Brad Nailers or Finish Nailers for Roofers (Which One is Preferred?)

“To brad or to finish, that is the question.”

As a roofer, you might have pondered this question more than once. The choice between brad nailers and finish nailers can be a crucial one, as it can significantly impact the quality and efficiency of your work.

In this article, we will explore the differences between these two types of nailers, their pros and cons, and which one is better suited for roofing tasks. Let’s dive in and settle this debate once and for all!

What are the differences between a brad nailer and a finish nailer?

A brad nailer and a finish nailer are both types of pneumatic nail guns used in carpentry and woodworking. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between the two tools in terms of nail size, applications, and the type of work they are suitable for. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Nail size

The primary difference between a brad nailer and a finish nailer lies in the size of nails they can accommodate.

A brad nailer is designed to shoot brad nails, which are thinner gauge nails typically ranging from 18 to 23 gauge.

On the other hand, a finish nailer is capable of driving thicker gauge finish nails, usually in the range of 15 to 16 gauge.

Nail head and shank

Brad nails have a smaller diameter and a very thin shank, resulting in a small, rounded head that is less likely to leave noticeable holes in the material.

Finish nails, being larger in size, have a larger, rectangular head and a thicker shank, providing better holding power.


Brad nailers are typically used for lighter, more delicate woodworking tasks, where the goal is to secure materials without causing significant damage or splitting.

They are commonly employed for attaching trim, molding, or delicate pieces of wood, as well as for tasks like attaching picture frames or decorative elements.

Finish nailers, with their larger and stronger nails, are better suited for heavier applications.

They are commonly used for attaching baseboards, crown moldings, door and window casings, chair rails, and other similar projects that require more holding strength.

Material considerations

Due to their thinner nails, brad nailers are well-suited for working with softer materials, such as thin wood or veneers.

They are less likely to cause splitting or damage to delicate surfaces.

Finish nailers, with their larger nails, provide better holding power and are suitable for use with harder woods and materials.

Hole size

Brad nails leave smaller holes compared to finish nails.

This can be advantageous when working with materials that require minimal surface damage or when a clean appearance is desired.

Can brad nailers be used for roofing?

Brad nailers are not recommended for roofing applications.

Brad nailers are designed for lighter woodworking tasks and are not equipped to handle the demands and challenges of roofing.

They typically use thin gauge brad nails (18-23 gauge) that lack the necessary strength and holding power required for securely fastening roofing materials.

Using a brad nailer for roofing could result in inadequate attachment, compromised structural integrity, and potential safety hazards.

Can finish nailers be used for roofing?

Similarly, finish nailers are not intended for roofing applications.

Finish nailers are primarily used in woodworking projects where aesthetics and holding power are important.

While they can drive larger gauge finish nails (15-16 gauge) compared to brad nailers, they are still not suitable for roofing.

Roofing nailers are purpose-built tools that are specifically designed for the unique requirements of attaching roofing materials, providing the necessary strength, depth adjustment, and durability to ensure proper installation and long-lasting performance.

Which one is better, brad nailers or finish nailers, for roofers?

For roofers, neither brad nailers nor finish nailers are typically the go-to tool for their specific needs.

Roofers commonly use specialized roofing nailers designed for the task at hand. Roofing nailers are specifically engineered to handle the demands of fastening shingles, sheathing, and other roofing materials securely to the roof structure.

These specialized nailers use coil nails with a wider shank and a larger head size to ensure optimal holding power and durability in roofing applications.

If I had to choose between a brad nailer and a finish nailer for roofers, the more suitable option would be a finish nailer.

While neither tool is specifically designed for roofing, a finish nailer with its larger gauge nails (typically 15-16 gauge) can provide better holding power compared to the thinner nails used in a brad nailer.

This can be beneficial when attaching roofing materials that require stronger fastening.

However, it is important to note that using a dedicated roofing nailer would still be the recommended choice for optimal performance and safety in roofing applications.

