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If you have decided to install baseboard trims in your house, you do not want to install them using any type of nail lying around -you can only get the best results if you use the correct nail type.
In short, you will want to use a nail designed to be used with baseboard material.
Now, both finish and brad nails can be used when it comes to baseboard- and you are probably aware of this.
In this article, I will specifically take you through using brad nails for baseboard trims (we have written about using finish nails for projects like baseboard installation previously).
Some of the questions I will tackle in this article include: Can I use brad nails for baseboards? And what length of brad nails is perfect for baseboard trims? and What size brad nails for baseboards?
I will also give you some useful tips that you can apply when nailing your baseboards.
Read on to the end.
18 gauge brad nails for baseboard
As mentioned, while finish and brad nails can both be your go-to nails when you’re installing baseboards, I want to mainly discuss using brad nails.
Let’s answer your first question…
Can I use brad nails for baseboard work?
Brad nails are super useful for baseboard installations.
However, it is worth noting that you cannot use them on all types of baseboards (they’re best for thin baseboard trim).
As you know, brad nails have a small diameter- they have a general diameter of 0.0475”.
This makes them unsuitable for thicker baseboards due to their weaker holding power (you can only get this from the fatter finish nails).
Besides, the diameter of brad nails disadvantages them if you’re nailing MDF baseboards.
I know you’re wondering why..
Well, it is because MDF baseboards require quite some force for a nail to penetrate them.
I should say that the problem here is not the nail itself..it is the nail gun..
You see, this amount of power cannot be achieved using an 18 gauge nail gun.
Instead, you can only achieve it using a finish nail gun.
Assuming that you have opted to go ahead and use brad nails for baseboards, you need to be sure of the ideal length before you order brads.
That is what we are looking at next..
What brad nail length should I use for baseboards?
As regards the ideal nail length, it is important that you use a nail that is neither too long nor too short.
Let me explain..
You will want to avoid too long nails because if they happen to penetrate through the studs, they may pierce wires/cables or even destroy the plumbing works hidden in your walls which means a potential repair bill.
On the flip side, you will want to avoid extremely short nails because they will not hold the boards strongly enough.
Okay, they may seem to work but you will, later on, be disappointed as you will see your baseboard trims start to gradually work themselves loose and create some openings (so it will beat the logic of installing baseboards which is mainly aesthetic).
As-a-result , you will want to pick a nail length that is just perfect for your baseboard trim.
So, what length is this? -you may ask.
Well, there are two basic rules that should help you settle on the best brad nails length for your job.
The rule of 3
Use a brad nail that is 3X (minimum) the thickness of your baseboard.
Let’s say you’re working with ½” baseboards..In this case, it is best to use a nail that is ½” * 3 long so buy 1 ½” long brad nails.
The rule of ¾”
Overall, you should always use nails that penetrate ¾” (minimum) of the material you’re nailing into (for a good hold).
For that reason, you should go for brad nails that can penetrate ¾” of the drywall.
If your baseboard is ½” thick and the drywall is ½” thick as well, your brads nail should be 1 ¾” long (That is: ½” (from the baseboard) + ½” (from the drywall) + ¾” (required penetration).
What if I will be covering gaps under my baseboard with shoe moldings?
If you’ll be adding shoe moldings to your baseboard trims, it is okay to use the 18 gauge brads.
You must, however, go for the shorter nails as shoe moldings do not need to be held as strongly as the baseboards).
Tips for nailing baseboards
Now that you have a good idea of using brad nails for baseboards, I will share with you some tips and tricks for faster and cleaner baseboard installations.
Paint before you install
Unless you are working on an unfinished house, it is better to first paint and then install the baseboards. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about taping off walls and floors – which is a pretty cumbersome task.
Glue outside miters
Measurements do go wrong so try to glue your outside miters together before nailing them in.
This prevents creating gaps between two boards which may be hard to cover up once you have nailed the boards in.
45-degrees end-to-end joints
When joining two baseboard parts, you will want to cut them with alternating bevels of 45⁰.
That is the secret if you want the joint to blend to near invisibility.
On the other hand, a 90⁰ joint is not really that pleasing to the eyes.
Nails 2 nails at any given point
For the best hold, nail two nails vertically opposite of each other-One nail should pierce the studs while the other holds on to the floor joists.
I should add that this applies to baseboard trims that have longer heights (like 4”).
Fill nail holes
This will obviously increase the beauty of your work.
The thing is, guests will find your baseboard trims extremely appealing if you fill your nail holes with a color matching that of the baseboard.
Ease outside miters
You will probably want to ease those outside miters for obvious reasons….
A corner with a perfect 90⁰ angle is brutal on stubbed toe – and this occurs more often than not.
For this reason, you might want to use sandpaper or a file to smoothen the outside miters.
Brad nails for baseboards – wrapping it up
Brad nails can be used to attach baseboards.
All the same, it is important to note that due to their smaller diameters, they are best suited for delicate pieces of trim.
Indeed, we recommend them for attaching baseboards with a thickness of ½”- anything thicker means you go for finish nails.