I'm about to install shoe molding all over my house. The baseboards are hung for carpet, but we're replacing the carpet with vinyl. So I have a pretty good sized gap to cover. I'll probably use 11/16 quarter round.

The store display calls for 2.5 inch finish nails for installation. Will I be ok with 2 inch brad nails?

I'll be buying a nail gun for this project, and I'm trying to decide between a finish nailer or a brad nailer.

  • 3
    Quarter Round is not the same as Shoe Moulding.
    – DA01
    May 18, 2012 at 16:21

4 Answers 4


Definitely the Brad nails. The finish nails will leave larger holes (16 gauge vs 18 gauge usually) and will be more likely to split the wood. Based on the size of your shoe, i dont think you could use pin nails (18-23 gauge).

The Big Box home improvement store always sell kits with finish, brad, and pin nailers for pretty cheap. Some have 2 guns, some 3, and some come with other stuff. I've always found that the best way to go.

Just did a quick check for some kits. Home depot 3 piece Kit for $99. I have had good luck with the Husky Brand from HD. Lowe's had some kits but they were name brand and a lot more expensive. Could also check out Harbor Freight, their stuff is definitely cheaper quality, but maybe that is ok for your situation and usage.


Some finish nailers will shoot both trim nails and brad nails. Look for one of those.

And yes, a 2" nail thru just about 1" shoe molding should be fine as long as it hits the baseboard straight on.

  • 2
    +1 Safety tip: watch your fingers with a nail gun. If you hit something hard (screw/nail) the nail can take a U-turn and come back out towards you.
    – BMitch
    May 18, 2012 at 14:36
  • 1
    Yep, keep the hands on the handle only, no holding the body of the gun. May 18, 2012 at 15:03
  • 2
    @BMitch: hate it when you get a "U" turn with a nailer, especially when you are shooting 3 1/2" framers!!!!!! It does happen more than one would think, so safety tips are important. For small trim I like 18ga, but if you need 2" or more you may have to use 16ga as 18 ga usually maxes out at 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 inches for most brad nailers. May 20, 2012 at 10:36
  • 1
    When you're doing it right, all the nails and screws end up in the same place, right at the end of a stud. We see it a lot from finish nails hitting the drywall screws. And since the natural thing for beginners to do is hold the trim a few inches away from where they are nailing, this is a tip I've had to give a lot. The better way is to hold the loose end of the trim about 1' from the nailing area where it hasn't been nailed yet, and use the leverage to make small adjustments in it's position.
    – BMitch
    May 20, 2012 at 13:33

What type of finish are you going to put on the shoe molding? Paint? Stain?

If you are planning to paint it, I would use use finish nails as they have a little larger head and will hold more securely. The holes from the nail heads can then be easily filled and painted.

However if you are going for a natural wood look, I would use brad nails. The heads are smaller, so they will be less obvious. Also you can often get brad nails with brown painted heads so you don't have shinny metallic dots in your shoe molding.

  • Haven't seen the brown headed nails, but the typical method is to countersink the heads slightly and fill with a bit of wood filler.
    – BMitch
    May 21, 2012 at 18:40
  • I'll be painting it.
    – Eric
    May 21, 2012 at 21:20

I would definitely go with 18 gauge brad nails. Porter Cable makes a great combo kit with a compressor and two guns for a little over a hundred dollars. Good luck!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.