The Different Types of Nail Gun

The hammer is a unique piece of equipment. I mean sure, you can use multiple different instruments to put a nail inside an object: a shovel, a boot, even a can of soup.

But honestly, nothing does the job quite well other than the good ole hammer. But when you have a project that requires a lot of nailing, doing it with just the hammer can be tedious, even tiresome. So here is where you invest in a Nail Gun.

A nail gun can save you muscle power and time so that you may focus on something more important. Now that you know that a nail gun is required for the job; the next question is which one?

There is no such thing as an all-purpose nail gun or a one size fits all. You would have to locate which nail gun you need that fits best with the task.

Different Types Of Nail Gun

When shopping around for a nail gun you must have a certain idea of which one is right for your job. There are currently 5 different types of nail guns:

  1. Framing
  2. Roofing
  3. Flooring
  4. Finishing and
  5. Brad Nailer

Each has its own responsibilities when it comes to nailing so let’s find out what they are.

Framing Nailer

The framing nailer is one that people choose, to begin with. It is the heaviest duty nailer of them all. This type of nailer has a rough design and is used commonly to frame wood for the structures of buildings.

It can also be used for building decks outside. Projects that involve plaster can also be used with a framing nailer due to the fact that hammering can crack and loosen plaster.

Roofing Nailer

The name of this next nail gun can speak for itself. Correct, the roofing nailer. It uses smaller (shorter) nails with a bigger (larger) nail head and is used for siding materials.

Another great use for this type of nail gun is for shingles. The larger head-shaped nails are what is requires when holding down soft fiberglass shingles.

Most of the roofing nailers have a dial setting to control the depth of the nail so that it will not drive it in far and cut the shingle.

Flooring Nailer

When you install a floor, one of the steps requires you to be on your hands and knees to nail down the floor in place. Well, that is what this beauty is for.

It can be used to make tongue and groove floorboards quick and easy. Using a flooring nailer that uses air pressure can make the job even simpler.

It does not require much force and over an extended period, the attrition rate is much less.

 Tip: Newer materials such as aluminum alloy and magnesium has helped tremendously with making these power tools lighter. 

Finishing Nailer

Another one whose name can speak for itself. This fine tool helps trim nailing. The nails that are used for this nailer are short nails that range from 14 to 16 gauge.

You can use this nail gun for cabinets, wood furniture, millwork, windows, door, caskets, and so much more. The reason that the finishing nailer is so important is that it is strong enough to keep larger pieces together, with the bonus of being so small that they can be put over them for a finished product.

 Tip: Many of the tools being made are made with an ergonomic design which can help the tool balance properly and makes it easier to grip. 

Brad Nailer

These nailers are also known as electric nail guns. They are lightweight nailers that can sometimes be used for nails as well as staples. Many people get this gun and the finisher confused.

The difference between the two is that the brad nailer is straight whereas the finisher has an angle clip of nails.

Also, the brad gun drives smaller 18 gauge nails while the finisher uses 16 gauge nails. The brad nailer offers a switchable sequential trip or contact, and a tool-free depth drive adjustment.

 Tip: Adjusting the depth of a nail no longer requires you having to adjust the air compressor. 


A cordless nail gun is one that does not require a hose or a compressor. Some use a fuel cell to shoot the nails out which requires that you replace it every 500 nails or so.

These are basically just selling the fact that it is cordless and so that the cord won’t be in the way. It is expensive though but sometimes you get what you pay for.

According to Powering Your Nail Gun


A gas-powered nail gun uses a fuel cell with a battery that is rechargeable. It uses gas and an air explosion in a small containment unit that pushes the nail out directly. It does not require a hose, cord, or compressor which makes it a stand-alone tool and very convenient.

Air Powered

An air-powered nail gun uses compressed air to drive nails into the work. Unlike gas-powered, it is cheaper and a more convenient and powerful method to power your nail gun.

Electric Powered

An electric-powered nail gun is the simplest. It uses a rotating electric motor to gradually compress a spring and suddenly release it.

 Tip: The most common firing mechanism would have to be the dual-action contact-trip trigger. It requires the trigger and nose both be depressed for a nail to be discharged. 

Check out this awesome article about Air power tools vs. Electric power tools


The different types of nail guns are just like a project. There is a beginning, middle, and end. Each of these nail guns has a specific purpose.

They are all something that every carpenter should have in his nifty bag of tricks. If you are missing one, then you are missing out.

With technology advancing each year, the times of nail and hammer are over. It is the era of nail guns and we have no intention of going back anytime soon.