16 Vs 18 Gauge Nailer | Which One Should You Choose?

Are you in the market for getting yourself a nail gun but got confused thinking of which gauge to choose? The decision of choosing between 16 vs 18 gauge nail guns almost confuses all sorts of buyers. No matter if you’re a regular user or a DIY enthusiast. Both the nail guns have their own specifications, working area and separate perks and benefits. 

However, in this article, I will dive deep into the core and answer all your questions regarding the following topic. By the end of this piece, you won’t suffer from lack of knowledge. And your purchase will be one hundred percent smart and efficient. 

Fasten your seatbelt and dive deep into it, mate. What do you say?

16- Gauge Nailer 

Amongst all sorts of nailers, the following one is very delusional and provides the user with an utter peace of mind. The benefits this nailer holds are many. In the first place, a 16-gauge nailer operates with a 16-gauge nail which is certainly way stronger than 18-gauge nails. From holding power to head shape, everything is superior in terms of a 16-gauge nailer. 

The power delivered here is typically conducted by air or electricity. On the flip, in 18-gauge nailers, power is delivered via battery. However, the power delivery system mostly depends on the performance and user intent. One may find it convenient in batteries. Other users may find air power driven nailers useful. It’s relative.

No matter what, if you ignore the two considerations that have already been mentioned, a 16-gauge nailer comes with many more perks and benefits. For example, you can adjust the depth very easily here. The magazines for these nailers are way bigger than you find in 18-gauge ones. 

To be very honest, I found 16-gauge nailers extremely useful over the 18-gauge ones. Yes, you can obviously keep both these for omitting separate tasks. For light-duty woodworking, you won’t be able to find any better alternatives than a 18-gauge nailer. This can not be done by a 16-gauge. I hope you get my point. 

Another perk of using a 16-gauge nailer is, it’s very friendly and safe for newbies. No matter if you’re just starting out or a profession, this very type will get you covered. These consist of built-in safety mechanisms that prevent accidental firing in times of operation and ensure proper user safety. Implies, it’s user-friendly. 

Most of the newly built 16-gauge nailers are very ergonomic in design. The designers may have thought about the portability and ease of user while designing the products. Despite having a large magazine and a pile of features inside, the outer shell looks pretty minimal. This is fascinating. Both the 16 and 18-gauge nailer these days have been designing thinking of maximum space utilization. Impressive! 

Last but not least- more or less, all the 16-gauge nailer comes with a guarantee or warranty facility to provide the buyer with a peace of mind. This conformance makes the buyer more confident while purchasing. Many of the manufacturers also provide replacement guarantees. As in, if the product has any defects, you can claim a replacement and they will do it on their own. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

18- Gauge Nailer 

An 18-gauge nailer imparts totally the opposite view of a 16-gauge nailer. No, that really doesn’t mean that an 18-gauge nailer is bad, not at all. To some extent, it’s better than the 16-gauge one. In this segment, we will be hairsplitting all the features of an 18-gauge nailer and will draw a conclusion at the end. Here you go: 

In terms of working on soft and delicate objects, you certainly can’t operate with a 16-gauge nailer. As it’s much stronger and its holding power is more, the nailer may ruin the workpiece and will end up making an utter mess. To get rid of it, you must have to use an 18-gauge nailer. 

As you already know that a 16-gauge nailer consists of a large number of features in it. However, for all these features, the nailer becomes more bulky than usual. This bulkiness is typically responsible for the inconvenience. On the other hand, An 18-gauge nailer weighs less, and is not bulky at all. Implies, you can take the nailer anywhere you want. It always imparts a great portability. 

And yes, the most important thing is, an 18-gauge nailer is not at all expensive. By spending around $100, you can get yourself a brand new 18-gauge nailer. But the price will be cloud-kissing for a 16-gauge nail gun. That pretty much sums it up, I guess.

A Brief Comparison of 16-Gauge and 18-Gauge Nailers 

Alright, I think I could make you concerned enough about both the types of nailers, and now you know their perks clearly. However, as you’re on the buyers’ end and will be purchasing the product in the first place, I would like to render you some of the very basic differences between these types of nailers. By going through the portion illustrated below, your idea on these nailers will be much more superior than ever before. 

