16 or 18 gauge nailer for hardwood floor? [Answered]

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So, which is better: 16 or 18 gauge nailer for hardwood floor?

If you have decided to install hardwood floors in your home but you are not sure which gauge nail gun to use between 16 or 18 gauge nailer for hardwood floor, read this to the end.

Let us dive in.


16 or 18 gauge nailer for hardwood floor?

To kick us off, let us begin with a quick recap of these nails.

16 gauge nails are normally available in lengths ranging form ¾” to 2 ½” with a shank diameter of 0.063”-They are also known as finish nails.

On the other hand, 18 gauge nails are available in lengths ranging between ½” and 2 ½” with a shank diameter of 0.0475”. They are normally referred to as brad nails or simply brads.

As you can see, 18 gauge nails are much thinner than the 16 gauge nails. This means that the 18 gauge nails are less stronger hence have less powerful holds than the 16 gauge nails.

numax flooring nailer

Also, this makes the brad nails more suitable for more delicate projects such as decorative molding and paneling where a 16 gauge nail would simply be too thick to an extent of splitting the wood.

Now, for a deeper comparison on these 2 nails, read this post.

Now, back to our main topic: what gauge nails for hardwood flooring?

Short answer is 16 gauge nails. They are normally strong enough to fully penetrate the hardwood without bending and they also provide strong holds.

What’s more?

Finish nails have small heads making them perfect for flooring as they are usually flush driven, ensuring a cool aesthetic appearance when it comes to your floor.

In contrast, 18 gauge nails are not strong enough to penetrate standard hardwood floors – standard hardwood floors tend to have a thickness of ¾”.

Okay, they may penetrate ½” hardwood floors..that I don’t refuse.

However, it won’t take you long to wish you had used 16 gauge nails as your floors will begin working themselves loose in no time (Perhaps even squeak).



What size nails for ¾ hardwood flooring?

As a general rule of thumb, use 2” nails for solid hardwood floors.

However, you can use 1 ¾” nails for weaker hardwoods such as engineered hardwood flooring.


What size nail gun for flooring (what size nail gun for hardwood floors?)

As we have agreed from our discussion above, 16 gauge nailers are certainly the nailers to use for installing hardwood floors.

With that in mind, below are a few picks if you’d like to invest in a good nail gun for flooring:


Best nail gun for hardwood floors

NuMax pneumatic finish nailer

numax flooring nailer

This flooring nail gun is available on Amazon at an unbeatable price coupled with great value.

It is equipped with a no-mar tip assuring you that it won’t be leaving any dents on your newly completed floor.

From hard bamboo to maple to dried oak hardwood floors, this nailer is powerful enough to flush drive your nails like a charm.

And at just 4.5 pounds, this nailer is light enough so you won’t suffer fatigue in the event that you will be working with it for hours.


Dewalt electric 20V finish nailer

dewalt floor nailer

This hardwood floor nail gun fires nails ranging between 1 ¼” and 2 ½”.

We definitely loved that it comes with multi-functional LED lights that will help in diagnosing it in case it runs into problems.

This dewalt floor nailer is powered by a 20V max battery that is compatible with other cordless Dewalt products.

Above all, the battery has enough capacity to enable you fire your nails all day without having to recharge it.


Metabo HPT finish nailer

hardwood floor nail gun

To begin with, this will fire 16 gauge nails ranging between 1” and 2 ½” in length.

Most importantly, if you will be working in dusty places, then this might be the nailer you need-It has a blower function that will clean your surface right before nailing.

This ensures that you fire your nails without missing your mark.

And because it weighs only 3.7 pounds, you are guaranteed little to no fatigue even after long hours of working with it.


Bostitch Floor Nailer

what size nail gun for hardwood floors

We highly recommend this too if you’re a seasoned hardwood flooring installer- it works flawlessly majorly because it’s a dedicated hardwood floor nailer.

In fact, it’s probably all you need for any hardwood floor nailing job -it never jams or slows down even when you have thousands of sq. ft to nail down.

Side note: The above nail guns are only for firing 16 gauge nails. Therefore, they are not meant to fire flooring staples or cleats. However, they will do an excellent work just like flooring nailers.


What is the best nail gun for engineered hardwood flooring?

In our opinion, the NuMax pneumatic finish nailer is the best nail gun not only for engineered hardwood flooring  but also for the more hard solid hardwood floors.

Coming in at a great price, this nailer is powerful enough to flush drive nails even through ¾” dried oak and maple wood.


16 or 18 gauge nailer for hardwood floor – frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can you use a brad nailer for engineered hardwood floors?

For ½” engineered hardwood floors, yes, you can.

However, it will not take you long to wish you had used a 16 gauge nailer as the 18 gauge nails do not have strong holds and will therefore work your floor loose in no time.

That said, for ¾” flooring, the 18 gauge nails simply won’t penetrate.



If you have been wondering what kind of nail gun do I need for hardwood flooring, then the above comparison and tips will hopefully point you to the right direction.

Good luck in your flooring project.


Wondering how to install quarter round without a nail gun? Read this

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