Different Types of Nail Guns and Their Uses [with VIDEO]

So, we know what nail guns are used for, right? It’s used for any kind of construction work, whether on a professional level or just for household things. Sometimes nail guns are used in schools that teach workshops on woodworking too.

But to use these nail guns, you need to know the varieties and how those varieties are used. Thus, with our help in this article, you’ll get to know exactly that. Let’s get right to it!

What Is a Nail Gun?

What is a nail gun exactly? What is it used for; how is it used, and for what purposes?

Well, if one had to define a nail gun in general, then it is a tool used for driving nails into different kinds of material like wood, metal, etc. A nail gun is also known as a nailer in some places.

We can say that nail guns have, in a way, replaced hammers, especially in developed countries. Most builders prefer using nail guns over hammers anyway because it operates much faster than manually handling a hammer.

But the scarcity of such tools may be one of the reasons hammers are still used in some places. Or, because there are some delicate areas, only manually using a hammer is possible, such as with musical instruments.

There are many different hammers used for making, repairing, adjusting or tuning musical instruments by hand. So, nail guns can’t be used there. But a nail gun has its own purpose, of course.

Top 13 Different Types of Nail Guns and How to Use Them

Each nail gun is created differently and has its own unique reason for existing and being used. Right now, we’re going to talk about the various kinds of nail guns and what they’re used for.

1. Pneumatic Nail Gun

First of all, we’re going to start off by talking about the most popular kind of nail gun. It is called a pneumatic nail gun. These require air hoses to drive nails into different materials.

In pneumatic nail guns, compressed air creates the force for hammering. This compressed air is generated by a certain gas-powered air compressor. These air compressors work the same way a water pump does. Air is drawn in from the atmosphere by one or more piston cylinders.

The air is then pushed out into the gun. This flow of compressed air is continuous and flows through that air hose mentioned before. And the flow ends up in the nail guns air tank.

It has a long blade that is driven by a sort of sliding piston. So, when the pressure from above is more than the pressure below, the upper air pressure starts to push downward and forces the piston to go down as well. And then the air pressure below becomes more than the upper pressure so, it pushes the piston back in place.

There are many kinds of pneumatic nail guns. But pneumatic nail guns are not at all for home projects. The pneumatic nail gun is used for:

  • Construction work
  • Carpentry
  • Woodworking
  • Crown molding

2. Powder-Actuated Nail Gun

Also known as Hilti/Ramset gun, they are used for mainly joining different materials.  For example, nailing or joining wooden planks onto a steel base layer.

These types of guns are found in two types. One is high velocity, and the other one is low velocity. High-velocity powder actuated nail guns are also called direct-drive devices.

Powder-actuated technology for nail guns was originally developed for vast use when World War II happened. They used these fastening systems with high velocity for repairing damage caused to their warships.

These nail guns were exceptionally helpful for hull repairing because they could fasten new steel material over the damaged areas and strengthen the hull. Other than World War II, it was also employed for submarine related work in World War I.

So, you can see that the powder actuated nail gun can be used for:

  • Commercial use
  • Use in manufacturing and construction industries
  • Repairing ship’s parts like the hull
  • Used during submarine hunting in wars

3. Combustion Powered Nail Gun

This is one of the newest models of a nail gun to hit the market. These nail guns are portable and generate their hammering power through internal combustion. This sort of hammering is very similar to the force used to make cars run.

The combustion nail gun is powered by a gas and air explosion, and the piston pushes on the nail directly.

But if you had to look at the basic structure, then the combustion-powered nail gun resembles the pneumatic nail gun. That’s because they also have a long blade stuck to a sliding piston, which moves depending on the pressure imbalance, the same way it does on a pneumatic nail gun.

And of course, there’s a difference between these two nail guns. And that is the source of the imbalance of this very pressure. We know that the pneumatic nail gun’s source is atmospheric air pressure. But a combustion-powered nail gun’s source is flammable gas, just like cars.

This kind of nail gun is used for:

  • Construction work
  • Other heavy-duty projects

4. Electric Nail Gun

This general electric nail gun consists of a rotating motor, and compressing springs. There are 2 types of electric nail guns: Corded and Cordless.

The Corded electric nail gun is powered by an electrical outlet. On the other hand, the cordless electric nail gun is powered by a battery made from lithium-ion, which is rechargeable. And due to advances in technology, the cordless battery-based ones are growing more popular.

Manufacturers are decreasing the size and weight of electric nail guns to increase more demand. Plus, backup or separate batteries are always available.

These are very portable and have many options, as well. They’re also very easy to store. But these won’t be as strong as the other nail guns that do heavy-duty projects. Also, it’s limited by cord length or battery life.

But it’s very clear that the electric nail gun is used for quick nailing and not for heavy tasks. This nail gun is applied in:

  • Heavy-duty projects
  • Short term projects because of limited battery

5. Solenoid-Powered Nail Gun

In a solenoid powered nail gun, there is a solenoid that propels a metal piston with a long front rod, and that propels the nail. When the solenoid is idle, it tends to attract the piston towards it.

If multiple solenoids are used at once for more power, then each of those solenoids has to be switched off when the piston reaches the middle of the solenoid.