To start the rant, first of all, there’s this term called “nail size.” A 16-gauge nailer can drive nails thicker than 1.6mm. Point to be noted, this size is way thicker than the nail size that an 18-gauge nailer can handle. If you’re up for getting yourself a nailer, make sure to choose the right nail size. Otherwise, in times of operation, this may turn into a huge dilemma for you. 

Next up, there’s another factor which is nail head size. Basically, it’s the top view of the nail part that you see after placing the nail in a vertical position. A larger head size imparts a better handle on the nail. Here, the 16-gauge nailer holds a larger head, and the 18-gauge comes with a smaller nail. But if you know how to operate a nailer correctly, this factor won’t bother you anymore. 

Before adding the nailer to your bucket list, make sure to know about its application. Otherwise, your pain will know no bounds. For example, a 16-gauge nailer could have been used for heavy-duty woodworking, baseboards, and for crown molding. On the flip, a 18-gauge nailer is useful for light-duty woodworking, trim work, and paneling. You may see the differences now, don’t you? Though, it includes many of the works at random. I just mentioned some of the best ones. 

Holding the power of the nails is yet another important thing to look after. If your purchased nail is rusty and corroded, you will no longer use it for good. Even the durability here matters a world. So, to make your work efficient, selecting a durable nail is a must. Otherwise, nothing would work as you planned. Less durability of nails causes low holding power. And it ultimately ends up making your work less efficient and causes you some extra effort. 

Last but not least, in many reviews, they often ignore talking about this. But in reality, this is the most important parameter of all. That is the price. Yes! A 16-gauge nailer is very expensive. If you’re willing to buy nailers for industrial uses, having one of these may be worth all your bucks. But for DIY or home-using purposes, nothing could be replaced by an 18-gauge nailer. Based on the price, I can put an annotation on it. Makes sense now, I guess.

However, we are at the very last of this segment. In the table illustrated below, a brief comparison has been referred to for your further convenience. If you don’t have time to read all our rants, just roll your eyes at this table. You will get the ideas. 

Feature16-Gauge Nailer18-Gauge Nailer
Nail Size1 1/4″ to 2 1/2″5/8″ to 2 1/8″
Nail Head SizeLargerSmaller
Nail Holding CapacityFewer nails per magazineMore nails per magazine
Nail Shank DiameterThickerThinner
Holding PowerStrongerWeaker
ApplicationHeavy-duty woodworking, baseboards, crown moldingLight-duty woodworking, trim work, paneling
PriceMore expensiveLess expensive

Power Source: Battery or Air? 

No matter what type of power driven nail gun you use, it always have their own features, perks and benefits. You can not just put one categories of nail gun on top and say that it’s the best. Because, every categories could have been the game changer in some different perspective.

In this portion, I will try to make your understanding crystal like clear about the selection of power-driven nail gun and make you decide which nail gun you should choose. If you put optimum concentration here in this segment, I don’t think it will going to be detrimental for you. 


In the very first place, if i talk about battery-powered nail guns, i got a loads of good words to deliver to you. First of all, battery-powered tools (not only nail guns or other power tools) provide a very substantial portability. The reason behind this portability is, they’re cordless most of the times. Which allows you to move freely anywhere you want during operational activities. Although, you can make the nailer access all sort of “hard-to-reach” places without any further efforts. 

After portability, the ease of use comes in and changes the game. Battery-powered nailers are totally user friendly and do not require setup and maintenance associated with air compressors. You may guess why. Right! Because, they don’t really contain any type of air compressors. This makes them accessible for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts, as there’s no need need to deal with hoses, pressure adjustments, or potential air leaks. 


On the flipside of the coin, we have our another little friend that is none other than the air-powered nail gun. Honestly, i personally will always go for air-powered nail guns over the battery-powered one. Because, in my opinion, they provides much more versatility and ease than the other one. However, that’s not the main reason someone should pick it from a supershop. 

