Brad Nails Vs. Finish Nails: Which One Is the Best and Why?

It’s best to gather all necessary accessories and equipment before starting any kind of repair or improvement project so that you can easily and instantly get access to the things you need. For especially carpentry or masonry projects, nails are inevitable.

You must gather the nails that are needed in your project before starting it. But the issue is that nails come in different varieties. You have to choose the nails according to the requirements of your projects.

In different varieties, brad nails and finish nails are the most common for using different types of DIY projects. However, beginners usually get confused in choosing between brad nails and finish nails for their large similarities.

In this article, we will try to help you to choose the best one between these two. As a beginner, this comparison guide will be very helpful for you to clear all confusion. So, without any delay, let’s delve into the discussion.

What Are the Brad Nails?

Brad Nails

Brad nails, also called brads, are small and thin shanked nails with a flattened “T” shaped design which is specially made for woodworking. These are generally used in high-powered nail guns to be perfectly driven into objects. Brads are mostly made from 18-gauge or 21-gauge steel wire. Gauge refers to the thickness and holding capacity of a nail. 

Here, if the gauge number increases, the thickness of nails is decreased. For example, 18-gauge nails are thinner than 17-gauge nails. The length of brad nails starts from ½ inch to 2½ inches. In general, brad nails are fired by the nailers powered by the air compressor. Though there are some brad nailers which are powered by battery, they are very expensive.

Moreover, as these nails are comparatively small and thin, it has less holding power and is good for thin wooden objects. Besides, for having less thickness, it only leaves a very small amount of stains.

In addition, there are no possibilities to split the wooden object by brad nails. These nails are best for thin plywood, fiberboard, shoe moldings, narrow or decorative trims, quarter-round moldings, or any objects where you need an easy to hide nails.

Brads are available both in collated strips for the nail gun and individual pieces. The main drawback of this nail is that it has less holding power and is not so strong. However, in many projects, these nails are the only solution.

What is a Finish Nail?

Finish Nail

Finish nails are thicker and larger, which is strong enough to use many bigger and thicker objects. When you are working with large and comparatively thick materials, these nails will work the best. For instance, if you need to install a baseboard or cabinet, you should definitely choose finish nails for better fittings. It has a strong head and larger shanks which are made from 10 to 16-gauge steel wires.

Finish nails are best for installing interior and exterior trims, stair treads, risers, baseboard and crown moldings, windows and door casing, etc. They are also any types of light carpentry tasks. Finish nails are also available in both collated strips for the finish nailer and individual pieces so that people can use these for any other purposes also.

The length of these nails starts from 1 inch to 3½ inches. These nails are very versatile because you can use them for many purposes. It is very durable compared to brad nails. However, it leaves a good amount of stains and can split wooden objects for thicker shanks.

Overall, it has larger applicability and is used in both air compressors and electric-powered nail guns. In addition, there are many home improvement projects where you mandatorily need the finish nails.

Brad Nails Vs. Finish Nails – What’s The Difference

Now you know all the basic information, benefits, advantages, and disadvantages of both brad nails and finish nails. We hope you have understood the basic differences between these two nails. Then again, now we will point out the major differences for your better understating. These key differences are as follows:


The applicability of both of these nails is totally different. You can use brad nails in thinner and small objects where you need only lower strength. For instance, in installing narrow trims, shoe moldings, or concealing any small piece of wood, the best option is brad nails. On the other hand, if you want to install cabinets, interior or exterior trims, baseboards, crown moldings, stair treads, etc., you have to choose finish nails.

Gauge Number

Finish nails are made from 10 to 16-gauge steel wire, whereas brad nails are generally made of 18-gauge or 20-gauge steel wire. This one is the easiest way to differentiate between finish nails vs. brad nails. You can easily clarify this by looking at a glance.


In the case of durability, finish nails will be ahead of the competition. You all know that finish nails are thicker than the brad nails. It has a thicker shank and head. That is why it is stronger than the brad nails. On the other hand, brad nails are thinner than finish nails. Therefore, it may not last for a long time, having less thickness. That is why, if you compare brad nails and finish nails, you have to say, finish nails are more durable.

Holding Power

Finish nails have more holding power than the brad nails. As the finish nail is thicker and stronger than brad nails, you will get strong fittings by using this nail. Normally, for thick objects, you have to choose finish nails because of their better holding power. If you use brad nails there, the objects will not be strong enough. On the other hand, when you need nails for small and thinner objects, you must go for brad nails for having lower holding power. 


There is a significant difference between the length of these two nails. Firstly, bran nails come in ½ inch to 2½ inches in length. On the other hand, the length of finish nails starts from 1 inch to 3½ inches. 


Finish nails are comparatively thicker and larger, which leaves large stains after being fired into the objects. You will face these problems mostly with wooden objects. On the other hand, brad nails are smaller and thinner than the finish nails. That is why it doesn’t leave any notable stains object. So, here finish nails will be lagged behind in the competition.

Wood Splitting

As finish nails have a larger size and thicker shanks, they can split the wooden objects. That is why you should not be used in thinner wooden objects. On the other hand, brad nails don’t split any objects where it is driven into because of their small size.

End Part

Brad nail and finish nail, both provide some extraordinary features. However, you may need both of them in your projects for different purposes. As many people want to know about the differences between brad nails vs. finish nails, we have conducted a detailed discussion on it.

Besides, we have also given some key differences so that anyone can easily clarify the differences. Now the question is, which one is the best for you?

Well, the answer is, it depends on your requirements. If you want nails for thin objects like small trims, decorative trims, fiberboard, etc., you should choose brad nails. On the contrary, if you need nails for bigger tasks like interior or exterior trims, cabinets, stair treads, stair risers, etc., finish nails will be the best for you.

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