Types of Nail Guns

During your ventures as a DIYer or a professional, sooner or later, you will run into tasks, requiring you to drive nails into wood or other materials. However, did you know that you can drive nails more effectively by resorting to a nail gun instead of a hammer and there are a lot of types of nail guns according to the project you’ll be working on?

There are various types of nail guns out there, each of which has its own applications in specific domains. Not surprisingly, there is more than one way we can categorize these nails guns. For instance, they could be categorized based on their applications, or how they are powered.

In our guide below, we will dive deep into everything that you need to know about different types of nail guns. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

How Do Nail Guns Work?

Types of Nail Guns

Before we get down to the central theme of this topic, let’s quickly go over how actually do nail guns work.

Well, the basic principle behind the working of a nail gun is the bursts of power on a piston, that, then drive the nails into the concerned material. These bursts of power can be produced in three ways:

Through Rechargeable Batteries

The nail guns, powered by rechargeable batteries, are called cordless nail guns.

Although out of the three sources of power, batteries are the weakest, these cordless nail guns are quite easy to use due to their lightweight.

Through Compressed Air

The nail guns, which use compressed air to function, are called pneumatic nailers. They are the cheapest and most widely used nail guns.

However, using it can be inconvenient due to the fact that air compressors are bulky, require a constant supply of compressed air, and have a pipe lying around at all times.

Through Gas

Of the three options, the power generated by gas is the greatest. However, gas-powered nail guns are expensive and have can cause safety hazards.

There are two ways we can categorize nail guns into different types; either based on how the nails are loaded into the gun or the applications.

If we talk about the former, we have two types of nail guns, namely, Coil-Style Nail Guns and Strip-Style Nail Guns.

Coil-Style Nail Guns

Coil-Style Nail Guns

These types of nail guns function by joining all the nails together with wires. These wires are then turned into coils. The magazines of coil-style nail guns can hold around 300-350 nails.

With such a large capacity of nails, coil-style nail guns are ideal if you want to work constantly, without having to reload again and again. Furthermore, since the magazine of these guns remain intact while you work, you will find them much easier to use, especially at tight corners.

Strip-Style Nail Guns

When it comes to strip-style nail guns, they work by holding nails together through paper, plastic, or wires. The magazines of these nail guns have the capacity of around 20-40 nails.

Unlike coil-style nail guns, the magazine of a strip-style nail gun can jut out of the gun, making it difficult to use in tight corners.

However, with strip-style nail guns, you are able to drive nails more accurately than coil-style nail guns as the magazines of the former ensure that the weight of the nail is evenly distributed.

On top of that, if you are on a budget, then these nails guns are your choice as they are far cheaper than their coil-style counterparts.

Having said that, let’s go over the different types of nail guns, based on their applications:

Types of Nail Guns Based on Applications

Brad Nailer

Brad Nailer

The smallest type of nail gun out there, a brad nailer is used mainly for working on light furniture, carpet, and cabinet. So, it is ideal for constructors to finish up their work.

This gun is compatible with 15-, 16-, as well as 18- gauge nails. Hence, apart from the aforementioned applications, a bard nailer can also be used for trim work on window casings, doors, and baseboards.

Finish Nailer

Apart from brad nailer, finish nailer is another type of nail gun that you can use for a variety of woodworking projects, like trim work, baseboards, and more.

Although unlike a brad nailer, due to its larger holding power, a finish nailer can work with larger pieces of wood as well, its compatibility is restricted to nails of 14- and 16-gauge.

Framing Nailer

Next up we have a framing nailer, which is a heavy-duty nail gun, that is most suitable for framing wood in large-scale construction tasks.

Nails of up to 3-1/2’’ can be handled easily by this nail gun. These nails are important for building rooms, decks, siding, and more.

The majority of framing nailers allow you to change the contact tip and the sequential, as well as the depth of the instrument.

There are two types of framing nailers, namely round heads and clipped heads. The former can hold fewer nails as compared to the latter so the latter is quite useful in high-volume projects.

Palm Nailer

Palm Nailer

Powered by an air compressor, a palm nailer is the lightest of all nail gun types. Since you can hold it in your palm, it is quite convenient to use and allows for fast drilling of nails.

If you are dealing with nails of up to 6 inches, and you are dealing with corners, ceilings, or edges, a palm nailer is your go-to option.

Flooring Nailer

A flooring nailer is designed specifically for laying floorboards and stands out from other nail gun types, due to its outlook.

When compared with toenailing, flooring nailer allows for a much quicker and efficient job.

Apart from normal floorboards, you are also able to make groove and tongue floorboards with this nail gun as well.

Roofing Nailer

Similar to a flooring nailer, a roofing nailer is also designed specifically for a certain job. In this case, that job is to drive nails in a new roof.

Due to the impressive speed with which they drive nails into roofs, roofing nailers are often used by professional contractors and roofers.

You can also use a roofing nailer on asphalt shingles but be sure to keep the shingles under control. Else, the power of the gun will overpower the shingles.

The three types of roofing nailer are namely, pneumatic, spring-loaded, and solenoid.

Pin Nailer

For working on smaller projects, like birdhouses, tiny trims, or small crates, and finishing them with utmost precision, a pin nailer is the perfect nail gun.

With the ability to accommodate up to 23 different gauges, this nail gun can either be with or without the head.

Siding Nailer

Siding Nailer

Siding nailer, as its name suggests, is used for installing sidings, whether these are the sidings of two thin pieces of wood or a wood mount and other materials.

Due to its design, it is more compatible with larger woods as compared to smaller ones.

It is worth mentioning that some of the siding nailers can be used on aluminum nails (of around 1-1/4″ – 2-1/2, with wider heads) so you can install aluminum siding with them.

Due to the soft tip and the right power level of the tool, you can use it to install both soft and hard siding.

Staple Gun

A staple gun, unlike all the other nail guns, drives staples into the materials, instead of nails.

It can be used for a variety of applications, including carpentry, fixing carpets to walls or floors, and other home repair tasks.

While it is true that a staple gun is not as powerful as any other nail gun, it has advantages of its own; for instance, the material, you use a staple gun on, doesn’t require any oil to function nor does it bear any visible marks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Framing Nailer

Do All Nail Guns Require a Compressor?

No, as mentioned above. There are three ways through which, a nail gun can be powered; the battery-powered and the gas-powered nail guns do not require a compressor.

What Pressure Do I Need for Nail Gun?

When using an air compressor to power your nail gun, you are likely going to require 70 to 90 PSI for smooth functioning.

Do I Need a Regulator for a Nail Gun?

If you are using an air compressor, yes, you do need an inline regular.


And that brings to an end our detailed guide on types of nail guns.

To reiterate, based on how they are loaded, nail guns can be categorized into coil-style and strip-style nail guns. These nail guns have sub-categories based on their uses; some of the sub-categories include brad nailer, palm nailer, and finish nailer.

Lastly, the type of nail gun, that suits you the best, depends upon your budget, your preference, as well as your specific needs.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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