For what I know, the nail size is more important than you might think when framing interior walls. Nails that are too long or fat are difficult to drive and can split wood, while short or thin nails just don’t do the job. The best nails for framing are 3 1/2 inches long. These are called 16-d, or “16-penny,” nails.
16d Sinkers and Common Nails
You’ll see two types of 16d nails at a hardware store (the “d” is an archaic English abbreviation for “penny”). Common nails have a smooth head, while sinkers have a textured head that prevents hammers from slipping. Of the two types, common nails have a diameter of 0.162 inches and are heftier, but the sleek 0.148-inch sinkers are better for framing. Sinkers usually have a coating of vinyl or epoxy that helps them slide into wood more easily, which is an important consideration when you have to drive a large number of them.
Framing involves more than joining 2-by-4s. You often have to attach furring strips, sheathing, subfloors and other materials for which you don’t need large nails. For these subsidiary tasks, 8d common nails, which are 2 1/2 inches long, are often the best choice. Some hardware stores even stock 8d vinyl-coated sinkers, which, like their 16d counterparts, are slightly narrower than common nails.
- The best nail size for framing depends on the size and relationship of the lumber parts being fastened. For most framing, use “common” nails, which are thicker and stronger than “box” or “sinker” nails.
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