What Size Brad Nails Do I Need? [By Type Of Project]

Whether you are adding trim to spruce up an older home or laying down a new hardwood floor, the materials and tools you use will play an important role in the final result. You may be wondering what size brad nails you will need for your projects. We have thoroughly investigated this question for you and have found some answers!

Brad nails typically are sold as 18 gauge steel wire nails that range in length from 5/8 inch to 2 inches. Here are the sizes you need, depending on the project:

  • Use 1-inch nails for the door trim and crown molding.
  • Use 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch nails for shiplap and hardwood flooring perimeter.
  • Use 1 1/4 inch nails for quarter round (with typical 3/4 inch thickness), shoe molding, trim molding over laminate floors, and plywood flooring.
  • Use a size less than 2 inches for paneling, typically 1 inch to 1 5/8 inches.
  • Use shorter nails for board and batten. Less than 1 1/5 inches is ideal.

That's quite a list! We'll break down each project and explore what size nails you need for each one. Keep reading as we discuss jobs that brad nails are best suited for and what role you can expect them to play in your next project.

A man using a nail gun to install the trim, What Size Brad Nails Do I Need? [By Type Of Project]

When Should You Use Brad Nails?

Brad nails are nails that, like their cousins, the finish nail, are used to, as the name implies, finish projects. They are similar in appearance to finish nails and do have similar functions in that they are both used to accent and trim homes.

Though they are often compared, and there can be overlap in the projects they are used in, the difference in the size and shape of these nails lends themselves to different applications. Many professionals will use both in a single job to accomplish different effects.

A worker using red colored nail gun to shoot nails to wooden framing

Brad nails should be used whenever a lighter touch is required, for inside trim, birdhouses, or any other area where there is a concern for splitting wood. Their thinner gauge makes them a great fit for perimeter work, and smaller pieces may not be painted over or where using putty to fill in the holes is not ideal.

Is A 16 gauge Or 18 Gauge Nail Bigger?

The gauge of a nail refers to the thickness. The larger the gauge, the thinner the nail. Gauge decreases as nail thickness increases. For sturdier jobs, like those that would need to bear weight or thicker pieces of wood, use a thicker gauge like that of a finish nail.

Finish nails will come in 15 or 16-inch gauge, bigger, thicker nails than brad nails that come in the thinner 18 gauge. Many experts say that brad nail hole sizes are one of the great advantages to using this type of nail since they are very hard to spot in the finished product.

Is A Brad Nailer Good For All Sizes Of Brad Nails?

Since a brad nail usually only comes in 18 gauge, you can expect to use the same brad nailer for any nails up to 1 1/4 inch in length. If you need to use the longer nails, you want to invest in a brad nailer that specifies using nails up to 2 inches.

This versatile brad nailer shoots the more commonly used up to 1 1/4 inch nails and is a combined stapler.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This brad nailer is an example of a nailer that can drive up to 2-inch nails. The depth can be adjusted without tools for quick setup.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

What Size Brad Nails For Door Trim?

To frame a  doorway, the best practice is to use a mixture of finish nails, glue. Brad nails are then used to pin down the trim at junctures. Use 1-inch Brads for door trim.

What Size Brad Nails For Shiplap?

Shiplap is wood planks that have been grooved so that they can be fitted together, resulting in a warm, rustic appearance. Though they are fitted pieces, they are installed much in the same way and with the same nails as a baseboard.  To install, use 1 1/2 -2-inch brad nails.

What Size Brad Nails For Crown Molding?

For crown molding, you will be using a mix of finish nails and glue. Like doorway trim, brad nails are used to pin down the corners. To install crown molding 1-inch, brad nails are the right size.

See these 1-inch brads on Amazon.

What Size Brad Nails For Cabinets And Cabinet Trim?

If you have a finish nailer, it is recommended to use that for cabinets and leave the brad nailer for the trim. If your cabinet is non or low-weight bearing, it would be acceptable to use a brad nailer.

Since cabinets and their trim can range in thickness, it is recommended to follow the general rule here for nail size. Multiply the thickness of the wood by three to get the general size of nail you need.

It is important to note that you should not use brad nails on any weight-bearing parts of the cabinet as the nails bend easily and are not constructed to bear weight. Brad nails are an excellent option to pin corners or connect trim on doors of cabinets.

These brad nails are galvanized to create a stronger nail and are a good choice for cabinet construction.

Click here to see these on Amazon.

What Size Brad Nails For Quarter Round?

Most quarter round is installed with finish nails. To avoid having to use putty to fill in holes, some professionals do use brad nails. To install quarter round, use nails that are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in length, depending on the thickness of the material.

See this example of quarter-round molding on Amazon.

What Size Brad Nails For 3/4 Round?

3/4 quarter round refers to a measurement of quarter round. Experts say to install this size; you would want to use a 1 1/4-inch brad nail.

What Size Brad Nails For Laminate Beading?

Laminate beading or scotia is used over laminate floors. It is more commonly referred to as shoe molding, trim molding, or the more rounded quarter round in the states.

When installing this transition over laminate floors, make sure that you leave a small gap so that there is room to contract and expand. Avoid nailing the beading directly into the floor.

Use 1 1/4-inch nails for this type of work.

What Size Brad Nails For Board and Batten?

Boards and battens add texture and variety to any trim scheme. When installing this type of trim, it is important to use the shortest nails possible, depending on the thickness of your material. You want to use shorter nails to avoid accidentally hitting any wiring in the walls. Use nails under 1 1/2 inches in length for the best results.

What Size Brad Nails For Hardwood Flooring?

As with many woodworking jobs, hardwood flooring is best installed with two different nail types. While the majority of a wood floor should be nailed down with a traditional flooring nailer, brad nails are great to use to pin down the perimeter. For this, you would want to use the 1.5 to 2-inch length nails.

It is important to note that you would want to use flooring nails for most of the job if the sub-flooring is too thick. If you are using a relatively thin, under 3/4 of an inch subfloor, you may use your brad nailer for the complete floor installation.

See these 2-inch brad nails on Amazon.

What Size Brad Nails For Plywood (1/4 and 1/2 inch)?

For thicker plywood, you would not want to use a brad nailer. It is recommended to use a framing nailer. For thinner plywood, 1/4 inch in thickness, or the more common 1/2 inch plywood, brad nails have an advantage since they will not risk splitting the wood. Use a 1 1/4-inch nail.

See these 1 1/4 inch nails on Amazon.

What Size Brad Nails For Paneling?

When nailing paneling, there are nails specifically suited for this work called panel nails. Though this may be the case, the brad nailer is a popular tool for paneling as well, and there is no need to go out and buy another nailer or type of nails if you have your brad nails on hand.

While paneling a new wall can be done with 1-inch nails, a longer nail will be needed especially when nailing through older walls. Think 1 and 5/8 inches long. As always, pay extra attention to where electrical lines may be in the wall and use a nail that is under 2 inches for safety.

A man using a nail gun to nail into the wall in the window frame

Use Brad Nails For a Clean Look To Your Finished Project

Now that you know what size brad nail you need for your various projects use these nails anytime you want an invisible touch to your work. These versatile nails can be used from everything from hanging pictures to pinning down a hardwood floor. Use brad nails for delicate trim and nailing accents in place for projects that will look great for years to come.

For more reading on other projects, see the following:

What Nails Should I Use For Wood Siding?

Do You Glue Or Nail Crown Molding?

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