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Nail Gun vs Brad Nailer

The many different makes and models of nailers can be an awesome addition to your power tool arsonal for easy, efficient nail driving purposes. When on the hunt for a nailer, you may have discovered there are quite a few choices from which to choose from. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with all that is offered, and difficult to narrow down which is best for you.

If the question of the differences between a nail gun vs a brad nailer is something you have wondered about, I’ve broken down the two below for a quick reference for comparison purposes.

Nail Guns

Pros

  • Large selection of makes and models
  • Can choose a tool specific to your job
  • Powerful, and efficient

Cons

  • May be limited by battery life and hose lengths
  • Not a one size fits all choice

Brad Nailer

Pros

  • Precise and accurate
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Perfect for detailing work

Cons

  • Not a choice for heavy materials
  • Good all around homeowner choice

Nail Guns and How They Work

Nail guns, otherwise known as nailers, use an air pressurized or electric driving force for power. They are available in many different models specific to the types of jobs you have in mind. Electric nail guns use a rechargeable, lithium ion battery or a power cord and use the force provided by a piston to drive the nail. Pneumatic nailers use pressurized force from an air compressor to drive a piston and reset the next nail.

Cordless versions can be either battery powered, or battery and gas powered through a combustible force. These are very handy on large jobs as you are not restricted by air hose lengths, and can typically have a back up battery to keep from having to stop your work.

Types of Nail Guns

There are many makes and models of nailers available for specific jobs. Construction and building sites are typically dependent upon framing and roofing nailers that can drive thicker nails into heavy materials- including treated hardwoods and asphalt shingles. Brad nailers and finishing nail guns are popular with homeowners, and are capable of a wide variety of work in both a building and woodworking capacity as they handle some of the finishing details, such as trim, without splitting delicate woods. You also have specialized nail guns, such as those used specifically for flooring, siding, and upholstery.

Benefits of a Nail Gun

Nail guns are powerful choices and allow you to work quickly through any job that requires that you set a large amount of nails. They free up a hand, and do not require you to carry a large amount of nails on your person as you work, since most gun are capable of holding 100 or more individual nails. Having this free hand provides a safer work environment as well, and allows you to move around fairly freely, especially when on large job sites.

Most nailers have a choice of setting in relation to firing methods. Bump or contact firing allows you to apply a rapid fire succession of nails as the tip comes in contact with the nailing surface.

Sequential firing methods require a setting of the tip and a pull the trigger. The nails reload quickly and easily, and may even have the capability of being set to a specific depth for various types of jobs. These are driven in straight as well, removing having to pull and reset nails due to hitting the head on an angle.

Drawbacks of a Nail Gun

Many guns do have the capability to adjust for nail depth, but this is not always accurate, and requires a follow up for tight seams and joints in framing. This also can cause damage in more delicate woods and finishing jobs at time. Most weigh between 5 and 10 lbs, which may not seem like a lot, but can get fatiguing over time. Battery and air compressor life, and cord or air hose length can all place restrictions on your mobility and length of work time as well.

Brad Nailers and How You Use Them

Technically, a brad nailer is a type of nail gun. It is popular with many homeowners as many models are good all around choices for most projects found around the house with the occasional heavy job thrown in. They are a smaller gun overall, and fire a brad, or thinner gauge nail, for more delicate finishing jobs. Because they are powerful in their own right, some are capable of handling heavier jobs, but most are preferred in lieu of, or alongside, finishing nailers.

Types of Brad Nailers

Brad nailers are pretty simple in design. You will be able to choose between cordless and pneumatic options, and even a few dependable corded electric brad nailers are still popular with consumers. Firing method choices may also be available depending on the model.

Most differences occur pertaining to size and power. Brad nailers seem to fall into two unspoken categories- those that work more like its larger cousin: the finishing nailer; and those that are specific to small, detailed work and may even double as a durable stapler.

Benefits of a Brad Nailer

The small, narrow nail, or brad, that is used is typically of 18 or 20 gauge in measurement– making them amongst the smallest nails used in a nail gun. They have a very small head as well, which often sit flush into the material you are using them on. These are usually a preferred gun for delicate interior trims,mouldings and woodworking, and often you will not need to putty over them and can simply paint directly over where they are used.

These are also smaller nail guns and lightweight, making them a choice for hard to reach places such as in ceiling corners and doorways. Plus, you won’t get as fatigued when using them.

Drawbacks of Brad Nailer

Brad nailers may be awesome for detailed finishing and woodworking, but if you plan on counting on them for heavier job loads, chances are you will be disappointed. They can work to help secure the occasional heavier job, but most of this is dependent upon the type of wood being used. Always know the jobs you have in mind prior to purchase.

Conclusion

Hopefully this has helped explain the differences between a nail gun in general, and a brad nailer which is more specialized in its use. A brad nailer is a type of nail gun, and can be used for detailed work due to the smaller, thinner nails that hold material securely together without fear of breakage or a marring of the surface.

There are many types of nail guns overall, however, from which you can choose from. Depending on the type of job you have in mind, you can pick and choose for strength and durability. If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know below! And, as always, please share!

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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