Common nails, also called spike nails, are the most frequent type of nails used in the construction trades. These nails are versatile, able to suffice for a wide variety of functions. Mostly, they are intended for use with projects that don't require an attractive appearance, such as framing lumber or building supports. They vary in size from 4 to 14 inches.
Box nails bear a strong resemblance to common nails, except they are smaller and lighter and are intended for use with lighter types of wood. Their shafts and heads are slightly narrower than common nails. They usually range in size between ¾ and 5 inches long.
Wire nails are similar in design to both common and box nails but are even smaller than box nails.
Finishing nails are used for applying trim. They are designed with tiny heads so that once they are driven into the wood they disappear. They are used in projects where appearance is very important. They can range in size from 1 to 4 inches in length.
Casing nails are very similar to finishing nails but are a bit heavier, stronger and more durable and are intended for use outdoors. They are sometimes called flooring nails and have a slightly wider head than finishing nails. They range in length from 1 1/8 to 3¼ inches.
Wire brads are also similar to finishing nails but are even smaller and are used for molding. Like finishing nails, they have tiny heads that disappear into the wood after they are driven.
Roofing nails are short and squat, with wide heads. They are used to attach shingles to a roof. These types of construction nails are usually galvanized---that is, coated with zinc to avoid rust. They range in size from ¾ to 2 inches.
Drywall nails are basically indoor versions of roofing nails. They have the same shape and size, but, as they are designed for interior use, they are not galvanized.