Best Brad Nailer - 2020 Reviews

Best Brad Nailer: How to Choose the Best Brad Nail Gun for Your DIY Projects

man in hat and jacket using brad nailer in window frim work

Whether you need to replace your baseboards or build a table, a brad nailer can help you get the job done right. Brad nailers are good all-around options popular with DIYers and home woodworkers, as they can be used as a finish nailer for lightweight work with minimal surface visibility, or they can be used as a nail gun for attaching wood to wood for building. If you intend to do mostly light woodworking and repair or finishing jobs, a brad nailer will likely suit your needs.

The best brad nailer is one that is dependable and able to handle the work for which you’d like to use it. To help you choose between pneumatic and electric brad nailers—and determine whether a brad nailer is the best tool for the job at hand—we’ve rounded up the top-rated brad nailer kits and tool choices, selected by consumer reviews and feedback, durability, warranty, and performance.

5 Best Brad Nailer Comparisons

PRODUCT FEATURES
 Hitachi 18V Cordless Brad Nailer - Best Brad Nailer: How to Choose the Best Brad Nail Gun for Your DIY Projects Hitachi 18V Cordless Brad Nailer
  • Weight: 7.3 lbs
  • Power Type: Lithium-ion battery
  • Warranty: Lifetime
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PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Brad Nailer - Best Brad Nailer: How to Choose the Best Brad Nail Gun for Your DIY ProjectsPORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Lithium 18GA Brad Nailer
  • Weight: 5.9 lbs
  • Power Type: Lithium-ion battery
  • Warranty: 3 year
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DEWALT Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer - Best Brad Nailer: How to Choose the Best Brad Nail Gun for Your DIY ProjectsDEWALT Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
  • Weight: 5.1 lbs
  • Power type: Pneumatic
  • Warranty: 3 year limited
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BOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit - Best Brad Nailer: How to Choose the Best Brad Nail Gun for Your DIY ProjectsBOSTITCH BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit
  • Weight: 5.1 lbs
  • Power Type: Pneumatic
  • Warranty: 7 year limited
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Makita AF505N Brad Nailer - Best Brad Nailer: How to Choose the Best Brad Nail Gun for Your DIY ProjectsMakita AF505N Brad Nailer
  • Weight: 4.0 lbs
  • Power Type: Pneumatic
  • Warranty: 1 year
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The Difference Between a Nail Gun and a Brad Nailer

Nail guns, also known as nailers, provide a consistent, efficient manner for nailing wood to wood or other surfaces. They are much-used tools in building projects, and also highly recommended for routine repair and project work around your home. Nailers are powered one of two ways and have many features, such as nail depth control, corded or cordless options, and choice of firing method.

Brad Nailer

A brad nailer is a smaller nail gun that is considered a good all-around pick for the convenience it lends to building and woodworking. They are made specifically for woodworking and construction finishing work, but can drive a nail into heavier materials for framing purposes. This makes them a decent all-purpose nailer and a staple for home improvement projects. These are overall thinner guns with a smaller head size. They have a powerful driving force, but feed a smaller nail called a brad or fastener. The beauty of fasteners is that they have little to no nail head, which means they leave a very small hole compared to nails, so there is no need to use wood filler or putty, or repaint entire crown moldings or trimwork after installation. The combination of power with the thinner, smaller-gauge nail is what makes brad nailers so popular and versatile.

Electric Brad Nail Guns

Electric nailers are powered by electrical outlet and cord or with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Although an electric nailer may not provide the same driving force as a pneumatic nailer, many are powerful enough to get any home improvement job done and some models double as crown staplers, pin nailers or upholstery nailers. These are often preferred by homeowners and hobby builders for their ease of use and lighter weight.

Pneumatic Brad Nailers

A pneumatic nailer is powered by an air compressor and air hose. Air pressure is the driving force behind the nail, which means these are the heavy-duty heroes of home repair. A pneumatic nailer is a go-to tool on a construction job site because it’s a powerful framing nailer suitable for structural work, as well as roofing, trim work, crown molding, and beadboard. They also are widely available and, as a bonus, don’t require batteries or electrical cords.

man building frame with brad nailer in shop

Trusted Brands

It’s true that not all tools are created equal. It’s also true that some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties, or excellent customer service, or conversely, poor service and no warranty. For this reason it’s important to look at the brands historically trusted by both professionals and homeowners who use their tools. In brad nailers, nail guns and heavy-duty staplers, a high-quality product with great customer care can be found from Metabo (formerly Hitachi), Bostitch, Porter-Cable, Dewalt, Paslode, and Black+Decker.

