Framing Nailer vs Finish Nailer: What’s the Difference?

framing vs finish nailer In the comparison of a framing nailer VS a finish nailer I must say that these two things are like apples and oranges. Both apples and oranges are fruit, but they are nothing alike. Both the framing nailer and the finish nailer are nail guns used in carpentry work, but they are as different as night and day.

If you are shopping for a nail gun then you want to understand that the type of gun that you purchase will be designed for shooting nails that are appropriate for the type of material you are using.

Finish Nailer vs Framing Nailer

Framing Nailer

The framing nailer is also called:

  • Standard nail gun
  • Roofing nailer
  • Coil framing gun

The framing nail gun is designed to attach thicker boards when you are creating the basic framework of a structure. When you are building something you create a basic framework of thicker and heavier materials and then attach the finish materials to the framework.

If you are framing a wall you will likely use 2 x 4″s of varying lengths to create the frame, and then you will hang paneling or sheetrock over those 2 x 4″s to make the wall solid and aesthetically pleasing.

The best framing nail gun is capable of firing nails that are as long as 3 ?? so that thicker boards can be attached.

This type of gun is heavier and sturdier than the finish gun is. This type of nail gun will usually weigh close to ten pounds.

This type of gun is usually a sequential firing apparatus. The sequential firing requires you to depress the trigger of the tool to fire a nail and then release the trigger and repeat the process. This prevents the gun from simply firing nails in rapid succession. This is a safety feature.

framing vs finish nailer

Finish Nailer

The finish nailer is intended to be used when you are building things that are constructed of thinner materials. When you are applying the paneling to the fame of the wall the finish nailer is used instead of the framing gun.

The finished gun shoots nails that are thinner and most often shorter than the framing nails are. Finish nails are often referred to as brads and the finish nailer is often called a:

  • Brad nailer
  • Brad gun
  • Siding nailer

These guns do not have to shoot with the same force as the framing gun. They are designed for use on cabinet building, craft building, trim applications, and decorative carpentry.

The best 16 gauge finish nailer will normally weigh about five pounds.

These guns rarely shoot a nail that is longer than 2 ??

  • These guns can be used with thin and delicate materials because they shoot with less force and their nails are thinner and finer
  • These guns can be sequential firing apparatuses, but they are most often in the category of the dual-contact firing. When you hang paneling on a wall you hammer a nail in place every sixteen to twenty-four inches. So you must shoot in a lot more finish nails than framing nails. The dual contact firing mechanism allows the nail to be fired as long as the nose of the nailer is in contact with the material. You can depress the trigger and hold it in place. You move the nail gun to each position that you want a nail to be driven and the gun will shoot the nail when the nose makes contact. You can fire several nails in rapid succession with this firing mechanism.
  • Some of the finish guns are cordless
  • The finished gun will drive the brad so far into the material that you will not see the head of the nail. All you will see is the tiny hole that the nail left when it went through the material. You fill these tiny holes with wood putty and then paint over the putty and it appears that the material is hanging on the wall without fasteners.

Final Thought

Both framing guns and finish guns are powerful tools that save you a lot of time and effort when you are building things. You really cannot substitute one of these tools for the other. Each gun is designed to provide the optimum performance on certain materials.

In the construction world, some carpenters are hired to frame the structure and another set of carpenters will do the finish work. Each carpenter has their own tools and techniques. If you are doing your own carpentry work then you will need to invest in at least 2 types of nail gun in order to do professional-looking work.


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