Apparently, air-powered nail guns are designed for getting away with large volume of works. If you’re looking for something that could have been used on large volume of industrial works, you may go for having air-powered nail gun without any further doubt. Because, it’s extremely efficient when it comes to continuous power driving. At the same time, the lightweight feature puts a cherry on top. 

Considering every perks and benefit, it’s really hard to put the crown on an individual categories of nail gun. Basically, both the nail guns are good. You just have to make sure what you want and why are using the nailer. If you have the answer of this question, i would suggest you to choose the appropriate nail gun accordingly. Nothing is there to lose, homie. Go nuts! 

Fifty Shades of Nail Gauge 

Apparently, the term “nail gauge” refers to the thickness of a nail. It is a quantitative approach by which we can measure the thickness of a nail using numerical value. The lower the number, the thicker the nail size is. However, along with the thickness of the nail, it typically expresses the strength of the nail as well. Also, the power of the nail to hold two materials together is also coils have been known by knowing the nail gauge. 

Here are some general guidelines regarding nail gauges:

Thicker Gauge (Lower Number)

As i already mentioned upward, nails with lower gauge numbers are stronger. As they possess optimum strength, they could have been implemented in terms of doing heavy-duty works, such as framing or attaching load-bearing structures. 

The principle behind this lies in the physics of materials. Thicker nails have more material, and therefore, more resistance to deformation or failure. The enhanced strength of lower gauge nails contributes to the overall stability and reliability of structures, making them well-suited for applications where structural integrity is paramount. 

Thinner Gauge (Higher Number)

Nails with higher gauge numbers are thinner and often used for lighter applications, such as trim work or finishing. As an user, you could use thinner gauge nails into your DIY works or less-intense works where structural integrity is not a priority. The main reason behind this is, thinner nails offer a more delicate appearance, making them suitable for applications where aesthetics and a subtle finish are important. 

Lighter application may not require the same level of structural strength as heavy-duty construction. Thinner nails are often sufficient for tasks where the primary purpose is to secure materials together without the need for excessive holding power. 

Last but not the least, selecting the correct nail gauge is vital for project success, ensuring sufficient strength and support. Different nail types, such as framing or finishing nails, may have specific gauge recommendations. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure the chosen nails align with your project needs, ensuring efficiency, safety, and performance standards are met.

5 Things to Look While Selecting Between 16- Gauge and 18- Gauge Nailer 

We have come to a very significant portion of our piece. Till now, I tried to illustrate the main differences between a 16 and 18-gauge nailer and also, their characteristics at random. However, you may have been wondering whether to purchase a nail gun between these two. Here’s some consideration you may look after while buying: 

Type of Project 

Type of project is the most prior thing that should be in your consideration. If the workpiece requires a strong hold, you will need to introduce a 16-gauge nailer in that case. To insert nails on furniture and house construction, a 16-gauge nailer works well. 

However, in terms of objects that require delicate touch and pseudo handling, there’s no usefulness of a 16-gauge nailer. Instead, make yourself go with an 18-gauge nailer. It will make your operation smooth like a knife in butter. 

Wood Thickness 

The thickness of wood is yet another thing to look at while choosing between a 16-gauge nailer and 18-gauge nailer. Typically, woods that are thick and dense require a much stronger nail gun that has better hold. You may assume now. Yes, for denser wood, using a 16-gauge nailer is the smartest option of all. 

On the flip, for thinner and softer woods, you can use an 18-gauge nailer. The fact is, you must have to check the wood thickness before starting the insertion of nails. Because, if you apply the wrong nailer to the wrong wood, the wood may crack or get wrecked unexpectedly. Who wants that, huh?

Nail Capacity 

If you’re getting confused about the size of nails you should penetrate within the workpiece, you must consider this following term. Which is “nail capacity”. Apparently, the size of nail a nailer can insert is called the nail capacity. From the very beginning, we have been seeing a 16-gauge nailer doing better than an 18-gauge.

From that annotation, you can always drive larger and longer nails with a 16-gauge nailer. Well, an 18-gauge nailer can also drive bigger nails. But not as big as a 16-gauge can. If you want to drive short nails, you should go for selecting a 18-gauge nail. Because, it would be way more cost efficient. Go for the 16-gauge if you want to work on stiff woods and like to insert long nails into the woods. 


