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using glue and nails for trim

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  • using glue and nails for trim

    I have read Gary's book on finish trim carpentry. He points out that he uses adhesive caulk on the backs of some type of trim to help secure it in place. I think the reference is in particular to things like rosettes or corner blocks. I was wondering about this procedure.

    If you can glue drywall to the studs and eliminate some of the screws why could you not glue the trim to the drywall and eliminate a few nails? Or use a smaller diameter nail so it is easier to fill or handle? The 18 gauge nails leave almost no hole in the trim. I can almost fill them with a coat of paint. Next to a 15 gauge hole it is almost not noticeable. So, could you use a type of adhesive or caulk on the back of the trim and then use a smaller nail or fewer nails?

    I was thinking about this the other day when I removed some 80 year old baseboard that was 8 inch pine. Fastened to each stud with at least a 2 1/2 inch finish nail, one top, one bottom. The shank on the finish nail looked almost as big as the 3 inch framing nails my senco shoots. If the old guys could see how small the finish nails a gun shoots I bet they would say "that won't work" No one ever (well almost never) uses those types of nails to install trim anymore. Could it be time for a change in the way we install it now?

  • #2
    Re: using glue and nails for trim

    Ask me in 80 years. By then we'll know if the 18g nails still have some holding power.

    When I started as a carpenter, we didn't use nail guns. Everything was driven by hand. We used 8's, 12's and 16 brights or commons to frame with and 4p, 6p, and 8 penny bright finish nails for trim and cabinets. And you know what - we never had to pull a nail out of anybody's body part. And when you nailed a board, it stayed nailed.

    Having said that, I am by no streach of the imagination anti-nail gun. I think they're a great invention. But I read people here writing about shooting thick baseboard with 2 1/2" 18g nails and I wonder what the long term holding power will be. Maybe just fine - maybe not. Just because it's easier to shoot a nail than to hand drive it, that's no reason to downsize the nail. I think some carpenters these days are just too lazy to switch out guns. Jeez, you don't have to drive it, but at least use the right size nail - OK?

    Glue? Why not. A lot of carpenters I see these days don't even bother trying to hit the studs. I've taken out base that had fifty 2 1/2" 18g nails in it and not one nail hit any wood. Just pin it to the drywall. Maybe glue is the answer for them, but I hope it's not our future.



    • #3
      Re: using glue and nails for trim

      Ed is right. It seems that many carpenters these days are relying on the tiny 18ga pins to hold crown, jambs, base and casing. These guys rarely hit any studs and end up having to shoot clusters of a dozen pins to get the trim to stay put. One well placed 15ga nail holds infinitely better than a dozen misses. Plus, the painter now has 12 times as many holes to fill, so the argument that a smaller pin is less noticeable than a larger nail is bad argument due to all the extra holes required to get the job done. But the worst feature of the 18ga pins is that they always bend and turn and never go in straight, so even if you locate a stud there is no assurance that you will hit it with the 18ga pins. I rarely use pins longer than 1 1/4". If I need longer fasteners, I switch to the 15ga gun.

      As for using Liquid Nails, it is a great product for those situations requiring additional holding power. However, the stuff doesn't squeeze out all the way causing noticeable gaps between the trim and the drywall. It also needs a day to cure so it would be too slow and inconvenient to try to glue on all the trim on a project. The fumes are toxic and cleanup requires the use of chemicals. I breathe enough toxic dust from all the preprimed and mdf trim on the market so I would choose to avoid adding more carcinogens to the air where I am working.


      • #4
        Re: using glue and nails for trim

        You are talking about "bright finish nails."
        Have you tried using "galvanized" nail.
        My Paslode uses 16g galvanized nails and when I need to pull one out for any reason I get prepared for a fight with the nail.
        They fight you to death.
        I don't know the reason why, but the holding power of galvanized nails is a lot greater than the bright finished nails.
        I may say that the holding power of a smaller size galvanized nail could be equal to the holding power of a larger size bright finished nail.
        Just a thought.


        • #5
          Re: using glue and nails for trim

          I started out in new construction and all the trim was hand nailed, mostly with ring shank panel nails and evey screw was put in with a traditional screw driver. When the market collapsed in 1980 i started doing remodel work. I learned what remodel friendly construction was. It meant you built in a way it could be added to or taken apart. It meant you used the right fasteners and a minimum of them. Glueing trim in my view is hostile to remodeling.
          Imagine a plumber that uses silicone instead of plumbers putty to seal a sink drain so he has no call back problems. What that means is when it comes time to replace the drain you buy a new sink instead of a new part. The same thing occures with tub/showers. Any repair means a new tub instead of a simple fix because the jerk glued them togther. Now you have a complete bathroom remodel.
          Now imagine you want new flooring and and you need to pull the base and replace it after the new flooring. Well, someone has glued it to the wall so what happens is off comes the drywall paper in removing the trim so now you have to fix that and of course the glued trim is all busted up to get it off. What should have been very simple in now a nightmare and imagine you gave the homeowner a bid to do the work. This hidden condition is now going to mean instead of the 30 bucks an hour you should have made is now going to be 4 or 5 bucks and hour.
          Nothing is done in a vacuum. What you do as a tradesman today is going to effect the next guy. Please don't glue the trim on.


