Can You Use an Electric Nail Gun to Install Base Boards?

Brad nails may not hold heavy or thick baseboard in place.
Brad nails may not hold heavy or thick baseboard in place. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Baseboard gives the room a finished look. In most cases, the contractor installs the drywall panels so that the bottom edge is half an inch or so off the floor, leaving an unsightly gap between the wall and the floor. Baseboard covers this gap as well as the small space that may exist between the edge of the flooring and the wall. Nail guns speed baseboard installation, and electric nail guns are less expensive than other types of nail guns. An electric nail gun, however, might not be adequate in all types of baseboard installation.

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Nail Guns

Nail guns come in different styles and types, but they all have a common purpose: to replace the need for a hammer and nails. In addition to electric models, you may purchase or rent pneumatic nail guns that run off compressed air or cordless nail guns that require rechargeable batteries.

Brad Nails Vs. Finish Nails

The baseboard is a component of the room’s trim work, so it’s important to countersink the nail heads and fill the nail holes with matching wood putty for a professional look. Both brad nails and finish nails are acceptable for trim work, but brad nails are thin and fine, and they may not offer enough support to hold thick or heavy baseboard in place.

Electric Nail Guns

Electric nail guns are typically not as powerful as cordless or pneumatic nail guns. Electric nail guns shoot brads or staples that are great for use on soft woods such as pine, but on oak or other hardwoods, an electric nail gun may not generate enough power to adequately sink a brad nail, and staples are not recommended because you can’t hide them from view.

Attaching Baseboard

Locate the studs beneath the drywall before installing the baseboard. Every nail must go through the trim and drywall and into a stud to hold it securely. You can try to shoot a brad nail with an electric nail gun, but if the brad bends, you may have to switch to a cordless or pneumatic finish nailer. If the electric brad nailer leaves the heads of the brads sticking out, use a hammer and nail set to countersink the brads.

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