The Five Most Popular Nail Guns for the Contractor in Need

Close up picture of hammer and nail gun

Hammers and the whole concept of nailing things hasn’t changed much since the bronze age. But with the modern advent of technology, the hammer and other hand tools have been superseded by electricity or gas-powered alternatives known simply as power tools. Able to finish the job faster, requiring less effort to use and more powerful than the hammer, the nail gun is an essential part of every contractor’s toolbox. 

With that introduction out of the way, here are the five most popular types of nail guns for every contractor on the go, ranging from the battery powered framing nailer to the industrial-strength roofer gun.

Framing Nailers

close up picture of farming nailer

The framing nail gun is by far the most heavy-duty option among all the nail guns. Framing nailers use big nails up to three-and-a-half inches in length and are considered the best nailing solution for the following applications:

  • Decks
  • Interiors
  • Wood sheathing
  • Fences
  • Wood siding

The framing nailer comes in a wide array of designs and power sources, which you should research before purchasing. The main models though are the cordless battery powered framing nailer and the pneumatic framing nailer.

When you first think of a nail gun, the cordless variety is the first image that comes to mind. Instead of being plugged into the wall or an air compressor, it’s powered by batteries. That being said, you should consider buying a battery powered framing nailer if you need a portable tool that you can use in every kind of environment and not worry whether there’s a power outlet near you. 

This type of nailer can fire 2-3 nails per second at an angle up to 30° with an almost constant depth. The battery can fire up to 9000 nails per charge, meaning an almost full day’s work of nailing on a single charge. The nails are stored in a stainless steel magazine raceway that’s durable and resists warping and jams, making for easy nail loading and fast firing.

Speaking of nails, they can be packed in two different types of magazines, coiled and stick magazines.Coil magazines are designed for nails that are strung in a line together using flexible strings or wires. They hold a lot more nails, which makes them the most commonly used type. Stick magazines however are designed for nails that come in the form of strips. They tend to be heavier than coil magazines, which gives the user greater leverage to actually drive the nail into the material you’re working with.

Finishing Nailers

working with finishing nailer

Finishing nailers are a lighter version of the framing nailer. They are designed with special nail gauges in mind, such as 15- to 16-gauge finish nails, which are a little bit bigger than a regular nail. The larger the gauge is, the smaller the nail is, and the finish nailers can handle anything from a 15 gauge nail, to a 23 gauge pinner.

Finishing nailers are most often used for:

  • Crown moulding
  • Baseboards
  • Carpentry

The finishing nailer differs from other nailers in that it can handle larger and bulkier pieces of wood, which makes them great for all kinds of carpentry and construction work at the same time.

Stapling Nailers

Working with finishing nailer

The stapling nailer, also known as “a secret nailer”, is an air-powered nail gun that avoids the issue of exposed nails by using staples. It’s called “a secret nailer” due to the fact that the nail heads are no longer visible once stapled into the surface. Staple nailers are an excellent tool that provides a two-sided fastening for hardwood flooring, which makes for a stronger initial grip than with regular cleats. The resulting setback is that the boards are now held together too firmly, which can eventually lead to creaking due to wood expansion.

Staple nailers are highly versatile tools and can be used for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Upholstery
  • Carpeting
  • Carpentry and Home Repair
  • Construction

While the staple nailer cannot replace a framing or finishing nailer in most projects, it does have its place as a helpful tool to have for contractors.

Flooring Nailers

Close up picture of flooring nailer

Flooring nailers are a bit more different than the typical nail guns and staple nailers you’re used to seeing. They are uniquely designed to make quick and efficient work of laying tongue-and-groove floorboards. The nailer is suspended at the edge of the board while a nylon mallet is used to hit the plunger, which ensures that nails (or cleats) are driven at the right angle and proper depth every single time.

As with most nail guns, there are two main types of flooring nailers: pneumatic and manual. Both get the job done, but pneumatic flooring nailers require less human exertion. Flooring nailers aren’t as versatile as other nail guns, as in they don’t have any other use aside from laying floorboards, but when it comes to their specific task, no other nailer comes close.

Roof Nailers

Worker working on a roof with roof nailer

The roofing nailer is also a heavy-duty nail gun like the framing nailer. It is typically only used by professional contractors and roofers, though it can be found in some home workshops too.

A roofing nailer drives nails into wood or other roofing materials at lightning-fast speeds. There are a few different types of roofing nailers:

  • Spring-loaded: Using springs to fire nails out of the chamber.
  • Pneumatic: Using an air compressor to fire the nails and is the most popular type.
  • Solenoid: Powered by electromagnetic polarization, these are the most high-tech option.