The Best Nail Guns for Fencing of 2022 - Picks from Bob Vila

By Bob Beacham | Published Aug 30, 2022 12:36 PM

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The Best Nail Guns for Fencing of 2022 - Picks from Bob Vila

Using a nail gun for fencing is faster and safer than using a hammer. Nails themselves needn’t be held with these tools, so there is far less chance of hitting a thumb or fingers. It’s important to know that nail guns don’t all fire the same size nails, so choosing the right model is essential to ensuring the strength and solidity of the finished fencing project.

Understanding the technical aspects of these tools, differences in specifications and performance, and descriptions of the best nail guns for fencing on the market will help you choose the best tool for your fencing projects.

Assembling a fence is not a job for everyone, and those who’d rather hire a contractor should check out how to choose one of the best fence companies. But anyone preparing for the task should consider these details when shopping for the best nail gun for fencing.

Four basic types of nail guns are used for fencing: brad nailers, finish nailers, framing nailers, and coil nailers.

Brad nailers are the smallest and most manageable type. Although some folks believe they lack the fixing strength for fencing, we disagree, depending on the material being used. It’s true that the 18-gauge (or 18GA) brads they fire are very slender (0.0475-inch), but at up to 2 inches long, they provide an efficient fixing for lightweight, decorative fencing panels and trellises. (Check out this comprehensive article on great brad nailer options.)

Next up in size, the finish nailer fires nails up to 3.5 inches long that are also thicker than brads at 14 or 16 gauge. Otherwise, there is little difference between the two tools.

Framing nailers are a big step up. A direct alternative for a hammer and nails, they are capable of firing round head nails up to 3.5 inches long used in heavy-duty perimeter fencing.

Coil nailers are often the choice of professionals because they have magazines that can hold from 200 to 300 nails at a time. However, these are among the most expensive nail guns for fencing.

The type of wood fencing chosen will influence the best nail gun to do the job. A lot of inexpensive fencing is made from softwoods such as fir, pine, or spruce, which are relatively easy to nail. A brad or finish nailer could be sufficient for attaching softwood trellises or panels to softwood posts. The latter are often pressure injected with preservatives to last longer.

Cedar, while technically a softwood, is much harder than pine and requires considerably greater force to nail. Hardwoods present the same challenge. Standard pickets are 0.625-inch thick, though they can be thicker. To nail these harder materials successfully, a framing or coil nailer is recommended.

Most nailers are either cordless or pneumatic (powered by compressed air). Cheap brad nailers may be corded, but these aren’t common. There are also nailers that use small fuel cells (gas cartridges). These were popular with professionals before the introduction of cordless tools, but now they are relatively rare.

Either 18-volt or 20-volt (V) batteries power cordless tools, and cordless mobility allows the user to work just about anywhere without worrying about the compressor, hose, or electrical supply. The battery makes them very maneuverable but also often makes them heavier than pneumatic tools. Limited runtime can also be an issue when using powerful framing or coil nailers. Cordless models tend to be considerably more expensive than their pneumatic counterparts.

However, while pneumatic nail guns might be cheaper and lighter, they require an air compressor to operate. These devices can easily run from $200 to $300, and users must consider the inconvenience of connecting a rigid hose and toting the compressor during the task. The compressor must be plugged into an electrical outlet or a generator, which means more equipment to move.

With pneumatic nail guns, it’s vital to check the air supply required. This is usually given in standard cubic feet per minute (cfm), with an air pressure rating in pounds per square inch (psi). Trying to economize on compressor performance is a mistake because insufficient air flow means the nail gun will not operate properly.

Pneumatic nail guns for fencing are often the professional’s choice for their virtually limitless power. For DIY users with relatively small amounts of fencing to erect, a cordless nail gun is often the best choice. For the keen DIYer or home auto mechanic, however, a compressor can be a worthwhile investment because it can also power drills, drivers, sanders, and other tools.

Most basic brad nailers fire a nail when the trigger is pulled. They develop relatively little power, so accidental firings seldom cause injury (still, never point a nail gun at anyone).

More powerful nailers frequently have a safety tip that must be in contact with the material and compressed before the trigger can be pulled and the nail fired. This is called sequential firing.

Pro-grade nail guns may also offer what is called bump firing. With no trigger to be squeezed, a nail is fired each time the tip “bumps” into the material. Bump firing can theoretically drive several nails per second, though in reality the speed is limited by how fast the user can move the gun. Control can also be challenging when bump firing, and it takes practice to achieve consistent accuracy.

