Different Types of Nail Gun Explained

If you are a DIY person, you already know about claw hammers. But you can improve your quality of DIY works and save time if you use a nail gun instead.

Nail guns are used for driving nails into wood and other similar materials. The tool drives nails faster than conventional manual counterparts.

Buying a nail gun from various options seem quite overwhelming. Each type of nail guns is designed for serving a specific purpose. So, you cannot randomly pick one and use it in your next DIY project.

In this guide, I will explain the different types of nail gun so it becomes easier to choose the right one for both professional and non-professional work.

What is a Nail Gun?

A nail gun refers to a power tool that drives nails arranged in a strip or coil into the tool. It is also known as a nailer.

It is an essential tool in the field of carpentry, framing, and roofing jobs. Some nailers are designed for construction works as well.

You cannot practically hammer a nail into work materials more than six times at a time. If your work requires more than that, this is where the nail guns strike.

Types of Nail Guns

There are mainly nine types of nail guns, and this is where most people get confused. But as you are here, I’ll break down into each of these types and tell you which one is designed for which working area.

First of all, keep in your mind that nailers are either of coil-style or strip-style.


These nail guns join all the nails together through wires. All the wires form a coil-style construction. Coli-styles nailers have drum magazines which can hold about 300-350 nails on an average. Some models hold more, and some hold less.

These nailers are easier to use in tighter working spots as well.

If you don’t like to reload the nails again and again while you are on a project, you need to get a coil-style nailer.


These come with a long magazine attached to the bottom of the gun. The nails inside are held together using wires, plastic, and paper. A strip-style magazine contains only 20-40 nails.

It’s a less expensive option compared to a coil-style nailer. The long magazine equally distributes the weight of the nails, which makes it easy to drive the nails accurately.

  1. Framing Nail Gun

As the name goes, yes, this nail gun is used for wood framing. Framing nailers are also known as fitting nailers, and these are the heaviest of their types. It works both clipped and round head nails that are 2 ½”-3 ½” inches long.

Most of the framing gun models come with interchangeable sequential and contact trip. Its tool-free depth-drive adjustment helps a lot to handle loads of framing works.

These are ideal for using in heavy-duty wood framing residential construction works, building decks, basement recreation room, and framing houses.

When you do DIY framing for an entire house, hammering will take too long to finish. If you use a framing nail gun instead, it will surely save your time and do the work efficiently.

  1. Flooring Nail Gun

These nailers look very different in terms of design than the typical nailers that you probably saw before. Flooring nail guns are specially designed to work on groove and laying tongue floorboards.

You require to be on your knees and hands while nailing down to install a floor which feels quite tiring if working for hours.

Using a floor nailer is far better than toenailing, and it gets the job done a lot faster. Hold the gun at the edge of the board and moderately hit the plunger with nylon mallet; that’s all, you have successfully nailed it! This method ensures you nail at the right angle with the correct depth.

You cannot use this flooring nailer other than laying floorboards as it doesn’t have versatile usage like other nailers.

  1. Roofing Nail Gun

Yes, you have guessed it right; this particular nailer is used for roof works. Like the framing nailers, roof nailers are for heavy-duty stuff as well. Professional contractors, as well as same serious DIYers, use such a tool the most.

If you need to nail down the roof or an entire house which requires to work for long hours, a roofing nailer is all you need. For this nailing gun drives nails into roofing materials at a much faster speed.

The nailer comes with a depth-drive adjustment, which is a must need feature while dealing with roofs. Because the gun drives nails into the roof shingle with much power, which requires you to control the shingle. Roofing nails also offer switchable contact or sequential trip.

As far as controlling the power is concerned, the large flat head of the nailer works very effectively than smaller ones. Roofing nailers come with a coil, rather than a straight clip. And a coil holds more nails than a straight clip.

However, there are three types of roofing nailers that you will come across;

  • Spring Loaded: This type of roof nailers use springs to fire the nails out of its chamber. Among the three, it’s the simplest roof nailer.
  • Pneumatic: An air compressor powers pneumatic roof nailers, and it’s the most popular of all three.
  • Solenoid: Solenoid roof nailers use electromagnetic polarization as a source of power.
  1. Palm Nail Gun

Where the bigger sized nailers fail to reach, the palm nailer nails woody objects like a pro. Palm nailers work the same way like most other nailers, but on a smaller scale.

Palm nailers are suitable for working at corners, ceilings, edges of tight spots, smaller projects, and joist hangers.

As the name goes, it comfortably rests in the palm of a hand. There is a strap for wrapping the tool around the hand so that it doesn’t accidentally fall while using.

Palm nailers come with electric, cordless, and pneumatic variants. Electric variant provides more power, while a cordless one is best for portability.

Unlike other nailers, you can work with a palm nail gun for an extended period while having less fatigue; this is due to its small and lightweight design.

Similarly, where other nail guns use strips and coils to drive down the nail, this one uses regular nails like the ones that you use with a hammer.

An average palm nail gun can drive nails of 1 1/2 -3 ½ inches long. But, there are some heavy-duty models as well that deal with 2-6 inches nails.

Palm nail guns are inexpensive, and if you are lucky, you might get one free with other larger nailers.

  1. Siding Nail Gun

When your project requires you to install sidings, this nail gun is all you need. Using this nailer, you can easily join thin pieces of synthetic materials as well as wood to any wooden mount.

