Different nails are used depending upon the job at hand and there are a few tricks to using them as well.
Bullet head nail
A small thin-headed nail that’s available in many lengths to suit jobs from house frame construction through to attaching trim. The small head makes it suitable for being punched below the timber surface so it can be filled.
Flat head nail
Flat head nails have large round heads for fixing sheet materials such as fibre cement or plywood to timber. They come in a variety of lengths and thicknesses to suit the type of material you are fixing and how thick it is.
There are a few specialised nails for certain types of materials. For example plasterboard nails have a slight concave head with cross-hatching on it so they can be filled with plaster compound; decking nails have spiral shanks that turn like a screw when hammered in so it grips tightly and nails used for timber connector plates have hardened shanks to resist shearing off under loads.
Get the right finish
Nails that are to be used outside should be galvanised, which is a dull grey coating that prevents the nail from rusting. Nails for interior use can be bright steel or zinc plated and are less expensive than galvanised fixings.
There are a couple of tips to make using nails easier and get a better-looking job. If you’re nailing near the end of a piece timber, the nail driving through it can split the wood. To prevent this, drill a small pilot hole slightly smaller than the shank of the nail first.
When you’re nailing into timber that you don’t want to damage, stop the nail a few millimetres short of the surface and use a nail punch to finish driving the nail home.