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Types Of Nail Guns

Materials like wood, plastic, and even metals are often combined with nails. If there is a need to place multiple nails, a nail gun can be very effective. These machines are specially designed to pull and place nails on materials faster and in an automated way. Most nail guns are designed keeping specific purposes in mind.

The first nail gun was designed by Morris Pynoos, a civil engineer who repeatedly used air pressure to fire the nails on wood. Since the introduction of nail guns in 1950 for house floorings, many more devices have been introduced. Nail guns are now widely used in professional works like installing sides, floorings, construction projects, etc. Here is a detailed guide on nail guns and their types.

What is a Nail Gun & How Does it Work?

A nail gun, a nailer or nailing device, is an automated hammer device that can drive nails of different sizes through materials like wood, plastic, etc. The nail guns come with a lever, a trigger, and a cartridge to store the nails inside them. These devices use different forces like air pressure, electricity, or gas that force the nails out through the nailing hole and deeply embed these in the material.

Classification of Nail Guns

1. Pneumatic Nail Gun

A pneumatic nail gun or air-powered nail gun gets the power from the compressed air panel that is, in turn, connected to a hose. It is a type of framing gun that can drive the nails to a depth of 3.5 inches. It is mainly used for framing nails in wood or similar semi-soft material. The pneumatic nail guns are some of the largest models. They primarily connect larger wooden pieces, mainly in construction sites or making large furniture.

The gun first draws air when it moves upwards. Then, when you pull the trigger, the air is forced into the air reservoir, and the pressure sinks the nails into the material. The best part about using pneumatic nail guns is that it completely sinks the nails in the material and does not need additional hammering.

2. Gas/Fuel-Powered Nail Gun

The Paslode Company introduced fuel or gas-run nail guns in 1986 by impulse nail guns. Many users also claim that these types of guns are better than pneumatic nail guns due to their speed and efficiency.

Gas-powered guns come with a consumable internal cell filled with gas and a battery cell. When you click or press the trigger, the fuel comes out. In the meantime, the battery ignites the fuel, and the sparks convert into a thrusting power that pushes the nail deep into the material. The process soon repeats with another nail. That means you can fix nails multiple times with just one trigger pull.

3. Electric Corded Nail Gun

These first-generation electric nail guns are not used much now due to the introduction of the latest models. It comes with a cord to plug into the machine to work. But, these guns do not have a battery limit and have the same efficiency as long as they receive power. But, since these come with cords, their work area is limited.

The cored nailer has a spring-loaded nailer with two drive axles that receive power through the electric motor. The first axle moves the grooved disc, and the second moves the gear train. When you pull the trigger, the lever is pressed, and the resulting force pushes the hammer on the two springs, and the axle fires the nail.

4. Electric Cordless Nail Gun

The cordless electric nail guns are a more advanced version. They come with a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged occasionally. While these guns allow you to work anywhere without electric connectivity, they may not be as powerful as pneumatic models.

It also has a spring-loaded nailer and a motor. The battery supplies power to the motor. Like a corded electric gun, when you pull the trigger, the second axle lever pushes the hammer on the dual springs, and the axle pushes the nail on the material.

What are the Different Types of Nail Guns?

1. Roofing Nail Guns

The roofing guns are heavy-duty nailing devices solely used for installing roofing materials like asphalt, waterproof tar paper, fiberglass, insulation board, etc.

It uses ¾ to 1-3/4 inch pins with flat heads to ensure the roofing material remains fixed in its position. Generally, a roofing nail gun can hold more nails in its magazine (mainly at the center), which helps to manage the gun better while working and reduces the reload frequency.

You can see the nail size through the gun. Most models also come with adjustable shingle mechanisms to ensure you can nail tech roofing material properly without any errors.

2. Framing Nail Guns

The framing nail guns are usually used to join large timber frames while making furniture, making fences, decks, wood sidings, wood sheathing, etc. Hence, these are used mainly by carpenters who need a heavy-duty nailing gun for working. A regular framing gun is usually used to drive nails of 3.5 inches on larger wooden pieces, like 2×4 or 2×6 inches.

Framing nail guns come in two main types- round head nailers and clipped head nailing guns. The round-head-hailing guns have the traditional pull-trigger nailing design. On the other hand, the clipped head nail guns have specially designed nails with a “D” shaped head. The chopped head nailing guns can hold 20-30% more nails and are better for high-volume projects.

3. Pin Nail Gun

The pin nail guns can shoot small 22023 gauge nails (head or headless) on wood, especially thin wooden ply or softer woods. It is used in wooden crafts where precision is needed. The headless pins are usually used to connect the glued parts to ensure the latter dries faster and precisely. Hence, these nails can be removed easily. The pins with heads are often used to bind thinner wooden pieces.

4. Flooring Nail Guns

Flooring nail guns are specialized guns that are used to lay tongue-and-groove floorboards or floorings in general. The nailer has a nylon trigger that hits the plunger and pushes a nail into the framing material. The flooring guns are mostly held at the edge of the material, and the nails are framed at a right angle to join the small materials together.

