Nail Size for Framing: Complete Guide

Nails might be small and often lost on the construction site, but there is no doubt that they are significant and indispensable for almost any project you can think of. When you enter a hardware store, especially if you are a DIYer or an inexperienced newbie, the vast selection of different types and sizes of nails can overwhelm you or even scare you off. For that reason, I have set out to write a complete guide to nail size for framing. So, if you already own a reliable nail gun but do not know what nails to use for your framing project, you can read the text that follows.

It is imperative to choose appropriate nails because if you make a mistake and use the wrong ones, you can ruin your entire work and all your efforts would be in vain. Nails that are too thick or too long can split the wood while nails that are too short will simply not be able to hold everything together.

Stay tuned and avoid such mistakes- get informed about how to always select the right nail size , and make all your framing projects a success!

What Are the Available Nail Sizes for Framing?

Size range of nails

There is an array of different nail lengths, but the nails that are most commonly used for framing projects are from 2-3 ½ inches long. Those are the so-called 16d nails, 10d nails, 8d nails, and 6d nails.

The “d” marking might seem confusing, but it stands for a “penny.” In the United States, the “penny” size is used to designate the length of the nail. This term has been used ever since medieval England and is believed to describe how much a hundred nails of that length used to cost at that time. The diameter of the nail should also be considered - the table below illustrates the different uses of nails of different diameter.

Nail Size

Length & Diameter


16d nails

16d nails are always 3 ½ inches long, but their diameter differs depending on their type. Common 16d nails have a flat head and a 0.162 inches diameter, while sinkers have a textured head and a 0.148-inch diameter.

They are mostly used for fastening framing materials such as wall plates and rim joints. Sinkers are better suited for framing as they slide into the wood more easily.

10d nails

10d galvanized nails are 3 inches long and have a 0.148 inches diameter.

These nails are often a part of the building plan, but you should take care that when using 10d nails, space must be at least five times its diameter. They can be used to join two flat boards or for overlapped floor joists.

8d nails

8d nails are 2.5 inches long, and their diameter is 0.134 inches while their head diameter is 9/32 inches. Besides the common 8d nails there are a slightly narrower 8d vinyl coated sinkers too.

8d nails are best used to attach furring strips or subfloors or any other project that does not require long nails. They are appropriate for attaching studs to wall plates as well.

6d nails

6d nails can be of two types: common and box. They are 2 inches long, their shank diameter is 0.12 inches, and their head diameter is 17/64 inches.

They are rarely used in framing but find their purpose in joining flat woods.

Finally, one should adjust the nail size to the actual project he or she is working on, paying particular attention to the thickness of the used material. And remember, when it comes to nails, size does matter & longer and thicker is not always better!



As I have already said, it is very important to use the appropriate nail size for your framing project, and now you can use this guide and never compromise your work. However, knowing the right nail size is not all it takes to be successful; you will also have to choose the right nails for your nail gun.

The nails you buy should be recommended for the framing nailer you are using, so it is best to consult the seller if you are not sure. For example, there are Bostitch framing nails that are designed for the Bostitch nail gun but might not be appropriate for your DeWalt or Paslode framing nail gun.

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