Best Nail Guns For DIY Projects
Ever since he was a child, Jason has loved repairing, building and creating things. Growing up, he spent all his free time carving intricate woodcraft pieces that soon caught the eye of neighbours and friends. Before he knew it, Jason turned his hobby into a job, earning an income from being his hometowns handyman. Many years have passed since then but Jason’s enthusiasm for woodwork remains the same. He can usually be found in his workshop, crafting furniture or restoring old treasures.
- The Best Nail Gun
- 1. NuMax Pneumatic 21 Degree Full Head Framing Nail Gun
- 2. PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
- 3. DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit
- 4. Hitachi 18-Gauge Brad Nailer
- 5. Makita Brad Nailer
- 6. BOSTITCH Smart Point Nail Gun
- 7. NuMax Pneumatic 3-in-1 Flooring Nailer and Stapler
- 8. Air Locker Heavy Duty Professional Air Punch Nailer
- 9. Ryobi Airstrike Cordless Brad Nailer
- 10. Metabo HPT Finish Nailer
- 11. CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit
- 12. KIMO 20V 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer
- 13. Freeman Pneumatic 15 Degree Nail Gun
Driving nails into wood is a time-consuming and labor-intensive part of any construction or DIY project but the best nail guns put a stop to that! These ingenious tools are designed to drive nails rapidly and with very little effort so that you get the job done faster.
There are very high-quality nail guns designed mainly for construction sites and these are the best nail gun option for you if you work all day erecting wooden frames in houses or making furniture. The power source for these is usually an air compressor. However, there are plenty of other nail guns powered by electricity or battery and these are often the best option for DIYers. Before you invest in one for yourself, check out our comprehensive buying guide.
The Best Nail Gun
Pneumatic 21-degree Framing Nail Gun
Provides 70-115 PSI of power
Interchangeable trigger for bump-firing or accurate placement
1/4 inch NPT fitting included
360-degree adjustable exhaust
No-mar tip and the non-slip teeth
Our first choice of the best nail guns is the NuMax Pneumatic 21 Degree Full Head Framing Nail Gun. This pneumatic nail gun requires an air compressor to operate and provides 70-115 PSI. It is suitable for building wooden construction frames but also for installing sub-floors and decking as well as wood fencing and sheathing. It includes an interchangeable trigger for bump-firing or accurate placement and comes with a 1/4 inch NPT fitting.
It has a 360-degree adjustable exhaust so you can avoid it blowing debris into your face and workspace. Your worksurface will be protected by the no-mar tip and the non-slip teeth that grip onto the wood for accurate firing.
Pneumatic nail gun with plenty of power
Choice of speed or accuracy by changing the trigger
Protection for delicate surfaces when fixing framing
Ergonomic grip to protect from vibration
Firing depth can be adjusted for framing different wood
Quite heavy which can cause fatigue
You need an air compressor to work it
Battery-powered nail gun
Depth adjustment wheel
Comes with a 20 V lithium battery
Tool-free jam release
Tool-free stall release lever
The PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is battery powered and does not need an air compressor so it can be used anywhere. It comes with a 20 V lithium battery. This high capacity nail gun can deliver up to 1,300 nails in one charge. At 5.9 pounds it is very lightweight and easy to use.
Jam clearing is no problem with the PORTER-CABLE nailer kit thanks to the tool-free jam release and it also features a tool-free stall release lever. It has depth adjustment using a rotating wheel and the set depth can be viewed through a window. The PORTER-CABLE nail gun also has LED lights to illuminate your DIY projects.
Great nail gun for DIY – no compressor needed
Easy jam clearing with no tools
Lights up your project
Depth can be easily adjusted
Lightweight to use
Less impact power than pneumatic tools
More than one battery needed for a long job
Power Brad nailer
Jams can be released without tools
Uses 18 gauge nails
100 nail high capacity magazine
The DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit is a heavy-duty nail gun that you will need an air compressor to operate. It has a durable motor and a tool-free jam release mechanism so you can easily remove nails that have got caught up in the mechanism. This nailer can take 18 gauge nails that measure from 5/8 inches up to 2 inches in length.
To protect the surface that you are working on, there is a removable non-marring nose tip and for ease of use there is a trigger for sequential firing. The nail depth is adjustable without having to use a tool and there are detents so that the nail heads can be set properly. Air is exhausted at the rear to protect your work. There are a number of features that will be useful for the DIYer. In particular, the magnesium body is both strong and lightweight. There is an integrated rubber grip for comfort and there is a belt hook for easy storage during a job.