Here comes the main thing to keep strongly in mind. That is nothing but the budget. From the beginning, the 16-gauge nailer was one step ahead of the 18-gauge nailer. How much will their price be? Will they differentiate much? What do you think? 

Well, in terms of buying a 16-gauge nail gun, you have to invest more bucks than usual. As it consists of several features, perks and benefits, the budget is a bit high. Which is pretty normal. You will get what you pay for. 

On the other hand, the price of an 18-gauge nailer is not that much. By spending somewhat between $50 to $200, you will be lucky enough to get yourself a good grade 18-gauge nail gun. But no matter what, always look at the price tag before you put the product in your cart. It matters. 

Skill Level 

If you’re a novice nail gun user, you should start your journey by operating with a 18-gauge nailer. However, if you’re using the nailer for industrial purposes, or you know the tactics already, I would suggest you go for the 16-gauge one. 

Skill level matters a lot. If you don’t make yourself control the nailer, then there’s no actual meaning of using that nailer. As a matter of fact, if you use the wrong nailer, you may get injured. For omitting all these very inconveniences, safety precautions should have been measured. 

5 Considerations That Makes A Nail Gun is Right For You

This topic is pretty hard to discuss. Apparently, which type of nail gun you may need entirely depends upon you. However, i have illustrated few criteria below. You can select the appropriate nail gun that best fits you according to the factors down below. Let’s go through it- 

  1. Type of Work 

If you’re looking for a nail gun for heavy-duty tasks like framing or attaching load-bearing structures, consider an air-powered nail gun with lower gauge nails. Otherwise, for lighter applications like trim work or finishing, a battery powered nail gun with higher gauge nails may be more suitable. 

  1. Portability 

If the portability of your tool is the primary criteria for you, i would always suggest you to go for any battery-powered one. You know the reason already. However, in case you don’t- battery-powered nail guns are cordless all the way. Implies, they won’t mess your operation up while you’re middle into the work. 

  1. Continuous Use 

Likewise, i already have answered it in the first place. However, an air-powered nailer would be just right if you want continuous power supply. 

  1. Cost Considerations 

Consider your budget and the overall cost, including the initial investment and any additional expenses such as batteries or air compressor. After doing the gross audit, go for the one that best makes your decision economical. 

  1. Versatility 

Evaluate the versatility of the nail gun for different tasks. Some models can handle various nail sizes and types, offering flexibility in your projects. If versatility is your main priority, then there are tons of choices for you. You can pick any product that gives a gross backup to your decision or requirement. 

Before you jump right into purchasing- i would like to let you know that always read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and specifications for the nail gun you choose. Understanding your specific requirements and the features of each type of nail gun will help you make an informed decision. Do not ignore it and get the most efficient output. Best of luck! 


Is it possible to use 18-gauge nails in a 16-gauge nailer?

Ans: In general, it is not recommended to use a different gauge of nails than what your nailer is designed for. Nails are specifically designed for certain nail guns, and using the wrong gauge can lead to issues.

Which nails should I use for crown molding?

Ans: You can opt for finish nails in the 15 or 16-gauge range, with lengths typically between 1.5 to 2 inches. This ensures a balance between strength and minimizing the risk of splitting.

Which is better, a 16 or 18-gauge nail gun? 

Ans: The choice between a 16 and 18-gauge nail gun depends on the specific application. A 16-gauge nail gun is generally more robust and suitable for heavier tasks like framing and baseboards. 

On the other hand, an 18-gauge nail gun is better for lighter finishing work, such as trim and molding. Consider the demands of your project and choose the gauge that aligns with the required strength and precision.


We are at the end of this article. Till now, I have tried to direct you with the benefits and features of 16 vs 18 gauge nail guns and also illustrated a brief comparison between these two guns. There is a portion as well for the buyers who have been thinking of purchasing a nail gun. I think I could get you covered. 

If you think you have missed anything or any of the parts, just go and read the para again. Your concept will be cleared. And yes, share this directory with your friends and mates. 


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