Nail Heads

Clipped Head VS Round Head: Learn About Nail Heads

Clipped Head VS Round Head

The invention of the framing nailer improved the lives and work of carpenters and construction workers worldwide.

Nail guns became popular because of their efficiency, performance, and minimum muscle effort involved. Choosing an appropriate nail gun is tricky, but very important.

You can differentiate nail guns based on their size, power source, purpose, and the type of nails they use. People commonly categorize nails depending on the type of material, size, shanks, or shape of the nail heads.

No matter whether you are doing the construction job manually with a hammer or using some efficient nail gun, selection of nails is a task that requires great care. For now, I am going to shed light only on the differences of nails based on the type of nail heads.

Nail Head:

Nail Head

A nail head is the top of the nail that you can see when when you’re driving it through a surface. On the basis of nail heads used in framing nailers, the nails come in main two kinds:

  • Clipped head nails
  • Full round-head nails

Selecting a nail gun on the basis of nails is a painful task. There is a great debate going on about the topic. Below I have mentioned some of the pros and cons of both types of nails that will make the choice easier for you.

Comparison table

Here’s a comparison table outlining the key differences between Clipped Head and Round Head nails:

Clipped Head NailsRound Head Nails
DefinitionNails with partially removed D-shaped or rectangular headsNails with fully formed circular heads
UsageFraming, sheathing, decking, where holding power and efficiency are crucialGeneral construction, trim work, woodworking
Holding PowerIncreased holding power due to larger diameterSlightly lower holding power
Nail Gun CapacityHigher capacity due to smaller headsLower capacity due to larger heads
Material CostsCost-effective due to less metal requiredSlightly more expensive due to more metal
Aesthetic AppealLess visible nail heads, suitable for concealed applicationsVisible nail heads, ideal for decorative finishes
Building CodeRestrictions in some areas due to holding power concernsGenerally accepted by building codes

Clipped Head Nails:

what is Clipped Head Nails

In clipped-head nails, one side of the head is round; however, the other slide is clipped, off making it a D-shaped head. In the nail gun’s magazine, the nails are kept together by placing the nail heads very close to each other. This leaves no gap between the shanks. To hold the nails in place, a paper strip wraps around them.


  • More nails are packed in a nail gun magazine. You don’t have to reload after short intervals. This particular quality provides great productivity and saves a lot of time.
  • The magazines of nailers using clipped-head nails are generally smaller. Therefore, the nail guns are lighter and more portable.
  • The manufacturing of clipped-head nails costs less than round-head nails. Hence, their price is lower in comparison with round-head nails.
  • Working with clipped-head nails is cleaner, as they are paper-collated and the paper usually disappears.


  • They have less holding strength. Clipped-head nails aren’t as suitable for areas where heavy wind blows. The building codes of hurricane-prone regions restrict their use.
  • When misfired, pulling out a clipped head nail is a difficult task, as the head might break.

Round Head Nails:

Round Head Nails

The nail heads are fully round. For collating these nails, a wire or plastic is used. Because of their round heads, there is a space maintained between the shanks of the nails. Some building codes emphasize on the use of round-head nails.


  • The large surface area on round-head nails makes them a better choice in areas that witness hurricanes often. Their holding power is better than the clipped head nails.
  • They reduce the probability of overdrive in shear walls.
  • In the case of human error like misfiring, pulling out the nail is a lot easier, as the round head doesn’t break off easily.


  • You can’t shoot as many nails before reloading, as the magazine can’t carry a large number of nails. This can waste time.
  • While working with plastic-collated round-head nails, small pieces of plastic embed themselves in the surface of the material you are working on.

Which Type of Nail is Right for You?

The best type of nail for you will depend on project you’re working on. If you’re looking for a nail that is easy to drive and won’t split the wood, then a clipped head nail is a good choice. If you need a nail that is strong and durable, then a round head nail is a better option.

Here is a table that summarizes the pros and cons of each type of nail:

Type of NailProsCons
Clipped Head Nail* Easy to drive
* Can be driven closer together without the heads overlapping
* Less likely to split the wood
* Less visible when finished
* Not as strong as round head nails
* Not as durable as round head nails
Round Head Nail* Stronger than clipped head nails
* Can hold more weight
* Less likely to pop out of the wood
* More aesthetically pleasing
* More difficult to drive
* Heads can overlap
* More likely to split the wood


There is a lot of debate going on about which type of nails is a better choice for construction jobs. People have different opinions regarding this issue. Some people are in favor of nail heads that are clipped. Others think that because of greater strength, round head nails are a better option. But, before making a choice, you must consider the building codes of the region.

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