13 Different Types Of Nails Every DIYer Should Know

Types Of NailsNails are intended to hold materials together. They are a simple and basic type of fastener that has been used in construction in different forms for over 3,000 years, which make them one of the most time-tested building materials. Nails are commonly used to secure pieces of wood or timber, but they can also be used for other purposes. The variety of nail shape, size, and design allows them to be functional for a variety of purposes. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the different types of nails to see which ones are best for which applications.

Types of Nails

1. Common nails

Common nails

Common nails have a round head and a strong shaft that gives strength and make them suitable for general fastening purposes including building work such as structural and framing construction, and carpentry projects. These nails are best suited for rough projects where nail strength is more important than appearance.

2. Box nails

Box nails

They are similar in design to common nails but they have a narrower shank. This smaller diameter decreases the risks of wood components splitting when the nail is driven in. This also means that the nails do not have the strength of common nails and are therefore not suitable for structural applications.

3. Brad nails

Brad nails

Brad nails are little versions of finishing nails. They don’t possess the holding power of finish nails but work well for craft work, carpentry and cabinetry. They have slightly larger heads than the diameter of the shaft which allows countersinking.

4. Finishing nails

Finishing nails

This type of nails are normally used for finishing works in fine carpentry and cabinetry as they are thin and smooth. Their slim design also helps to prevent splitting of the slimmer wood normally used for finishing. Lighter and subtler finishing nails are applied for trimming for example crown molding, baseboards and down jambs.

5. Drywall nails

Drywall nails

They have big, round heads which allow them to be easily placed under the drywall surface to conceal them and minimize ripping of the drywall paper. You’ll also see large diamond-shaped points designed to reduce wall stud splitting, and plain shank or ring shank drywall nails to hold them in place.

6. Framing nails

Framing nails

Framing nails are normally used in heavy construction that needs a solid framework, including framing and craft projects. They are identical with common nails but some are slightly thinner and subtler than common nails. Framing nails may have plain, ring or spiral shanks and have either round or clipped heads depending on the nailer type they work with.

7. Flooring nails

Flooring nails

They come in a great selection of designs as they are intended for different flooring materials. Some have short spiral nails that fasten flooring trim and long rings shanks that ensure the firm attachments of plywood or other subfloors.

8. Roofing nails

Roofing nails

Roofing nails have larger heads and smaller shanks which makes them suitable for attaching asphalt shingles, roof sheathing or decking, roof felt and  house wrap. They may have an anti corrosion finish as they are exposed to weather. To provide a weather-tight seal many have a gasket below their head. They are found in ringed or spiraled shanks.

9. Casing nails

Casing nails

They are almost similar to a finishing nail but they have a cone-shaped head and a little thicker shaft. They are applied where the nail head should be hidden. They have a shorter head and smaller diameter than regular nails.

10. Duplex nails

Duplex nails

Duplex nails, also called double-headed nails, are for short-term structures like scaffolding. They have two heads one on top of another, so that one can secure the nail against the material and the other can allow the easy withdrawal once the project is finished.

11. Masonry nails

Masonry nails

Rigid and hard Masonry nails are used to fasten wood to concrete block, brick, mortar. They are made of hardened steel which allow penetration into those materials. Some are cut to an angular or flat shape. Extruded nails are normally small and thick, with rounded, ribbed or fluted shanks. The grooves rotate the nail when driving it in, which makes it easier to drive it in.

12. Annular Ring nail

Annular Ring nail

This type of nails offer rings on the shank for better grip and extra resistance when used in wood.  They will rust when wet as these nails don’t have a rust resistant coating.

Used for installing subfloors where the added holding power helps to prevent floor creaking. Threads on the nail provide great holding power in masonry applications. Additionally they are also used in underlayment, plywood, decking, roofing and siding applications.

13. Cap Nails

Cap Nails

In order to hold house wrap, felt insulation, or foam insulation and avoid pull out, cap nails have a plastic cap right under the nail head. The fastener is held in place by the spiral shaft of the nails.

Parts of nail

Different types of nails are found to serve different purposes. But all nails have three fundamental parts. Different designs of these fundamental parts provide the nails different abilities required for specific applications. The three parts are described below:

parts of a nail

Nail Points

Typical nails made for general use have diamond shaped nail points which makes it  easier to drive in the nails. Some nails also have blunt points which make them less likely to split the workpiece but  harder to drive in.

Nail Heads

The top of the nail is the head, which is designed to help prevent the nail from pulling through the work pieces while driving in. There are different types of nail heads like the round heads, flatheads, checkered heads, countersink heads, clipped heads  and cupped heads.

Nail Shank

The most of the holding is done by the nail shank or shaft. It keeps the nails in position even in extreme pressure by providing most of the strength and holding ability.

Nail shanks are available in different types such as smooth shank, spiral shank, annular shank or ring shank.

Nail Size and Design

Nail size is decided by gauge and length. Lengths are indicated by a penny system with the letter “D” or by inches. They come in a wide variety of lengths ranging from 2D to 60D Length

Penny Classification Length
2D 1 inch
3D 1 1/4 inches
4D 1 1/2 inches
5D 1 3/4 inches
6D 2 inches
8D 2 1/2 inches
10D 3 inches
12D 3 1/4 inches
16D 3 1/2 inches
20D 4 inches
30D 4 1/2 inches
40D 5 inches
50D 5 1/2 inches
60D 6 inches

The nail diameter is measured by the nail gauge. The higher the gauge, the narrower the nail, conversely a smaller gauge suggests a larger diameter nail.

Nail Materials and Finishes

The material and finish of the nail influence which projects it can be used on. Steel is the most commonly used material, but it is prone to corrosion. Steel nails which will come into contact with humidity or be utilized in pressure-treated timber require a corrosion-resistant protective layer or plating.

Black phosphate is a protective layer for indoor use. Because the coating generates excellent adhesion to paint and drywall dirt, it performs well for drywall nails. Black phosphate provides the appearance of gray or black nails.

Bright nails are made of untreated steel and are suitable for use in the household. Other finishes suitable for indoor use include paint and ornamental brass, bronze, and nickel plating. Coatings on nailer fasteners make them easier to drive and function as adhesives to improve holding strength.

Zinc-plated nails provide some corrosion resistance, however the plating is light and best for indoors uses. Zinc plating gives a gold or silvery tint.

Because of the denser zinc coating, hot-dipped galvanized nails are suitable for outdoor usages. The finish imparts a flat, gray hue. Hot-dipped galvanized nails are appropriate for pressure-treated wood, which can cause corrosion to unprotected steel, but they are ineffective for some wood species, like cedar and redwood. The coating tends to react with the oils in the wood, causing staining.

Tips For Using Nails

Some tips for using nails are given below:

  • Nails are best for fastening purposes
  • A pilot hole will prevent splitting whether you are fastening into or through woods
  • Different work purposes will demand a different nail size. The best way is to use three times larger nails than the thickness of the fastening material
  • Mark on the place where you are connecting them for proper installation

Final Thoughts

As we can see, the main purpose of all nails is to fasten an object, mostly of wood, with another. However, nails are available in different sizes and shapes to serve different workpieces. They also come in different coatings to prevent corrosion.

So, make sure to use the ideal nail type for your specific purpose or else the workpiece may split during the installation process. We hope that our blog will help you to select the suitable nail for your work.

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