Are Brad Nails Good for Shiplap?

Shiplap, a popular choice for interior and exterior wall coverings, has been a favorite among contractors, construction workers, and DIY enthusiasts. It brings a touch of rustic charm and a sense of timelessness to any space. When installing shiplap, one of the most critical decisions you face is choosing the right fasteners. Brad nails often come into the picture, but are they the best choice for shiplap? In this article, we’ll delve into the world of shiplap and brad nails to help you make an informed decision.

The Shiplap Appeal

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of fasteners, let’s briefly discuss the allure of shiplap. Shiplap is known for its distinctive horizontal overlapping boards, creating a visually appealing pattern that adds character to walls and ceilings. Whether you’re aiming for a coastal, farmhouse, or contemporary look, shiplap’s versatility makes it an ideal choice.

The Brad Nails Basics

Brad nails are slender, fine-gauge nails that are used for securing lightweight trim, molding, and paneling. They are often chosen for their inconspicuous appearance, leaving minimal holes to be filled. Brad nailers, powered by compressed air or electricity, are the go-to tool for attaching brad nails quickly and precisely.

Shiplap Installation Methods

When it comes to shiplap installation, you have a few options:

  1. Face Nailing: This method involves driving nails straight through the face of the shiplap boards into the underlying wall studs. It’s a sturdy option but can leave visible nail heads.

  2. Blind Nailing: Here, nails are inserted through the tongue of the shiplap, hiding them from view. This creates a seamless look on the surface but might require more effort to achieve.

  3. Adhesive: Some opt for construction adhesive in addition to, or instead of, nails. While this eliminates visible fasteners, it might not provide the same structural stability as nails.

The Brad Nails and Shiplap Connection

Brad nails can indeed be used for shiplap installation, but several factors need to be considered:

1. Board Thickness

Shiplap boards come in various thicknesses, typically ranging from 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch. The choice of brad nails should match the thickness of the boards. Thicker boards may require longer brad nails to ensure a secure hold.

2. Nailer Size

Selecting the right brad nailer is crucial. Ensure that it can accommodate the length of nails you’ll be using and has enough power to drive them through both the shiplap and into the studs.

3. Nail Length

The length of the brad nails is determined by the thickness of the shiplap and the depth you need to secure the boards. Make sure the nails are long enough to penetrate the shiplap and anchor securely into the studs.

4. Spacing

Proper nail spacing is essential for a secure installation. Typically, nails should be placed every 16 to 24 inches along the studs. Be mindful of the shiplap’s location, as edge nailing may require a different spacing pattern.

5. Nail Angle

Consider the angle at which you drive the brad nails. Angling them slightly can enhance the hold and minimize the risk of splitting the wood.

6. Hidden vs. Visible

Decide whether you prefer the fasteners to be hidden (using the blind nailing method) or don’t mind them being visible (face nailing). This choice may influence your decision to use brad nails or explore other fastening options.

Alternatives to Brad Nails

While brad nails are a popular choice, you can explore other fastening options for shiplap:

  1. Finishing Nails: These have more holding power compared to brad nails and can be a better choice for thicker shiplap boards.

  2. Wood Screws: For a robust and durable hold, wood screws may be the solution. They can be used for both visible and hidden fastening.

  3. Tongue and Groove: Some shiplap boards come with tongue and groove profiles, eliminating the need for fasteners altogether.


The question of whether brad nails are good for shiplap ultimately depends on your specific project and design preferences. While brad nails offer a discreet and efficient solution, they may not be the best choice for every situation. Consider the thickness of your shiplap boards, the installation method, and the overall aesthetic you’re aiming for. Whether you opt for brad nails, finishing nails, wood screws, or no fasteners at all, the key is to ensure a secure, visually pleasing, and long-lasting installation of your beloved shiplap.

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