Where to Use Brad Nails in Carpentry
There are several types of nails and within each nail family there are grades and sizes to consider, so what about brad nails, what are they used for? Well actually there are several uses for brad nails and there are a few grades of brad nails to consider which will be chosen based on the application, and whether interior or exterior usage.
What Are Brad Nails Used For?
Brad nails are fine nails with fine heads and therefore are designed for trim carpentry where you want to hold a delicate piece of wood to either another delicate piece of wood or to the main furniture. The fineness of the nail ensures it shouldn’t split the wood, and the small head leaves only a small entry point which can easily be covered with spackle.
Standard brad nails are 18 grade and tend to range from 3/8” up to 2”. They are used in attaching moldings, decorative trims, window beading and furniture trim. Other uses include picture frame building, upholstery panels, scribe moldings, and cabinet making.
Types of Brad Nails
The first consideration when selecting brad nails is the head type. There are B18 and AY series heads. B18 heads are medium sized heads and fit most brad nail guns, whereas a AY brad nails have a very small head not much bigger than the nail, and need a specialty AY brad nail gun, but of course they have a specific use where a smaller impression on nail entry is required.
Your next choice when it comes to brad nails is the corrosion grade, and your choice will depend on whether the finished product will be exposed to water or whether it is made from an acidic or oil-based wood.
Standard brad nails are electro galvanized which makes them suitable for interior use where corrosion isn’t of concern. If left exposed to the elements or nailed into ACQ treated lumber then they are likely to show signs of corrosion over time therefore it is better to select a 304 grade or 316 grade stainless steel nail instead.
304 grade brad nails are more expensive than electro galvanized standard brad nails, and 316 grade are more expensive again. This is because they are anti-corrosion treated and stainless steel so can cope with exterior usage and even submersion under water.
The 304 grade brad nail is suitable for typical outdoor application and will avoid discoloration and corrosion in most exterior locations. It can be used in ACQ treated lumber, redwood, cedar and any acidic or oil-based exotic woods.
316 grade stainless steel brad nails are the extreme choice! They are suitable for tropical climates, seaside locations, exposure to saltwater, and even water submersion as they are marine grade fasteners that will not stain, streak, corrode, rust or discolor themselves or the wood around them.
Brad nails are a staple product in the carpenter’s tool kit and if the correct grade is selected are the ideal choice for most fine trim carpentry work inside or outside.