However, you can also somehow manage to install siding by a framing nailer, but as a siding nailer has a wider head, it works the best for this purpose. This tool is a new edition to nail gun’s family. Previously, people used to install siding with framing nailers.

Siding nailers work with wider 1 ¼ – 2 ½ inches nails. There are some models available in the market that can work with aluminum nails as well.

  1. PIN Nail Gun

Pin nailers are the smallest and most delicate nailers available in the market. This nailer is used in carpentry projects that require 23-gauge headless nails. Pin nail guns are used in delicate pieces of wood where the larger nailers might split it.

Headless 23-gauge nails are used for holding glued trim temporarily. So, you cannot use such a tool on work that requires average holding power. In most cases, headless pin nails are used for holding any materials in place for a short time until the glue dries.

Pin nailers are ideal for using in upholstery, woodworking crafts, crown molding, trim pieces, small furniture trim, thin veneers, etc. This tool can nail any small projects with the perfection that require headless nails to drive down.

  1. Brad Nail Gun

Brad nailers are used for finishing work. One can get confused with pin and brad nailers as they both deal with nails that are very thin in size. You cannot use larger nails in a pin nailer, but as far as the brad nailers are concerned, they are compatible with 18-gauge size nails.

Unlike a pin nailer, it has holding power that manages to drive down the nails properly. The ultra-thin nails are known as brad, and that’s the reason behind such a name of this tool.

When you need to do your DIY work with much accuracy, maintaining every small detail on lightweight trim, this is the nailer you need. The tool can provide the necessary holding strength for your woodworking projects.

Brad nailers are also very effective for installing molds and trim without ruining them. As the brads are very thin, you will barely notice the holes created by the tool.

  1. Finish Nail Gun

If your woodworking projects require you to build a cabinet, do molding, and install trim where you need to ensure the precision of work; you can take a finish nailer as your company. Finish nailers are also used for cabinetry, door jams, and other lightweight woodwork.

The nailer mostly uses 15-16 gauge nails and drives nails up to 2.5 inches. 15 gauge nailers use larger nails for reaching tight spaces due to its angular design. The nails that are used in a finish nail gun are much smaller than what a framing nail gun uses. But compared to a brad nailer, the nails are larger on this gun.

As the nailer uses larger nails, it is able to provide enough holding power for your trim work, smaller crown molding, paneling, interior molding, etc.

  1. Staple Nail Gun

The staple guns are mostly used for building furniture as it makes bigger holes on woods than other nailers. Also, the nailer doesn’t require oil; so, there will be no oil splattering issue.

Staple nailers have multipurpose usage. You can use it for upholstery works such as attaching the fabric to a sofa or chair. The tool also works great to fix carpeting to floors.

Furthermore, the nailer can handle wood and fabric repair works as well. Construction works such as general household projects, building bird and dog houses seem very easy if you have this nailer.

Nail Gun Powering Options

When you come across different types of nail guns, you will notice that there are different variants in terms of how the nailers are powered.

Herein, it would be wise to know about them so that you can purchase the perfect one that will meet your working requirements.

  1. Cordless/Battery Powered Nail Guns

Cordless nailers run on rechargeable batteries. Although battery-powered nailers are weak compared to air compressor nailers, these are very convenient and easy to use.

You can move freely while holding a cordless nailer in hand. If your works don’t require much power and you need mobility in work, a battery-powered nailer would be the best fit for your projects.

  1. Pneumatic Nail Guns

Nailers that run on the pneumatic power system, draw nearby air to the gun using a piston-cylinder. These nailers are one of the cheapest options that you can go for. But you will need an air compressor to generate compressed air to power the nailer.

If your work requires you to deal with thick and hard nails, a pneumatic-powered nailer will do your work more efficiently.

  1. Electric Nail Guns

One distinguishable difference between an electric and pneumatic nailer is that an electric one weighs way less than the pneumatic one. If you regularly work for an extended period and the weight of the tool is an issue for you, consider getting an electric nailer.

As these nailers produce less noise, these are best for residential usage. Also, electric nailers cost 25% less compared to pneumatic nailers.

  1. Air Nail Guns

Air nailers require compressed air to run operations. You will need to refill the nailer with air when there is lack of compressed air.

These nailers can drive 40 to 60 nails down per minute. If carpentry works are your prime concern, without giving a second thought, go for an air-powered nail gun.

  1. Gas Nail Guns

Gas-powered nailers are the most powerful nail guns that you can buy. Primarily, gas nail guns are used by professionals. These nailers are expensive and leave some safety issues as well.

For example, when the gas canister is attached to the gun, and you pull the trigger, it will make the battery to ignite spark similar to the spark of your car. This can cause the gas to catch fire.

Final Words

As not all the hammers work the same way, so do the nail guns. Don’t just fall for any attractive nailer without knowing about how it will serve your needs.

Once you get the right nailer, you will fall in love with your DIY works and want to do more.

6 thoughts on “Different Types of Nail Gun Explained”

  1. A finish nailer differs from a brad or pin nailer in that it can handle larger and bulkier pieces of wood. These nailers are compatible with 15- to 16-gauge finish nails, which are a little bit bigger than a brad nail. Staple guns are nothing like any of the other nailers listed above, but can still drive staples (a type of fastener) into a wide range materials.

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