How to Choose the Right Brad Nailer for Your Needs

Even though brad nailer design is fairly universal, some are made for a bit more heavy-duty work, whereas others double as a stapler combo or boast an ultra-lightweight construction for finishing work. Because most homeowners don’t often do framing or roofing work that require larger nails and more powerful driving force, the brad nailer is an excellent addition to the home-use power tool arsenal.

Know the Job at Hand

Basic woodworking jobs, finishing jobs, and the occasional small framing job can all benefit from the use of a brad nailer. Most can drive a 2.5-inch 18-gauge nail through any surface fairly easily, with some models falling on either side of this standard pertaining to capabilities. Look for one that is specific to the jobs you have in mind.

Consider Portability

Being able to move from place to place, or pack up and go, may be an important detail you want to consider. Although both electric and pneumatic guns can be packed and taken with you, not having the restrictions of a cord or air hose can be very convenient.

Plan for Durability

If you will be working for long periods of time, or using your nailer frequently for many small projects, you’ll want to be assured that your nailer will last. Air compressors eventually need to be plugged in and pressurized if using as a portable tank. Batteries eventually run out of juice. Luckily, with a little foresight, you can have an extra battery charged to swap out with, and if you have an outlet available, can have your tank refilling as you work if need be. If you’re considering a brad nailer kit, look for one that offers you the best options for your frequent, continuous use.

Top 5 Brad Nailer Reviews

The following nailers are popular with homeowners and professionals alike for their dependability and ease of use. Consumer reviews that detail the jobs they are used for, along with personal preferences pertaining to features, can be very helpful in providing the information you need to make a purchasing choice. Here, we’ve weighed these consumer reports against the products’ availability, warranty, and versatility.

Best Light-Use Electric Brad Nailer

METABO HPT 18V CORDLESS BRAD NAILER
    Smaller and lighter than conventional nailers, and equipped with an LED for low-light conditions. Brushless motor and toolless depth-of-drive adjustment mean long-lasting performance with complete, simple customization for the job. (Metabo HPT was previously Hitachi.)

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Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi) is a leader in the nail gun industry. The company’s nailers are highly rated by professionals and homeowners. This cordless nailer model has a powerful 18-volt power supply to drive two to three nails per second. It also offers contact and sequential firing modes for efficiency while you work. The battery is also fairly compact, making this a lightweight tool in comparison to many similar models.

This nailer model comes with an LED light and pivoting belt belt hook, as well as a side lock to keep from accidental misfires. The air-spring drive system can handle up to 1650 nails per battery charge, and feels much like a pneumatic nailer. This kit comes with the gun, charger, battery, case, and a set of safety glasses, and is perfect for light use around the home.

Best Heavy-Use Electric Brad Nailer

PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX LITHIUM 18GA BRAD NAILER
    This cordless electric nailer uses standard 18 gauge nails, but the advanced coutersink feature ensures flush fasteners and less clean-up work. Suitable for everything from fence repair to lightweight trim work, allowing you to move between repairs and projects with ease.

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Porter-Cable is one of the most dependable manufacturers of nail guns, and are considered one of the most popular brands in both professional and home settings. This model boasts all the newest technological advances, and weighs only 5.9 pounds to boot, making it a highly portable tool. It can drive to 1300 nails on one charge, and also holds 100 nails in the magazine for quick work.

This gun comes in a kit with both charger and battery pack included, plus they offer optional additional batteries and brad nailers in a package deal. With adjustable depth capabilities and a tool-free release lever, this is a great choice for go-anywhere productivity and the hobbyist woodworker.

Best Lightweight Pneumatic Brad Nailer

DEWALT  PNEUMATIC 18-GAUGE BRAD NAILER
    This DEWALT brad nailer offers easy-to-use, reliable performance for home projects and woodworking, packaged in a lightweight design that offers an operating pressure strong enough for some professional use, but handles smoothly enough for routine DIY jobs. (Tool only.)

