16 vs 18 gauge nailer

16 vs 18 Gauge Nailer: Which is Right for Your Needs?

You might think picking the best nailer for your work is a simple process, you just go to the store and buy one, it’s that simple. Maybe you have to check out the price of the product, but that’s about it. Well, the actual process is much more complicated than that. The first thing that you have to put in mind is whether you want a 16-gauge or an 18-gauge nailer. Be aware that, actually, the 18-gauge variant is the smaller one, contrary to what intuitively comes to mind. So, 16 vs 18 gauge nailer; which tool should you get?

You have to make the right decision here because if you aren’t a professional in this field, you will probably only buy one instance of this product, so you need to nail it (pun intended). The choice here is based on many different factors according to each one’s specific needs.

16 vs 18 Gauge Nailer: Manufacturer Specs

This is the most useful and easy way to find out if a certain nailer fits your needs or not: you just consult the specifications of the material you’re going to use in your job, which is provided by the manufacturer. There are different causes to explain this, but it just eliminates the process of making a pick, it was already done when the materials were chosen.

The Versatility of the 16-Gauge

The 16-gauge nailer is the most widespread choice among customers, as it is the bigger one, so it fastens pieces together more firmly. Thus, they offer much more versatility, which makes them the superior type.

The better holding is a must in trim jobs, which necessitate a tad bit more power, which is provided by the size of the 16-gauge nailer’s head. Even furniture work that needs to be resilient and jobs were glue is unusable are better done by it.

Particularly, an exterior trim that you want to hang need to be strong against whether this must be done with this type of nailers.

Recommended 16-Gauge Nailer:

NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic 16-Gauge 2-1/2" Straight Finish Nailer
  • Construction Applications: Designed for trim, furniture trim, rail moulding, crown moulding, window casing, door installation, base boards, chair rails, picture frame assembly, and hobbies and crafts
  • Compatible Nails: 16 gauge glue collated straight finish nails from 1" – 2-1/2"
  • Built to Last: One piece hardened steel drive blade results in a durable pneumatic tool resistant to damage
  • Ergonomic Body: Rugged but also lightweight and comfortable for extended use
  • Tool-Free Depth Adjust: Simply turn the depth adjustment wheel by hand to change the driving depth of nails for various projects and materials

18 Gauge: Smaller Nail, Smaller Footprint

It’s true that the other type is stronger, by if you’re more inclined to the aesthetics of your job, then the 18-gauge nailer is the one you should probably use. What makes this type so good if you don’t want to ruin the wood with a big hole is that it leaves a barely noticeable one compared to the other which you can fill fairly easily.

Particularly, when there isn’t much concern over the resilience of the job, which is true for wooden pieces that aren’t prone to much wear, the holding power difference doesn’t really matter that much. Moreover, thinner pieces work better with smaller nailers as larger ones can split them, especially at the ends.

Recommended 18-Gauge Nailer:

Hitachi NT50AE2 18-Gauge 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch Brad Nailer
  • Selective Actuation allows the user to select bump fire or contact fire modes with the simple flip of a switch
  • At only 2.2 lbs, this finish nailer is lightweight & well-balanced making it easy to use all day long
  • Elastomer grip adds comfort and prevents slippage
  • Tool-less, easy to clear nose for quick and simple nail extraction should a nail jam during use
  • Depth of drive dial allows the user to easily adjust the drive depth for a professional finish


The 16-gauge and 18-gauge nailers are both good electric tools that work with different needs. One is perfect for the power when you’re dealing with wood that needs to help together with a good force, and the other is better for ones where you need to make the slightest mark on the wood to preserve its aesthetic.

When making your decision, you first consult the specifications of your building materials, as they have the type of nailer to be utilized with specified, especially if you’re an amateur who works at home. Otherwise, just weigh your needs against what each one offers and just make your pick based on that. After all, there isn’t a real winner in the 16 vs 18 gauge nailer debate!

We hope this article will be useful for you and will help you solve this issue and choose the nailer for you.

Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Hello, I've been working with power tools since I was a young kid helping out grandpa on the farm. My interest in building things started with him and helped me decide to make a career out of construction. I've built just about everything from pipe organs, custom cabinets, to houses.