Other things to keep in mind when considering the purchase and use of a nail gun include the following:

It is now time to look at examples that illustrate the features discussed above. The following are what we believe to be the best nail guns for fencing on the market to provide solutions for a wide variety of fencing tasks.

Porter-Cable has a reputation for reliable power tools at competitive prices, and the company’s 18-gauge brad nailer is a fine example. It’s an excellent nail gun that can handle lightweight decorative fencing and a variety of indoor DIY tasks, but it lacks the power to put up traditional picket fences or do hardwood nailing.

It uses a brushless motor to maximize battery life, and Porter-Cable claims it can fire up to 1,300 brads on a single charge. Nailing is a breeze: Just load a strip of brads and pull the trigger to fire. For further ease of use, both jam clearing and depth adjustment are tool-free. However, at 5.1 pounds, the Porter-Cable is heavier than many competitors, and a battery adds another 10 ounces. The battery and charger are not included, adding considerable cost if the user doesn’t already own compatible versions.

Get the Porter-Cable nail gun for fencing on Amazon or at Acme Tools.

Wen is well known for producing basic yet durable tools for those on a limited budget, and the company’s low-cost pneumatic brad nailer has plenty to recommend it beyond budget friendliness. The nose latch allows jam clearing without tools, and a simple wheel adjusts depth. The gun exhaust can be rotated in any direction so it never blows air at the user.

An air hose restricts some movement, but the Wen brad nailer is a relatively light 2.7 pounds. It also has a rubberized grip, so it’s manageable and comfortable to operate. With a cfm of just 0.028 per nail at 88 psi, it can run off a low-cost compressor. Like the Porter-Cable, it isn’t intended for substantial fencing jobs, but it shares our Best Overall pick’s versatility while delivering tremendous value for money.

Get the Wen nail gun for fencing at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.

The Numax framing nailer has impressive capabilities to tackle tough fencing challenges. This powerful tool is capable of driving full round-head nails up to 3.5 inches long. To achieve that strong performance, it requires a relatively modest 2.4 cfm at 90 psi, which most portable air compressors can produce.

Among its numerous valuable features are both sequential and bump-firing modes for rapid nailing. The exhaust rotates through 360 degrees. The no-mar tip can be removed to expose teeth on the end of the gun that provide extra grip. Jam clearing and depth adjustment are tool-free. Dry firing (when out of nails) can damage nail gun mechanisms, but the Numax tool’s safety lockout prevents this.

Although the body is designed with magnesium to reduce weight, the tool still weighs a hefty 8.6 pounds. This makes it more difficult to control when bump firing, which creates considerable recoil. This can make the Numax framing nailer tiring or otherwise challenging for inexperienced users.

Get the NuMax nail gun for fencing on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Bostitch has been making stapling and nailing machines for more than 100 years, and many professionals look to its tools for their reliability and durability. The brand claims its framing nailer is the most powerful in its class, capable of driving nails with a force of 1,050 psi. As a bonus, the quick-change nosepiece allows the tool to switch from wood nails to those used for heavy-duty metal connectors in post and frame work.

The Bostitch framing nailer can operate in sequential or bump-firing modes, and it has a unique push-button depth setting. Jam clearing is tool-free, and there’s a rotating exhaust port. Rather frustratingly, Bostitch doesn’t provide a cfm rating but quotes operating pressure from 80 to 120 psi. Given that air consumption is likely to be relatively high, we would recommend 2.5 cfm as a minimum.

The Bostitch framing nailer is the most powerful nail gun for fencing in our lineup, but that quality and performance comes with a premium price tag.

Get the Bostitch nail gun for fencing on Amazon or at Acme Tools.

Designed to provide outstanding productivity, the Metabo HPT coil nailer can fire up to 300 nails in sequential or bump mode before needing to be reloaded. The maximum firing rate in skilled hands is three nails per second, and the round-head siding nails it uses are designed to reduce splitting, and so they are ideal for fencing. The magazine is side opening for fast and easy reloading.

There’s a dial for depth adjustment, tool-free jam clearing, and a movable exhaust. The tip also has a shield to protect the user from ejected waste. The Metabo HPT coil nailer can accept either plastic or wire collated nails. The recommended air supply of 4 cfm at 90 psi demands a fairly powerful compressor, though many portable models can deliver that kind of performance.

The 4.8-pound coil nailer seems surprisingly light, but a full coil of nails will add at least 1.5 pounds. Because of the tool’s bulk, users require some experience to handle well, particularly in bump mode. Although professionals can benefit from the increased efficiency, this is not really a tool for the DIY user, especially since it’s also pretty pricey.

