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18 Gauge Brad Nailer VS 16 Gauge Nailer

Jack Gordon - March 16, 2019 - 0 comments

While talking about brad nailer, you usually come across a term called “Gauge”. Not all of us quite understand what it relates to.

In definitive form- Gauge relates to the size and capacity of metal. Well, in a brad nailer, the only piece of metal that is used is the nail itself. So, gauge refers to the size and head of the nail.

To be precise, the difference between differently sized gauges is of the head sizes and thinness of the nails.

For a beginner in woodworking, it is always overwhelming to find the right tool and product of use. Getting the right nail for finish project sounds like a simple task. It’s like walking down the nearest store and getting the highest-quality nail for the nailer, it is that simple, isn’t it?

Well, if you think so then you are wrong. Its not about the versatility of products available in the market but also about selecting the right product. Imagine if you end up buying a wrong gauge in nails then it will cost a lot than you have ever anticipated. You might have to bring new wood in the picture as well.

To start with, you will be asked if you require 16-gauge or 18-gauge. 18-gauge is thinner than 16-gauge which makes the former stronger in nature. Also, keep in mind that 16-gauge nails might just leave nasty teeth marks on the wood. Plus, they take their lovely time to get penetrated.

We cannot give you any plain answer on which one should you buy because these nails have different aim and motives to serve. You cannot replace one with another because that way, you won’t be able to ensure the rightness of the task. If you are just a hobbyist then better do your research before making a purchase because a professional knows what he needs.

The common piece of combat is between 16-gauge brad nail and 18-gauge brad nail. In this content piece, we will cover all the significant details about both of these and how they are different.

Table of Content

  • 16 Gauge Brad Nailer- Pros/Cons
  • 18 Gauge Brad Nailer- Pros/Cons
  • Which is Best Used with Brad Nailer?

16 Gauge Nailer

We recommend the WEN 61764 as our top choice for 16 gauge nailer.


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A 16-gauge nail is considered as finish nailer. They are thicker in profile and hold things better than a thin nail, which is relatively less reliable.

Of the two, 16-gauge is more popular because of its strength and avid usage. Of course, you cannot replace nails as per their standard usage, but finish nails are more prominently used than the other.

Another reason is that these nails are bigger in size and thicker and tends to hold the things together with better strength. Therefore, these nails are more fascinating to the buyers and most people that are unknown to the candid task that brad nail serves, they end up buying finish nails for every small-large project.

As we have said repeatedly, the demand of the task should decide the kind of nailer that it requires. For instance, if you are indulged in heavier projects such as the installation of baseboards or door frames then surely you need something with better holding power. The nails have to be wider in profile and longer to penetrate deeply in the wood.

Most importantly, when you punch the nail inside the wood, if there is a smaller head then it might just break down. Therefore, this generates the need for larger head as well. 16-gauge nails have a wider head, thicker profile and more strength to do the task right.

These nails are also helpful in projects such as putting together of furniture that might just take a bit of a beating and cabinet where using only glue will not suffice to hold things together. In such projects, the finest outlet is of using finish nails/16-gauge nails.

Lastly, you also might want to use these nails if there is an exterior trim to hang. This is mostly to reflect that exterior trim has to undergo more abuse of the environment and weather.


  • These are better at holding the thicker wood and for multiple professional projects
  • There is more strength to the nailer
  • The head is wider so that the nails can penetrate seamlessly
  • These can be used for heavier projects


  • These leave wide nail marks to hide
  • These are not suitable with delicate wood or for DIY tasks

18 Gauge Brad Nailer

We recommend the DEWALT DC608K as our top choice for 18 gauge brad nailer.


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Enough with heavy lifting because we need something special for the delicate tasks as well. Now, most of the nails are prone to leave a mark behind. However, sometimes we need something that does not leave a noticeable mark behind.

18-gauge is one such nail size that can conveniently penetrate through a thinner plank of wood and still not leave any trail behind. Basically, the hole is too small to be recognized easily in an easy glance. Also, you don’t have to make any extra efforts to conceal such holes.

For the delicate or simple DIY tasks, one can consider 18-gauge brad nailer because of its thinner profile and rigid holding capacity. Surely, the holding strength is not equivalent to 16-gauge nailer. Still, you can expect great justice from the nailer when smaller tasks are concerned.

The evident difference is in the holding power and more wear and tear caused while the job is done. This nail can be used for tasks such as crown moldings or with the wood and planks that are thin. With such wood type, harsh and bigger nails might just cause a tear and break the whole panel, especially at the ends.

If you wish to glue together the cabinets and need something to temporarily hold them together so that you can do the task then 18-gauge is an irreplaceable choice to make. These nails will hold the panels together till you glue them. Also, they will not leave teeth marks on the panel for you to conceal later. Check out this comprehensive guide for picking the best brad nailer for your work.

Which Is Best Used With Brad Nailer?

The straightforward answer is that 16-gauge nailer is best known as finish nailer. It is very different from the brad nailer. The 18-gauge nailer is ideal as a brad nailer.

These nails are available in large strips of 50-100 nails that can help you with undisturbed usage of the gun during the project.

If you have a specific job that needs you to buy finish nailer then your preferred choice of the gauge should be 16. Professionals recognize the difference between the two and they know the kind of nail that will be required for a specific task. Beginners, however have to make a thoughtful purchase.

The benefit of an 18-gauge nailer is that it creates smaller holes in the wood that are not very evident. It is also used for specific jobs that don’t require high-density nails.

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