What size nails for baseboard? Detailed answer

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Some of you have been emailing us asking about the nail size to use for baseboard installation – most of you keep asking “What size nails for baseboard?”.

So we have decided to answer the question comprehensively and I will go straight to the answer..

What size nails for baseboard? (What nails to use for baseboard)

Now, there is no one nail size that will fit all baseboard installation projects and there are quite a few things that will determine the best nail size for your job.

In other words, it is important to note that we do not consider the nail size in isolation.

No! You have to have factors like the thickness of the drywall and that of the baseboard before you think of the correct nail size.

To help you understand how each of the main considerations influences your nail size decision, I will first take you through a detailed guide into  the 2 most crucial considerations when it comes to choosing the perfect nail size for your baseboard installation project.


Things to consider when choosing baseboard nails

1. The thickness of the Drywall

I cannot emphasize this enough: Knowing your drywall thickness is super important.


You guessed right- if you were to nail your baseboards just to the drywall, it wouldn’t hold strongly enough and it would, with time, start separating and will eventually fall off.

To put it in simpler language, you want your nail to penetrate past the drywall all the way into the framing for the strongest hold.

That said, you need to be careful – you really do not want the nail to go through the studs.

Now, while most drywalls have a thickness of ½”, you need to know exactly how thick your drywall is…you do not want to assume things.

The next vital consideration is….


2. The thickness of your baseboard material

Next, you will want to know the thickness of your baseboard.

And I must say that most baseboards come in ½” and ¾” thickness.

Now, knowing that is obviously not enough..

That’s because when it comes to the thickness of baseboard, there are two fundamental rules you have to bear in mind.

Here they’re:

Pick a nail that is 3 times longer than the baseboard thickness

For instance, if you are nailing a ½” baseboard, you will want to use a nail that is at least 1 ½” long (½” * 3 = 1 ½”)

Use a nail that will penetrate at least ¾” of the board

You will also want to use a nail that will penetrate at least ¾” of the board (note: not penetrate through).

For example, if you are nailing a ½” baseboard, you will want to drive your nail ¾” way into your frames.

So, you will in short need this nail size: ½” (baseboard) + ½” (drywall) + ¾” (framing) = 1 ¾” long nails.


The best nail gauge number to use for baseboards

It is true that the smaller the nail diameter you use, the more exquisitely finished your baseboards will be.

However, do not let the neatness blind you….you also have to worry about how well the nails hold the boards.

To be clear, the thicker your baseboard trim is, the thicker the nails you will require.

And you surely know why….if you have forgotten, it’s is because thicker trims require stronger nails to hold them more strongly into place.

Which brings me to another issue: thicker nails may easily splitter thin baseboards and you certainly do not want that.

To cut the long story short, keep this in mind as concerns the best nail gauge for baseboard:

  • For 1” thick baseboards, you will want to go for a 15 gauge nail.
  • For ¾-inch thick baseboards, a 16-gauge nail will, in general, properly serve you well.
  • For ½” inch thick baseboard, an 18 gauge nail (18 gauge nails are also called brads) could be perfect.


What size nails for baseboard- Risks associated with using wrong nail sizes for baseboards

You may decide to use short nails for your baseboard trims and the trim work will seem perfect (at first). However, with time, the baseboard trim might start to slowly work itself free.

Reason? Well, your short nails will not bite well enough into the drywall and studs you nailed the baseboards to.

This typically leads to spaces between your wall and the baseboard leaving a not-so-appealing sight- this ,of course, beats the original reason for installing your baseboards.

In contrast, if you use too long nails, you might pierce wires, cables, or damage parts of the plumbing inside your walls which means an extra repair bill.

The other risk is when you use a thinner than appropriate nail- This will also lead to weakly attached baseboards (they may eventually work themselves loose).

The final risk I want to mention is if you opt for thicker than required nails.  With these nails, you might end up splitting your trims and you may have to purchase new ones!.


What nails for baseboards – FAQs (Frequently asked questions)

Can I use 18 gauge nails for baseboards?


As a matter of fact, 18 gauge nails are recommended if you have baseboard trims that are ½” thick.


Why are baseboard nails so thin?

You may be wondering why baseboard nails have small diameters.

Now, these nails leave small footprints – they make the smallest possible nail holes- and do not forget that baseboards are primarily for aesthetics (So it makes sense to avoid marring them as much as you can).

In addition, you do not want thicker nails splitting your trims.


What nailer is best for baseboard nailing?

There is no “best” nailer for baseboard nailing and it instead all comes down to the gauge of the nails that you are using.

Be sure to choose a nailer that matches the gauge of your nails.


Should I nail my shoe moldings together with the baseboards?


Instead, you will want to nail them separately.

If you decide to do that, shorter 18 gauge nails will be perfect for this depending on the thickness of your shoe moldings.


What size nails for baseboard – in summary

Every construction job that uses nails requires the perfect size nails for the job at hand.

As mentioned above, if the nails are too short, too long, too thick or too thin, then you will have problems. Baseboard nailing is no different.

And as we have seen, factors that determine the perfect nail size for your baseboard works are the thickness of your baseboard trim and the thickness of your studs and drywall.

To reiterate, perfect nails for baseboard trims are 15, 16, and 18 gauge nails with lengths varying from 1 ½” to 2 ½” depending on the thickness of the baseboards.



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