What Size Nails for Baseboard Trim?
Written by Milan Jara on 23rd Nov 2022
Curious what size nails for baseboard trim? We provide size and diameter suggestions to get you the best finish possible.
Baseboards come in a variety of styles and materials. However, their great looks mean nothing if they aren’t properly installed. We outline what size nails to use for baseboard trim and walk you through the installation process.
Is Nailing Your Baseboard Trim Important?
Attaching a baseboard to your wall is an important installation step. However, it is frequently overlooked as we assume our walls are perfectly straight with corners at perfect angles. In reality though, this is not usually the case.
When we start nailing baseboards to drywall, we tend to notice how inflexible or sturdy they are. The wall may be bowed in certain spots or we may discover overlooked odd angles. However, nailing your baseboards to the wall creates a finished work and a superior final product.
Are There Other Methods?
You can glue baseboards instead of using nails. For some projects, this method tends to work better. While nails are a more traditional method, glue also works for attaching baseboards to the wall or you can even incorporate both techniques.
If you want to glue the baseboards, you need a strong glue suited to the project. You’ll need to purchase an industrial-strength glue designed for the task at hand. You will also have to ensure it will stick, as not all adhesives will. If installing it in a bathroom or other area high in humidity or moisture, you must ensure the glue is waterproof.
The downside to this method is if you are gluing onto a stick-resistant surface. It may not stay put, or it may fall off before too long. Always be mindful of these situations. Read the label on the glue to ensure it will work and that nothing will cause it to lose its stickiness, like moisture or certain chemicals.
The main disadvantage is not in installing it but in its removal. Some products work exceptionally well, making removal challenging. While it may not be an issue as baseboards are designed to stay in place, if removal is a concern, then stick with nails. This is not meant to dissuade you but to make you aware you will need to use a solvent.
You can also use a wood-safe caulk instead of glue. However, ensure it is safe to use on wood and adjacent surfaces. Caulk will degrade faster than glue and may not last long.
Are There Other Methods?
The easiest method to attach baseboards is by using a nail gun. The question only rests on what nail gun is needed. For most people, a trim nail gun works best for installation. They are inexpensive, can be used on other projects, and last a long time.
- Finish Nailer:
- Brad Nailer:
Shoots 15- and 16-gauge nails and provides a finished nail head. The angle provides easier access when faced with tight spots, and 15-gauge nails are preferred for the job. The smaller gauge is likely to buckle or bend and is less rigid.
A brad nail gun may not be the best option as they are composed of a thinner gauge than a finished nail. Some people use them to secure a base cap when installing shoe molding. Yet, due to their small size, they are best used to conceal any visible nails.
How Do You Nail Baseboard to Molding?
The process may vary slightly depending on equipment and setup, but you will generally follow the same steps:
1. Mark the Studs:
The distance depends on the wall stud’s location. By using a stud finder, you can locate studs along the wall by the baseboard path. This is easier when done in advance. The simplest method involves using painter’s tape to indicate where the studs are above your baseboard. Once discovered, you can determine the distance, streamlining the process.
2. Prepare Equipment:
For nail guns, you will need a compressor, although some higher-end nail guns may not need them. For cordless guns, ensure the battery is completely charged. For hammers, determine the correct size nail set. You’ll want to transfer the nail set immediately to avoid creating dents and dings by the hammer shape on the baseboard.
3. Begin Nailing:
For air guns, follow the instructions from the manufacturer in terms of nail sizes, PSI, and how it is used. For hammers, line up the nail to the stud. Insert your nail, and begin hammering until it reaches the end. Use your nail set to get your nail beneath your baseboard for proper filling and painting without leaving a trace.
What Size Nails Work Best?
To simplify, look at the letter “d” in the baseboard nail size to indicate length. The gauge is the diameter or how thick the nail is. If you wonder why it matters, long, skinny nails are resistant to thicker or denser materials. They are a challenge with knots as well.
Gauge of Nails
You should use between a 15- and 18-gauge nail based on your baseboard size. With these, you can locate nails that are 2.5” in length, making them the ideal length for installing baseboards. If you use a brad nail, you should use a 15-gauge nail that is two inches long.
Filling Nail Holes
When filling in nail holes, we recommend avoiding caulking as it won’t correctly fill the hole. A visible dent or divot will be seen when you paint over it. The best filler to use is spackling paste.
It forms well and remains in place without changing shape. Its texture allows it to work into holes.
Providing you are careful while using it, there is little cleanup, and you can sand it for a smooth finish. For wood requiring staining, it is best to use water-based wood fillers.
When determining what size nails for baseboard trim, you need to consider what equipment you are using to nail the baseboards to the studs. Using a hammer will require different nails than using a nail gun. Furthermore, your choice of nail gun matters as well. We recommend using a finish nailer instead of a brad nailer for nailing your baseboard trim.