16 or 18 Gauge Nailer for Hardwood Floor

It’s not news that nails guns are rapidly becoming indispensable tools in the woodworking industry. Apart from being affordable, they are an effortless way to drive nails into a floor. Since these nailers come in different types, it may sometimes be challenging to decide which suitable product should be purchased for a particular project.

16 and 18 gauge nailers are very common, and people do run into problems knowing which one to select. However, this won’t be an issue if buyers can try their best to understand what the two products are.

16- and 18-gauge nailers are both designed for hardwood floors. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation by using each specific gauge nailer for the appropriate floor. Notably, the nail gun to use will be determined by the thickness and hardness of the wood and if the wood is engineered or solid.

16 or 18 Gauge Nailer for Hardwood Floor

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Facts about 16 and 18 Gauge Nailers for Hardwood Floors

Below are the facts you need to know about 16 and 18 nail guns for hardwood floors:

  • 18-gauge nails are thinner when compared to 16-gauge nails, which is against what beginners may think because of the numbers attached to them.
  • The shank of a 16-gauge finish nail is 0.0625-inch thick, and the range of the nails’ length is between 1″ and 3.5″. This explains why 16-gauge nails are thicker compared to their counterparts. Besides, the nails are ideal for denser wood pieces.
  •  Due to the versatility of 16-gauge nails, they are used for numerous projects, including exterior trims, chair rails, staircases casting, base and crown moldings, cabinets, and flooring.
  • The shank of 18-gauge finish nails is 0.0.0475-inch thick, and the range of the nails’ length is between 0.5″ and 2.5″.
  • The 18-gauge nails are used for baseboard, paneling and veneer, trim work, casing, and decorative molding.
  • 18-gauge nailers are specifically made for 18-gauge nails and 16-gauge nailers for 16-gauge nails.

16 Gauge Nailers vs. and 18 Gauge Nailers

Every Woodworker needs a proper nail thickness to do a quality job. Since the nail you select will determine the kind of nailer you will use, it’s, therefore, crucial to know what 16-gauge nailers and 18-gauge nailers are all about.

16-Gauge Nailers

The thickness of 16-gauge nailer makes them better than 18-gauge nailer. This is because the unique feature ensures they hold better on a workplace.  They come in different price ranges based on configurations (pneumatic: $100 and $200; cordless: $200 and $400). They are versatile tools also available for several applications, including interior trim,  baseboard, crown, etc. The basic shortcoming of the nailer is that they are not suitable for delicate work, and using them will make sanding and filling nail holes necessary due to their larger heads.


  • Easy penetration into thicker wood and MDF
  • Support nails of several lengths
  • Ideal for different applications due to their versatility
  • Hold power better than 18-gauge brads
  • Reach corners easily


  • Not great for thinner wood
  • Not suitable for thin trims and narrow broads.
  • Create a hole that must be filled

18-Gauge Nailers

Woodworkers use 18-gauge nailers on numerous projects, casing decorative molding, chair rails, etc. You can also use them for some woodworking projects and trim work. Like 16-gauge nailers, 18-gauge nailers are also in two configurations: pneumatic and cordless. The cost of the pneumatic is between $100 and $390, while the cordless is between $100 and $400.


  • Great for more delicate and fine tasks
  • No sanding or filling of the nail hole
  • Supports nails of different lengths
  • Do not often split the trim


  • Less power
  • Inability to properly penetrate MDF
  • Not for hard-to-reach or tight corners/spaces

How to choose a Suitable Guage Nailer for hardwood floors

Experienced woodworkers know that nails used during the installation of hardwood floors are different in relation to thickness, which could either be 18 or 16 gauges. Notwithstanding, you should remember that the thinner nails are those whose gauge number is higher. During the selection process, the main factor to consider to choosing 18 or 16 gauge will be how thick or hard the wood is.

To install hardwood floors, cleat nails and not construction nails should be used for fastening. Nailers are a better option to install cleat nails than using a hammer or mallet because nailers won’t dent your hardwood. Moreso, every cleat nail comes with barbs that won’t allow it to back out from the wood. To pick a suitable gauge nailer for hardwood floors, other factors to consider include the size, type, features, and power source of the project.

16 or 18: The Better Gauge Nailer for Hardwood Floors?

The best way to know the better product between 16 and 18 Guage nailers for hardwood floors is to compare comprehensively.

As aforementioned, apart from the great holding power of 16-gauge finish nails, they are versatile. With them, penetrating thicker wood and MDF is done easily. The nails come in different length options that range between 1 and 3.5 inches. They are also ideal for several woodworking tasks, including flooring, exterior trims, base and crown moldings, etc.

Nevertheless, the 16-gauge nails are not perfect in all ways. Research shows that, despite how handy they can be when used for larger tasks, they are capable of splitting wood when used on small craft projects or finer works. Also, driving the nails into wood requires more power, and the larger heads of nails can create larger holes that will make filling or sanding necessary.

On the other hand, the 18-gauge brads are not as thick as the 16-gauge finish nails. They feature a length that ranges from 0.5 to 2.5 inches. Woodworkers use them for fragile or more delicate woods. The heads are smaller than 16-gauge nails and won’t make larger holes, so filling and sanding may be unnecessary.

The major drawback of 18-gauge nailers, despite how handy they can be, is their less power, which can make driving them into hardwood pieces difficult.

Final Note

Don’t be confused if you need to choose between 16 and 18 gauge nailers. It would be best if you never forgot that each has its unique features. So, you can leverage these peculiar features and the wood properties (such as thickness and hardness) to decide on hardwood flooring installation. Besides, you can check out the manufacturer’s recommendation before selection.

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