I am wanting to install my newly purchased wooden baseboard molding by using a Brad Nailer. I went to the Home Improvement store and bought what I thought was the correct tool. Turns out that the Brad Nailer I purchased requires an air compressor with it to work.

Long story short, I have done a bit of research and it seems like most people recommend using a pin/Brad nailer that can shoot 2" nails. I am wondering if it is a good idea to go ahead and return the brad nailer and get a cordless brad nailer instead. The problem is, these nail guns are insanely expensive so I want to make sure I am getting a tool that I can get my money back out of.

I know that you can use some of these nail guns to do other things as well like doors and crown molding etc.. My wife and I just purchased our first home and it is a very old home(90 years). We intend to remodel the entire house and we are about 30% of the way done. Is it worth the money to spend a couple hundred bucks on a finish/brad/nail gun, or should I find a way to borrow one/ rent one?


If there are any other recommendations for the installation of the baseboards, please go ahead and give some pointers. This is my first time installing them so I have only seen a video of someone doing it and so it would be nice to get some other input on the process.

  • Do you think you'll be using other size nailers (framing, roofing, floor, 15g, to name a few), or would 18 gauge be the only nailer you can picture having? If you want more nailers, get a compressor. If you only want the one, get a battery powered unit. Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 3:36
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    Even a 1gallon compressor can run a nail gun (so you don't need the most expensive compressor). I'd buy a 3-6 gallon compressor (bigger if you can afford it) - you''ll find lots of uses for it around the house as you're rebuilding the home.
    – PeteCon
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 5:04
  • Hello to both of you. Aloysius Defenestrate I am honestly unsure if I will need any sizes other than the 18gauge due to the fact it seems like a general use size. I am unsure though since I have many incomplete projects that lie ahead. PeteCon I was contemplating exactly that. I figure I will stumble across projects where that will be just the tool I need and it would be nice having it. So do all of these compressors run on gas or oil? Seems a bit odd to me.
    – aguertin
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 5:10
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    Gas powered compressors do exist, but the majority are electric. Things to think about are tank capacity (gallons), noise level (db), size of motor (hp), weight, and sometimes SCFM for applications requiring a steady stream of air like spraying paint/texture or running air tools like a sander. Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


If you are renovating the whole house, or at least a good portion of it, I would purchase a nail gun over renting it or borrowing it. Owning it lets you use it when you need it, not like going to get a rental and returning it or being responsible for somebody elses' property. Get the compressor too, it does more than power nailers, it fills tires, blows dust off things big time, inflates balls for sports, etc.

Size your nails so it goes into the framing about 1". More is overkill, but a bit more works if that is the size of nails you have on hand. No finish nail needs to go in the framing more than 1 1/2" In that depth, the possibility of hitting wires or pipes grow. Kick plates that protect pipes and wires per the building code are only needed on wires and pipes closer than 1 1/4" from the face of the stud. That's why 1" is the sweet spot, good holding power and less chance to hit stuff in the wall. Using a nail that is too short will increase the chance of the trim coming loose.

Add up all the thicknesses of the material you are going through. In the case of a 1X6 baseboard and 1/2" sheetrock that is 1 1/4" of material, in my opinion a 2" (6D) nail is too short, it will need 8D nails (2 1/2" for the holding power required. With that size of nail, you will need a 15 or 16 gauge finish nailer. To set nails in the trim to the edge of a door jamb, an 18 gauge finish nailer will work there. With the larger nails around the edges holding the trim to the drywall you can go with a slightly smaller nail to hold the trim to the door or window jamb. 1 1/2" long is what I use there. You could use 2" but the chance of blowing out through the face of the jamb is high.

Big box stores usually have a combo kit, a compressor with 2 nail guns, a good deal, in my opinion.

  • That was a damn impressive answer. Thanks mate.
    – aguertin
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 5:17

A battery powered brad nailer is definitely worth the money.

I bought mine before I even began doing the demo on my house (like your, also an old house that we're completely renovating) - I've used it to install tongue and groove panels on a ceiling (impossible job without a brad nailer), quickly nail shims in place behind drywall, install baseboards and window trim, etc.

I have a 18v Ryobi model.

So far I've not needed a full-size framing nailer or finish nailer. I don't use framing nails, I use screws and my impact driver. And the few times I need finish nails I just use a hammer and punch.

So get a brad nailer before you get other types of nailers, in my opinion.

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