Wondering What size nails for baseboard trim? Read this..

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 In our latest Q & A post, we answer the question “what size nails for baseboard trim?”

While a DIY installation of baseboard trim is itself not that hard, you can easily compromise the entire project by using the wrong nail size when it comes to nailing the baseboard.

Read on to find out what size nails are best for baseboard trim for that elegant finishing touch your room deserves.

What size nails for baseboard trim?

You probably know the problem with using the wrong nail sizes:  too short a nail fails to penetrate deep enough to secure the trim properly while a too long nail risks splitting the material and ruining everything including the wiring and plumbing in the assembly.

And so it’s important for you to get the nail size decision right when fixing this house defining feature to the wall.

So, what exactly is the recommended nail size for this material?

Now, to nail baseboard trim, we suggest 2”( 6d) to 2.5” (8d), typically 15 to 18 gauge finishing nails even though you can use a different gauge depending on the nail gun (more on this later).

This size has sufficient framing penetration (without splitting the material) through the drywall for a firm hold while avoiding the underlying wiring or plumbing.


What size nails for baseboard trim? – keep this rule of thumb in mind

Another way of looking at it is by recalling the general rule of thumb when it comes to nailing.

You may or may not recall it..

Well, if not, it’s generally accepted that the ideal nail length for fastening different materials should be 3x (times) the thickness of the material.

So, take the thickness of the baseboard trim you’re using for your interior project and multiply it by three.


Now work from there…

To illustrate, if you’re nailing the pretty common ¾-inch baseboard trim, it would work out to 3/4 x3=  2.25” size nails (roughly 2.5”).

On the converse, 2”s would be a more suitable choice than 2.5”s if nailing a ½” baseboard (1/2 x3= 1.5” but you can work with 2”s to create a little allowance for depth).

There is another helpful rule of thumb: Use a nail size that penetrates the material you’re nailing to at least 3/4″ (not through).

Thus, to use the example of a ½” baseboard, you’d be better off with a nail that is (at least) 1 ¼” long (3/4” + ½” = 1 ¼”) if you’re to use this rule exclusively.

Assuming the traditional 1/2 in. drywall, the 1 ¼ nail will actually not be long enough for the simple reason that the ½” baseboard + ½” drywall takes up 1” already!


What size nails for trim? – be mindful of the gauge too

The wrong gauge (thickness) means you risk breaking or breaking the baseboard trim during the process.

Nobody surely wants that and it’s crucial that you pick the best gauge nails for the project.

To help you make the best possible decision, here is what you should know about the various gauges (based on the various nailers) for baseboards:

·  15 & 16-gauge nails (finish nails)

15 and 16 gauge nails are the fattest nails you can use to attach trim (to be clear, 15 is thicker than 16).

You shoot them with a finish nailer, a nail gun specifically designed for fastening finishing materials such as trim, crown molding, and more.

You now understand why these kinds of nails are popularly referred to as finish nails.

Suffice to say that these nails are usually between 1 to 2.5” long (don’t forget that 2.5” is our most recommended nail length for baseboard trim).

· 18-gauge nails

The other alternative is 18-gauge nails.

These are narrower so they don’t have the same holding power as their peers but they can be a nice option for smaller trims since they don’t leave a big nail hole as their peers.

Besides, there’s a lower risk of splitting the pieces.

Bear in mind that these are shot using brad nailers and the maximum nail length these guns handle is 2″.


Should you glue the baseboard to your wall?

Nope! This may not be an advisable move.

First, nailing with a power (or even air finish nailer) speeds up the job significantly.

Not only that: a regular finish hammer combined with the correct nail set will do a fairly good job (though time consuming) in case you lack access to a finish nailer.

In a nutshell, you should only consider gluing the baseboard if you’re completely unable to use nails for whatever reason.

That said, nails alone may not be adequate to strongly secure the baseboard if you live in an area where walls expand/contract with changing weather conditions, a common phenomenon in humid climates.

Consider applying   construction adhesive before nailing the baseboard if in this situation.


How to nail baseboards with hammer / How to nail baseboard with nail gun -Helpful tips

·   Target the wall studs

Drywall has very poor holding power and it’s not prudent to drive your nails in there.

Instead, shoot or hammer your finish nails accurately into your wall studs to firmly secure the baseboard.

A quality stud detector will help you find the wall studs quickly.

·   Use the correct number of nails

Overall, you should drive two nails per stud for a steady hold if installing 5 inches (or less) baseboards.

Baseboards over 5 inches should be attached with three nails per stud for the best results.

·   Camouflage the nail holes and paint it

For the most beautiful results, use a wood filler to fill and conceal the nail holes until they level up with the wood.

Then proceed to stain/paint the baseboards to taste- a semi-gloss paint is naturally the most suitable choice for baseboards because it resists scuffing better than other coatings.


What size nails for baseboard trim- Recap

Just to summarize the whole post, the minimum finish nails size you can use to secure baseboard trim (and other similar trim pieces) is 2″.

But we suggest that you work with 2.5” (8d), 15 to 18 gauge finish nails for the best results.

Lastly, a finish nailer works perfectly for these types of projects and is the best bet here.



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