A close-up of a gas nailer power tool.

Brad Nailer

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 2/22/2021

Selecting the right power tool for the right job can be a daunting and expensive task for someone new to DIY or home improvement. Take, for example, the differences between a brad nailer vs finish nailer, and the projects for which they are best suited. Understanding a few key points will help you make an informed decision and save money.


The term brad nailer refers to a type of nail gun that shoots brads (brad nails), a thin nail made from 18 gauge wire. Brad nailers are typically used for smaller, more delicate woodworking projects such as fine trim and some model and furniture building. There are two main types of brad nailers, an electric brad nailer and a pneumatic brad nailer. Electric brad nailers are a type of cordless, battery powered nail gun. Pneumatic brad nailers require pressurized air and attached hoses to operate. Brads (brad nails) are quite thin and can bend easily, and should not be used to support weight or provide stability. Brad nailers and finish nailers are often compared due to their similarities.

Brad Nailer vs Finish Nailer

  • As its name suggests, a brad nailer uses brads and not nails. Although, brads (sometimes referred to as brad nails) may look like a nail, they are thinner, made from 18 gauge wire, which makes them perfect for more delicate projects like thin trim and panel work.
  • A finish nailer typically uses nails that are made from 15 or 16 gauge steel wire, capable of holding more weight. Finish nail guns are great for furniture building projects and heavier types of trim and crown molding. Overall, a finish nailer is considered to be more versatile than a brad nailer.