much more versatile than a Finish nail. Brad nails also are typically cheaper than finish nails. 

Do not think that one nail type is better than the other. Each has its own task.

Winner: It’s a tie.


When it comes to Nailers, you have power, angle, angle, point of attachment, and length. Which one is better for you and your business? 

Not all nail guns are created equally. Some have the power to complete your projects, while others have limited power and length. An angle wrench is necessary, so you don’t have to maintain your Brad Nailer while you’re out on a job. 

A Brad Nailer isn’t designed for massive amounts of power, while a Finish Nailer is meant to take on the tough tasks. 

Winner: The Finish Nailer. 


Just like each product in the product lineup has a different purpose, so do the two main types of Nailers: Nailers and finish Nailers. Nailers can be used to build, trim and finish things like cabinets, outdoor furniture, custom trims, car paint, concrete, and more. 

Finish Nailers can also be used to build, trim and finish things like cabinets, trim, fixtures, and more. Brad Nailers are basically screw-in, j-hooks. If you have them, you may be better off using them for trim and cabinet work. 

Finish Nailers come with various size holes, ranging from 6″ to 18″. The difference in size really comes down to what application you’re looking to use them for. If you’re a general contractor, you may be better using the large j-hooks because they fit better with larger wood studs.

Winner: Tie


While there are many differences between the two, their biggest difference is the amount of power they have. Finish nails have a higher force in their heads and a smaller headspace. 

This means that it takes more force to build them the thicker you want the finish. The Nailers we have compared have a head diameter of .001 inches, whereas the finish Nailers are .005 inches. 

Use of Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer Finish Nailers is most commonly used on wood. With a Nailer, there is less surface area for dust, dirt, or debris to collect. 

Brad Nailers are used in the finishing of steel or aluminum trim and are more often used on metal than on wood. Both of these types of Nailers can be used to build both hard and soft materials.

Winner: Finish Nailer since it has more power.

Which One Should I Buy?

Thanks so much for sticking with us to the end of our article about Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer. If you mostly do light tasks and projects then the Brad Nailer will fit you perfectly. It has enough power and versatility to complete any light DIY project. 

If you need pure power then you cannot beat the Finish Nailer. This is especially true if you do a huge amount of carpentry. Happy Nailing!

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