Brad Nailer vs Framing Nailer: What’s The Difference?

Welcome to my article about brad nailers vs framing nailers!

For the uninitiated, these two nail guns look similar, but any seasoned woodworker will tell you otherwise.

Below I’m going to go through the uses, pros, cons, differences and similarities between a brad nailer and a framing nailer, so you can decide which one is right for your next project.

But first, a brief summary and a comparison table for those who want a quick answer!

Brad Nailer vs Framing Nailer: Quick Summary

A brad nailer shoots thin 18 gauge nails that are hard to see, and is perfect for delicate work such as crown molding, cabinetry and woodcrafting. A framing nailer typically shoots larger 14 – 16 gauge nails and is more suited to high volume, heavy duty work that requires a lot of nails such as wooden housing frames, fencing and decking.

Brad Nailer vs Framing Nailer: Comparison Table

Brad Nailer
Framing Nailer
Product Image
Nail Type
18 Gauge
14-16 Gauge
Hole Size
Tiny, barely noticeable
Larger, sometimes needs putty to fill
Best For
Light duty work
Heavy duty work
Suitable for temporary work?
Noise Level
Ease of use
Typical Applications
Baseboards, crown moldings, finishing jobs, trim carpentry, small DIY jobs, putting together furniture.
Fencing, framing, decking, more robust DIY projects

Brad Nailer

What is a Brad Nailer?

example of a brad nailer in use
Example of a Brad Nailer

Even thought it operates like a nail gun, a brad nailer is unlike most guns in the market today as it doesn’t shoot nails. Instead, it drives brads.

Essentially, these are thin nails, averaging ½ inch to 2 inches long, and are very narrow, around 0.0475 inches in cross-section.

This is what differentiates it from a framing nailer.

A brad nailer is one of the most common power tools found in any woodworking shop.

It is designed to drive 18-gauge, fine-wire brad nails which can be difficult to do so manually. Mostly powered by electricity, brad nailers allow you to shoot these nails easily.

Uses for a Brad Nailer

Brad nailers provide a wide array of uses, from detailed woodwork and trimming to general house maintenance and DIY projects.

Brad nails have minuscule heads, if any at all, making them ideal for finishing works.

They are almost invisible when driven into wood so the need for putty to conceal them is very minimal.

A brad nailer is ideal for installing baseboards, crown moulding, finishing jobs, trim carpentry, and many other woodworking projects.

A brad nailer is also helpful in home improvement projects such as hanging curtains, draperies, installing hardwood flooring, or tiles inside of your house.

They can also be used when putting together simple furniture such as desks, drawers, and many others.

Pros and Cons of a Brad Nailer

Like any tool out there, there are advantages and disadvantages to one. Here are the pros and cons of a brad nailer:


For woodworking, brad nailers are heaven-sent. With them, you can create finishing work on a wooden object that’s precise and accurate.

You can nail delicate trimmings and mouldings with ease.

Brad nailers are also the most suitable for attaching anything temporarily as they leave little to no hole at all, unlike traditional nails.


Brad nailers are excellent for detailed work, but not for heavier tasks. Brad nailers cannot do the job of holding large boards and heavy wood.

They won’t be able to drive through thick woods or hold heavier workpieces.

Framing Nailer

What is a Framing Nailer?

example of a framing nailer
Example of a Framing Nailer

Sometimes called a framing gun or a nail gun, a framing nailer is a pneumatic tool used to drive heavy nails in home or building framing.

Professionals in the construction business use this heavy-duty power tool to hammer huge nails into hard materials.

It is a staple when doing massive construction works that simple guns or hammers can’t do.

As opposed to a brad nailer, a framing nailer has the capability to shoot a large number of nails ranging in size from 1-1/4 to 3-1/2 inches long.

This increases the productivity in construction work and as such, will require more force as it uses bigger nails than the brad nailer.

Uses of a Framing Nailer

While brad nailers are used mainly for small jobs that need precision, framing nailers are designed for heavier work.

They are suitable for larger projects such as fencing, deck building, sub-flooring, roof sheathing, and as the name suggests, framing.

They can also be used for DIY and home improvement projects like putting together a headboard, bed, room extensions, and many more.

Pros and Cons of a Framing Nailer

While a framing nailer is a handy tool to have in your workshop, there are some things it cannot do.

Here and the pros and cons of a framing nailer:


Framing nailers are built to connect big boards easily and quickly. They get the job done faster than any other tool there is. Thus, a framing nailer saves you time, money, and energy.

Also, it has the power to drive 100 nails in the wall in an incredibly short amount of time, something that manual hammering won’t be able to match.


A framing nailer’s main disadvantage is that it requires a dedicated resource like a compressor to have you working continuously.

In addition, since it uses strong power when working, it produces a high level of noise.

Brad Nailer vs Framing Nailer: Which one should you choose?

All in all, a brad nailer is suitable for smaller tasks, and a framing nailer is suitable when you need to drive a huge number of nails into thick materials.

Also, while you can use brad nailers for delicate, precise work, a framing nailer is only be suitable for jobs that don’t require as much accuracy and are more robust.

As we’ve seen how a brad nailer is different from a framing nailer, I hope you can now see that the choice on which one is right for you depends on what projects you’re working on.

In saying that, if you do woodworking often, there’s nothing wrong with having both in your toolshed! That way you’ll always have the right nail gun on hand no matter what project you’re working on.

Here are some other articles you may also enjoy:

Nails vs Screws for Framing
Pin Nailer vs Brad Nailer