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Nails are essential for laundry room projects or roof improvement ideas because without them you won’t be able to complete the project you started. Figuring out how to find the best brad nails may turn out to be a painstakingly long process if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
Like all other types of nails, brad nails come in a broad range of sizes that are compatible with specific brad nailer types. You should read our brad nailer vs finish nailer comparison for more information about these tools.
However, you don’t necessarily need a nail gun to use brad nails, since you can use a hammer to drive them through different materials. In this guide, we are going to show you how to find the best brad nails and take you through some of the best brad nail sets on the market.
Top 5 Brad Nails
|Best Overall: DeWalt DBN18200
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|Most Versatile: Senco A209909
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|Best 1-1/4-inch Set: GREX GBN 18-32
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|Best For DIY projects: Being Fun Brad Nails
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|Most Affordable: Stanley Swkbn625S
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What’s a Brad nail?
Also known as the wire nail, the brad nail is one of the thinnest nails in the nail family. Consequently, they are commonly available in lengths that range from 5/8-inch to 2-1/2-inch, which makes them suitable for fastening thin materials.
Optionally, you can use a tack hammer to hand-drive a brad nail into a thin sheet of metal, wood, and other materials you’re using in your project.
Concealing brad nails is easy since they don’t make a large hole in a material, and they may be a perfect choice if you’re working on a piece of furniture or any other item that wouldn’t look good if it contained clearly visible nail holes.
How are brad nails different from finish nails?
It is nearly impossible to tell brad nails and finish nails apart just by looking at them since the only difference between them is the gauge of the wire that is used to make these nails.
Finish nails are made from wires that have 15 or 16 gauge, while wires with 18 gauge are utilized to produce brad nails. The lower gauge number indicates that finish nails are thicker than brad nails and that their heads are larger.
Consequently, the hole in a material made by a finished nail is very visible and you have to use a wood filler to cover it up. Masking brad nails will be much easier as their heads are smaller and they are also thinner than finish nails.
The only downside of using brad nails is that you won’t be able to fasten thick, large wooden panels or sheets of metal as they are too heavy to be held in place by these nails. Go through our guide to the best finishing nail guns for more information about these tools.
Brad nails materials
How durable and sturdy brad nails are going to be, depends on the material they’re made from since the nail is likely to bend if the surface you shoot it to is too hard.
That’s why knowing which materials you want to fasten with brad nails will help you determine the type of these nails you should get. Let’s take a look at the materials that are commonly used to produce brad nails.
Brads made of copper are best suited for different types of wood, and you can use them to fix sidings to the building’s exterior or moldings while decorating a house’s interior.
You shouldn’t attempt to use copper brad nails when working with hard materials, since it is highly likely that they’ll bend as soon as they get in touch with the surface of the material.
In case you need brad nails with more robust construction, then you should opt for those that are made of stainless steel. These nails are strong enough to pierce through tiles or slate, but using a hammer can damage these materials.
That’s why stainless steel brad nails are usually used with brad nailers that are powerful enough to shoot a nail through these materials without breaking them.
Piercing sidings and thin sheets of metal with aluminum brad nails are relatively easy as they are not going to bend when they hit the surface of the material. Besides, brad nails made from aluminum can be used on a broad range of carpentry projects.
Aluminum, stainless steel, and under certain conditions copper can be galvanized in order to increase the strength and durability of these materials.
Brad nails made of materials that were galvanized are sturdy and corrosion resistant which enables you to use them even if they are going to be exposed to snow or rain.
Brad nails that are made of galvanized materials are more expensive than their non-galvanized counterparts, but their exceptional durability justifies the extra cost.
The length of brad nails
The length of a brad nail can vary between ½-inch and 2-1/2 inch, and they can either be acquired as individual pieces or as collated strips designed for brad nailers.
While choosing the length of brad nails you should also consider the thickness of the material you’ll be working with since the nail needs to be three times longer than the material’s thickness. For example, if you have a wooden plank that is ½-inch thick you’ll need a brad nail that is 1-1/2-inch long.
