What Size Nails for Framing?

Although walls that have been finished with a fresh coat of paint may seem to have been relatively easy to frame, the truth is that a considerable amount of labor went into the project. Framing requires knowledge, planning, and the right type of tools, including framing nailers and nails.

Nails for Framing

Nails for Framing
Just as choosing the right materials are essential for framing, so too are the nails. The right size framing nail is crucial to hold the material together for a long time. This means that you will need to find the proper length and size of the nail that will do the job. If the nail is too long, it may split the lumber. Too short and it will not hold the frame together. This is especially true when securing the frame with 2x4s.

Framing Nails Size: Gauge and Length

The 16D and 8D nails will cover most of your framing jobs that use 2x4s. Most professionals agree that the proper length of the main nails is 3 ½″ and the gauge size is 16d. Sometimes called a 16-penny nail, these are the perfect nails to use for 2x4s. There are two types of 16d nails that are used for framing, common and sinker.

16d Common Nails

The 16d common nail has a gauge diameter of 0.162″ and a length of 3 ½″. This type of nail has a smooth body and head. The advantage of the common nail is the large, flat head that is easy to remove in case you put the nail in the wrong place or the nail itself becomes damaged. And while the thickness gives it better holding power, it does suffer from more frequent slips when hammering it into the wood.

16d Sinker Nails

This nail has a thinner diameter of 0.148″ and has a length of 3-¼ inches. Unlike the common nail, the sinker nail has a textured head and coated shank. The sinker nail is arguably better for 2×4 framing because the textured head does not allow the hammer to slip when striking the nail. Plus, they have a coating made from either epoxy or vinyl that lets you drive the nail into the 2×4 further than the common nail.

8D Nails

While 2x4s are the most common wood for framing in walls, they are generally not used for attachments such as subfloors, furring strips, and sheathing. Therefore, the 16d nail that is 3 ½″ long is too long and too large for attachments. In such cases, the 8d nail at just 2 ½″ is recommended. They also come in common and sinker styles. And the sinker nail is coated which makes it easier to drive into the attachment and therefore a superior choice over the common nail in most circumstances.

10d Nails

This type of nail is best suited when a door header or trimmer will be doubled. Since a smaller nail will not penetrate both boards and a larger nail may split the wood or be driven in too far, the 3″ long 10d nail is normally the best one for the job.

Penny Nail Diameter (Gauge) Length
16d Sinker 0.148″ 3 ¼ -inches
16d Common 0.162″ 3 ½ -inches
8d 0.134″ 2 ½ -inches
10d 0.148″ 3 -inches

Types of Framing Nails

There are several types of nails that may be used for framing. Each type has its own characteristics and comes in different lengths and sizes. Remember that the width of the nail is usually described in terms of a penny nail or 16d for example.

  • Common Nails: These are nails with flat heads and wider dimensions compared to sinker nails. Common nails do not have a coating which makes them more difficult to drive into the wood.
  • Sinker Nails: This type of nail has a textured head. But more importantly, is coated so the nail slides easier into the material.
  • Deck Nails: As the name implies, these are nails that are commonly used to frame decks. Most nails of this type have a diamond shape and look similar to a spike. They are also longer ranging from 4″ to 12″ and with a snug head.

Stainless Steel & Galvanized Nails

There are advantages to using stainless steel and galvanized nails. Steel nails that are not galvanized or made from stainless steel are prone to oxidation or rusting. The moisture in the wood or from the environment can cause the nail itself to corrode while in the material. This may cause expansion or the nail itself to simply rust away and therefore the hold it provides is gone.

Stainless steel and galvanized nails are not prone to rusting because the surface has a layer that repels the moisture. This means that even under humid conditions the nails will not rust unless the surface has been compromised.

Now you have a basic understanding of the types of nails most often used for framing. Remember to check the size and thickness of the wood to ensure that you select the right nail for the job.