Strong yet lightweight
Adjustable nail depth without tools
Integrated rubber grip for comfort
Belt hook for easy storage during a job
Air compressor needed to operate
Does not come with a case
Power Brad nailer
Depth adjustment knob
Uses 5/8 inch to 2-inch brad nails
Dual firing options
Depth adjustment knob
Removable nose cap
Ideal for small carpentry projects, the Hitachi 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is lightweight and easy to use with a compressor – it requires 70-120 psi operating pressure. This tool features a high-capacity bottom-loading magazine that makes it quick and easy to load anything from 5/8 inch to 2-inch brad nails that have head sizes from .075 mm up to 1.9 mm. Each magazine holds around 100 brad nails and a visual nail indicator reminds you of how many are left.
There is a slide control that lets you select intermittent firing for precise positioning or continuous firing for rapidly placing nails using a bumping motion. It has a depth-of-drive adjustment knob near the nose of the nailer and an exhaust vent to direct air away from your job. There is a removable nose cap to protect the tip. This is the best nailer for cabinet installation jobs, picture-frames, and furniture construction.
Ideal for small carpentry projects
Lightweight and easy to use
High-capacity bottom-loading magazine
Visual nail indicator
Exhaust vent to direct air away from your job
Requires a compressor to operate
Not suitable for decks or patios
Power tools for nailing operating at 60-115 PSI
Clear window view of how many nails are left
Soft rubber hand grip for comfort
Takes 5/8 inch to 2-inch nails
Quick-release mechanism for clearing jams
Protective nose bumpers
The narrow-nose design of the Makita Brad Nailer makes it one of the best options for use in confined areas. It drives 18 gauge brad nails using a 100 nail magazine and can take nails varying from 5/8 inch to 2 inches. It can be used for both hardwood and softwood projects making it one of the best nail guns for trim work and crown moldings as well as baseboards and flooring.
If the nails do jam, the cam-lock has a quick-release mechanism that allows easy access to clear the problem. You can adjust the nail depth without having to use a tool and there are bumpers on the nose to protect the wood that you are working on. There is a tool hook that rotates around 180 degrees so that you can always reach the nail gun when you need it. It is one of the best options for precision thanks to the cast machined nose piece. The exhaust air can be directed away from the user’s face by the 360-degree rotational exhaust port.
Comfortable to use – rubberized handle
Exhaust air can be directed away from user
Useful tool hook
High-quality precision for placing nails
Jams can be cleared without tools
Requires a compressor for operation
Requires frequent oiling
Power tool operating at 70-120 PSI
Magazine capacity of 100 nails
Side load magazine
Sequential or contact operation
Depth is controlled via a dial
Rear air exhaust
The BOSTITCH Smart Point Nail Gun is a power tool operating at 70-120 PSI so you need a compressor to use it. This is one of the best options for cabinetry and upholstery but you can also use it for paneling. It has a number of function options including a trigger system and the option to countersink the nails.
Because it has a smaller nose, it makes it easy to place the nails – you do not have to compress the contact tip. It is used with 18 gauge brad nails ranging from 5/8 inch to 2 1/8 inch. There is no oil involved in the power tool so it will not create oil stains on your work. Nail jams are easy to release with no tools and depth is controlled via a dial. It has a sequential or contact operation and comes with rear air exhaust and a belt hook.
Useful for upholstery
Will countersink nails
No oil is needed
Nail jams are easy to remove
Useful belt hook
Compressor is needed to operate
No dry fire lockout
Air-powered nail tool for flooring
Compact die-cast aluminum body
Anti-mar design base plates
Two interchangeable base plates
Will drive 16 gauge T-cleats or L-cleats as well as nails
Rubber handle with an ergonomic design
The NuMax Pneumatic 3-in-1 Flooring Nailer and Stapler is one the best options for installing tongue and groove flooring. It is an air-powered nail tool that is used for 16 gauge T-cleats or L-cleats as well as a 15.5 gauge 1/2 inch crown staples. It comes with two interchangeable base plates so you can use it for 1/2 inch up to 3/4 inch flooring. The anti-mar design of the base plates protects hardwood floor finishes meaning that a DIYer can achieve professional results.
It features a compact die-cast aluminum body and all of the steel parts are heat-treated making it a durable yet lightweight tool. There is also a rubber handle with an ergonomic design for comfort. The semi-quick release clears jams and the magazine cover makes it smooth and fast to load. It comes with air tool oil and all the adjustment tools you need to operate it.
