Brad Nails vs Finish Nails – Which is Perfect for You

There is a huge possibility that you have heard about nails all the time if you are into DIY home projects or watching videos about cool architecture projects. There are tons of varieties of Nails on the market. But the most basics that we need in the majority of small projects are Brad Nails and Finish Nails.


Whenever to use Brad nails vs Finish Nails depends mostly on what type of wood task we are doing. So, let’s find out all the fuss about Brad nails and Finish Nails without further ado.


Everything About Brad Nails vs Finish Nails

What are Brad Nails?:



Brad nails are generally 18-gauge wire, which is converted into an edgy nail. Brad nails are thinner than regular nails and susceptible to bending. The wire gauge meter specifies the thickness of nails. The higher number indicates thinner nails.


You can differentiate a Brad nail from a general one by its head. A Brad nail has a smaller head on top, but it is mostly used as headless in the hole fitting. That is a significant identification mark for Brad Nails.



Versatile, due to its small diameter

Can conceal small pieces of wood trim

Even without extra touch up, it gives a cleaner finishing look.

No surface splitting.

Very useful in Home crafts, molding, panel install, and light decoration.


Low holding Power

Can’t work using a hammer

Easily bendable

Uses of a Brad Nails:

Brad nails are versatile for home uses and lightweight works. Mostly in our home, we don’t use heavy wooden furniture. So, Brad nails are a perfect companion in our DIY home projects.


You can use Brad Nails for decorative trim for furniture and walls, panel installation, making birdhouses, picture frames. These days due to quality Brad nailers available on the market, you can even trim windows and door edges, quarter round molding, shoe molding, and thin cuts of woods.




You can use any 18-gauge brad nails in a Brad nailer whatever the manual says. Brad Nails are interchangeable as the tip of all Brad nails are the same. Look out for the shaft length, though.


What are Finish Nails:



Finish nails are made of 15-16 gauge wire, which is slightly thicker in diameter than a Brad nail. The extra thickness aids them in strong holding power and is quite useful in making hefty furniture and mold finishing. Finish nails are used in finishing mold or any wooden architecture; thus, they are named Finish Nail.


A Finish nail is more expansive than any regular nail, so it leaves a broader whole. After using Finish, use concealer or filler.



High holding power

Useful in heavy loading furniture

Can use with Hammering

After using concealer, they look better than Brad nail

Not easily bendable


Surface splitting

Need Concealing.

Uses of a Finish Nails:

Finish nails are widely used in heavy home furniture, finishing mold, and carpentry. A good Finish nails are useful companions in any DIY home project to give it an excellent finishing look.


Finish nails are suitable for wooden work like window and door casing, interior and exterior trim, stair treads and risers, light carpentry and cabinets,  baseboards, and crown molding.


Differences Between Brad Nails and Finish Nails:

Distinguishing brad nails vs finish nails at a quick glimpse can be strenuous. These two nail types emerge alike, but the minute dissimilarity in size make brad nails and finish nails appropriate for their uses.


Criteria Brad Nails            Finish Nails

Description         18-gauge steel  15-16 gauge Steel

Height   5/8 and 2 inches long     1 inch to 4 inches

Holding Power  35 lbs    56 lbs

Hole Size              0.0403 inches    0.072 inches

Follow Up            No attention required    Need Conceal or filler

Uses      Decorative trim for furniture and Wall     Light carpentry and cabinets

When I Should/Shouldn’t go for a Brad Nail?:

Brad Nails are good at minimal holding strength. So DIY craft projects or wooden task that requires little holding strength are suitable for Brad nails. Brad nails also leave a very minimal hole, so they are good for Temporary applications.


If you need nails for your project that need drive by hand, don’t go for Brad nails. Brad nails are prone to bending when drove by hand, so that will leave you frustrated in any projects.


When I Should/Shouldn’t go for a Finish Nail?:

Finish nails are by far more sturdy than Brad Nails, which gives you more holding power and strength. For heavy loading work like crown molding, cabinetry, and paneling. Due to harder to remove from anywhere, Finish nails are appropriate for door trims, which receive lots of abuse.


Work that requires perfect aesthetic looks Finish nails are not suitable for that. Finish Nails will leave a dimple on any surface as its tip is more in thickness and diameter. Even after concealment, they don’t look pleasing to the eyes.



Q: How long should Brad nails be used?


A: The rule is very straightforward: First, you need to measure the thickness of the wood/board. The Brad nail should be three times long as the thickness of the material. For wood of 12 mm, a Brad nail should be 36 mm long.


Q: Can a Brad nailer be used for baseboards?


A: The answer is Yes. Yes, you can. But you have to follow the perfect measurement. Never use a Brad nail longer than 2 inches. 1 ½ inch is suitable for baseboard installment. Pre-drill the baseboard for nail holes if you have any suspicion of it being splitting.


Q: What nailer should I buy; Brad nailer or Finish nailer?


A: Buying a Brad nailer or Finish nailer depends on what you are working with. Go for Brad Nailer if you are working with thinner wood. For wood that is thicker than 3 inches, go for a Finish nailer.


Here is a free tip: If you go for Finish Nailer, you can work with Brad nails too, as most of the Brad nails work with a finish nailer. But not the other way around.


Additional Questions Answer:

Q: How long should Finish nails be?


A: Follow the thumb rule when choosing the right nail length for your project. The nail length should be thrice the thickness of the material you are working with. For instance, for holding a 1” drywall to a stud wall, the Finish nails’ size should be 3”.


Q: Can a Brad Nailer be used as a Finish nailer?


A: No, you cant use a Brad nailer as Finish Nailer. A Finish nailer is made of 15-16 gauge thicker wire compared to the one in Brad nailer (18 gauge). That indicates a Finish nail will be too thick for the thin shoot of the Brad nail.

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