What is a Brad Nailer and What Situations to Use It In

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A brad nailer is a very common and powerful tool used for home improvement or DIY assignments. You can also use it for your carpentry projects, attaching trims, or pieces of furniture.

You’ll find that a brad nailer is the perfect tool to help in a variety of projects, and we go through the details about which type and features you’ll need.

What is a Brad Nailer?

A brad nailer is a nail gun that’s often used to attach wood cuts to wood works and small stick moldings together. It’s an electric tool that’s designed to fire 18 gauge brads into wood for securing.

The best brad nailers available are highly versatile when it comes to nail accommodations, and can handle a variety of projects.

Brad nails are very small and have a thin head, making it almost invisible on the wood surface. This means you won’t even have to refill the holes with wood filler.

However, to make sure that it works as expected, you need to get the right one, especially when it comes to maintenance, ease of use, and nail length accommodations. This will ensure better performance and also prolong its usage.

Close up of a brad nail head

Brad Nailer Types

There are currently two brad nailer types available – electric brad nailer and pneumatic brad nailer.

Electric Brad Nailer

This type of brad nailer comes with an electric motor that can drive gauge nails through the wooden materials. By default, it tends to be heavier than its counterpart because of the bulky motor. However, despite being heavy, it’s quite effective and efficient in getting the job done faster.

When you use this type of nailer, it’s important to have a first aid kit as it can cause injury if handled incorrectly. Electric brad nailers are more on the expensive side as compared to pneumatic nailers.

However, in the long run, the electric variety tends to be more cost-effective as it requires less maintenance.

There are two models of electric nailers available – corded models and the cordless models. A corded nailer is powered by connecting it to an electric outlet through an extension cord. However, they’re rarely available nowadays.

Contrary to the electric version, the cordless nailer comes with a Li-ion rechargeable battery that has an acceptable run time before recharging again.


Electric nailers are quite easy to use and maintain. With vast improvements over the years, the cordless version is packed with more power and it’s generally preferred by professionals.

The rechargeable batteries have also become much lighter and smaller so that it’s more portable and gives it the capacity to last for an acceptable hour. You can even purchase extra batteries for backup.

Brad nailers excel because of the small pin head that they have, whether you opt for an electric or pneumatic version.

Unlike even the best pin nailers available, who don’t have any pin head, brad nails afix to wood a lot better than pin nailers​,. This makes them a​really good power tool option for projects such as:

It isn’t good for lighter projects either where a crown stapler would be a better suited option.

Close up of a brad nailer working on wood


If you go for corded nailers, you’ll be limited by the cord length and the outlet placements. As for the cordless version, you may be limited by its battery life and strength.

Electric nailers are also not widely preferred for heavy tasks like framing and roofing as they can’t offer the same pressure as pneumatic nailers. You can find some models available for heavy tasks but such models aren’t as readily available as their air-pressured counterparts.

In many of these situations, opting for a pin nailer instead might be better.

Pneumatic Brad Nailer

This nailer variety uses compressed air to function. It has a lightweight hose that operates the compressor. Pneumatic nailers are quite popular as they help workers in producing a clean and professional finish.

Just like the electric nailer, it’s important to handle pneumatic brad nailers with care to prevent injuries. There are a variety of pneumatic nailers in the market, so pick one that your work requires.

They’re quite cheap compared to electric nailers, but they require a lot of maintenance over time.


Pneumatic nailers are very powerful and are capable of driving thick, long nails through heavy materials. This makes them a perfect option for heavy tasks like roofing your sheds, flooring, and framing.

They’re also quite versatile and are available in various designs for different job types, especially for ones that require a delicate and detailed finishing like a finish nailer.

They’re easy to maintain and clean as well, and their simple design makes them easy to adjust. These nailer types are very durable as they’re designed for heavy use. With proper care and maintenance, you can actually prolong their durability.


Since pneumatic nailers are very powerful, it can be dangerous to use them without proper experience and caution. When you don’t know how to handle it properly, you risk the chance of hurting yourself.

That’s not to say that accidents occur due to a design flaw, they’re actually easy to use because of their simple build, even for beginners on their first DIY project.

As you depend on an air hose and air compressor to use this type of nailer, it might limit you from moving freely. If you work in a large space, you’ll have to carry the compressor with you all the time, making it less portable than electric nailers.

For something lighter and temporary, a quality crown stapler might do the job for you. Other than that, if want to indulge in similar projects involving furniture, you also might want to look into a great quality staple gun for upholstery.

Brad Nail Gun Maintenance

Just like any other machine, brad nailers require care and maintenance to ensure that they last long and work efficiently.

Given below are some tips to make sure that your brad nailer remains as functional as a new one:

Brad nailer lying on its side


The metallic moving parts in your brad nailer needs to be lubricated regularly to prevent the parts from getting jammed or clogged.

The air hose must also be lubricated to ensure proper nail firing. Also, remember to use lubricants for pneumatic nailers as other oils can spoil the rubber parts.

Storage and Environmental Exposure

Avoid exposing your nailers in places that have salt content and high moisture. Exposing tools in coastal regions would lead to corrosion and stop them from functioning.

When you’re not using the nailer, always store it in an air-tight case and don’t keep it in cold places.

Use with Care

If you use it properly, it’ll last a long time. Make sure you follow the instructions in the manual.

If you use the pneumatic nailer, make sure you use the right operating pressure as it can cause damage you’re not careful.

Also, check if the size of the nail and the air compressor are right for it. As for electric nailers, always check the expiry date of its battery.

Brad nail sizes

Tighten Screws and Bolts

You need to tighten the bolts and screws every month to make sure that its parts function well. They tend to loosen up with each use because of the constant vibrations.

Always check for any loose ends to make sure that the parts don’t fall off when you’re using it and thus preventing you from injuries.


Whether you opt for a pneumatic nailer or an electric nailer, both of the tools have powerful capabilities that’ll help in making your task much easier.

Electric brad nailers are preferred mostly for their portability and ease of use while pneumatic nailers are preferred when heavy tasks are involved.

Both types have their own drawbacks, but you can easily work around it. Ultimately, it all comes down to your personal preference and the type of projects you need it for.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.