I'm specifically talking about collated framing nails for a pneumatic nailer.

For example, the IRC calls for 16d common nails (3-1/2" length, 0.162" shank) all over its fastening schedules. Clearly a 16d common will cover a majority of the scenarios one would encounter. Yet every local retailer that sells collated framing nails does not stock such a nail. The closest I can get is usually 3-1/4" with a 0.131" shank. Does everyone skimp on the fastening schedule because most inspections won't catch it, or am I missing a crucial piece of information?

I get that most professionals aren't going to be shopping at blue box or orange box, but even those folks are going to come up short sometimes and need to make a quick run to grab a few more nails. Surely retailers would only stock/sell the most in demand sizes, how is a code compliant 16d nail not that?

Admittedly this sounds more like a rant than a question, but I'm genuinely curious if I'm missing part of the picture. Are folks just sloppy when it comes to sizing their fasteners, or are pneumatic nails slightly smaller but "equivalent?" What's going on here?

  • Could the code (or local modifications) call out a different nail when using a pneumatic nailer?
    – bombcar
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 20:45
  • @bombcar That was my initial thought as well, but as far as I can tell, neither the IBC nor the IRC make any distiction.
    – Wilco
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 20:47

2 Answers 2


You say, "For example, the IRC calls for 16d common nails (3-1/2" length, 0.162" shank) all over its fastening schedules." This is true, but it also lists (in same schedule) how many 3" x 0.131" nails or staples are required. (See IBC Table 2304.9.1)

For instance, Item 16: Stud to Bottom Plate: 2 - 16d; or 3 - 3" x 0.131" nail; or 3 - 14 gage staples.

I don't think the Building Officials are ignoring the nailing requirements for various fasteners. I think they know the required nailing for pneumatic nails or staples.

  • That's a really good point! I'm going to go back and check, but I suspect that you are correct and was something I hadn't considered.
    – Wilco
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 0:14

3" or longer cement-coated nails have always met with the inspectors' approval here. We don't use 3-1/4" because they punch through a pair of two-by boards and wreck your new concrete. The bottom line is that the "penny" classification of nails is obsolete. Go with 3" and use coated or galvanized as appropriate.

Also, it's been ages since common/box nails have been used for framing. Sinkers are slightly thinner and don't split the lumber as badly. That tells you how rigidly that particular code is enforced.

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