Nail guns for simple jobs around the house

Hammers are great, but you’ve got a lot of lights to hang.

tool shed
A must-have for your fixer-upper.Jim Quenzer

There are many types of nail guns on the market. If you’re looking for some assistance with tasks around the house and not doing major construction, finishing nailers and brad nailers are most often the way to go. Finishing nail guns use thick nails and have a more powerful hold than brad nail guns, which use only 18-gauge nails and are more suited to secure thinner wood without splitting. Our picks include both pneumatic options which operate using an air compressor, and cordless electric options, which don’t require any additional equipment.

NuMax SFN64 Pneumatic 16-Gauge 2-1/2″ Straight Finish Nailer
Air compressor required.Amazon

If you’re doing a lot of home renovation projects or have a serious woodworking hobby, using an air compressor to operate your tools likely makes sense. Pneumatic power—essentially running pressurized air through a hose to your tool—can give nail guns more force than electric nail guns. This low-priced pneumatic finish nailer is great for cabinetry, baseboards, and molding, and uses 16-gauge nails from 1 inch to 2.5 inches in length. An aluminum body keeps the weight of the nail gun down to about 4.5 pounds, and it comes with a ¼-inch NPT fitting to easily connect to most air hoses.

Craftsman V20 Cordless Finish Nailer Kit, 16GA
Skip the compressor.Amazon

With this finish nailer, you can work without cords or hoses and still shoot a couple hundred 2-inch nails into pine two-by-fours on a single charge. It comes with a 20-volt max lithium-ion battery, and features tool-free release buttons for jams and stalls. At nearly 9 pounds, it’s heavier than the NuMax finish nailer, so it’s best if you’re working on projects every now and then and you don’t want to drag a hose around with you.

Dewalt Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch
Complete your remodel with ease.Amazon

If you are installing delicate trim within your home or working with thin wood to make items like picture frames, this pneumatic brad nailer will help you complete the job. It shoots 5/8-inch to 2-inch 18-gauge nails with speed and precision, and lessens the risk of unsightly splits in your trim. You can adjust how far your nails drive into material without the need to use an extra tool, and the rear exhaust prevents your work from being contaminated. At just 5 pounds, you can clip it to your tool belt with the adjustable hook to have it ready for when you need it.

Porter-Cable 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer
Light and practical.Amazon

At just about 6 pounds, the weight of this cordless brad nailer is comparable to a pneumatic brad nailer. It comes with a 1.5 Ah 20-volt max lithium-ion battery, which you’ll want to upgrade if you want to maximize the number of brads you can set per charge, but should be just fine for smaller jobs. Turn a wheel to adjust drive depth for 18-gauge nails (the magazine holds 100 nails), and view your depth adjustments in a handy window on the side of the nail gun. It also has LED lights to illuminate darker work areas.