Difference Between Brad Nails vs. Finish Nails

Difference Between Brad Nails vs. Finish Nails

September 3, 2021 4:05 pm Published by

Dozens of different construction nails are on the market today. Although they’re all manufactured with the same essential characteristics — a head, a shank that firmly holds the nails in place, and a sharp point to enable nails to pierce their way to their final destination — not all nails are suitable for every job.

Difference Between Brad Nails vs. Finish Nails

The nails you choose to use can make or break almost any project, and selecting the right kind of nail is especially crucial when it comes to woodworking. Finish nails and brad nails may look similar on the surface, but how different are they really? Just what are finish nails, and what is the difference between brad nails vs finish nails? Let’s take a look!

What Are Finish Nails?

Finish nails — also sometimes called finishing nails, bullet head nails, or lost-head nails — are small nails used, as the name suggests, to provide a smooth finish in woodworking projects. Their uncharacteristically tiny heads make it possible for these nails to “disappear”, allowing the worker to fill the hole that remains with putty to render their presence all but invisible. For this reason, finish nails are frequently used for trim and molding in property construction, and to attach fine details in the manufacture of wooden furniture.

Finish nails have gauges of either 15 or 16, which translates to diameters of 1.63 to 1.83 millimeters. Their length can vary from one to four inches, and finish nails are effectively delivered with the help of nail guns powered by compressed air.

What Are Brad Nails?

Brad nails are, likewise, very small construction nails that are often applied during carpentry projects. They, too, have compact heads. In the case of brad nails, however, these heads are slightly off-center. This design feature allows the worker to drive these nails in even more deeply so that the head hugs the surface. The most typical use of brad nails would be in the manufacture of cabinets and other indoor furniture.

Brad nails can be driven into the chosen surface with a nail gun as well, being nearly the smallest type of nail for which this is possible. They have a gauge of 18 (1.22 millimeters), and are manufactured in a variety of lengths. The best tip, in this case, is for the brad nails you choose to be three times longer than the material you are attaching is thick.

What Is the Difference Between Brad Nails vs. Finish Nails?

Because brad nails and finish nails have broadly similar applications as well as being relatively close in physical appearance, it is easy to confuse the two. It is no surprise that brad nails are sometimes incorrectly referred to as finish nails since some people use brad nails where they ideally should have chosen finish nails and vice versa.

There are, however, some important differences between finish nails and brad nails that relate not only to their “specs” but also to their functionality.

Which is Better? Brad Nails vs. Finish Nails

The type of nail that you use will depend on the type of project you are working on and the holding strength needed. In general, it is best to choose finish nails for thick wood. Finish nails are most commonly used for installing baseboards, crown moldings, window wood trim, as well as door casings.

Conversely, it is better to use brad nails for thin wood, craft projects, or anything that requires a minimal amount of holding power. Because brad nails are easy to remove and also leave small holes, they are also great for temporary applications such as hanging small picture frames.

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This post was written by Contour Construction Inc.