You may have used brad nails for many years for carpentry or joinery projects, making furniture, adding moldings and trims, but now you’re working on an outdoor project, is there a different grade of brad nail you should select for this project? How can you choose the right brad nails for exterior use?
Selecting Brad Nails for Exterior Use
First of all its good to understand what standard brad nails are used for and what qualities they have, because standard 18 gauge brad nails available from your local store and supplied for your brad nail gun might suffice for your outdoor project. Standard brad nails are electro galvanized so may perform well over a long period of time outdoors if not subject to the elements, so if used under cover and the atmosphere isn’t too humid.
Brad nails are typically used for finish carpentry, trim woodworking with decorative trims, furniture trims, window beading, baseboards, blind pinning of upholstery panels, scribe moldings, furniture and cabinet building and picture frame assembly. Because they are available in standard and slight heads you can usually carry out such detailed and fine woodwork without large entry points and splitting of wood using brad nails.
However if a project will be left outdoors and be exposed to the elements, wind, rain, humidity, dramatic rises and falls in temperature, then its likely that standard brad nails won’t live up to the expectations you had of your interior projects. They will start to discolor, rust, corrode and leave unsightly stains on the wood work. So you then have to select a high grade of brad nail for your project that will perform well left outdoors and subject to the elements.
That is why 304 grade stainless steel brad nails and 316 grade stainless steel brad nails have been developed, so exterior work isn’t affected by water corrosion. If your work will be in a standard exterior location where rain, temperature and humidity are within a standard range then 304 grade stainless steel brad nails will suffice for the job, as they are coated to prevent nail corrosion and discoloration. They can be used in wood that is high in water or acidity such as ACQ treated lumber, redwood, cedar and exotic woods. These woods alone can corrode a nail which isn’t a high corrosion level grade.
However, if you project or piece is going to be exposed to tropical environments, a seaside location, or come into contact frequently with salt water then you need to select 316 grade stainless steel brad nails as they have the anti-corrosion properties to resist contact with these elements. Due to these properties and their price increase on standard brad nails, 316 grade stainless steel brad nails aren’t typically used for other projects, but are reserved for specialist outdoor work. But that having been said, there is no reason you can’t use them for standard interior work, perhaps for cabinets and woodwork in a bathroom or kitchen that you are concerned may have exposure to water frequently or high moisture levels in the air.