Nail Gun Vs. Hammer | Which Tool to Use and When?

Last Updated on January 17, 2022 by Barry Gray

Although hammers and nailers are primarily used for driving nails, their practical purposes vary substantially. My extensive experience working with carpentry and construction projects has taught me the ins and outs of each. So, what are the differences between a nail gun and a hammer?

Nail guns can complete a large-scale nailing job much faster, can be held with one hand, are more accurate, require a less physical effort but are much more expensive. Hammers are lightweight, inexpensive, grant control over nail depth but require more physical exertion, and take longer to do jobs.

You’re probably wondering whether a nail gun or a hammer would be the best fit for your upcoming job; in that case, let’s have a closer look at the differences so that you can have peace of mind. 

Nail Gun Vs. Hammer

Nail Gun Vs. Hammer

When it comes to deciding between using a nail gun or a hammer, both are usually substantiated by the experience, work ethic, and preference of the one using the tool. Nowadays, the quicker you can complete a project, the sooner you can move on to another one; as such, the nail gun is highly valued for its ability to finish a job quickly.

Nailers are ideal for framing, roofing, and other applications where surface markings aren’t a worry. Practically all contractors or carpenters use nail guns to save from laboring the whole day and only completing a fraction of the work. Comparatively, hammering and nailing are significantly less productive than using a nail gun.

Driving nails with a hammer might be viable for short-burst nailing or having a certain amount of impact control, but it falls short in accuracy and speed. Whereas a nail gun shoots nails cleanly and accurately, manually driving in a nail with a hammer may bend it or cause the surface material to become damaged.  

Nail guns are helpful for mass manufacturing since they don’t require a lot of quality control. It might include situations when you have a large number of nails to drive over a lengthy period in a highly repeated way, and being a bit off a nailing point or ruining the surface’s aesthetic quality isn’t a problem.

Hammer-driven nails may be preferable (except in mass-produced developments where time is worth more than quality). On the contrary, manually driven nails aren’t always straight, and the nail isn’t always entirely seated into the material; this may be an issue when framing a wall.

Furthermore, manual hammering demands a tremendous amount of muscle and effort to sustain for lengthy periods. After a decent number of studs, you’ll usually start to feel hand pains. Furthermore, toenailing with a hammer is a difficult task.

When Would A Nail Gun Be Better Than A Hammer? 

Using Nail Gun

If you’re wondering whether it’s worth investing in a nail gun for your upcoming project, or if you’re just tired of accidentally smashing your hand with a hammer, consider these pros and cons to ensure you make a well-informed decision!

Due to nail guns being powered by forces far greater than human strength, it’s no surprise that it has enough potency to push nails into walls with the push of a single button! The results are usually accurate, sturdy, and effortless work that is well worth your investment. 

You’re standing on a ladder, and you’re leaning to one side, trying to fasten materials together – a nail gun would make the experience much easier! A nail gun only requires one hand, making it much easier to get the perfect angle and much easier to maneuver around when you’re working vertically. 

In addition to finishing a job in a fraction of the time, you’ll have more energy to work for longer, and you’ll even feel more refreshed after a long day at work because you won’t be as tired from hammering all day. 

With the good comes the bad, and nail guns are by no means cheap. More often than not, they are a considerable investment, and they may not be worth your while; it depends on how often you use them. They are not cheap to fix, either, so you may want to work out a cost-benefit analysis to see whether you’ll get a return on it. 

Because nail guns are machines, they require physical force and energy, so your electricity cost may rise if you use one for a long time. Additionally, Furthermore, they are susceptible to battery depletion. It implies that you can only use these tools up until they are fully charged.

When Would A Hammer Be Better Than A Nail Gun?


If you only have a hammer and you’re wondering whether it will be enough to complete the job at hand, take a look at the pros and cons so that you can know whether you’ll manage.

Hammers are more dependable because they don’t require an external source of power to operate; a good ol’ fashioned strong right arm is enough to get to work. Granted, it may take some time to complete a job, but if time isn’t a concern, neither should you be concerned. 

If the job requires specific levels of nail penetration, a hammer is a perfect tool for accomplishing the necessary level of depth. You’ll be able to judge a nail’s current depth by how far its head is sticking out of the material. 

Compared to nail guns, hammers are much less bulky due to their hollow and lightweight handles. It makes them much easier to use, carry around or relocate to a different area. Furthermore, they are much more affordable than nail guns and can easily be purchased by almost anyone that needs to use one.  

Hammers are not all convenient; as with any tool, they have their cons. Hammering will require both hands – one for the hammer and the other to hold a nail – this can become tricky when you’re atop a ladder or roof, and you need to maintain your balance. Of course, using both hands also causes the user to become more fatigued. 

Manually driving in a nail always leaves the possibility of the nail bending or going at the wrong angle. As a result, it may cause complications or outright ruin a project that requires precision. 


If you have no deadlines and you require absolute precision for a job, it is highly recommended that you use a nail gun. A hammer takes much longer to finish the same job, but you’ll have control over how much deep each nail is driven. 

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

1 thought on “Nail Gun Vs. Hammer | Which Tool to Use and When?”

  1. But you could use a hammer to bend/break/penetrate/dent materials whereas you can’t use a nail gun for it. That’s the manual multiple tool’s pros. Hahahaaa.


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