The flooring nailers can be manual or pneumatic. While the pneumatic models use compressed air pressure, the manual ones rely entirely on manual power.

5. Brad Nail Gun

Brad nail guns are mainly used to finish works in carpentry; these powered nailing devices use 18 gauge brads or smaller nails. Brad nailing guns are mainly used to install bases or castings with a thickness of 3/8 inches maximum.

But brad nailers can also apply larger nails like 15-16 gauge nails on casings, Baseboards, or crown moulding.

6. Staple Nail Gun

The staple nail guns come with specialized heavy metal staple pins used as a fastener for wood, plastic, fabric, or masonry. There are three types- pneumatic staple guns, electric staple guns (corded or cordless), and manual staple guns. The guns come with a trigger that presses the staples on the materials. You can put multiple fasteners with precise speed by adjusting the trigger speed.

While staple guns are primarily used in the upholstery industry to attach fabrics, there are also stronger versions. Stronger staple guns can staple wooden floorings, wall coverings, boards, and panels together.

7. Finish Nail Guns

The finish nailing devices are only used to finish carpentry projects and come with nails of the size 15 to 16 gauge. The design of the finish nailers makes them compatible with handling the nailing work of thicker and hard wooden pieces. It is mainly used in making baseboards and crown moulding.

8. Siding Nail Gun

Siding nail guns are specially designed to install sliding or thin wooden or synthetic PVC panels on a wooden frame of the house. Since these boilers come with lower velocities, they can also be used on softwood or thin synthetic materials.

Siding nail guns usually use 1.25 to 2.5-inch nails with wider heads to connect the thinner slide together. Modern models also come with specially fitted aluminum siding nails that can be used to fit aluminum sidings.

9. Special Nail Guns

Nailing devices like headless pinners are used for special projects. They do not have any other purpose besides their specific jobs. Such nailing guns are called specialty guns.

Common Variants of Nail Guns

1. Pneumatic Roofing Nail Gun

The pneumatic roofing nail guns work with air pressure. When you press the trigger, the air first enters the gun and then gets forced to enter a chamber containing the trigger. The resultant force from the compressed air forces the nails to come out and deeply embed in the roofing material. It is the most common type of roofing nail gun. Even though it is powerful, it is not portable as you need to connect an air compressor cylinder with the nailing device.

2. Cordless Roofing Nail Gun

Cordless roofing guns are preferred due to their portability and maneuverability. These guns are either powered by gas or a lithium-ion battery. Hence, you can work with them anywhere you like.

3. Pneumatic Framing Nail Gun

Pneumatic framing nail guns are the most common type of framing gun. The gun comes with a sliding piston with a long blade. If the air pressure below the piston head becomes less than the pressure above the piston head, the downward air forces the piston in the same direction, which in turn nails the frames. Even though such guns are powerful, the attached cord often makes them challenging while working.

4. Cordless Framing Nail Gun

Cordless framing nailers mostly contain 20 V lithium-ion batteries that power the device. Due to its portability, it is mainly used in construction work and high-range carpentry projects.

It has a motor connected to two drive axles and a spring-loaded nailer. When the trigger is pressed, the battery provides power to the motor. It, in turn, moves the first axle, and the second one moves the gear. The resulting force hammers the spring to force out the nails.

5. Gas Framing Nail Gun

These nailing guns are still favored due to hair portability and convenience. The gas cartridge is connected to a battery. The battery creates a spark that turns the gas into flames. The resulting force then deeply embeds the nail in the frames.

6. Pneumatic Pin Nail Gun

Pneumatic pin nail guns are ideal for close proximity to finding jobs. It is mainly used to attach smaller frames and comes with precise control over the pins. These are primarily light-duty devices used for craft projects or finishing.

7. Electric Pin Nail Gun

Electric pin nail guns come with an attached cord or a rechargeable battery. These types of nailing guns are lightweight and can be used for projects that need precision.

8. Pneumatic Flooring Nail Gun

This type of flooring nail gun attaches the nails through a forced air pressure on the hammer that forces the nail forcefully and with precision. It is swift and precise. Although it does not need electricity, the air compressor hose length can be limited.

9. Cordless Flooring Nail Gun

Cordless flooring nail guns come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or with a gas cartridge. The gas or electricity powers the motor within, pressing the hammer and forcing the nails out.

10. Manual Flooring Nail Gun

It is one of the most affordable nailing devices. Many professionals also prefer it as the control over the nail depth is better than the automated models. You can pull the trigger to nail the end of each flooring material. But it is slower than any other model, and you must press the trigger each time you want to nail the flooring.

11. Hardwood Flooring Nail Gun

Hardwood flooring nail guns are specialty nailing devices that use 16 to 18- gauge nails to attach the flooring material made with hardwoods like ash, oak, or beech. Depending on the model, the hardwood flooring guns can be either pneumatic or corded, or even cordless. These are stronger guns that can work on strong and brittle hardwood pieces.