Can be used for up to 3/4 inch flooring
Compact and lightweight tool
Anti-mar design so DIYers can get professional results
Comfortable to hold
Jams can be released quickly
Needs a compressor to work
Requires regular oiling
Best guns for removing hails from wood
Lightweight body made from cast aluminum
Rubber handles for comfort
Rubberized ring to prevent slippage
Our budget pick is a useful tool (requiring an air compressor) to remove nails that have been driven into wood. The Air Locker Heavy Duty Professional Air Punch Nailer will efficiently push nails out from soft or hardwoods. It is lightweight, with a die-cast aluminum body and rubberized grip handles making it comfortable for prolonged use.
It features a narrow nose to reach into tight spaces and a hardened hammer to remove nails. It is very useful for removing nails from floorboards and weatherboards as well as fiber sheets and skids. It is suitable for all types of wood including pine, oak, and maple. The rubberized ring prevents it from sliding when in use and the exhaust can be rotated around 360 degrees to keep it away from your face.
Can remove a nail from all types of wood
Will reach into awkward spaces
Comfortable to hold
Exhaust can be directed away from your face
Removes nails only
Requires a compressor to work
Battery-powered nail guns
No compressor or cable required
Includes 4 amp hour battery
In-built LED light
Belt clip included
Can fire 700 nails on one battery charge
One of the best choices for home use, the Ryobi Airstrike Cordless Brad Nailer has plenty of power but does not require the additional expense and inconvenience of a compressor to operate. This battery-powered nailer is perfect for DIY jobs such as fixing roof tiles or reinforcing joints.
It comes with a 4 amp hour battery that holds enough power to fire 700 nails that are up to 50 mm in length. There is a dial depth adjustment and an LED light to illuminate your working surface. It also comes with a handy clip so that it can be attached to a belt.
Cost-effective for home use – no compressor needed
No fiddly cables to get in the way
Long-life battery included
Easy to use
Lights up the work area
Not as powerful as compressor air guns
Only works with 18 gauge straight brads
Pneumatic nail gun
Integrated air duster
Sequential or contact nailing
Air fitting can be angled upwards
The Metabo HPT Finish Nailer is one of the best choices for putting up crown moldings and base moldings as well as window and door casings. You can also use it for chair rails and cabinets. It has a compact body and the magazine is angled so it is one of the best options for reaching tight spaces.
There is an integrated air duster that clears dust from your work site making it quicker and cleaner to complete your job. The trigger can be set to sequential or contact nailing by flicking a switch and jammed nails can be cleared without the need for tools. The exhaust can be adjusted around 360 degrees and the air fitting can be angled upwards to keep the hose out of your way as you nail. It will take 15-gauge nails that range from 1-1/4 inch up to 2-1/2 inches.
Can reach into tight spaces
Easy to switch between sequential or contact nailing
No tools required for jam release
Air hose stays out of your way
Clears dust from where you are working
You need a compressor to operate it
Does not have a hook
Battery-powered nail gun
Drives 18 gauge finish nails
No-tool depth adjustment
V20 20V MAX Battery
The CRAFTSMAN V20 Cordless Brad Nailer Kit is one of the best options for home use as it is battery powered and therefore does not require a compressor or a hose. It drives adhesive collated 18 gauge finish nails with consistent firing power into lots of materials over a range of climatic conditions.
This nail gun is quick to set up and the depth can be adjusted without having to use tools. Jams are also easy to free without tools. It is powered by a V20 20V MAX Battery that has high-performance cells so it is able to fire as many as 420 2 inch nails into pine before it requires a recharge. The compact and lightweight body has an optimal center of gravity making it comfortable to use. Further comfort is provided by the contoured over-molded handle. It attaches using a belt hook.
Consistent firing power
Fires over 400 nails with each charge
Lightweight and easy to use
Handy belt hook
Battery does not charge well at low temperatures
Cannot fire nails quickly
Cordless battery-powered nail gun
2-in-1 bottom-load magazine
20V 4.0Ah lithium-ion battery
Dial-operated depth adjustment
Dual LED lighting
Dial-operated depth adjustment
The KIMO 20V 18 Gauge Cordless Brad Nailer is a battery-powered combined nailer and stapler that drives 80 18-gauge brads (3/4 inch to 2 inches) or narrow crown staples (3/4 inch to 1-5/8 inch) every minute and nails are contained in a 2-in-1 bottom-load magazine.