In a multi-solenoid coil gun, there is a big capacitor that gives a short power burst at the right time to propel the piston. The solenoid powered nail gun is used for:

  • Outdoor works
  • Small home projects
  • Light-duty

6. Pin Nail Gun

Pin nail guns release fasteners that are pin-like. But the nails used for pin nail guns don’t have a flat head like the ones used for other nail guns. These nails are very tiny and delicate, so they actually disappear into the material but still manage to keep the material attached together.

But pin nails don’t have good enough holding power alone, so they need the help of glue or any other adhesive. Pin nails are used for work where large nails would damage the material.

The uses of pin nail guns are:

  • Molding for furniture, cabinets, and millwork
  • Used as temporary fasteners for holding down irregular shapes together
  • Finishing of carpentry or woodshop projects
  • Nailing delicate or small trimmed pieces
  • Thin veneers
  • Crown molding
  • Securing wood pieces but also with the help of glue

7. Framing Nail Gun

These are the heavy-duty kind of nail guns. They are perfect for use on wood framing in construction work for buildings. It has 2 types: Round Head and Clipped Head.

Clipped head nail guns are perfect for heavy projects with high volume because it holds more nails. Whereas, round head nail guns hold fewer nails, though they haven’t exactly been restricted from being used for building construction.

These pin framing nail guns are mostly used for building:

  • Rooms
  • Homes
  • Fences
  • Decks
  • Wood sheathing
  • Wood sliding  

8. Flooring Nail Gun

Flooring nail guns don’t look like your average nail gun. So it’s possible you might not recognize it when you see it in a nail gun section in a hardware or tool store.

These nail guns are held at the board edges of the material you’re working on. There is a nylon mallet used to hit the plunger. This ensures the nails drive through the right angle and depth every time.

Nail guns like these aren’t very popularly used because they’re only used for laying floorboards. And in case you didn’t know, there are also pneumatic flooring nail guns available. This kind of nail gun is used for:

  • Home construction
  • Floorboard laying

9. Palm Nail Guns

These are basically like little mini nail guns and fit right in the size of your palms. But not to worry, they work the same way as any ordinary large-sized nail gun and is just as efficient. But the best part about the palm nail gun is that it’s not too heavy, and it even comes with a strap to wrap around your wrist to use comfortably.

The advantage of using such a nail gun is that you need to exert less energy as it’s so small while its aiming is precise. And the best part is that these aren’t costly at all and sometimes even come for free when you purchase the large-sized nail guns.

Palm nail guns are generally used for:

  • Small projects
  • Tight spots
  • Joist hanger

10. Roofing Nail Gun

As the name suggests, roofing nail guns are used for work around roofing of houses or any shelter. Whether to make or repair roofs, people use roofing nail guns.

Roofing nail guns drive nails into wood or other materials used to make roofs, and they do so at high speed. Among some roofing nail guns, pneumatic and solenoid nail types are included.

These are heavy-duty nail guns, quite like the framing nail guns. They are used by professionals mostly. But it’s seen that some unprofessional individuals have also been using roofing nail guns too for their personal projects around the house. Though these individuals at least have the practice or experience from working with a professional before using them.

Roofing nail guns apply to:

  • Outdoor work
  • Roof repairing on homes or shelters
  • Making roofs
  • Home projects

11. Siding Nail Gun

Siding nail guns are also like framing nail guns and are used for projects on large-sized materials to be joined.

This kind of nail gun is used for installing the siding. These nail guns join thin pieces of wood or any synthetic material on to a wooden base layer or mount.

But these nail guns are only used for nailing the siding to your walls in your house. This is the only job it can do, and it is designed perfectly for that. Before siding nail guns, people would use framing nail guns, but it wasn’t as compatible with that job.

Siding nail guns are used for:

  • Installing siding on walls
  • Home projects/ construction

12. Finish Nail Gun

In finish nail guns, the nails are a bit bigger and have more holding power than most other nails in other nail guns. They handle larger and heavier pieces of wood, and in more volume as well.

A finish nail gun, as the name suggests, is used for plenty of work regarding finishing carpentry. It is often used for crown molding or baseboards.

The finish nail gun is generally used for:

  • Carpentry or woodshop
  • Crown molding
  • On baseboards

13. Staple Gun

Last but not least, we’d like to talk about staple guns. Now, this gun is the rarest of them all. It is nothing like any of the other nail guns discussed above.

It is still considered a nail gun and still performs the main job of a nail gun. But here this gun drives staples instead of actual nails into materials. These staples are a kind of fastener too.

A staple gun can’t exactly replace every other nail gun, but they have their own set of areas where they can be used. And staple guns are used for many different purposes, given its versatility. Some of its applications are on:

  • Carpeting
  • Carpentry
  • Home repair
  • Construction
  • Upholstery


We hope that after this article, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of all the different kinds of nail guns, how they operate, and in which fields or projects they’re used for.

As you can see, nail guns aren’t necessarily only for construction work. Many DIY-ers use them too for their mini house projects or repairing, and this article should give you a better view on which nail gun to choose for what purpose.

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