Your Guide to Choosing the Right Type of Nail

Your next big project requires the right nail to secure it in place properly. When construction workers go to a work site, they have a variety of nails that they’ll use for different purposes. We’re going to talk about the different types of nails, and their particular use so that you choose the perfect nail for your needs.

Annular Ring Nail

The annular ring nail is made of galvanized steel and is used for siding. These can hold shingles in place or paneling. They’re very thin, but resistant to rust and aligned with rings to make them have added holding power.

Box Nail

These nails are thinner than your common nail and far less likely to split the wood. Usually available in lengths of 1 inch to 3 inches, these nails have less holding strength and are not a great option when structural strength is critical.

Brad Nails

Best used for making frames. These are nails that are smaller in diameter and length (usually 1 inch or less). Brad nails are typically used for cabinetry or plywood paneling.

Also Read: Best Brad Nail Gun

Casing Nail

Slightly larger than your regular finishing nail, these nails have greater holding power. You’ll use these nails for casing (i.e. molding work, windows, and doors) where additional strength is a necessity.

Clipped Head Nail

The clipped head nail is used in nail guns because of its immense holding capacity. Since the head of the nail is essentially cut in half to form a “D shape,” these nails can be firmly packed together to offer more nail holding capacity for demanding jobs.

The only issue with this nail type is that it has less holding strength than a common nail.

Common Nail

The nails that you would find in most hardware stores. These are meant for rough construction work, and come in a variety of lengths from 1 to 6 inches.

Cut Flooring Nail

Large and strong, these nails are not used as often as they once were. You’ll need a nailing machine to really drive these nails deep into the wood or flooring.

Drywall Nails

As the name suggests, drywall nails are meant for securing drywall.

Duplex Nail

The duplex nail is meant for temporary construction. These nails have two nail heads with the purpose of allowing for the nails to be easily removed.

Finishing Nail

The nail of choice for finishing work. You’ll use these nails because they often go below the surface of the wood when nailing. Available in 1 – 4 inch sizes, these are the nails that would be displayed on the outside of molding or other finishing work. Using the proper technique, you can drive these nails under the surface of the wood and cover them so that they’re not seen.

Read Also: Best Finishing Nail Gun

Masonry Nails

Driving a regular nail into masonry is not optional. Masonry nails can be driven into concrete walls or brick, and they may actually be rectangular or have a shaft. These nails have been hardened so that they can be driven into these harder substances without bending or breaking.

Note: When using masonry nails, ensure that you have the proper safety equipment for the job. Eyewear is a necessity.

Roofing Nail

Large in size with heavier shifts and round heads. These are nails that are meant for roofing purposes and are rust-resistant.

Spiral Flooring Nail

When nailing in subfloors, you want to use the spiral flooring nail. These nails have been used less and less often thanks to nail guns, but are still an option for subflooring.


The right nail for the job should always be used. Always make sure that the nail you choose is recommended for your job type. And always go with a company that makes sturdy, durable nails.

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