How To Fix Brad Nails That Are Sticking Out

Brad nails are useful for completing wooden projects because of their thin size. Unfortunately, they don’t always turn out quite right but end up sticking out where they really shouldn’t. This often happens when you’re working with a DIY project or need to repair something yourself. But you can still fix those nails on your own, too. We have thoroughly researched how to fix any brad nails that are sticking out of a wood project.

The most simple and ideal way to fix brad nails that are sticking out of your wood is to use pliers to gently wiggle the nail free from the back of the wood. But removing the nail itself may have issues in certain circumstances, and repairing the splintered wood has multiple solutions. So, it’s best to follow these steps in order:

  • Assemble proper tools
  • Remove the brad nail
  • Fix leftover damage

Brad nails are frequently used because of their useful, small design. But any kind of woodworking is going to require a bit of knowledge and skill. Keep reading to learn how to properly install brad nails, cover them when they protrude, and how to work around hardwood floors.

Brad nails placed on a blue background, How To Fix Brad Nails That Are Sticking Out

Assemble Proper Tools

If your brad nails protrude from your wood project, then the problem may also be referred to as a spring out or a blow out. These labels are sometimes used when you’re shopping for related tools to repair the problem. In certain circumstances, removing a brad nail might require a drill. But no matter what, it always requires some kind of pinching tool.


If your brad nails are blown out, then the first thing you’ll want to do is get your hands on some pliers. You should make sure that the pliers have enough bite to grip the exposed nail. However, keep in mind that brad nails are often flush to the surface or buried underneath all together.

So, try to find pliers that aren’t so coarse they will damage the surrounding area of the wood, either. Most of the time, needle nose pliers are the way to go when you want to avoid harming the project. They are thin but pinch well.

Click here to find these needle nose pliers on Amazon.

Wire Cutters

If you don’t have any suitable pliers that meet the above criteria, you might be able to use wire cutters instead. The only drawback is that brad nails are also very delicate. Typically, you don’t want to end up clipping the brad nail completely, and wire cutters are likely to do so.

Although it is technically possible to simply cut the nail off and cover up anything that’s left inside the wood, this isn’t ideal. You won’t be able to replace the nail at a later time. So, reserve wire cutters and a soft touch for special circumstances, where the brad nail absolutely cannot be gripped.


Click here to see these tweezer clamps on Amazon.

On the other hand, if the brad nails feel slightly loose, you may not require such tough hand tools. You can sometimes use tweezer clamps, which are much thinner. These are less likely to damage the wood. Tweezer clamps will also make it easier to work your way around small areas, which is often the case in DIY projects.

Remove the Brad Nail

Things can get a bit challenging once you have found the appropriate tools. Mainly, you have to identify if the brad nail was countersunk or not. Countersinking a nail means that it was buried beneath the surface of the wood. This is intentional, in order to hide the appearance of a metallic nail against the face of the pretty, natural wood.

If you're worried about what brad nails to use in the first place, you can read the post "What Size Brad Nails Do I Need? [By Type Of Project]."

Firstly, it’s best if you’re able to isolate the affected piece of wood. This way, you can handle it securely while you’re removing the nail. But most importantly, you will want to remove the blown brad nail from the backside of the wood.

Although some brad nails don’t have any kind of head, many of them just have an unusually small nail head. This is the defining characteristic of a brad nail. But even the small nail heads are still wider than the pointy end, which means they will splinter your wood if you remove them from that side. Your best bet to preserve the surface of the project is to pull from the sharp end of the brad nail.

Unfortunately, some brad nails just won’t come loose. In this case, you may have to use a drill to create two holes on either side of the exposed nail. This allows you to find more purchase when you need to squeeze and remove the brad nail. Always limit the number of holes that you make when possible. Typically, it shouldn’t require more than two holes.

Brad nails on a small cardboard box

Fix leftover damage

Once the brad nail is successfully removed, the results probably won’t look attractive. Fortunately, you can apply some wood filler into each of the leftover holes. Applying the wood filler is its own unique process.

