What Size Nails for Baseboard Trim?

What Size Nails for Baseboard Trim?

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The baseboard trim, also known as the skirting board or floor molding, is a vital finish for internal walls. It doesn’t have a structural function, but it makes our interiors look great. If you are using a wooden trim, you can leave it looking natural, or you can paint it.

We usually attach baseboard trim using nails, so it’s essential to use the right kind of nails that are the proper size for the job. If the nails are too long they might pierce the drywall and damage pipes or wires. If they are too short, they won’t hold the baseboard in place. Don’t panic, today we’ll be going over what you need to know about baseboard nails. Keep in mind that It’s also important to use the right method, depending on specifics like the height of your baseboard and how it’s positioned.

What Size Nail Should You Use for Baseboard Trim?

Nails for Baseboard Trim When you go shopping for nails for your baseboard trim you will notice several things. No doubt you’ll know about length and gauge, which is the thickness of the nail. But what about the “d” that suppliers talk about? It’s really not important as long as you buy the right length and gauge, but the d is simply an abbreviation for the old English penny. It refers to the length, and nail sizes increase by ¼ inch for each penny. Centuries ago, the penny size impacted price, but it doesn’t any longer.

A good rule of thumb is to use 2-inch (6d) to 2½ -inch (8d) 15-18 gauge finishing nails for baseboard trim. If you are using a thin trim, you should use shorter 1½ inch (4d) finish nails.

However, it’s not just the nails you need to consider. It’s also important to use the best tool for the job. A good quality pneumatic finish nail gun or pneumatic brad nailer are excellent options. These are powerful, accurate tools that will enable you to do the job in the least amount of time.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing Nail Gauge and Length

We’ve already mentioned that you need to consider the gauge and length of the nails you are going to use to attach the baseboard trim at the bottom of your internal walls, nonetheless, there are several other factors to consider. We are going to look at all of these factors shortly.

1. The Perfect Length of Nails

Nail lengths used for baseboard trim range from 1½-2½ inches. If possible, don’t use nails that are longer than 2 inches unless you specifically need a deeper penetration.

2. The Best Gauge Number

It is true that the smaller the gauge or diameter of the nails you use, the neater the finish will be. But neatness isn’t everything.

Generally, the thicker the trim, the fatter the nails should be. The larger the gauge number, the thinner the nail will be. And the fatter the nail, the greater its holding power in the trim and wall will be. You will, of course, need the right nailer for whatever gauge nails you are going to use.

When you source a nailer, you will find that those used for bigger 15 and 16 gauge nails are commonly called finish nailers. Midsize nailers that are used for 18-gauge nails are generally called brad nailers. The smallest type, which is used for the smallest 23-gauge nails, is known as a pinner or micro pinner. It’s unlikely you will need more than one nailer for your job.

3. Thickness of The Baseboard Trim

It is vital to take the thickness of the baseboard trim into account when choosing the nails you will use to fix it in place. All you have to do is measure the thickness of the trim and multiply it by three. So, if you are nailing standard ¾-inch baseboard trim, you’re going to need nails that are roughly 2½ inches long.

4. Thickness of Your Drywall

Another helpful tip is to use nails that penetrate the drywall by at least ¾ inch. Traditional drywalls are ½ an inch thick, and you don’t want the nails to go all the way through the wall.

What Are The Risks of Using Nails Too Small to Attach Baseboard Trim?

If you use nails that are too small, they won’t secure the baseboard properly, and it’s likely to start shifting from the wall. The reason is that they don’t extend deep enough into the studs or drywall. It really is that simple.

What Are The Risks of Using Nails Too Large to Attach Baseboard Trim?

The most common risk of using nails that are too long is that you will hit plumbing and other pipes, wiring, or cables that are channeled inside the drywalls. But it isn’t only length that is a potential problem. If the diameter of the nail is too great, you run the risk of splitting the baseboard.

Can You Attach Baseboard Without Nails?

Yes, you can attach a baseboard without nails, but it isn’t the usual method of installation. Nevertheless, if you use a good quality, construction-grade adhesive, you will be able to achieve a tight-fitting, professional finish.

Generally, a thin trim made from lightweight wood works best if you are going to glue it in place. You will also need to work out how to keep the trim in place while the adhesive dries. It stands to reason that you won’t be able to use clamps except at the corner of a room that opens into an adjacent space. But it certainly is possible. Also, some adhesives dry more quickly than others. So make sure to check this factor before you commit to a product.

Tip: I recently held a glued baseboard in place for several hours by placing random heavy objects, including a gas canister, against it.

Ultimately, baseboards are a finishing element. They don’t play a structural role in the building. So, if you glue your baseboards well, that’s absolutely fine. Additionally, you won’t have to fill nail holes on the outside of the trim or worry about having to remove the nails later.


Every construction project that utilizes nails requires the right size for the job at hand. If the nails are too long or too short you can have some big issues. But, when you are nailing a baseboard trim, it also depends on the thickness of the trim. Another important factor is the thickness of your studs and the drywall.

And, of course, you also need the best nailer for the job.

It isn’t rocket science. Just like the basic rules of building – plumb, level, and square – you just need to know what you’re dealing with. How thick is your baseboard? How thick is the material you are attaching it to? Is there anything you risk damaging when you nail the baseboard to your walls?

This article provides basic pointers that will help you install your own baseboard trim successfully even if you’ve never done it before. You might also want to read about how to choose the right framing nail size.