It comes with a 20V 4.0Ah lithium-ion battery which powers a patented air cylinder and can place 1400 nails with each charge. The battery takes just an hour to recharge. It features a dial-operated depth adjustment and is one of the best options for finish work and trim as well as crown and baseboards. The dual LED lighting illuminates your job and because it weighs just five pounds and has a narrow profile, it is very comfortable when in use or attached to a belt.
No cords or hoses to get in your way
Dual LED light for dark environments
Narrow body for floor molding
Lightweight to use
Battery charges quickly
Wrench needed to clear jams
Can jam quite frequently
Air-powered nail gun
15 degree 13-14 gauge collated siding nails
Strong and lightweight body
Drive blade made from hardened steel
Cylinder made from anodized aluminum
Exhaust moves around 360 degrees
The Freeman Pneumatic 15 Degree Nail Gun is a coil style nailer that is best used on cedar shingles and roof and wall sheathing but can also be used on fencing. It drives 15 degrees 13-14 gauge (1-1/4 inch to 2-1/2 inch) collated siding nails into plastic or metal. It is side-loading and does not require oiling.
The die-cast magnesium body is both strong and lightweight – the drive blade is made from hardened steel and the cylinder is made from anodized aluminum. The bump-fire trigger has a safety lock and the depth adjustment does not require a tool. It also features a comfort grip handle and a no-mar safety tip to protect your hands and your working surface. The exhaust can be adjusted around 360 degrees and there is an air filter and an anti-dust cap to protect the internal components. A belt hook, safety goggles, air connector, air tool oil, and adjustment tools are included.
Side loading for convenience
Does not require oiling
Safety lock on bump fire to prevent accidents
Easy depth adjustment
Comfortable to hold
Requires a compressor
Driving can be inconsistent
Features To Consider With Nail Guns
Nail guns come with a variety of different features and before deciding on the best nail gun for you it would be useful to check out this buying guide that lists the main things you should look out for.
For high capacity tasks, such as erecting framing on a construction site, performance is vital. Make sure that the nail gun has enough power to drive hundreds of nails into different types of wood. For this reason, a pneumatic nail gun may be best. There is no point in using a low powered nail gun and then having to knock the nails further in with a hammer.
Ease Of Use
Certain features make these devices a lot easier to use. Look out for a comfortable rubber grip, a tool-free depth adjustment, and a tool-free jam clearance mechanism. It is also useful if it has the option of sequential or contact nailing and that it is easy to change between the two. Other useful features are a no-mar tip to protect your work a visual nail indicator so you know when you are about to run out of nails.
Power Source - Cord power/battery/pneumatic
A framing nailer or other nailers can be cord powered, battery-powered or they can be pneumatic nail guns. The best nail gun for you will depend on how often you need to use it and how powerful you need it to be.
Pneumatic nail guns will have the most power but they will require a compressor (which will cost more) and an air hose which may get in your way. Some models will also need oiling.
The magazines may load at the side or bottom. Think about the shape of the nail gun and if it will fit into areas where you need to work. The coil-style nail guns can access floor joists, wall studs, and tight corners.
A framing nailer can have sequential firing when you have to pull the trigger for each fire - this is best for accurate placement. It may also have contact firing where nails are released when the trigger is pulled and the tip is pressed against the surface which is faster.
The best nail gun for your job will not make you stop to reload it with nails continuously. It's a good idea to select a framing nailer that has large magazines if you are carrying out a high capacity job.
Types Of Nail Guns
There are several different types of nailers and it is important that you use the best nail gun for the task you want to complete. Here are the main types of nail guns and what you would use them for.
A framing nailer is the most heavy-duty of all the nailers. They are mainly used for putting up wood frames on construction sites. These nailers can usually accommodate nails up to 3 1/2 inches in length which are generally used to join 2 inch by 4 inch planks of wood. A framing nailer is the best nailer for fixing decking in your yard, building a dwelling or partitioning rooms in a dwelling, and putting up wooden sheathing or fencing.
A framing nailer can either be round head or clipped head and this describes the type of nail that it holds. Clipped head nailers deliver clipped head nails where the head has been 'clipped' so that there is only a semi-circle or 'D' shape left. This is done to reduce the volume and all the original framing nailers were clipped head nailers. A clipped head framing nailer can hold around 20 percent more nails in a single magazine than a round head nailer. This makes them more suited to high volume projects because you will not have to change the magazine so often.
Even though there is no evidence that full round head nails are stronger, in some US states and regions you are required to use full round head nails on building projects so this is something to bear in mind!
