What Size Nails for MDF Baseboard Work Best?

MDF baseboard, or trim, tends to be a fantastic option for those looking for a wood effect throughout the home. However, many people wonder which nails and screws are likely to work best with this option, and which tools they can ideally use, too. What size nails for MDF baseboard work best?

On the whole, 16 gauge or 16g finish nails tend to work best with MDF. Light and compact is key here – and that goes for any tools you use, too.

In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about the best MDF baseboard nail sizes, and why it matters. After all, the best nail guns for building furniture may not be the best for MDF trim – so make sure you take stock of expert opinion.

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Can you use a nail gun on MDF?

Yes, it’s absolutely fine to use a nail gun on MDF – and on the whole, you should consider using a brad gauge or finish nailer. The smaller the tool, the easier it will be for you to access MDF at height, and in tough to reach spaces.

You should ideally look for a 16 gauge nailer, too, as these nails will be long and thin enough to secure your trim to where it needs to be. That said, many people also look for 15 gauge nails for MDF baseboards, and these too can be great for fastening your trim.

That said, 15 gauge nails can provide problems with MDF despite the fact they are perfectly viable to fasten with. The fact is, you are going to need to fill up bigger holes in your nail marks compared to 16 gauge.

That, and when you use 16 gauge nails, you can rest assured that you won’t have as much risk of your baseboard cracking under the gaps left behind. Therefore, in our opinion, it is much better to opt for thinner nails.

16 gauge nails tend to be the ideal width, length and size. Any thinner, and you may risk not being able to fasten your MDF at all. Some experts suggest using 18 gauge nails providing you have the right tool or gun to hand. However, we really do think 16g is the sweet spot.

18 gauge brad nails don’t necessarily give you the strength you’ll need for MDF. Take a look at our full guide on what size nails for baseboard you’ll need in general if you’re already stocked up on 18gs.

Should I nail or screw MDF?

You can either nail or screw MDF baseboard and general trim – the choice is yours. However, when you fasten MDF using screws, you will often need to predrill your holes before you insert the screws. On top of this, you need to be extra careful when tightening the screws up.

It’s therefore a good idea to look for screws that are specifically designed for use with MDF. Wood screws on their own won’t cut it. If you ask us, provided you have the right nailer to hand and thin, strong enough nails to fasten, there is certainly nothing wrong at all with using a nailer over a drill and screws.

The balance you need to strike is a careful one – if your screws are too tight or if your nails are too large, you run the risk of damaging your MDF. If your nails or screws are too thin, then they simply won’t fasten your baseboard at all.

Conclusion

Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to use 15g or 16g nails with MDF baseboard, and in fact, for any kind of trim. However, you must be careful not to go too small or too large and risk ruining the project.

When it comes to different types of nail guns and the nail sizes they use, be sure to consider your individual projects. A cordless finish nailer will work perfectly on MDF, and the lighter, more accessible the tool, the easier it will be to cover more ground – especially the tricky spots.