It is worth noting that some brad nailers have a dual functionality that enables you to use staples for extra thin materials and brad nails for materials that are up to 2-inches thick.
When to use brad nails
Picture frame rails, thin metal sheets, or plastic elements may split when you attempt to fasten them if the nails you use are too large. Brad nails enable you to attach low-gauge materials to different surfaces without the risk of damaging them.
Whenever you’re working on a project that involves shoe moldings, crafting of window trims, or bookcases you should opt for brad nails. However, if you’re working with heavy high-gauge materials you should utilize finish or some sturdier type of nail.
The advantages of brad nails
Excellent corrosion resistance
Some brad nails are made from materials that don’t corrode if they are exposed to rain for a long time. This feature makes them suitable for both indoor and outdoor use as they are don’t lose their anti-rusting properties quickly.
Compatible with different types of brad nailers
Instead of using a hammer to hand-drive a brad nail, you can use a brad nailer to shoot these nails into a material. However, the size of these nails must match the size of the brad nailer you’re using.
Brad nails are not expensive, since you can get an entire set that contains over a thousand nails for less than $20. Also, finding such a set online shouldn’t be difficult as countless retailers enable you to purchase different brad nail sets through their website.
The disadvantages of brad nails
Limited range of materials
Their size makes brad nails suitable for use with thin and lightweight materials and they are not strong enough to hold together two heavy sheets of metal or wooden boards.
The most important factors to consider while choosing brad nails
Which brad nails you can use on a project depends on the weight and width of materials you’re dealing with. Generally speaking, brad nails are a bad fit for hard materials that are thicker than two inches, because they might not be long or strong enough for such applications.
That’s why the brad nails you pick have to be suitable for the purpose for which you want to use them. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can help you narrow down the search for brad nails.
Size and length
If you want to use an electric or pneumatic brad nailer you’ll need nails that match the tool’s size and length. So, if you have a brad nailer that is designed to take 2-inch nails, you won’t be able to use smaller or larger brad nails with it.
Also, shooting finishing nails with brad nailers isn’t possible as they are too thick to fit the tool. Check out our guide to the best air compressors for nail guns if you have a pneumatic brad nailer.
The sturdiness of brad nails
The material from which a brad nail is made determines how sturdy it is, and for that reason, most professional woodworkers choose brad nails that are made of galvanized stainless steel or galvanized aluminum.
If you’re planning on using these nails to fasten wooden rails or decorative molding you can opt for models that are made of copper.
The thickness of the material
You should use this parameter to calculate the perfect length of brad nails for your projects. Ideally, the brad nails you get should be three times longer than the thickness of the material you want to fasten.
You should avoid using brad nails with hard, high-density materials as they may not be able to hold for long.
The number of brad nails in the pack
Brad nail sets are usually designed specifically for use with a brad nailer, and they can contain between a few hundred and several thousand units. In case you’re planning on driving brad nails manually, you can purchase them individually and decide how many nails you want to buy.
DeWalt DBN1820 – The best overall brad nails
Designed for large construction projects, the DeWalt DBN18200 Set contains 5000 pieces of 2-inch brad nails. These stainless steel nails have a galvanized coating that protects them from oxidation and increases their durability.
The shank is smooth and strong which enables it to go through the surface of the material without leaving a trace. As a result, the hole it creates won’t be noticeable and it won’t take much effort to mask it.
This set is compatible with brad nailers that can hold 2-inch nails, but the manufacturer offers this set in several different sizes so that you can choose the one that fits the brad nailer you have.
- The set contains 5000 nails
- Great for construction sites
- These brad nails don’t bend easily
- Suitable for use with different materials
- Only one nail size is available in the set
- The set may be too large for DIY projects
Senco A209909 – The most versatile brad nail set
If you’re looking for a brad nail set you can use to assemble a picture frame, install thin window trims or shoe moldings, then you should take a closer look at the Senco A209909 set. There are 1200 brads in four different sizes in this set which enables you to use them for a broad range of projects.
This set gives you access to 1-inch, 1-1/2-inch, 1-3/4-inch, and 2-inch brads that are made to be used with electric brad nailers produced by different manufacturers.