          • #6
            Re: using glue and nails for trim

            I agree with randolph. I do mainly remodeling work, and encountered glued on trim one time. We ended up having an extra day of work to fix the drywall. Please don't glue trim to drywall unless absolutely necessary.
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            • #7
              Re: using glue and nails for trim

              I remember a heated discussion about nail gauge from a while back.

              Rather than re-hash I will third the motion for large nails. Maybe someone out there knows how to find the old thread. Had to do with large vs small for casing.


              "Experience" is what you get only just right after you needed it.


              • #8
                Re: using glue and nails for trim

                It's my understanding that the size of hammered nails is partly due to survive the beating when you hammer them in. As an aside, how many guys know that finish and casing nails are not the same ?
                The improbable takes time, the impossible takes a little longer.


                • #9
                  Re: using glue and nails for trim

                  Something else to consider, maybe. How many extra nails could you shoot, or even a larger gauge, for the cost of a tube of adhesive?
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                  • #10
                    Re: using glue and nails for trim

                    A small tube of construction adhesive costs about the same as 1000 18ga brads. For the work I do 18 ga are the big nails, 23 ga are the small ones. I trim mainly on metal stud wall so we use PL Premium and a minimum of 18 ga nails for base, crown etc. for base, chair and small crown you nail a pair of 2 1/2" nails about 2" apart one 45 degrees one way the other 45 the other way.

                    Next time your in the mall check out the latest Tommy Hilfiger store. The latest version of mall stores are all trimmed with hotmelt glue and construction adhesive, there is a lot of trim in those places and not a single nail in the place.



                    • #11
                      Re: using glue and nails for trim

                      >>If you can glue drywall to the studs and eliminate some of the screws why could you not glue the trim to the drywall and eliminate a few nails?<<

                      How do you think wood trim is put up in commercial buildings (with metal studs)? It's glued with construction adhesive, and shot cross-nailed to the drywall until the glue dries (at least around here.) I've never seen any gaps caused by the glue.

                      Last year I trimmed a condo remodel. They had the original plaster and wood lath underneath, covered with two layers of 1/2 inch drywall over that (don't ask). I wasn't going to try to find the studs under that mess and I sure wasn't going to risk hitting an old gas pipe or water pipe. So I did like commercial- used 1-1/2 inch nails shot butterfly style to hold it while the construction adhesive bonded it to the drywall.

                      Construction adhesive is great stuff- don't know how we lived without it.
                      "If you only have a hammer, all problems look like nails"

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                      • #12
                        Re: using glue and nails for trim

                        The original post referenced the use of adhesive caulk, not construction adhesive, which is not the same thing. Adhesive caulk is more of a semi-permanent adhesive. It can be removed with minimal damage to materials or surfaces. Construction adhesive, on the other hand, is a very permanent adhesive. Once it has set up and cured, materials and/or surfaces can be severely damaged when trying to remove. Depending on the application, I use one or the other on almost a daily basis.

                        I use construction adhesive when a permanent and strong bond is needed, such as installing stair treads, column installation, mounting blocks for islands, and a few other applications. I use adhesive caulk as additional holding power on trim and mouldings when I want to use as few nails as possible.
                        "Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill


                        • #13
                          Re: using glue and nails for trim

                          I've replaced a lot of doors, but finally found one with GLUED ON DOOR STOP. The owner bought a 1.75 door to replace a 1.375 one, so thought it wouldn't be a problem to replace the stop,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,YIKES !!!
                          Why would anyone ever glue the door stop?????..............steve
                          When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.
                          Desiderius Erasmus


                          • #14
                            Re: using glue and nails for trim

                            Originally posted by iwoodknot
                            The original post referenced the use of adhesive caulk, not construction adhesive, which is not the same thing. Adhesive caulk is more of a semi-permanent adhesive. It can be removed with minimal damage to materials or surfaces. .
                            when i use adheasive caulk i.e phenoseal (
                            I do not expect it to be removed without damage
                            most other adhesive caulks I expect adheasive qualities of construction adheasive except that it will be available clear or coloured to match the job
                            Beware of the man whose belly does not shake when he laughs


                            • #15
                              Re: using glue and nails for trim

                              Besides the thought that you could use a smaller gauge nail my other thought on gluing the trim was to help joints stay tight. I do not know just how much glued and nailed trim would move as opposed to only nailed trim. I often read about people complaining that the joints open up. I have read about guys wanting you to biscuit your joints. That is another step and it may be a needed step. I do not do trim every day of the week. But If the smaller nails and glue are not a good solution then what about the 15 gauge nails and glue on the back of the trim to help hold it it place and keep the joints from moving? We often install old style trim here with 2 piece baseboards. Casing is usually 4 3/4 wide and base is 9 inch tall. Casing is what I usually hear talked about. I think that is because it is closer to eye level and gets noticed.

                              As far as building with the idea of future remodeling I have not encounterd that yet. I have lots of repeat customers but not one yet that I have done something for and then a few years later redone it. Maybe from only being in business for about 12 years. Most of my customers plan on doing one major remodel and then will plan to move before they do another. Besides if I put the trim up with glue if and when they call me for another remodel to be done I would know that the trim was glued on and bid accordingly. Most people I know would opt to paint the trim rather than replace it and be happy.