Ah, spring—when a homeowner’s thoughts turn to DIY repair and home improvement projects. Selecting the right tools is the first step toward success. When things fall apart over the winter, or simply wear out because of proximity to salty sea air, it’s time to check your toolbox. Know how to choose a nail gun for your DIY project before you begin.

Define the Job

Nail guns are specialized tools. Nail guns designed for framing walls won’t be right for upholstery. Roofing tools differ from specialized flooring nail guns. Flooring involves choosing between staples and cleats, a specialty type of nail. Picture framing uses both a specialized tool and fasteners called “points” to secure artwork within a frame and backing. Installing new trim, baseboards, molding, or chair rails may require a finishing nailer, which drives smaller, less visible finishing nails, usually without heads. These may require puttying after fastening the trim to disguise the holes. Some allow depth adjustments to accommodate the materials used.

Power and Portability

Once you have narrowed down the type of job you’ll be doing, consider what type of power source your tools will use. Electric and pneumatic nail guns are powerful and fast, but they keep you tethered to cords and hoses. Advances in battery technology resulted in newer, battery-powered versions of nail guns that are more portable. However, you’ll have to have a back-up battery charging constantly as you work; that way, you can switch it in when the one you are using runs out of juice. Some nail guns are powered by cartridges filled with explosive gas that is ignited by an electric spark. They are more portable but require a good supply of replacement cartridges.

Manual tools work well for smaller and more precise jobs that require a lot of control. There are even manual flooring nailers that give the user more control over the depth to prevent spitting.

Ultimately, if you choose the right nail gun and the correct fastener, you’ll have a better chance of completing your do-it-yourself project quickly and successfully.