Nail Gun Types & Features

Framing Nailer vs. Finish Nailer

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 Finish Nailer vs Framing Nailer

Nail guns have changed the DIY and home industry in a very positive way in the last 10 years. These easy to operate and powerful tools have raised productivity for a number of nailing applications. This is mainly because there is now an assortment of specifically designed nailers to fit your nailing needs.


These time saving tools can be used for driving nails into a number of surfaces; wood, concrete or even metal surfaces. Gone are the days when all you need is a hammer and a bunch of nails to complete a job.

These days, there are several types of nail guns designed for specific uses from framing to finishing and everything in between.

Nail guns can save you serious time and money on your next project. However, not knowing what type of nail gun to use can make or break not only your project but also the bank. There are several ways to make  life easier when choosing which tool to purchase. Here you can learn the best way to narrow down your options.

Each one has its own job. So, how do you know which one should be used for each different application? Read on!

Types of Nailers

There are generally six categories of nail guns – framing nailers, finishing nailers , brad nailers, roofing nailers, flooring and the least common palm nailer. We are going to cover 2 of these nail guns in more detail than the rest hence the title Framing Nailer vs Finishing Nailer but lets touch on the rest.

Framing nailers are often used for large wood projects like sheathing, wood siding or fence building. Finishing nailers, on the other hand, are for lighter work like furniture building, moldings or installing cabinets.

framing nailer vs finish nailer

If you need a little more precision, then staplers or tackers will do the trick. Flooring and roofing nailers are intended for what they’re named after, to install hardwood floors and apply roof shingles, consecutively.

Palm nailers are a little bit more specialized and often used for tight spaces.

For first time users or beginners, it can be quite confusing to know which one to use for what since some manufacturers make nail guns that are a little bit more versatile.

Oftentimes, I see hacks or less experienced people in the industry make the mistake of interchanging framing for finishing nailers. Keep reading to learn more about the differences in these types of nail guns

Framing Nailer vs Finish Nailer

Framing Nailer

A framing nailer is often used to handle large wood works or projects. This could mean building decks, framing houses or constructing a room.

This type of nail gun is used for framing, wood siding, fence building, wood sheathing and major carpentry work. This is often the heaviest duty nailer. It will accommodate nails up to 3 ½ inches to join 2 x 4s.

This nailer comes in two varieties – clipped head and round head. For projects that require high volume, the clipped head nailer is the one that should be used

A clipped head nailer can hold more nails. On the other hand, a round head nailer can accommodate fewer nails but, unlike the clipped head, it is not restricted by certain building codes. If you think a framing gun is the tool you need I urge you to take a peek at this article on framing guns. It’s loaded with detailed information and you can see for yourself which nailers are the best.

Finish Nailer

On the other hand, a finish nailer is more for lighter projects. It is often used for “finishing” a job or for projects that require a little bit more aesthetics. One thing you want to avoid is using the wrong tools for the job. It can be a costly mistake.


You should use a finishing nailer for trim work, baseboards, paneling, smaller crowns and interior moldings. A finishing nailer is also best used for building furniture or cabinets.

It often has a smaller imprint on the wood so there is not much filling that needs to be done.

A finishing nailer uses shorter, lighter gauge nails that are shorter in length as well. Typically, this type of nail gun can accommodate 14 to 16 gauges from 1 to 2 ½ inch nails.

Although each nail gun has its specific uses, both can come in air compression and cordless nailers. To check out some of the latest cordless finish nailers check this video out.

The type of nail gun you need will depend entirely on the type of job you will be doing. If you will be working with frames, sheaths or any other heavy-duty, high volume wood work, then the framing nailer is your best option.

However, if you want to finish a job with trimmings, moldings and crowns then go with the finishing nailer. Ultimately, creating a framing nailer vs. finish nailer list is not advisable since each is used for an entirely different job. With so many options and features one way to help you decide on which gun is best for you is to use a comparison chart  like the one linked here.

If your still wondering which tool fits your needs or have any other nail gun questions we would love to hear about them below. Drop us a comment below or visit us on social media.


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