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Dewalt is a power tool industry leader for homeowners and professionals alike. Their 18 gauge brad nailer is an incredibly popular pick and can handle nail gauges from 5/8-inch to 2-inches to complete the jobs you need done, done effectively and efficiently. The single sequential firing method is especially nice to keep you moving through the work at hand, and the operating pressure is ideal for heavier home jobs or some job sites.

This gun is made for versatility and has an adjustable depth control switch for fine detail work. Plus there is an easy jam release for reloading purposes. At 5.1 lbs it is among the absolute lightest in its class. Accuracy and power define this pneumatic nailer that is lightweight to avoid work fatigue. The ability to control depth and change up nail lengths make it a versatile choice.

Best Professional-Grade Pneumatic Brad Nailer

BOSTITCH BTFP12233 SMART POINT 18GA BRAD NAILER KIT
    With all the bells and whistles, this is among the most versatile pneumatic nailers on the market. The oil-free design allows for long-term low-maintenance use, and drives 18 GA brad nails from 5/8-inch to 2-1/8 inches in depth. In addition to the Smart Point accuracy, this combo kit comes with 1/4-inch air fitting, belt hook with integrated pencil sharpener, a carrying case, and extra No-Mar Tips.

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BOSTITCH is among the most trusted manufacturers of nail guns and staplers, and this brad nailer kit is no exception. While the BTFP12233 Smart Point nailer is intended for home use, many can be found on construction sites and in upholstery shops, thanks to the extreme accuracy of the Smart Point tip and the reliable, high-powered performance of this lightweight pneumatic nailer. For the serious builder, or for larger woodworking projects, the smooth actuation of the Smart Touch tip and the powerful drive force are unparalleled. This kit comes with belt hook, carrying case, extra No-Mar Tips, and even has a built-in pencil sharpener. But better than all the perks is the long warranty, the rave reviews, and BOSTITCH’s reliable brand. If you’re looking for a tool that can hang molding with precision and recover a sofa and build a treehouse, this is the model for you.

Best Light-Use Pneumatic Finishing Brad Nailer

MAKITA AF505N BRAD NAILER
    This sleek little number boasts a number of minimalist details and high-powered performance compared to other models in its weight range. From adjustable exhaust ports to deflect air from the user, to adjustable hook positioning for store-anywhere ease, it seems almost a bonus that the Makita brad nailer also holds up to 100 nails, which it places accurately even in confined spaces thanks to the carefully machined tool and tip. If you're looking for a no-frills, super lightweight, all-around nailer, this is a great option.

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Makita is another name synonymous with a dependable and durable investment. The 2-inch brad nailer is incredibly lightweight at 3 pounds and is easy to use in those hard-to-reach spaces. The narrow nose design and non-marring rubber tip keep work surfaces and finishes intact. With the ability to hold up to 100 nails, this gun can drive 18 gauge nails from 5/8-inch to 2 inches with ease.

Pneumatically powered, this is a powerful little machine and comes complete with a quick release cam-lock for easy access and maintenance. Accurate and precise, this is a handy little tool to have.

Conclusion

Brad nailers are a handy, versatile tool for home improvement and woodworking projects. The one that works best for you is the one that best meets your needs: it’s powerful enough to do the jobs you want, without being too heavy or cumbersome, and works reliably for minimal delay and downtime. Additionally, it needs to be durable enough to meet your expectations, or have a warranty that covers common malfunctions, tool failure, or design flaws. And the price has to be in your budget, as well! With so many points to consider, there is not clear winner, but our pick, based on these criteria and consumer feedback, is the BTFP12233 Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer Kit. Not only can you not go wrong with the brand, but this model’s dependable power and accurate fastener placement, as well as design-conscious integrated features, make it a staple for those who know their nail gun capabilities, have a job to do, and want to do it right. That it’s inexpensive and lightweight, as well, put it over the top for us in terms of all-around suitability.

If you have any questions or comments about the products selected, or have any experience with using them, please let us know below. And, as always, please share!

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