I am getting ready to put 3/8" plywood up in my shop for the walls. I was going to borrow my dad's pneumatic stapler but I forgot it. What I do have is a 16 gauge nailer that takes nails from 1" to 2". (While this might fit better in DIY, I'm here and its for my woodshop!)

What I want to know is will 16 gauge nails do an adequate job holding the plywood on my walls? If so what length would be best and what kind of coverage would be needed? I was thinking 1.5" about every 8" on the studs. As a bonus, there is a cement block around the base and the plywood will actually be able to rest on the blocks.

  • Ring-shanks are usually used for sheathing and siding, but I don't know if you can get a 16 gauge ring-shank. The rings ensure that they won't come out. Ever. Without destroying the sheathing, that is. You may want to go with screws as suggested if you think removal might be in your future.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 23 '15 at 16:31

I don't know that I would trust 16 ga nails from a pneumatic nailer, regardless of length, unless there were quite a few of them. The issue is the difference between the body diameter and the head diameter (or lack thereof).

If you're going to be hanging tools and/or shop cabinets full of heavy tools from the plywood, I'd recommend finding another fastener like wood screws or in a pinch, drywall screws. Either of those at 1-1/2" long would be bulletproof, spaced every foot to 16" or so vertically. They'd also let you remove the plywood if you need to run more electrical circuits, etc.


I agree with TX Turner -- screws would probably be the way to go. I like to opt for the SPAX screws that self-tap (no pre-drilling and unlikely to split wood) and have the torx bit so it is far less likely for the bit to skip and strip the screw. They might cost more but they are totally worth it. Home Depot carries the the SPAX brand, and Lowes carries a similar brand.

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