A framing nailer is usually pneumatic (power supplied by an air compressor) or cordless (powered by a rechargeable battery).
Brad nailers are often the nail shooter that a contractor would use to finish off a job. They are the best nailer for jobs that need 15 gauge nails or 16 gauge nails but can also be used for jobs that need 18 gauge nails for greater holding power.
They are a very versatile tool and are best for most baseboards, crown moldings, door casings, and window casings.
The finish nail gun is the best nailer for internal carpentry work such as crown molding and fitting baseboards. However, a finish nailer is a more heavy-duty tool than the brad or pin nailer and can be used for fixing larger pieces of wood. The important thing to note about finish nail guns is that they are designed to be used with a specific size of the nail - either 15 gauge nails or 16 gauge nails - and these are bigger than what would be used in brad nailers. You would use a finish nail gun when you were completing a job that needed more holding power.
Palm nailers are the best nailer for DIY enthusiasts as they are just like the other nail guns but smaller. They work in exactly the same way as other nail guns but fit in the palm of your hand. They also have a strap to secure them to your hand.
These are the best nail guns to choose when you are working in a tight spot such as on a joist hanger. The best option for portability and freedom to work wherever you want is the battery-powered versions. However, they can also be pneumatic and electric. They are the best nailer option when it comes to preventing fatigue because they are both small and lightweight. They do not need strips of nails or a high capacity magazine, they use regular nails - most will accommodate nails between 1.5 inches and 3.5 inches long but the heavy-duty palm nailers will take nails up to 6 inches long.
The advantages of palm nailers are that they are relatively inexpensive and highly accurate. You may even be offered a free palm nailer with a larger nail gun as part of a special deal.
Without a doubt the best nailer for laying tongue-and-groove floorboards, the flooring nailer looks different from other nailers. It is held at the edge of a floorboard and the plunger is struck by a nylon mallet. It works with nails or cleats and they will drive nails in at the right angle and to a fixed depth.
Flooring nailers are available as pneumatic nailers which are power tools and the power source is compressed air or as a manual tool. Obviously, pneumatic nailers are the best option for you if you don't want to use a lot of manual effort. It is important to note that these are not a versatile tool - they can only be used for laying floorboards and may not be the best option for a general DIY enthusiast!
Roofing nailers are very similar to framing nailers and are a heavy-duty and high capacity tool. They have a lot of power and you would normally see a roofing nailer used by professional contractors rather than DIYers. A roofing nailer is used to drive nails into roofing materials very quickly. There are several types of roofing nailers. A spring-loaded roofing nailer is a mechanical tool that uses a spring to propel nails into wood. The pneumatic roofing nail gun version is the best nailer for large roofing jobs but you will need an air compressor. Finally, the solenoid roofing nail guns are powered by electromagnetic polarization.
Pin nailers are a small and delicate tool that is normally used for finishing off carpentry jobs. They are used to drive in 23-gauge nails that have no head and therefore look like pins.
This type of nail has very limited holding power and is therefore usually used with glue. They essentially secure two pieces of wood in place until the glue dries. They would be the best nailer for finishing off delicate crown molding and trim pieces, cabinetry and thin veneers, and small furniture trim.
This nailer is used for putting up siding. They are a powerful nail gun that can join synthetic material to wood. These nail guns tend to use shorter nails that are anything between 1-1/4 inch and 2-1/2 inches with wide heads. There are some siding nail guns that are designed to use aluminum nails and which are therefore the best nailer for aluminum siding.
Nail Gun FAQ
Q: Do all nail guns require a compressor?
No, not all nail guns require a compressor. The types of nailers that are powered by compressed air are called pneumatic nail guns. You will also need to purchase a compressor and the air will be transmitted to the nail gun through an air hose. These are power nailers that are best suited to construction sites. For home use, an electric or battery-powered version may be best.
Q: What type of nailer do I need for home use?
DIY projects are great fun if you have the right tools to get the job done safely and efficiently. The best nail gun for home use would be electric or battery-powered so that you do not have to buy a compressor. It would also be best if it could fit into tight spaces and was lightweight and comfortable to use.
Q: Can I put any type of nail in a nail gun?
Each nail gun is designed to drive nails of a particular type. Therefore, you need to think about which nails would be best for the type of carpentry that you carry out. If you work with large pieces of construction wood, a framing nailer that drives larger and stronger nails would be best. However, if you need the tool for delicate carpentry where you use small pin nails, a palm nailer may be the best option.