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Now, there are two types of nailers that are pretty popular out there- 16 gauge and 18 gauge..
But people do not seem to agree on which among the two is best for attaching baseboards..
And that is where this article comes in: We will compare the two in deeper detail and by the time you’re done reading it, the question of what to use -either 16 or 18 gauge nailer for baseboard- will no longer be bothering you.
Let’s get started:
16 Or 18 Gauge Nailer for Baseboard – which way?
Here is the short answer: For baseboard installation, it is best to use 16 gauge nailer over the 18 gauge brad nailer.
That is the truth and I know some might disagree- painters will especially disagree because of reasons you will understand shortly.
So, why am I taking the 16 gauge finish nail gun side when it comes to the 16 or 18 gauge nailer for baseboard fastening debate?
Well, here are the key reasons why I would use 16 ga finish nailer for most baseboard works:
This is my number 1 why…
Now, from what I have seen, the 16ga finish nails usually hold base better since they have ‘more’ head on top compared to 18ga brads (these are not only narrower in diameter but also have a tinier head).
Keep in mind that the dimensions of the two nails fired by these nailers are as follows:
16 gauge finish nails
|Diameter||Shank length (nominal)|
18 gauge brad nails
The crucial takeaway from the above tables is that compared to 16 ga finish nails, 18 gauge nails are smaller (in diameter) thus they typically provide less holding strength.
It has to be said that you will get a more cleaner look (due to 18ga brad’s slimmer dimensions) than 16ga finish nails but for the most part, you need more holding strength for baseboards than they give.
Just to be clear, 16 gauge nails are more of a toothpick (in thickness) while 18ga brads are almost like a needle!
Here is another possible why..
Your brad nailer might be limited
Depending on the range of nail length your brad nailer shoots, it might be limited.
For instance, if your baseboard is 3/4″ and the wallboard is 1/2″(at least), you obviously need nails 2″ (or longer) to fasten the base adequately.
I should add that 18ga brad nailer usually fires fasteners between 3/4” to 2-1/2” in lengths – that explains why it all depends on your nailer brand.
Angled or Straight Finish Nailer for Baseboards
Now that we have agreed that you will go with it for baseboards, there is some important information you need to be aware of as regards the 16 ga finish nail gun.
And the most basic point is that companies make them in two styles: angled and straight.
So, should you go angled (like the wonderful Dewalt 16 gauge angled finish nailer) or straight (like the popular Makita 16ga finish nail gun)?
Here is what I suggest: If you are new to these kinds of nailers, just know that the angled type is easier to get into tighter spots (go this way if you will often be nailing in more tight spots).
Otherwise, the straight one will work just fine.
Can I use 15 gauge nailer for baseboard?
The other finish nailer you can get is the 15ga finish nailer and it is good to know if you can as well use it for baseboards..
Well, some people do use it and 15 ga nails actually have the best holding power among the three nailers we have so far considered as they use larger nails.
In a nutshell, you can pretty much use a 15 ga nailer, with 2½-inch nails to fasten base that is ¾ thick(you can definitely go for longer nails, depending on the thickness of the base you’re installing).
But there is one major weakness that makes me discourage the use of the 15 gauge nailer for base:
You see, 15 ga nails always leave bigger holes than 16 gauge finish nailers (they have a much fuller head).
And that means you will have to fill all your nail holes – in other words, you have to come back for some filling work once you’re done attaching baseboards.
Remember that this is not necessary if you’d have just used 16 ga nails (and the 16 ga finish nailer, for that matter) because you’ll have tiny holes (they have way smaller heads).
So, in short, if you go the 15 ga nailer route, painters won’t be impressed by you- not at all.
Turning to the available styles, 15 ga finish nailers are all angled.
Where exactly should you use 18ga brad nailer?
The 18ga brad nailer is, in general, ideal for projects like light decorative trim, small moldings (it’s great for shoe mold), hobby crafting, cabinet/drawer repairs, nailing casing to jambs, and the like.
Simply put, it is a nailer for small things /thinner pieces- and remember that it is unlikely to split pieces because it’s quite slim.
I should add that 18ga nailers come in one style: straight.
A word about using 18 gauge brad nailer for baseboard
If you insist on trying the 18 ga brad nailer for baseboards- probably it is what you have and you don’t want to spend on yet another nailer- then you could but on one condition: your walls must be straight!
To put it in black and white, if you are nailing into straight walls (check if the baseboards will sit flush), then 18ga nails will likely be enough.
In fact, the caulk might hold your boards almost more than nails.
On the other hand, if you happen to have gaps in some spots between your wall and boards, then whip out your 16ga finish nailer plus the longest nail and try to press it flush.
16 Or 18 Gauge Nailer for Baseboard – Recap
Overall, the best nailer to use for baseboards is 16ga straight finish nailer.
Bear in mind that the angled one is for tight spots and may not have any other major advantage over the straight-style finish nailer.
15 Gauge Vs 16 Gauge Finish Nailer
Brad nail vs Finishing nail: Which would be better?