A visit to the hardware aisle in any home improvement store can be a lesson in frustration if you aren't sure what you're looking for and what your project actually requires. Some people might be quite surprised to know that there is a baffling array of nails to choose from. The following text will decipher which nails to use when by discussing the most generally used examples.
Most nails are made with either plain or galvanized steel. Other materials used to make nails are copper, aluminum and brass. Nails come in a wide array of sizes, perhaps hundreds of different sizes. Today, nails are sold in hardware stores and home improvement centers and measured in inches. For most jobs around the home, having a store of the following nail types in various sizes should suffice.
Common nails have flat heads and grooves located just under the head for better holding power. They are typically used for construction needs, but they can be considered for any job where you don't mind having a visible nail head.
Finishing nails have tiny heads. They, too, can be used for many jobs, but are chosen for the finished look they leave behind (you can scarcely trace them as their heads are easy to fill in).
Box nails, like common nails, have large heads but are made with a lighter gauge. Choose these if the wood or lumber you're working with is likely to split. If holding power is not a top priority, these work fine for small projects.
Roofing nails are more self-explanatory than the others, as they are used for nailing down shingles and other roofing materials. They have larger heads than common nails and are made to withstand rust - usually of aluminum or galvanized steel. Constructors usually choose them in one to two inch lengths.
Threaded nails, also called ringed nails, are required when more holding power is wanted. They are nearly as strong as wood screws, but they are simply driven in with a hammer.
Brads are similar to finishing nails; however, they have a more rounded head are slightly smaller.
Coated nails sport a resin that operates like an adhesive when the nail is driven into place. Consequently, they provide extra holding power. Not as strong as ringed nails, they are stronger than most others.
Masonry nails are manufactured with extra-strength steel. Their shafts are made with spiral grooves for increased holding power. These nails must be driven straight home - a small sledge hammer is frequently used to drive them for best results. If they are hit off center, they are likely to bend or crack. One should also wear goggles to protect the eye from flying debris.