Find the right wood filler

You can choose between water-based and solvent-based wood fillers. Keep in mind that wood filler can be made from a few different bases altogether, and some ingredients won’t work for every occasion.

For example, sometimes, you don’t actually want to paint your wood project. If the natural look is very appealing, then you might have already used a transparent wood finish on it to showcase that. In this case, you need to buy a wood filler that can specifically absorb wood stains. Although the majority of wood fillers can be painted, only a couple of them will work with wood stains.

Click here to find this stainable wood filler on Amazon.

Sand and Clean the Wood

Brad nails don’t make too much of a mark when they’re removed properly. You can use sandpaper that has a high grit, meaning it is fine and softer. Once you’ve sanded down the area, you can scrub it down with a microfiber cloth.

Click here to see this microfiber cloth on Amazon.

Apply Wood Filler

Now you can simply use a putty knife to evenly spread the desired wood filler across the damaged area. You’ll have to add enough wood filler to overfill the hole a bit since it will usually shrink as it dries. Once the wood filler has completely cured, you can sand it down again, and you are ready to repaint the area.

Can you sand down brad nails?

The signature thinness of brad nails can make it seem like you might simply sand them down. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. You would probably end up burning through way too much sandpaper, even if you use the lowest grit.

18 gauge steel brad nails

How do you cover your nails that are sticking out?

If you don’t feel like removing the nails from your wood at all, then you can simply try to paint over them. However, you should remember to prime the nails beforehand. This will make it easier for the paint to bond, and it will prevent the nails from rusting over time.

Can I hammer in brad nails?

Generally speaking, it isn’t good practice to hammer in brad nails. Because brad nails are so much thinner than ordinary nails, they are very likely to bend or even break. Instead, it’s better to invest in a brad nailer. This is just a nail gun that is specially designed to work with belts of brad nails. These power tools are also made easier to handle around delicate wood pieces.

Click here to find this brad nailer on Amazon.

How do you countersink brads?

If you can’t access the head of the brad nail you’re trying to remove, it’s probably because the nail was countersunk. But hiding your nails always makes the wood look better. In order to successfully countersink a brad nail yourself, you’re going to need something called a nail set. If you simply use a hammer to bury the nail into the wood, you’re likely going to end up damaging the wood you’re trying to highlight.

Click here to see this nail set on Amazon.

A nail set is a metal tool that tapers into a narrow point. The nail set can be hammered instead of the nail. All you need to do is fix the dimple on the end of the nail set into the brad nail, and then carefully tap the nail set with the hammer. Make sure the dimple on the nail set is the correct size for your brad nails.

How do you fix nails coming out of hardwood floors?

Real hardwood floors expand and contract as heat temperatures change. However, the nails securing your floor won’t budge, which causes them to stick out. This is referred to as a nail pop. The best way to fix a nail pop is to remove the nail altogether.

You won’t find any brad nails in hardwood flooring because they aren’t strong enough. But you can still use needle-nosed pliers to remove the nail pops. Just place a sturdy object next to each nail pop so that you can use that for leverage with the pliers. Otherwise, your pliers may smack against the floor as you’re prying the popped nail free.

In less severe cases, you might be able to use a nail set or center punch instead. Hammer the popped nail until it’s flush with the wood again. Then, countersink the nail as usual. The nailhead may damage the wood in most circumstances, so this only works if the pop was small. If you're installing a new floor, you may want to avoid using nails altogether. To learn how, you can read the post "Should You Glue Down Hardwood Floor?"

A man holding nails


Brad nails can end up being both useful and frustrating because of their unusually small size. However, wood is always a delicate thing to work with. It’s worthwhile to give wood special treatment, especially if it’s a DIY project with sentimental value.

If brad nails are sticking out, they probably damaged the wood, and they’re sharp enough to be unsafe. Now you know how to get rid of protruding brads, replace them, and properly clean up afterward.

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