With lots of types of nails to choose from, finding the right nail for your project can be daunting. If you're new to tasks like construction, woodworking or home repairs, our handy guide will help you learn more about nails for wood, construction, roofing and other project types.
Different Nail Types and Their Uses
Anatomy of a Nail
Every nail is made up of a head, shank and a point. While there are many varieties available, you will likely only use a few common types. Here are some of the basic styles you should get to know:
- Flat heads
The most common option, flat nail heads are easy to strike and have extra holding power.
- Checkered flat heads
These nails have a grid-style pattern designed to prevent slippage when you're nailing at an odd angle.
- Countersunk heads
These are made to be countersunk or pushed below the surface of the material you're working with.
- Bright shanks
Also called a smooth shank, these are smooth from head to point. Bright shank nails are very common.
- Ring shanks
These shanks sport a series of rings. This reduces pull-out when working with softer wood types.
- Barbed and spiral shanks
These two shank types are made to burrow and lock into wood, preventing slippage. They're particularly useful for heavy-duty jobs like building an exterior barnwood wall.
- Fluted shanks
Common on masonry and concrete nails, fluted shanks prevent cracking and damage when driving them into hard surface.
- Dull points
These nails provide maximum hold but require more effort to drive. They also help keep wood from splitting.
- Blunt point nails
Excellent for hardwood, these nails are harder to drive, but offer excellent fastening power.
- Diamond points
Slightly blunted on the end, nails with diamond points are easy to drive, but provide ample support. Diamond point nails are most common.
- Long diamond points
Easier to drive, these points are needle-like in nature. They're especially useful for drywall where splitting isn't a major concern.
Popular Nail Types
With so many types of nails on the market, it’s good to familiarize yourself with some of the most common types:
Specialized Nail Types
Looking for a nail not listed above? Specialized nails are made for a range of applications like construction, flooring and more. Here are some of the go-to specialized nail types you should be familiar with:
Choose the Right Nail for Your Project
You've got the lay of the land when it comes to nails, but you're not quite sure which type to pick. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right nail for your project:
Shop by Material
Most nails are labeled with their intended use. Choose nails for wood if you're working with wood, for example.
Choose your Length Wisely
Available in small 2d or 1-inch lengths all the way up to 50d or 5 1/2-inch sizes, you've got options when it comes to nail length. As a general rule, nails should be 21/2 times the thickness of the material you're working with.
Pick your Gauge
Construction plans often indicate the correct nail gauge, and when possible, adhere to these guidelines. In general, thinner nails reduce the chance of splitting, but they won't have as much holding power. 15, 16 and 18-gauge nails are most common, with smaller varieties like 23-gauge nails often used to hold materials in place while adhesive sets.
Consider Coated Nails
Galvanized nails are coated with zinc to provide rust protection. Cement-coated nails provide extra hold, while vinyl-coated nails offer a secure hold and a slick shank that makes them easy to drive. Copper nails, while not coated, are sometimes used for outdoor projects like roofing where rust protection is required.
Ready to start a new project? We've got nails for construction, woodworking, home repairs and more online and in-store. Shop with us today to find the right nail type for every task on your to-do list.