15g Vs 16g Finish Nailer: Here’s How to choose the right finishing nailer

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When it is about the installation of trims around doors, crown molding, windows, basedboards, stairs treads, or assembling the cabinet parts, any one type of nailer is not enough. As you can see a number of tasks have been mentioned above, each of which needs a particular nail gun to get the work done. Again, each nailer type can be used for a range of applications. There are several types of nailers; 15 gauge, 16 gauge, 18 gauge, and 23 gauge are the most widely used ones. But in this article, we will dedicatedly discuss everything about the 15g and 16g finish nailers and how they differ.

Well, the primary difference between both the 15g and 16g nailers is the gauge nail they use. The gauge size is inversely proportional to the nailer value. That is, the nail shot by a 15 gauge nailer is thicker than the one used in a 16 gauge nailer. Consequently, the hole created by a 15 gauge nail gun is larger than the 16 gauge one.

Now the real challenge is to make the model selection. How would you choose between the two and on what grounds? For that, knowledge about both the nailer types is important. So, keep reading… 

Basics of Which Nail Gun Does What

Trim nailers are classified on the basis of the nail width or “gauge”. The greater the gauge value, the lesser is the nail width. Conversely, the lower the gauge value, the higher is the nail width. The nail gauge denotes the nail diameter. 15 gauge and 16 gauge are the two such nailer types that shoot the largest trim nails. These nail guns are also called “finish nailers”. The 23 gauge nailer is the smallest one as it shoots the smallest nails referred to as “micro pinner” or “pinner”. The 18-gauge nailer is the medium-sized nail gun, also called “brad nailers”.

15 Gauge Nail Gun Overview

The 15g nailer can manage nail lengths sizing up to 2-½ inches. It features an angled feed type and shoots round head nails. The nails used by this nailer are exactly like the finish nails which are generally driven by hammers. Most users find both the 15g nailer and a framing nailer alike, in terms of their build and power delivery. A 15g nail gun is a good fit for a number of tasks like installing stair treads, nailing door jambs, etc. These nailers feature a large piston, and due to its bulky appearance, they often come with angled magazines. This angled feed helps you to easily get into the tighter spots. The good thing about a 15g nailer which could be of great help to the buyers is its cost effectiveness. Its starting cost is less than $200.

Uses of 15-Gauge Nailers 

A 15 gauge nailer shoots thick nails with its length size ranging from 1-¼ inches to 2-½ inches. The notable holding power due to the heavier nail head is another plus point, making it suitable for nailing trims and large baseboards of ¾ in thick. You can use this nail gun for both interior and exterior casing installation jobs, while shooting in studs, installing risers or stair treads, pre-hung doors, crown molding, baseboard, etc.— that need a greater holding power in the material which can later be filled and stained or painted.

15g nailers are available in both cordless and pneumatic configurations.

Cost of a 15-Gauge Nailer

The starting price is less than $200. However, if you want to purchase a cordless 15g nailer kit, then the price may vary within a range of $270-$450, based on the brand you choose. Metabo 15gnailer is a moderate recommendation within $319 on Amazon.com. On the other hand, if you want to grab the Pneumatic 15g nailer, go for the model by Senco. The pneumatic cost moderately within $170 to $200, based on your brand selection. 

16 gauge Nail Gun Overview

Just like a 15 gauge nailer, most 16g nailers drive nails, with its length sizing up to 2-½ inches. This type of nail gun is suitable for nailing interior trims. The nails shot by a 16gnailer are lightweight, thinner, and have a smaller nail head. So, you can use this nail gun for performing delicate tasks that demand a perfect finish within minimal to no visible holes on its surface. But the experts say that it is better to go for the 15 gauge nail gun as it ensures better holding power. The nailer selection, however, greatly depends on the project type and varies among the users. Shockingly, you will have to pay the same price for 16g nailer as you would do for the 15g gun.

16 Gauge Nail Gun is Dynamic

16g nail gun drive nails with the length sizing from ¾ to 2-½ inches. Has a fair holding power, however, relatively less than what a 15 gauge nailer offers. So, the 16g nail gun is fit for general installations.

Carpenters find it a versatile tool for performing a variety of tasks that include crown molding, interior trim, and baseboard installation. You can also go for tongue and groove flooring like in a closet or near a wall, where a flooring nail gun will not work. Pre-hung doors can not be installed using this nailer. However, if you work mostly deals in trim installations but don't want to spend on multiple guns, then go for the 16g nailer. This nail gun is available both in the wireless and pneumatic configurations.

Cost of a 15-Gauge Nailer

The cost of cordless nailer only or kit varies within $200-$400, based on the brand you select. Cordless 16g model by Porter Cable is available for just $199 on Amazon.com. Expect to pay within $100-$200 for pneumatic 16g nailer, based on which brand you select.

 

Differences Between 15g and 16g

15g nails being larger in size have chances of living deeper holes on the work surface. Still, you can easily fill it with wood putty, in case you drive the nail too deep within. 

Note: The hole filling depends on the type of the project that may require filling the nail's entrance hole. 

Concerning the nail placement, while a 16g nail gun comes with a straight stapler base, a 15g nailer features an angled feed that makes it easy to drive nails into hard-to-reach corners and tight spaces.  

Many users argue on the fact that the 15g nails are less prone to damage or bending compared to 16g nails. Thicker nails, as of a 15g nailer, are likely to stay in position. However, it may also result in cracking or splitting if used on the wrong wood piece. 

A 16g nail has the diameter of 1/16 of an inch, meaning it is quite thinner. That's why, most users consider it a vulnerable choice as it is more susceptible to bending. But that is only when you use 16g nails for thicker woods. In that case, you should upgrade to a 15g nail gun.


Things to Consider While Deciding Between 15g vs 16g Nailer

Nailing Types

First of all, recognize your project type and decide which type of nailing would fit your work the most. Then go for that specific nail gun. For instance, if your work deals in the hanging type works including trimming, door hanging or any other relevant works, then it is better to buy the 15g nailer for better holding capacity. The 15g based nails can render more load support than the 16g nails. 

Dimension of the Nail

The nail dimension is a significant factor to consider while choosing between 15g and 16g as it can directly affect the surface and even sometimes the entire workpiece. Bigger nails have greater holding capacity than the smaller nails. So, a 15g nailer is used for heavier installation tasks as it shoots thicker nails into the surface. The round shape nail head of 15g nails adds more power support when nailed on larger boards.

Weight

As discussed above, a 15g nailer is bulkier and hence, heavier than the 16g nailer. However, a couple of companies are bringing lighter models on the market. Remember, do not use the 15g nailer on thin boards or trims as that may split the workpiece or leave a large nail hole on its surface.

Finishing

15g nailer ensures tighter finish to baseboard installation works compared to the 16g nailer. Conversely, for any trimming type job, a 16g nail gun is perfect as it saves the workpiece from unwanted hole marks or cracks on it. 


Verdict

Deciding between the 15g and 16g finish nailers is challenging as both the models are required in carpentry. However, it also comes down to the work at hand. If you handle thick and dense wooden projects, then go for the heavier nailer; that is the 15g nail gun. Plus, it is available within an affordable budget. The 15g finish nailer is a great fit for bulkier installation tasks. If you handle thinner pieces of wood; mostly in delicate trim installation, then a 16g nail gun is the better fit. It gives you a good finish without leaving a visible nail hole on the wood, thereby splitting the surface.

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