9 Types of Nail Guns: A Beginner’s Guide



types of nail guns

Nail guns have revolutionized the world of construction and home improvement, offering a faster and more efficient way to drive nails into various materials.

These powerful tools are a staple for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike, making tasks like framing, installing trim, and securing siding much easier. However, not all nail guns are created equal, and choosing the right one for your specific project is crucial.

In this guide, we’ll explore 9 types of nail guns and provide insights on how to select the best one for your home improvement endeavors.

Types of Nail Guns

1. Framing Nail Gun

Framing Nail Gun

A framing nail gun is the workhorse of construction projects, commonly used by carpenters for assembling walls, fences, and decks.

Capable of driving nails up to 3.5 inches in length, this heavy-duty tool is perfect for connecting large pieces of lumber together to build sturdy frames. Whether you’re constructing a wall or building a deck in your yard, a framing nail gun is essential for these projects.

When choosing a framing nail gun, you have three options: corded, cordless, or pneumatic.

  • Corded models offer consistent power but require access to an electrical outlet.
  • Cordless versions provide more mobility but need periodic recharging.
  • Pneumatic nail guns rely on an air compressor for power, ensuring consistent performance throughout your task.

2. Brad Nail Gun

Brad Nail Gun

For lighter-duty tasks such as installing interior trim, molding, and cabinetry, a brad nail gun is your go-to choice. These guns use delicate 18-gauge nails that are perfect for lightweight trim and thin wood panels.

The advantage of using a brad nail gun lies in the minimal holes left behind, making it easier to cover up compared to larger nails.

Whether you’re in the middle of a painting project or working on cabinetry, a brad nailer can save you time and effort. Similar to other types, you can find brad nail guns in corded, cordless, and pneumatic variants.

3. Finish Nail Gun

Finish Nail Gun

When it comes to adding the finishing touches to your woodworking projects, a finish nail gun is your best friend. Slightly larger than brad nailers, these guns use 15 and 16 gauge nails to secure larger finishing pieces like door trim, window trim, baseboards, and molding.

The nails used by finish nailers offer increased holding power and withdrawal resistance compared to brad nails, ensuring your trim stays in place.

Keep in mind that finish nailers, like other nail gun types, are available in corded, cordless, and pneumatic options. Consider the scale of your finishing projects and your preferred level of mobility when selecting the right type.

4. Roofing Nail Gun

Roofing Nail Gun

Roofing nail guns are versatile tools essential for any roofing project. These guns are designed to drive nails through roofing shingles, ensuring a secure and weather-resistant roof.

They can also handle other materials such as vinyl, insulation boards, fiber cement, and even thin types of siding.

One distinctive feature of roofing nailers is their coil or canister magazine, which accommodates more nails, reducing the need for frequent reloading. This efficiency makes roofing projects more manageable and time-effective.

5. Siding Nail Gun

Siding Nail Gun

When the time comes to enhance your home’s exterior with new siding, a siding nail gun is your companion. These guns are designed specifically for this purpose, using 1.5 to 2.5 inch nails to securely attach siding to your home’s exterior.

Unlike framing nail guns, siding nailers are lighter and more suitable for prolonged use during siding installations.

Before making a choice, evaluate the size of your siding project and consider the power source that best suits your needs—corded, cordless, or pneumatic.

6. Palm Nail Gun

Palm Nail Gun

Tight spaces can be a challenge for traditional nail guns, but that’s where palm nailers come into play. Designed to fit into the palm of your hand, these unique tools are perfect for driving nails in confined areas where standard nail guns can’t reach.

However, they require one nail at a time due to their compact size.

While palm nailers might not be necessary for every project, they’re indispensable for tasks that demand precision in tight spots.

7. Pin Nail Guns

Pin Nail Guns

When it comes to delicate woodworking projects like furniture and cabinet making, pin nail guns shine. These guns use tiny 23-gauge nails that resemble pins, ensuring minimal impact on delicate wood pieces.

While they lack substantial holding strength, they are perfect for lightweight materials where larger nails could cause splitting.

Considering the fragility of the materials, pin nail guns are a must-have for any woodworking enthusiast. They are particularly useful for attaching narrow pieces of molding and trim without the risk of damage.

8. Hardwood Nail Gun

Hardwood Nail Gun

Installing hardwood flooring requires precision and specialized tools. A hardwood nail gun, equipped with cleats, is the ideal choice for this job.

These guns rely on air pressure to drive cleats through tough hardwood, ensuring a secure and professional installation.

Keep in mind that hardwood nailers require a certain level of force depending on the wood’s density and cleat length. They provide the necessary power to drive longer cleats into dense hardwood without compromising the quality of your flooring.

9. Staple Nail Gun

Staple Nail Gun

When it comes to heavy-duty tasks like securing upholstery, installing carpets, or fixing wood paneling, a staple nail gun is your tool of choice.

These guns drive heavy-duty staples, providing greater stability compared to traditional nails. This makes them perfect for tasks that demand extra reinforcement.

From upholstery repair to carpentry projects, staple nail guns are versatile tools that deserve a place in your workshop.

Choosing the Right Nail Gun

Selecting the appropriate nail gun for your projects is a matter of understanding your needs. Consider the tasks you frequently undertake and the materials you work with.

If you’re an occasional DIY enthusiast, a versatile option like a staple gun might be sufficient. For heavy-duty tasks like framing and deck building, a framing nail gun is a must-have.

Additionally, your preferred power source—corded, cordless, or pneumatic—plays a role in your decision. Pneumatic nail guns require an air compressor, so make sure you have the necessary equipment if you opt for this type.

In some cases, you might find that multiple nail guns cater to different aspects of your projects. Investing in a range of nail guns can increase your efficiency and versatility, allowing you to tackle a wider array of projects with ease.


Nail guns have transformed the way we approach construction and home improvement, making tasks faster and more efficient.

By understanding the different types of nail guns and their specific applications, you can choose the perfect tool for your projects and take your DIY skills to new heights.

FAQs About Nail Guns

1. What is a nail gun used for?

A nail gun is a power tool designed to drive nails into various materials, replacing the need for manual hammering. It’s commonly used in construction and woodworking projects to improve efficiency and accuracy.

2. How do I choose the right nail gun for my project?

Consider the type of project you’re working on and the materials involved. Different nail guns are designed for specific tasks, such as framing, finishing, or upholstery. Also, decide on the power source—corded, cordless, or pneumatic—that best suits your needs.

3. Are all nail guns the same size?

No, nail guns come in various sizes and styles to accommodate different tasks. Some are compact and specialized for tight spaces, while others are larger and heavy-duty for framing or decking.

4. Can I use a framing nail gun for other tasks?

While framing nail guns are designed for heavy-duty tasks like framing and deck building, they may not be suitable for precision work like finishing or trim installation. It’s best to choose a nail gun that matches the specific requirements of your project.

5. Are nail guns safe to use?

When used correctly, nail guns are safe tools. However, it’s important to follow safety guidelines, wear appropriate protective gear, and ensure proper training. Accidental firing and misplacement of nails can lead to injuries, so always exercise caution.