Building your own fence can be a great way to improve your yard’s look but can also lead to cost savings at the same time. However, if you don’t want your backyard dream to turn into a backyard nightmare, you need to make sure that you get the right equipment.
Chief among the tools you’ll need is the nail gun, and it’s not always easy to shop for those online. Even when you’ve used them before, it can be hard to tell from a product description alone if you’re getting a good deal or buying something you’ll hate using.
We want you to be able to buy with confidence, which is why we’ve created these reviews. Below, you’ll find the best nail guns for fencing of 2020, as well as a buyer’s guide that is meant to help you learn about nail guns so that you can get the model that is right for you.
|Hitachi NR90AES1||10 lbs||4.6/5|
|BOSTITCH F21PL||11 lbs||4.3/5|
|Valu-Air CN55R||6 lbs||4.0/5|
If you’re looking for a fast and powerful nail gun, the Freeman PFR2190 is one of the best choices you could make. It comes with a lot of features that will make your next fencing job a breeze. Chief among these are their interchangeable triggers, which give you the option to use this nail gun in either bump fire or single fire modes, so you can use the function that will get the job done fast and safely. It also includes depth adjustment that lets you change how deep you sink the nails, and since it works with nails between 2 and 3-1/2 inches long, you have control over the project’s final look.
It also comes with a no-mar tip that keeps the surface looking good, or if you need an extra grip, you can remove the tip to reveal no-slip teeth that hold the gun in place before you fire. The only real complaint we have with this model is that the reloads aren’t the fastest on the market, but that’s a relatively minor problem. Overall, this is one of the best nail guns for fencing on the market, and one most people will love using.
The Hitachi NR90AES1 is the nailer you need if you’re going to be doing heavy-duty nailing jobs and can’t afford to miss a beat. Not all tool companies stand by their products, but this nail gun comes with a five-year warranty, which means your investment is better insured against defects in workmanship than most. It also makes it easier than many other nail guns when it comes to switching between single and bump fire mode, as all it takes is a single flip of a switch on the side of the case. It’s also very lightweight, clocking in at only 7.5 pounds, which is a pound or two lighter than many models with similar capabilities.
In line with its great warranty are its great maintenance options. You can open the head up for maintenance by turning only two screws, which makes it easy to do both preventative and diagnostic maintenance. The only reason that this nail gun doesn’t take first place is that it costs too much. While it has a lot of great features, it’s not going to work any better than our top model, but costs about a third more, making it worse value for the money.
What do you get when you take a model very similar to the best one on our list and cut the price by about a third? The NuMax SFR2190, or as we call it, the best for the money nail gun. Design-wise, it is very similar to the Freeman PFR2190, as it comes with a pair of triggers used to switch the nail gun between single and bump fire modes. It also includes a no-mar tip that will keep your fence looking great, or you can take it off to reveal no-slip teeth that do a great job of keeping the gun in place before you fire.
It comes with depth adjustment designed to sink nails from 2” to 3-1/2” in length flush into the board. It is similar to the top model and costs less, but that doesn’t mean that it is without flaw. It doesn’t have as much power as the top model, which means it sometimes struggles to sink nails longer than 3” flush into wood. However, if you’re working with nails that size or smaller, you should do just fine, and if you’re looking to get a great deal, this is the model for you.
The BOSTITCH F21PL is one of the more versatile nail guns on our list, though it has some problems that cost it positions on our list. It has the widest range of accepted nails, as it will work with nails anywhere from 1-1/2” to 3-1/2” in length. While there aren’t often positive placement needs in fencing, this model is positive placement compatible, meaning that it features a tip that can be used to guide nails through the small holes in metal connectors. It also includes a rafter hook, which you can use even if you’re not working in the rafters and makes it easy to set it down a moment to take a break.
It also comes with a high capacity magazine that holds up to 60 nails, which means you won’t have to stop as often to reload as you would with other models. However, this nail gun is very noisy, to the point where it bothers professionals, too. It’s also not terribly accurate when it comes to depth, and slight adjustments can bring disproportionate changes, making it hard to fine-tune your work. While it is a very versatile tool, it’s likely to leave many users disappointed and frustrated.
