How to Choose the Right Size Nails For Nail Gun

For using nails with nail guns, they have some common classifications for different purposes. You can’t pick up a nail by your approximation for your nail gun. Each nail has benefits and suitability for certain jobs. For this reason, it is difficult to identify the perfect one for your nailer. 

It is concerning if you use the wrong size nail for your nail gun. Today, we are going to deliver you the open secrets about how to choose the right size nails for a nail gun. Choosing the appropriate size of the nail is important for the permanence of your nail gun. So, let’s get started with the introduction episode & selecting the method of nails.

How many nails per stud?

According to the number of nails, there are two types of popular studs. Those are 4 nails stud & 6 nails stud. 

4 nails: In the ground of a 2×4 stud you must use two nails on every side & the nails will remain opposite of each other.

6 nails: In the base of a 2×6 stud you must use 3 nails on every side.

How to Choose the Right Size Nails For Nail Gun

You may get puzzled about choosing the right size of nails among a huge variation. Let’s have a look at nail sizes and types for nail guns first. Wrong size nails can cause nail gun jamming. Check our nail gun jamming guide to getting rid of this problem.

Size of nails:

In the marketplace, you can find 8d, 12d, 16d nails easily. If you are a fresher, you don’t have any idea about the term “d”. Don’t worry, I am clarifying this term.

Expression of “d” of nails:

“d” expresses the penny from the British monetary denomination. This measurement was fixed a long time ago according to the price of 100 nails at that time.

It represents the diameter of nails. As the diameter is bigger, the coefficient with “d” will be bigger. 

Expression of “ga” of nails:

There is another type of sizing. That is called “gauge”. It is denoted by “ga”. It also means the nail’s diameter in different forms.

If we make a serial from smaller to larger, then we find:

  • 15-ga.
  • 16-ga.
  • 18-ga.
  • 21-ga and 
  • 23-ga.

We have been told that “ga” means the diameter of the nails but it doesn’t make good sense. We can clarify by the term “thickness”. It represents how thick the nail is. You should be careful about understanding this fact.

15 ga & 16 ga nails:

15 ga & 16 ga nails are used to finish nailers. 15 ga nailers have 0.72″ diameter & 1″ to 2.5″ length. On the other hand, 16 ga nailers have 0.63″ diameter & 1.25″ to 2.5″ inch length. If we talk about the finishing of both nails, it looks bright & galvanized. 

You can choose 15 ga nails for your nail gun for these applications :

  • Door/window trim
  • Casing

If you are looking for substantial holding power, we’ll recommend 15 ga nails for your nail gun. 

You can choose 16 ga nails for these applications:

  • Base moldings
  • Back bands
  • Panel molds
  • Smaller bed moldings

16 ga nails are generally better suited for more delicate jobs.

18 ga nails:

18 ga nails are used for brad nailers. It has a 0.468″ diameter. Its length is ⅝” to 2-⅛”. It is plain coated & has a chisel point. 

Now come to its good point. They don’t create a big hole & that’s why they are good for smaller trim. It is perfect for making new furniture for increasing the beauty of the house. If you are determined to build by your labor, you are welcome. You can also use it for baseboards works & jobs with plywoods.  

If you ask me about all-round nails, I would like to suggest you the brad nail. 

21 ga & 23 ga nails:

21 ga & 23 ga nails are generally used for pin nailers. Their diameter is periodically 0.294″ & 0.267″. Both of them have straight glue strip collation. 

They own the minimal holding capability. If you want to receive better service from it, you can use it with the assistance of glue.

These nails are generally used for expensive projects. You can perfectly complete any kind of trimming & molding project with these nails.

8d & 16d nails:

8d and 16d nails provide 95% of your needs in framing. So, we will only say about 8d & 16d nails.

Most people prefer to use 16d nails for framing because they are smaller-sized nails. They have 2.5 inches in length. Their shank is 0.134 inches and the diameter of their heads is 9/32 inches.

For 2×4 framing, most of the contractors recommend 16d nails.

We can classify it into two classes: common nails and sinker nails.

  • Common nails:

If you ask about the most commonly used steel nails, we can say about common nails. People like to use common nails for different purposes. For framing works, common nails are considered a blessing. Also for carpentry & wood structural projects, this nail is marvelous. Also for general indoor purposes, this type of nail can be used. 

You can find this nail from varieties of lengths. It starts from 1 inch & ends at 6 inches generally. 

  • Sinker nails

Sinker nails are widely used for framing. If the topic is general construction purpose, this type of nail can be highly recommended. 

Sinker nails look short and thin. Companies suggest using cement coating on this nail for good holding capacity. 

Choosing the length of the nail:

Maintaining the length of the nail works as an open secret. Use a nail 3 times longer. We can say, for example, if you are nailing 2 inches of sheathing on a wall for interior design purposes, it would be recommended for you to use a nail that is at least 6 inches long. 

Let’s make it easy with a simple mathematical calculation. Suppose, there is a material which thickness is 12 mm. We need to choose the right nail for this material.

I think you can remember that the nail must be 3 times longer than the material. So, the accurate length of the nail should be (12 mm * 3 = 36 mm)

It doesn’t matter what length you use but you can’t overbuild. Remember,  the wrong size of nails makes a waste of your valuable time. So, try to use the right length

Frequently asked question

We know that after reading the whole article, you’ll have some questions naturally. We are here to answer your questions. Just go through the FAQ part & I strongly believe if you are looking for any straightforward answer, you will find it here.

What size nail gun should I buy?

If your work is with window, door jamb & crown molding,  go for a 15 ga & 16 ga nail gun. If you are looking for an around nailer, go for an 18 ga nail gun.

Should I get a 16 or 18 gauge nailer?

16 gauge nailers perform better than an 18 gauge nailer in some circumstances. If you are looking for higher durability,  go for an 18 gauge nailer.

What is the best nail gun for home use?

Cordless Brad Nailer will be the best suggestion because it removes the hassle of purchasing an air compressor by utilizing rechargeable batteries on its own. 

Should I get a 15 or 16 gauge finish nailer?

You should get the 16 gauge finish nailers. 16 gauge nailers shoot nails that are thinner than the 15 gauge and ensure perfect finish.

Are nails better than screws for framing?

Yes, nails are better than screws for framing because nails are faster even without a nail gun & more flexible. 

Can I use 30 degree nails in a 28 degree nailer?

Yes, you can use a 30-degree version of nails in a 34-degree nailer. The 34-degree nailers are designed in receive nails varying from 30 to 34 degrees of collation angle.

Can I Use 30 Degree Nails In A 34 Degree Framing Nailer?

Yes, you use a 30-degree version of nails in a 34-degree nailer. The 34-degree nailers are designed in such a way that they can receive nails varying from 30 to 34 degrees of collation angle.


It’s good to hear that you have invested in a nail gun. Now, you have to choose the right size of nail for your nail gun. By reading this article, you already have gathered a little theoretical knowledge about how to choose the right size nails for a nail gun. The right nail gun with the right side of the nail will help you speed up your projects.

Think about the opposite scenario. You have a good nail gun but you have chosen the wrong nail for your nail gun. What if you do it in real life? Your nailer will get damaged after a certain time & your work will be decreased. Choosing the right size nail for your nail gun is up to you now. I believe you can do it by yourself after reading this article along with proper concentration. 

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