Types of Nails

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The wide variety of nail styles and sizes makes it possible to choose exactly the right fastener for each job. Nails are identified by their typical purpose, such as casing, flooring, or roofing nails; or by a physical feature, such as galvanized, coated, or spiral. Some nails come in both a galvanized and non-galvanized version. Use galvanized nails for outdoor projects and non-galvanized indoors. Nail lengths may be specified in inches or by numbers from 4 to 60 followed by the letter “d,” which stands for “penny”.


1. Common nail for heavy-duty framing
2. Box nail for light work or edge nailing
3. Cement-coated sinker nail for outside sheathing
4. Finish nail for fastening wood trim
5. Galvanized casing nail for outside trim
6. Spiral flooring nail for subflooring
7. Cement nail for fastening wood to concrete
8. Masonry nail for brick and concrete
9. Galvanized ring-shank siding nail
10. Galvanized spiral siding nail
11. Aluminum cedar siding nail
12. Aluminum cedar fence nail
13. Galvanized roofing nail
14. Self-sealing galvanized roofing nail for metal roofs
15. Drywall nail
16. Duplex nail for temporary construction

Some of the most popular nails for carpentry projects include:

– Common and box nails for general framing work. Box nails are smaller in diameter, which makes them less likely to split wood. Box nails were designed for constructing boxes and crates, but
they can be used in any application where thin, dry wood will be nailed close to the edge of the piece. Most common and box nails have a cement or vinyl coating that improves their holding power.

– Finish and casing nails, which have small heads and are driven just below the work surface with a nail set. Finish nails are used for attaching moldings and other trim to walls. Casing nails are used for nailing window and door casings. They have a slightly larger head than finish nails for better holding power.

– Brads, or small wire nails sometimes referred to as finish nails. They are used primarily in cabinetry, where very small nail holes are preferred.

– Flooring nails, which are often spiral-shanked for extra holding power to prevent floorboards from separating or squeaking. Spiral flooring nails are sometimes used in other applications, such as
installing tongue-and-groove paneling on ceilings.

– Galvanized nails, which have a zinc coating that resists rusting. They are used for outdoor projects.

– Drywall nails, once the standard fastener for drywall, are less common today because of the development of Phillips-head drywall screws that drive quickly with a screw gun or drill and offer superior holding power.

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