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What Size Nails Do You Need for Framing?

Picking the right nail size may not be as complicated as rocket science, but are you sure you have the right one? Not really?

two female hands hold a large iron nail, yellow background, copy space

Well, if you're having the hardest time figuring out, the best course of action would be to identify the different nail sizes and understand their applicability. Using a wrong nail can destroy your project, whether you're building decks, constructing a room, or framing exterior walls.

Besides, if you do not choose the right framing nail size, you will have a feeble construction, in addition to damage on the wood. By using the perfect nail size, you not only ensure strong framing but can also achieve maximum bonding strength. Therefore, getting the correct framing nails is the most practical thing to do.

That's why we've listed out the varying sizes that you can use, depending on the work and explained their uses accordingly.

Without further ado, let's get down to business.

Nail Sizes For Framing

Nail Sizes For Framing comparison chart

To begin with, building roofs, walls, and sub-flooring are some areas where framing nails are used, and it's essential to select the appropriate nail lengths for the job. The nail lengths or sizes that are most commonly used include 6d, 8d, 10d, or 16d.

Here, the letter 'd' denotes a penny. This is a part of an age-old system where nails were specified by their lengths and diameters. Naturally, the ‘d’ or penny's diameter gets bigger with the length. So, the next question is which size should be used and where?

If you want to finish the job correctly, it's imperative to choose the perfect nail length. The following are the different sizes that will come in handy while framing.

  1. 16d Nail Size

16d is the most commonly used nail size for framing applications. Also known as 16-penny nails, these are 3.5 inches long, but their diameter varies depending on the type of nail.

To explain further, there are two variants of 16d nails - sinkers and commons. The sinkers sport textured heads and have a diameter of 0.148 inches. Whereas, the commons feature flat heads with a diameter of 0.162 inches.

16d Nail Size for framing


Both varieties of 16d nails are used in projects related to framing, like fastening wall plates or rim joints. The sinkers come with vinyl, cement, and epoxy coating, which make them more reliable for framing than their counterparts.

These framing nails are all about convenience, mainly because they can easily slide into the wood. And that convenience factor is more crucial when you have to drive in a large number of nails. Besides, their textured head prevents nail guns and hammers from slipping, thereby ensuring user safety.

On the contrary, the commons are not coated and, as such, should not be used in high moisture areas or places that are prone to rust. While framing interior walls, you will need framing nails that are not too long or wide, so that you don't face any difficulty pushing them in.

That's the reason why 16d sinkers are the perfect option in this case. On the other hand, for exterior framing, you'll require galvanized nails to prevent rust. Other than that, the 16d is also the most suitable nail size for 2×4 framing tasks and installing joist hangers.

  1. 10d Nail Size

The 10d galvanized nails are exactly 3 inches in nail length and have a diameter of about 0.148 inches. That being said, this size is ideal for fastening two board faces that are flat, since the nails do not penetrate deeper into the boards.

The rule of thumb while using 10d nails, is that the area should always be three times the diameter of the nail. Also, do not replace the 10d with nails having a lesser diameter. However, you should install these nails in a way that no nail edge is less than 0.75-inch.

10d Nail Size for framing


If you are looking for the appropriate nail size for framing roof truss, or trimming doors then 10d nails are the best choice. Furthermore, they are also used in framing studs, for instance when you are doubling wall studs or floor joists that are overlapping.

  1. 8d Nail Size

To state simply, 8d nail size for framing is used where larger nails are not necessary. These are generally 2.5 inches long, while their shank and the head diameter is about 0.134inches and 9/32 inches, respectively.

Also, like 16d nails, the 8ds come in vinyl-coated sinkers and uncoated commons varieties. Moreover, the sinkers are marginally narrower and often the better of the two choices.

10d Nail Size for framing


8d nails are appropriate for all kinds of siding materials. These nails are used to attach sheathing, furring strips, subfloors, and any other material which does not require bigger nails.

Apart from that, they are also used for toenailing as well as joining wall plates. However, when using them, make sure that the nails are arranged in a way that they will penetrate the stud.

  1. 6d Nail Size

Last and also the least, 6d nails are shorter in nail length and have a smaller diameter compared to other framing nails, making them suitable for small interior projects only.

These nails are only 2 inches long with a 0.12 inches shank and 17/64 inches head diameter. You can find two kinds of 6d nails on the market and these categories include box and common. So, pick the type as per your requirements.

6d Nail Size for framing


The 6d nails are primarily used for joining flat woods and nailing the subfloor and finish floor. Also, you can use this for small-scale wood projects as their small size and diameter ensure less chances of surface damage.

Other Nail Sizes for Framing - At A Glance

  1. 2d – 1-inch shank length; 0.072 inches shank diameter
  2. 3d – 1.25 inches shank length; 0.083 inches shank diameter
  3. 4d – 1.5 inches shank length; 0.109 inches shank diameter
  4. 5d – 1.75 inches shank length; 0.109 inches shank diameter
  5. 12d – 3.25 inches shank length; 0.148 inches shank diameter

Nail Sizes for Framing compared nail size comparison chart

Framing Nails for a Framing Nailer Buyer's Guide

Framing nails are typically arranged in a row to load into the magazine of a given nail gun, usually specified by the length of the nails. As such, it is always necessary to make sure that the nail gun is compatible with the nail size for framing. You can do that by buying from the same brand so that the nails can seamlessly fit into the magazine.

Even though most types of nailers support all of the above nail sizes, you should always check the manufacturer's specifications before purchasing one. That said, framing nailers come in two different varieties - clipped head and round head, to meet different project requirements.

Also, some of them have magazines with a steep angle towards the striking tip, enabling it to fit in tight spaces, depending on framing and structural applications.

Framing Nails for a Framing Nailer Buyer's Guide


Now that you have a fair understanding of the correct sizes that can be used for framing, we hope you can apply this new-found knowledge accordingly. Also, always remember that nail sizes for framing must go hand in hand with the materials you will be using on a project.

nail length for nail guns explained in comparison size chart

Ideally, the nail should penetrate the board and attach it to the other board, and as such, you should consider the thickness of the materials used. Often, you may have to buy more than one size so you can apply the correct nail required for a specific purpose in the framing projects.

On that note, we have come to the end of our guide, and we hope you can confidently get on with your work.

Let us know in the comments section if you have some tips to share. And stay tuned for more such informative pieces.

Till next time!

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