What Gauge Are Framing Nails? Pros, Cons & FAQ
Framing requires planning, knowledge, and the right tools and materials. Nails are especially crucial since you’ll need to hold everything together, and to last longer, you must use the correct nail size and length.
Too long nails will split the lumber, and short ones won’t solidly hold the frame properly. On the other hand, thick nails aren’t easy to drive, while thin ones don’t provide a firm enough grip. So, what gauge should framing nails be?
If you’re wondering what the correct gauge of nails is for framing, this article provides a resource that you’ll find handy when building your house. Usually, a 16d whose length is 3-½ inches will work well but there are other similar sizes available. Whether you’re using a hammer or a nail gun, the right size of the nail makes your work upstanding, smooth running, and durable in the long run.
Understanding Framing Nail Sizes
In recent decades, screws have stolen the limelight for almost all woodworking processes, but the ubiquitous nail will always have its day when you’re building structures. A nail is still the preferred fixative for making structural connections in floors, panels, trims, and roofs. That’s because they drive quickly, hold fast, and after installation, they are barely visible if well hammered.
But it’s essential to choose the right nail for the job, taking into consideration its type, size, and length for material and any special coatings.
Framing a house can’t be completed well if you don’t use the right nails. You need the perfect size for your 2×4 and 2×6 beams depending on the type of frame you’re building if you expect sturdiness and long life.
What you need is the size 16d or 16-penny nails whose length is 3-½ inches and are made from thicker 8-gauge wire, especially if you’re framing using 2x4s. That’s because they’re high precision and ensure solid structures that meet building codes.
You can also frame with sizes 6d, 8d, and 10d gauges; your selection depends on the different-sized wood in framing joints and connector beams. The D in the nail’s name stands for diameter, also known as the penny, and it helps differentiate different nail lengths and gauges.
For outdoor purposes, most nails are galvanized or coated to forestall corrosion and rust, especially when building exterior wall or roof frames. Electroplated nails are smooth and offer moderate weather resistance, while the hot-dipped varieties are dull gray and rough, offering excellent protection.
If you’re using hardwood or pressure-treated timber, there are specialty framing nails made from copper, bronze, or stainless steel. These also apply when you’re building in high-humidity coastal areas or when your lumber is redwood or cedar as they won’t cause discoloration.
What Are the Different Types of Framing Nails?
Framing nails come in two distinct varieties, the sinker, and common nails, the difference being their head sizes. Sinkers have a textured head of 0.148-inch diameter, while common nails are smooth-headed but with a wider 0.162-inch diameter.
With sinkers, the textured head is essential to stop the hammer from slipping when building the frame of your house with 2x4s. They’re epoxy or vinyl coated, allowing for easier driving than the common nails, and are corrosion-resistant.
But if you’re using a nail gun or nailer to drive nails into your frame, the common type also works well.
These two types can be categorized further as follows:
Where Are Framing Nails Used?
For most of your framing work, you’ll either use the 8d or 16d gauge of nails when building with 2×4 lumbers. The perfect length of the main beam nails is 3 ½ inches which are the 16d’s or 16-penny’s gauge, and you can use common nails or sinkers.
You can use other nail gauges for framing depending on which part of the frame you’re working on, and these include the 3-inch 10d and the 3 ¼ inch 12d. For these lengths, use their sinker and common varieties depending on whether you’re nailing with a hammer or framing nailer.
The smaller nails are useful when you’re nailing top plates, cripples, and headers in the construction of door and window framing. Consider your frame load-bearing capacity, and if it’s not heavy such as when you’re building sheds, use other gauges besides the 16d.
Other framing applications that require specific nail gauges and sizes include:
Advantages of Framing Nails
Technically, nails are made by cutting long strands of solid metal wire; the most common material is steel. The steel material could be plain or bright, stainless or coated with galvanizing materials such as resins for easier driving, corrosion resistance, and durability.
Nails have various benefits over screws or other fasteners when constructing building frames, and these include:
Disadvantages of Framing Nails
While they have loads of advantages as the traditional choice for most woodworking projects, nails also carry a few disadvantages, especially when compared to screws, bolts, and other fasteners. Part of this is due to using the wrong type, size, or gauge of the nail when dealing with lumber materials that require specialty varieties.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does the gauge measurement in framing nails stand for?
The gauge is equal to the diameter, which indicates the thickness of a framing nail shaft and is similar to the width of wires. If the gauge is high, the nail is thin and when a low gauge, such as 6d is indicated, it’s a thick nail.
What types of nails are used for building frames?
The 16d, 10d, 8d, and 6nail gauges, whether common or sinkers, are the most popular framing nails in use today. The 16d nail of a 3 ½ inch length is the best nail for framing when you’re using 2×4 wooden beams and studs.
What size of nailer or nail gun do you need for framing nails?
Framing nails of all sizes from 1 ¼ inch to 3 ½ inches will fit on most nail guns and work perfectly for building frames.
Can I use 3-inch or 12d nails for framing?
Although they’re not suitable for all types of framing, you can use 12d 3-inch nails for frame construction. They’re best used for building frames when the load-bearing capacity isn’t that great, such as for sheds, dog houses, chicken coops, or pump shelters.
Why do my framing nails bend so easily?
You could be using thinner nails than the recommended 16d gauge for framing if they keep bending or breaking. Ensure that you use sinker nails that are at least 8 or 9 gauge, and employ the correct hammering technique to prevent constant sliding.
Nails also bend if your lumber is very hard or has knots, and it’s best to change the position where you hammer them.
Framing Nail Chart: Size vs Length vs Diameter
|16d||3 ½ inches||Sinker nails 0.148
Common nails 0.162 inches
|10d||3 ½ inches||0.148 inches|
|8d||2 ½ inches||0.134 inches|
|6d||2 inches||0.12 inches|
Having the right gauge of framing nails is a great start to completing a project that meets building code approval. Your structure will have integrity and hold up the rest of your building for years without failures that can prove catastrophic. While you can use different gauges to build frames, none have the strength and gripping power of 16d nails.
You’ll find all types of framing nails in your local home improvement store, and it’s easy to choose what you need when you know how to tell the different nail sizes apart. Telling the difference between 16d and other gauges and knowing sinkers from commons is essential if you’re to complete your project effectively and efficiently.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels