There are many kinds of nails used for various applications. For instance, sinker and common nails have similar uses but are not completely the same.


In this article, you’re going to learn about sinker and common nails, what these nails are used for, their differences, sizes, and dimensions to help you with your next project.

Why Are There Different Types Of Nails?

So why are nails manufactured in different sizes, shapes and made from various materials? The simple answer is that they are used for many purposes. 

Nails are commonly steel, but others are aluminum, brass, nickel, bronze, copper, and stainless steel. In addition, nails are manufactured with galvanized, blued, or cemented coatings to prevent rusting and increase their holding power. Their size is designated by penny size, originally the price per hundred nails.

The different nails include common nails, sinker nails, box nails, finishing nails, roofing nails, drywall nails, masonry nails, tacks, and corrugated fasteners. 

Each type of nail is made for a specific use. Some nails are good for home repairs and do-it-yourself projects, which you don’t need much experience to use effectively. 

Sinker Nails

Sinker nails are for framing jobs and all-around construction scenarios. These nails are commonly shorter and slimmer than common nails and have a vinyl coating, making the hammering process easier and more durable. Generally, vinyl-coated sinkers are made of steel alloy for more durability and corrosion resistance.

A typical feature in sinker nails is their checkered flat head, typical amongst construction nails. These nails are specially designed for general carpentry, construction, and framing applications. The smooth shank of the sinker nail allows you to drive it into the wood easily with reliable durability. But it isn’t advisable for use in treated lumber or in cases where you are worried about rusting and corrosion.

Common Nails

Common nails are typically used for general rough framing and construction and are also called framing nails or round-heads. There are hot-dipped galvanized variants that are more appropriate for exterior projects and direct exposure to weather. 

On the other hand, common steel nails that are uncoated will corrode faster when exposed to changing weather. This type of nail is most widely-used for joining timber and other materials, especially where a rougher finish is acceptable. 

Sinker Nails Vs. Common Nails: Usage and Function

Common nails or framing nails are often used for rough finishes like temporary framing or supporting a bigger structure like a bed frame. In the case of using a common nail on a wooden bed frame, a rough finish would be acceptable since the nails would not be seen anyway. 

These nails are ideal for general construction, framing, and other structural work for indoor and outdoor projects. They have a wide head, thick shank, and a diamond-shaped end. Its thickness makes them durable and more likely to split wood than thinner nails. 

Some carpenters dull the tip of the nail to prevent splitting the wood, though to do so means the tip will damage the wood fibers, slightly reducing the holding power.

Sinkers are thinner compared to common nails. They have a smaller, flat nail head and are often coated to drive into wood easily. Carpenters also use vinyl-coated sinkers for general construction, mainly wood-frame house construction. 

Sinker Nails Vs. Common Nails: Size And Dimension

Common Nail Size, Gauge, And Diameter

SizeGaugeLength (in)Diameter (in)
3d141 1/413/64″
4d121 1/21/4″
5d121 3/41/4″
8d102 1/29/32″
12d93 1/45/16″
16d83 1/211/32″
30d54 1/27/16″

Sinker Nail Size, Gauge, And Diameters

SizeGaugeLength (in)Diameter (in)
3d15 1/21 1/80.172
4d141 3/80.203
5d13 1/21 5/80.219
6d131 7/80.234
7d12 1/22 1/80.250
8d11 1/22 3/80.266
10d112 7/80.281
12d103 1/80.312
16d93 1/40.344
20d73 3/40.375
30d64 1/40.406
40d54 3/40.438
60d35 3/40.500

How To Size Nails?

Today, the penny system refers specifically to nail length. Each higher number in the penny system represents a 1/4-inch length increase, up to a 12d nail (3 1/4 inches long).

A good method is to have the length of the nail around 21/2 times the thickness of the wood you are nailing. Say your material is 1-inch-thick, you would ideally use an 8-penny nail, but for a 2-inch-thick material, you’d use a 16-penny nail.

Proper Nails For Specific Use

It’s good to use nails three times longer than the depth of the thinner material that is being nailed. If you are unsure which nails you should use, you can always consult professionals to advise or help you with your projects.

Editorial Contributors
Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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