12. Pneumatic Brad Nail Gun

Pneumatic brad nail guns use compressed air pressure to force out the small nails or brads on the material. It offers a consistent work speed, and pressure to attach brands is attached faster on the frames. Since it is mainly used for finishing, the air hose is smaller in length and the guns usually have a shorter recharge time.

13. Cordless Brad Nail Gun

Cordless brad nail guns are light-duty nailing devices with rechargeable lithium batteries that can be carried anywhere. On top of that, these guns use smaller brands for framing panels and other craft works.

14. Hand-Actuated Staple Nail Gun

Hand-actuated staple nail guns are primarily used in the upholstery industry. Due to their user-friendly nature and inexpensive price tag, they are the most popular staple gun type. You must press the trigger to force out the staple on the material. Most devices come with adjustments to suit different staple sizes and can also be used outdoors.

15. Hammer Staple Gun

Hammer staple guns come with a hammering end that you need to force on the material it pulls out the staple. It is difficult to handle and is mainly used to install padding and carpets.

16. Electric Staple Gun

It is more convenient and powerful as it receives constant power through the cord. The gun is precise and can staple faster than many other variants.

17. Pneumatic Staple Gun

Pneumatic staple guns are faster and use air pressure to force the staples out of the material. It is usually connected to an air compressor to supply air constantly.

18. Pneumatic Finish Nail Gun

The pneumatic finish nail guns are connected to an air compressor that forces the compressed air inside the nailing devices and the small finishing nails on the material.

19. Cordless Finish Nail Gun

Cordless finishing nail guns are used to finish carpentry or other projects that require attaching small nails to the material. These can be powered by gas or even a rechargeable battery.

20. Pneumatic Siding Nail Gun

Pneumatic sliding guns install slides on the sides of houses as these have more substantial pressure. The consistent air pressure makes this nailing gun faster and more precise. If you don’t mind the air hose, it can be a great choice to work.

21. Electric Siding Nail Gun

Electric sliding guns are primarily used in projects situated over significant proximity. These are easily maneuverable and can be carried in any place.

22. Headless Pinners

Headless pinners are specialty pin-nailing guns that use headless and fine pins. Such devices mostly install smaller or more detailed moldings in walls. Since the pins are headless, you can replace the wooden fillers with the pins and create an aesthetic look in the project.

23. Palm Nail Guns

Palm nail guns are small nailing devices that are small enough to fit inside your palm. Such devices are mainly used to work in tight spaces and smaller projects. The palm nailing guns cause small and large nails, depending on the project. Palm nailers use repeated hammer blows or approximately 40 blows per second instead of a single hit to force out the nails.

24. Concrete and Steel Nail Guns

Such devices are mainly used to fasten concrete or steel. Concrete and steel nailing guns are usually pneumatic or cordless electric. The devices have specially designed pins that can be applied on thick and hard materials such as concrete or steel.

25. Coil Nail Guns

Coil nail guns come with an adjustable magazine with coiled pins; these guns can accommodate more nails inside the magazine at an angle of 15 degrees. The nails are held together with two thin wires welded on the shanks. The coiled nailers can fire more nails and need fewer reloads.

Safety Precautions While Using the Nail Gun

Nail guns are dangerous devices and should be handled carefully to prevent injuries while working. Here are some general rules that one should maintain-

  • If the lumbers need to be adjusted or held by hand while nailing, it is better to use at least full sequential trigger nail guns.
  • Always check if someone is holding the workpiece before starting the nailing procedure to prevent unintended nail discharge.
  • Inexperienced or new employers should not be allowed to work with nail guns as they can cause injuries.
  • Make sure that the area where you are working is not overcrowded
  • While working with pneumatic or corded nailing guns, take measurements so that no one falls or trips due to the attachments.
  • Make sure to handle the tools with care to ensure these do not get damaged.

Also Check: 21 Vs 30 Degree Framing Nailer

Types Of Nail Guns – FAQs

1. What is the difference between a pneumatic and cordless nail gun?

Ans: Pneumatic nail guns are powered by compressed air, while cordless nail guns use batteries. Pneumatic guns are generally lighter, while cordless guns offer greater mobility.

2. Are there specialized nail guns for flooring projects?

Ans: Yes, flooring nailers are designed specifically for installing various types of flooring materials, such as hardwood or engineered wood.

3. What size nails should I use with different nail guns?

Ans: The size of nails depends on the type of nail gun and the specific project. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate nail size.

4. What is the difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?

Ans: Brad nailers and finish nailers are both used for trim work, but brad nailers use smaller gauge nails and are suitable for more delicate woodwork where minimal visibility of nail holes is desired.

5. When should I use a finish nailer?

Ans: Finish nailers are ideal for tasks that require a neat and polished appearance, such as crown molding, baseboards, and trim work. They use smaller gauge nails that leave smaller holes, reducing the need for wood putty.


While many people associate nail guns with contractors and specialists, anyone can effectively use a nail gun with proper training and guidance. Nail guns are designed to attach nails faster and precisely in different projects like carpentry or construction and interior decoration. Even a DIY expert can use a nail gun for regular home repairs. Three versatile devices are ideal for anyone who wants to work faster and more effectively.

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