Brad vs finish nailers, which one is stronger?

In terms of strength, finish nailers are generally considered stronger than brad nailers.

Finish nails have a larger diameter and thicker shank compared to brad nails, providing greater holding power and resistance to withdrawal.

This makes finish nailers better suited for tasks that require stronger connections and more substantial fastening, such as attaching larger trim pieces or securing heavier materials.

While brad nailers have their own advantages for delicate woodworking applications, when it comes to sheer strength and holding capacity, finish nailers are the preferred choice.

Which nailer would a professional roofer use, brad or finish nailer?

A professional roofer would typically use a specialized roofing nailer rather than a brad or finish nailer.

Roofing nailers are specifically designed for roofing applications and are optimized for the unique challenges and requirements of fastening roofing materials securely.

These nailers use coil nails with wider shanks and larger heads to provide excellent holding power, durability, and resistance to pullout.

Roofing nailers also feature depth adjustment mechanisms, quick firing speeds, and ergonomic designs tailored for efficient and safe use on rooftops.

Given the specific demands of the job, professional roofers rely on dedicated roofing nailers for optimal performance and productivity.

What are the different requirements (PSI and CFM) for brad and finish nailers?

The requirements for PSI (pounds per square inch) and CFM (cubic feet per minute) can vary for brad and finish nailers, but here are some general guidelines:

Brad nailers typically operate at lower PSI ranges, usually between 60 and 100 PSI. The CFM requirement for a brad nailer is relatively low, typically ranging from 0.3 to 1.5 CFM.

These lower pressure and airflow requirements are suitable for the thinner gauge brad nails they use and the lighter-duty applications they are designed for.

Finish nailers, on the other hand, often require slightly higher PSI to effectively drive their larger gauge and thicker shank nails.

The PSI range for finish nailers is generally between 70 and 120 PSI. The CFM requirement for finish nailers is typically higher compared to brad nailers, ranging from 2 to 4 CFM.

The increased power and airflow help to provide sufficient force for driving the larger nails into harder materials.

What are the pros and cons of using brad nailers?


  • Delicate fastening: Brad nailers are designed for more delicate woodworking tasks. Their thinner gauge nails leave smaller holes, which are easier to conceal and require minimal filling or touch-up work.
  • Reduced splitting: The smaller size of brad nails reduces the likelihood of splitting or damaging delicate materials, making them suitable for working with thin wood or veneers.
  • Precise placement: Brad nailers offer better control and precision due to their smaller nails. This makes them ideal for attaching trim, moldings, or other decorative elements that require accurate placement.


  • Limited holding power: Brad nails have less holding power compared to larger gauge nails used in finish nailers. They may not be suitable for heavy-duty applications or materials that require stronger connections.
  • Weaker fastening: The thinner nails used by brad nailers are more prone to bending or pulling out when subjected to significant stress or load.
  • Restricted material compatibility: Brad nailers are better suited for working with softer materials and may struggle with harder woods or thicker materials that require stronger fastening.

What are the pros and cons of using finish nailers?


  • Stronger fastening: Finish nailers use larger gauge nails with thicker shanks, providing stronger holding power and more secure fastening. They are capable of handling heavier materials and applications that require increased strength.
  • Versatility: Finish nailers have a broader range of applications due to their ability to accommodate larger nails. They can be used for attaching baseboards, crown moldings, door and window casings, and other similar projects.
  • Time efficiency: Finish nailers offer quicker installation compared to using traditional methods like screws or hammering, making them a more efficient choice for larger projects.


  • Visible holes: The larger size of finish nails results in more noticeable holes in the workpiece. This may require additional filling, sanding, or touch-up work to achieve a seamless finish.
  • Increased risk of splitting: The larger nails used by finish nailers have a higher likelihood of splitting delicate or thin materials if not used with caution.
  • Reduced precision: The larger nails and increased power of finish nailers can make them slightly more challenging to control and position accurately compared to brad nailers.

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Author: Logan

I help people connect with businesses