Get the Metabo nail gun for fencing on Amazon or Toolbarn.

This nail gun combo from Freeman has a tool for every fencing task. There’s a stapler that can be used for lightweight plastic or wire mesh, a brad nailer, finish nailer, and framing nailer. The set also provides the versatility for just about every nailing job around the home, from upholstery to stud work.

All of the nail guns boast quality features. There is tool-free jam clearing, depth adjustment, and 360-degree rotating exhausts. The framing nailer has sequential and bump modes, plus dry fire lockout to prevent damage. An air supply of 2.5 cfm at 90 psi is recommended for the framing nailer, which demands the most power of the set.

Generally speaking, Freeman nail guns are trouble-free. We have seen occasional fault reports, but nothing that appears frequently.

Get the Freeman nail gun combo for fencing on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Those looking for a tool that can fire both staples and brad nails should check out this Kimo 18-gauge cordless model. It’s a great all-rounder for lightweight fencing panels, trellises, and various types of plastic or wire mesh. It also has a host of applications for DIY woodworkers and craft projects.

Its 20V cordless power means complete freedom of movement, and Kimo claims the gun will fire 700 nails before it needs recharging. Unusual for a brad nailer, this tool offers both sequential and bump firing; using the latter, it can fire up to 90 nails per minute. Depth adjustment and jam clearing are tool-free, and useful LED work lights illuminate dark corners.

While this isn’t the least expensive tool on the market, the included battery and charger make the price competitive. Given its versatility, the Kimo ranks among the top nail guns for all DIYers. When rare problems with the unit have occured, some users have been critical of customer support.

Get the Kimo nail gun for fencing kit on Amazon.

The Workpro 18-gauge brad nailer is another budget-friendly nail gun for lightweight fencing, DIY, woodworking, and craft projects. It has tool-free jam clearing, and while depth adjustment has only three settings rather than being fully variable, that should suffice for most jobs. The trigger has a safety lock, something rarely seen on low-cost nailers.

Although the cfm is not quoted, a minimum working pressure of 70 psi means the tool should run well off a relatively small, low-cost portable compressor. A 360-degree exhaust directs excess air away from the user.

At just more than 4 pounds, the Workpro is heavier than some similar models, but it’s reasonably well-balanced and not difficult to handle. It isn’t a particularly high-quality tool, but there are few complaints from users. Jams can be frustrating, but poor brad quality might also be to blame.

Get the WorkPro nail gun for fencing on Amazon.

The Porter-Cable nail gun for fencing is an excellent choice for lightweight fencing jobs. It has proven reliability and is competitively priced for a cordless tool. The Wen nail gun for fencing offers similar performance at a fraction of the price if you already own a suitable compressor. However, neither of these is capable of tackling picket or heavy-duty fencing. For those types of jobs, the NuMax nail gun for fencing is a likely solution. And for unrivaled versatility, we favor the Freeman nail gun combo for fencing.

Although the technology for both cordless and pneumatic nail guns has not changed much recently, we researched leading manufacturers and dozens of different tools to ensure we had the most current information.

Performance was an important element in each of the chosen nail guns for fencing, but we didn’t limit the selection to high-power options since they’re not required for erecting decorative panels or lightweight trellises. A heavy-duty model may even be too powerful for some jobs.

Versatility was also a key element, and our final lineup offers nail guns we believe can cover every fencing job folks are likely to face. If a nail gun can accomplish a variety of tasks, it provides better value. Finally, there is the price: We wanted to include something for all budgets while ensuring reliability and durability.

Now that shoppers have ample information for buying and using a nail gun for fencing, we answer some common queries about fence construction.

Framing nailers work well for fence pickets. Coil nailers are popular with professionals because of their greater nail capacity, but they tend to be much more expensive.

The length of fence nails depends on the type of fencing. While brads can be as short as 0.375 inch, a range of 1 to 1.5 inches provides good hold in lightweight constructions. Round-head nails being driven through boards into sturdy posts can be from 2 to 4 inches depending on board thickness. Longer nails maximize grip, but be careful they don’t go all the way through and leave a sharp point on the other side.

Screws technically provide stronger fixing, but nails are faster and usually the preferred option. Ring-shanked nails provide additional grip.

Generally speaking, fence posts go on the inside so that the “best” side faces out. However, if access for nailing is difficult, it may be necessary to place posts on the outside.

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The Best Nail Guns for Fencing of 2022 - Picks from Bob Vila

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