The Valu-Air CN55R is the most unique model on our list. This is one of those polarizing tools that you’ll either love using or hate using, and there’s little middle ground to be found. There are things to like about this nail gun. It works with nails from 1 to 2-1/4 inches in length, which makes it great for most fencing needs, but also useful for building decks or wooden staircases. It also has a fast firing rate and boasts that it can shoot up to three nails per second, though we don’t know anyone who would ever need to nail that quickly. It’s also relatively compact, which makes it nice to use relative to some of its competition.
However, it uses an uncommon nail-loading mechanism that requires the nails to be in a spiral formation. That, combined with the fact that you have to use 15-degree nails, means that you’re not going to easily get nails for this nail gun. It also sometimes double-fires, leading to jams, though many customers report that the frequency of that problem goes significantly down as they got more experience. Overall, you’ll either love or hate it, which is why it gets last place.
Hopefully, our reviews have already helped you find a model that you think you’ll enjoy using. If you haven’t yet found the model that is right for you, don’t worry. This buyer’s guide is packed full of useful information about nail guns in general, which can give you additional insight that you can use to return to the reviews with a fresh set of eyes and more context about why we reviewed these models the way we did.
While nail combability may not strike you as the most important feature of a nail gun, and while you’d be right in that assessment with nail guns in general, when you’re putting up fencing, it becomes very important. While the kind of nail you need is going to vary based on the wood that you use, the lengths of nail required to stay the same at each stage of the process. While you’re nailing rails to the fence posts you’ve put up, you’re going to want to use 3-1/2 inch nails, and typically you’ll want those to be ring-shank nails, for added grip.
When you’re attaching the pickets to the fence, you’ll instead use two-inch nails, which don’t have to be rink shank, but if you’re looking to get great durability, that’s the right kind to use. So, if you’re putting up a fence, you’re going to want to use nails between 2 and 3-1/2 inches long, which means that you’re going to need a nail gun that is capable of firing nails within that range, and sinking them flush, as you won’t want to have to finish any nails with a hammer.
Not every nail gun is as easy to use as others. One of the most important features is a quick-change between bump and single fire modes, as you’ll frequently find that you’ll want to both in a single session, and nail guns that make the transition between the two difficult can be frustrating to use.
On top of that, you’ll also enjoy using models with a quick reload more than those that lack it. If you’re building a fence by yourself, you’re going to be nailing thousands of nails, which means a quick reload could save you a lot of time over the course of the project relative to a slow one.
And, you’re going to be using the nail gun a lot, so getting a lighter model is almost always a good decision, as you’ll wear yourself out less when using the nail gun. That means you can work faster and longer than you could with a heavier model.
There are some other small features that can add value to your purchase, even if they’re not going to be terribly useful for fencing. For instance, some nail guns come with a rafter hook, which means you can hang them up and free up your hands to do something else until you need the nail gun again.
No-mar tips are also useful for many kinds of work, but it’s really up to you as to whether you’d use a no-mar tip to keep each board looking factory-fresh, or if you’d rather use a no-slip tip with teeth to keep the nail gun perfectly positioned before you fire. If that feature interests you, make sure you get a model that comes with both kinds of tips.
You always want to get great value when you’re shopping for tools. Experienced shoppers know that means that you don’t necessarily buy the most expensive or the cheapest models on the market, since those may have durability problems, or don’t provide enough usefulness to justify their price.
The key to getting great value starts with understanding your needs. Make sure you understand what you will need to be able to do before you buy. Even better if you write those needs down, as you’ll be able to compare that list to the available nail guns. If you make a short list of nail guns that meet your needs, a great way to get the best value is to buy the cheapest model on that list, since you get all of your needs covered at the lowest price.
The Freeman PFR2190 is our favorite nail gun for fencing, and it comes with easy depth adjustment, a great no-mar tip, and it works with large nails. The Hitachi NR90AES1 comes with a great warranty, easy maintenance, and makes it easy to switch between firing modes, but its high cost keeps it out of first place. The NuMax SFR2190 is very similar to our top model and features similar easy depth adjustment and a great no-mar tip, and since it comes at a much lower price, it’s easily the best overall model. The BOSTITCH F21PL works with many nail types and includes a tip for positive placement, but its excessive noise and depth inaccuracy earn it fourth place on our list. The Valu-Air CN55R will work well for some people, but other people will find its use of uncommon nails and occasional jamming problems to be too much to bear, which drops this model to last place on our list.
We know it’s not easy to shop online, but we hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you learn more about nail guns for fencing and led you to the right model for you.
Also feel free to read our guide on how to choose an air compressor for your nail gun.
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Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!