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framing nail size

gcrow's picture

what do most guys use for their framing nail guns,  3 inch or 3 1/4 inch?

Building codes require (post #195651, reply #1 of 10)

Because building codes require at minimum 3 1/2" 16d nails for most but not all solid lumber framing connections such as:

-plates to studs

-rafters to plates

-in built up headers

-rafters to ridge boards

-rafters to hip and valleys doesn't make a lot of sense trying to remember where you can use smaller nails or to change to smaller nails if you are using a gun.

Only thing we have ever used, therefore are 3 1/2" 16d nails for framing.

I believe this is a code (post #195651, reply #2 of 10)

I believe this is a code issue, subject to local ammendments. Crack open the book, or check with your local BI. Around here it's 3.25".

Code (post #195651, reply #3 of 10)

Just to clarify, anywhere the International Residential Code is used, (which is almost all of the US 50 states) the size requirement is 16d or 3 1/2" minimum...

The size may vary if you are out of the US or are still in a jurisdiction that has yet to adopt the IRC.

16d nails according to (post #195651, reply #4 of 10)

16d nails according to sources, that is 3 1/2" long for all structural framing. As someone said, no use in worrying about variations and other applications. Generally use 16d throughout unless you have a distinct need to make it something else.

There ain't NO free lunch. Not no how, not no where!

See nailing schedule 2009 IRC (post #195651, reply #5 of 10)

See nailing schedule 2009 IRC NJE attached

nailing_schedule.jpg262.4 KB

Depends on what you're using (post #195651, reply #6 of 10)

Depends on what you're using them for and what code you're following. Toenailiings studs to plates, 8d's are all you need.

Joe Carola

May also depend on code enforcment. (post #195651, reply #7 of 10)

Here, in NC although the building code requires 3.5" nails every framer I have ever seen uses 10p 3" nails for 2by framing.  Not saying I like it or that I agree with it, I'm just saying that is what is common practice.  You gotta pick your battles and that is one I haven't tackled.  I've had hundreds of framing inspections and it was never mentioned.


Just because everyone is (post #195651, reply #8 of 10)

Just because everyone is doing it wrong doesn't make it right or acceptable.

Building inspectors don't typically stand over the builder and watch every nail that goes into place.

Professionals learn the Code then build according to or exceed the minimums established by the Code.

The real issue here is liability.

The Code says you need to use 16d nails in most places for solid wood framing, and if you don't use the proper fasteners, you can be held personally liable if the structure fails because it wasn't fastened properly...or legally.

But if one doesn't care or understand why 16d nails are required, one shouldn't be building at all.

See the great link Jeff Clark provided for solid wood framing connections and understand these are the minimum size fasteners legally permitted to be used.


OK (post #195651, reply #9 of 10)

but no thanks to the links.  I have a stack of code books sitting in front of me.  Since you are code fluent how about answering my question in this same folder entitled "code requirement for placing backfill against brick veneer?"


nails (post #195651, reply #10 of 10)

When I was learning to frame, we were given 8d nails for hand nailing studs to sill plates from the side at an angle.  This is about 30 years ago, and I don't know the code for it now.  I framed my additions (about 8 years ago) using 8d nails and inspector did not even look twice.  You don't want to use heavier nails than necessary because of the cost and work speed.

When you are nailing 2x wood together, use 10d nails at about 16" apart.  2x4 wood got 2 at the ends and 1 staggered about every 16".  2x6 and anything wider would get 2-4 each row.  Using 16d like this, you would get ends of the nails sticking out.  You can use 16d when putting headers together with 1/2" ply sandwiched.

I heard many people (esp. from California?) saying they used 16d only everywhere, but I saw wider spacing when 16d are used and sometimes even not enough nails (at least here in NJ).  I should say, however, nails used in nailguns are different from common nails and gun-nails also may have clipped heads which, I think, are not allowed in hurricane or tornado prone areas.

If you plan to frame your work in newer, energy saving way, 2 piece corner posts, for example, 16d is probably required.

8 years ago, under Residential code, not international, I used these nails:

6d ringshank nailgun for 1/2" osb siding.

8d coated nailgun for toenailing wall studs, 2 on each side.

10d coated nailgun for putting 2x together, jack/king studs, corners, blocking, etc.

16d twisted for handnailing headers.

Hope it helps.