Types of Nails and Their Uses


Common Nail -most widely used general purpose heavy-duty use in rough wood-frame construction. Common nails have a thick shank and a wide head with a textured or flat surface. The point on a common nail is usually a diamond shaped point. Box nails are very similar to common nails but box nails have a thinner shank and used for thinner wood materials to reduce splitting.

Finishing Nail – for use on trim and cabinet work, where nail heads are sunk and concealed. Nails are sunk with a nail set tool and then sealed so they don’t show.

Cut Flooring Nail – for blind nailing through edges of tongue and groove floor boards or planking. Cut nails are also used in rustic decorative work when you are going for an antique look.

Square Shank Nail – Used to fasten furring strips and brackets to concrete.

nail types

Annular Ring Nail – sharp edge ridges lock into wood, providing great holding strength. Ring nails are commonly used for sheetrock or drywall because of its better grip and pullout resistance from the rings on the shank.

Casing Nails – heavy duty finishing nail, offers strength with a sinkable head. Casing nails are designed to fit into a nail set tool to be countersunk and the nail hole filled.

Spiral Nail – turns like a screw when driven. Its tight grip eliminates squeaks in flooring.

Roofing Nails – large galvanized head resists corrosion and will not puncture roofing material. Roofing nails have a short shank with a wide flat head and are used to fasten shingles, roofing felt paper, or sheet metal to wood.


Sealing Roofing Nails – used on metal roofing. A Washer is placed under the head of the nail for a watertight seal.

Common Brad Nails – for parquet flooring and moldings, sunk and filled like finishing nails. The small shank diameter and small head they are less likely to split hardwood molding and trim work.

Duplex Head Nail – for temporary work, the nails double head protrudes for easy removal. The most common usage for these nails is when making concrete forms.

Types of Metals Nails are Made From:

  • Brass – Brass Nails are mostly used in furniture and crafts as decorative nails because of the shine. Nails made of brass are soft and should only be used as decorative.
  • Steel – bright steel nails are made from polished steel best used indoors.
  • Copper – Copper nails are used in copper roofing and gutter installation.
  • Galvanized – Galvanized nails have a rust proof and weather resistant coating that is most commonly used on exteriors.
  • Solid Stainless Steel – these are mainly marine grade nails used around pools and boats.
  • Zinc Plated Nails – have a zinc coating but a low rust resistance mostly used indoors.

Nailing Methods

nailing methods

  • Toe Nailing – nails are driven to form an X
  • End Nailing – nails are driven at a slight angle and almost meet in the middle of a board
  • Face Nailing – nails are driven in flat and straight