Blind nailing vs face nailing- which is the right technique?

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Wondering whether to blind nail or face nail? Our blind nailing vs face nailing insights will help you make the right decision for your next project..

So, should you blind nail or face nail?

Well, short answer: it depends on the project.

We wrote this blind nailing vs face nailing  guide to point you in the right direction.

Read to the end.

First, the basics:

Blind nailing vs face nailing- the preliminaries

Some readers are new to the two terms and still lost about what exactly each means.

This section is for you, if you’re yet to wrap your head around these increasingly common terminologies..


What is blind nailing?

Blind nailing simply refers to shooting fasteners to each board (usually at an angle) one piece at a time.

You then overlap the nailed layer with your next board- simply slid it over the tongue- so that the nails are obscured.

The result is a pristine, finished look that turns heads.


What is face nailing?

In contrast, face nailing simply involves nailing the old way- you don’t angle the fastener and you indeed make no effort to conceal the nailhead.

In other words, all the nailheads remain exposed to view because you just drive the nail perpendicular into the faces of workpieces.

And while face-nailed joints may not always hold as well as those blind nailed, face-nailing is a simpler and faster nailing technique.

Of course, you can choose to cover the bare heads, for instance with putty and paint, if a project so requires.

Blind nailing vs face nailing- where to use each technique

Let’s now turn to the specific applications for each nailing method:


Where to use blind nailing

Blind nailing is the way to go for exterior boards, particularly Hardie Plank, Allura Fiber Cement Siding, GAF WeatherSide fiber cement siding, and more.

Which other projects can you use blind nailing?

It’s worth mentioning that most modern-day hardwood floors are blind nailed- we even have nailers specifically -designed for blindnailing flooring boards.

Here are more projects where this technique works like a charm:

1.      Tongue and Groove Ceilings

If you’re replacing an ugly ceiling with T&G boards, we suggest that you blind nail the tongues.

2.      Shiplap

PVC shiplap is another fast and easy option if you’re thinking of a new ceiling and the majority of the nails are blind nailed.

3.      Beadboard Ceilings

Beadboard offers another fantastic way to dress-up lackluster walls and ceilings and is another project where blind nailing is recommended (details).

4.      Decorative molding

Use blind nailing when fastening crown molding or repair projects.

You can use the same style to install shoe molding.

When to face nail

You can employ this method for these projects:

1.      Installing trim

Whether you’re installing trim (or other decorative moldings) along wall edges, around your door(s), or windows, face-nailing is the best choice.

2.      Building stairs

Face nailing is the recommended procedure when securing steps to stair stringer/s.

3.      Flooring

While the majority part is blind nailed, you face nail the very last row of your floorboards since you cannot reach the groove (of tongue-and-groove flooring) by blind nailing.

Other than that, face nailing will not make the tongue and groove tight as intended.

That said, if it is not tongue and groove wood, you can face nail but be sure to countersink nails and putty so that the nails won’t show.

4.      Hardie siding

A mentioned earlier, sometimes face-nailing is your only choice when installing hardie siding.

A great example of such a situation is where the building code expressly demands so (more on this shortly).


Blind nailing vs face nailing hardie plank

James Hardie favors and in fact, recommends that folks should use the blind nailing technique when installing HardiePlank lap siding.

This way, the fasteners will be hidden and the final product will look sleek and quality.

So, does it mean that you should never take the face nailing route when attaching Hardie siding?

Nope..nothing can be further from the truth.

First, you probably know that some building codes strictly state that homeowners should only face nail hardie siding.

There are other circumstances where face nailing works Hardie siding as well including:

  • High wind regions- Face nailing is required rather than blind nailing in areas where the basic wind speed hits 100 MPH (miles per hour) or greater. Some local building codes propose face nailing even at lower wind speeds and you must install accordingly.
  • When fastening Hardie siding to OSB (or equivalent sheathing) without penetrating into the studs.

What nailer should I use for blind nailing?

Because the fastener is driven at an angle (typically 45-degrees) and must be sunk, it’s better to use a nail gun instead of a hammer.

A pneumatic nailer such as this Finish 16-gauge Nailer, will of course, work best because they generally have more oomph than electric nailers.

That said, some carpenters prefer to use the smaller and lighter 18-gauge brad nailer for this, especially on ceilings.

The trick is to shoot two brads into each stud or joist for more strength since brads lack the holding power you achieve with 15 or 16-gauge nails.


What nailer should I use for face nailing?

Nails can be driven with the old manual hammer or using an electric nailer, or a suitable air nail gun.

The best nailer will again be determined by the individual project.

Side note: Several Blind and Face Nailer combos (here is an example) have emerged in the market lately and can be an option if you find the idea of owning several nail guns ridiculous and your projects need a nailer that can be effective for both techniques.


Wrap up

Still undecided about which side of the blind nailing vs face nailing debate to take?

We are sure you’re not because, as you have seen, each technique has its best applications.

We have explained the various scenarios to help you make the right decision for your next project.

Please let us know if we have left something out in the comments section.



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