What Size Nail Gun For Shiplap? A Complete Guide. Did you know that shiplap was originally created as a method of waterproofing ships via their overlapping pattern? Later on, shiplap became very popular as a way to externally protect houses against harsh weather conditions. Blocking the wind that would otherwise pass through walls.

Despite falling out of favor with trendy designs over the years, shiplap has recently made a strong comeback. Not only is it still used to provide external protection for homes, but it now serves another new purpose. That is as an element in interior decoration that uniquely accents walls and ceilings.

If you’re thinking about installing this type of wood siding, you’re probably wondering what size nail gun for shiplap works best? This is one of the most common questions we get.

To put it simply, the answer varies according to the thickness of the wood panels you’re planning to use. Generally, a 16-gauge or 18-gauge Brad or finish nailer is ideal for installing thin (faux) siding on interior walls. Whereas an 18-gauge framing nailer is more suitable for thick panels that’ll go on exterior walls.


Let’s discuss the type and size of nail guns and nails that are right for a shiplap job. So keep reading if you’re looking for a more detailed answer.

Shiplap Explained

Shiplap is a type of wood siding that features grooves in its structure to let the boards fit into one another. This results in a distinct design. This special interlocking system is called a tongue joint, a tongue/groove fit, or a rabbet joint.

Every plank or board in shiplap has to be prepared for installation via this mechanism. As such, the cut pieces can be mounted horizontally with the grooves built-in so that planks overlap over each other and create a nicely fitted pattern.

The overlapping of the boards when they’re positioned next to one another forms a very strong attachment. This connection is what allows shiplap to prevent weather elements such as wind from seeping through as in the case of flat panels or planks with smooth edges.

Consequently, shiplap was often seen in sheds, constructing barns, or rural houses. The use of this particular wood siding decreased over the years as more designs came to life. However, it’s been gaining popularity once again recently due to appearing on reality TV.

But nowadays, the use of shiplap is less about protection and more about decoration. Thanks to the tiny gaps between the boards and the overall overlapping pattern, shiplap serves to highlight walls and ceilings. As well as add a level of depth that you can’t get from using paint only.

So where does shiplap get its name from? Well, it’s inspired by the original application of the siding back when people fastened planks together to make wooden ships watertight.

The Right Type and Size of Nail Gun for Installing Shiplap

No matter the reason you want to install shiplap, you should use a nail gun. And not any but the right type and size to make sure it does the job properly.

The 3 most commonly used types of nail guns when it comes to putting up shiplap are: Brad, finish, and framing.

So, how do you choose the most appropriate type and size of a nail gun to get the work done? Well, consider the thickness of the boards you’re planning to use.

If you decide on using faux sidings for interior decoration purposes, note that they’re quite thin panels made of plywood. As such, you’ll need the nail holes to be as small as possible. Yet sturdy enough to support a secure attachment of the sidings to the wall.

In this case, many opt for a 16-gauge or an 18-gauge Brad nailer. As it delivers the necessary amount of strength and uses the right nail sizes. That makes it ideal for setting up shiplap sidings.

Another popular option when it comes to faux plywood boards is a 16-gauge or an 18-gauge finish nailer thanks to the nail size and the level of force applied when driving the nails into position.

If you go for a framing nailer instead, it’ll cause the nails to make bigger holes that you’ll have to fill in later on.

While framing nailers aren’t exactly the best choice for thin faux boards, they can perform well when you’re working with thick sidings for exterior walls.

In this case, the nail gun has to be lightweight to counteract the pull of gravity in the opposite direction as well as capable of accommodating a decent range of fastener lengths to suit different panel thicknesses.

The Right Size Nails for Installing Shiplap

The rule of thumb in the nail size aspect is:

  • It should be big enough to securely hold pieces of sliding together.
  • It should be small enough to avoid splitting.
  • The nail has to reach a depth of at least 1 inch into the stud, wall, or ceiling. This is without counting the thickness of the shiplap board itself or any material present between the board and the wall such as drywall.

As such, the proper nail size for installing shiplap is between 15 to 18 gauge, and the proper length ranges from 1.25 and 1.75 inches.

This way, the nail is long enough to firmly hold the shiplap onto the wall. And still short enough to avoid hitting electric lines.

Of course, you can use longer nails in case there’s drywall to account for. For example, a half-inch drywall paired with a 0.75-inch siding will require a nail that’s 2.25 or 2.5 inches long.


There you have it, a detailed answer to the question “what size nail gun for shiplap?”. Here’s the bottom line:

The answer varies according to the thickness of the wood panels you’re planning to use. Generally, a 16-gauge or 18-gauge Brad or finish nailer is ideal for installing thin (faux) siding on interior walls, whereas an 18-gauge framing nailer is more suitable for thick panels that’ll go on exterior walls.

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