These brad nails are made of stainless steel and they have galvanized coating that protects them from getting damaged by rust or corrosion.
- Allows users to complete different types of projects
- Made from durable materials
- Sharp tip pierces the material’s surface easily
- Compatible with numerous brad nailer models
- Not designed for manual use
- The set contains just 1200 brads
GREX GBN 18-32 – The best 1-1/4-inch brand nail set
Like all brad nails, the nails in the GREX GBN 18-32 set have an 18 gauge and they are aimed at uses who work primarily with lumber. The set is designed for electric brad nailers and it features 5000 units that are arranged into collated strips that are easy to load.
The slim head and a sharp tip enable you to use these nails for different flooring projects as the holes they create are barely visible. Also, these nails are galvanized so you don’t have to worry about corrosion.
The GBEX GBN 18-32 set is inexpensive, so you can get ten thousand nails for less than $30.
- Made from stainless steel
- Low risk of spiting the material
- Masking nail holes is easy
- Only suitable for brad nailers that can hold 1-1/4-nails
- Not for firm materials
Being Fun Brad Nails – The best brad nails for DIY carpentry projects
Although aimed primarily at woodworkers, brads from the Being Fun Brad Nail Set can be used by all DIYers in need of strong and slim nails. You can use this with different brad nailers because it contains 2000 units in different sizes.
Each collated strip contains a hundred nails, and there are 500 5/8-inch, 500 ¾-inch, 500 1-inch, and 500 1-1/4-inch nails in the set. All brads have a slim head and a chisel point, which enables them to create a small hole and remain well hidden once they are shot into the material.
You will get a plastic case that enables you to carry the set with you to the job site or store it in your workshop.
- Each collated strip contains a hundred brads
- Suitable for all woodworking applications
- Galvanized finish prevents corrosion
- The set ships with a sturdy storage case
- 2-inch brads are not included in the set
- Brad nails from this set may bend when they’re driven into metal
Stanley Swkbn625S – The most affordable brad nail set
An inexpensive set like the Stanley Swkbn625S is reliable enough to be used on most home-based projects, but you should keep in mind that it only includes 5/8-inch brads. There are a thousand nails in this set, so chances are that you’ll be able to use it on more than just one project.
That’s why this set is a great choice if you want to assemble furniture made of thin wooden boards or put together picture frames. However, these brad nails are not strong enough to hold large sheets of metal or pieces of heavy materials together.
- Less expensive than most brad nail sets
- Great for DIY carpentry projects
- The set contains a thousand nails
- The plastic case makes the set easily portable
- Limited compatibility
- Brads from this set are not galvanized
Frequently asked questions about brad nails
Answer: You don’t necessarily have to use a brad nailer to drive a brad nail. You can use a tack hammer to drive these nails manually into a material, but you should keep in mind that you may bend them if you apply too much force
Answer: Like all types of nails, brads will corrode if they are exposed to rain and other factors that may cause them to rust. However, galvanized brad nails don’t corrode quickly which makes them suitable for exterior use
Answer: The maximum size of a brad nail doesn’t exceed 2-1/2-inches and you will have to opt for finish nails or some other nail type if you need nails that are longer than 3 inches.
Answer: Brad nails make small holes in the material, and their heads are small so they won’t be very visible. Masking these nails is easy since you’ll only have to cover a small surface.
The Verdict: How to find the right brad nails for the job?
Having a set of brad nails in your toolbox can be useful in a broad spectrum of situations, as they are versatile and strong enough to be used to fasten different materials.
Also, you can drive these nails with a hammer or opt to utilize a brad driver that will enable you to shoot large numbers of nails quickly. A set such as the DeWalt DBN18200 is a reliable choice if you need strong 2-inch brads that can pierce through most materials with ease.
The Senco A209909 set should be your go-to option in case you want to work with brads that have different lengths. We hope that this guide has helped you find brad nails that fit your project perfectly.
Which of the best brad nails are you going to choose? Let us know in the comments or check out our guide to the best framing nailers to learn more about these tools