Oiled vs. Oilless Nailers

Oiled vs. Oilless Nailers

What is the difference between an oiled nail gun and an oilless nail gun? Exactly what it sounds like — one type of tool requires a few drops of oil each use, and the other does not.

There are vocal proponents of both kinds of nail gun, and manufacturers like touting the benefits of one over the other. However, today’s oiled and oil-free nailers are approximately equal in performance and service life. The right choice comes down to personal preference.

However, the convenience and maintenance-cost savings of an oil-free nail gun are hard to beat. SENCO offers a wide range of traditional oil and oil-free nail guns, as well as NeverLube® nail guns, a proprietary oil-free system with unique benefits.

Continue reading to learn more about each type of nailer, and download our comprehensive product catalog to determine which tool is right for you.


Traditional Oiled Nail Guns

Oiled nailers require regular lubrication to ensure they function properly. Adding a few drops of oil into the air inlet each time you use the tool reduces heat and friction and prevents valves, seals and O-rings from wearing out.

During heavy use, you should oil the tool more frequently. When storing the tool for long periods, you should periodically lubricate and cycle it to prevent the seals from drying and degrading. Consult the tool’s manual for instructions.

Pros of Oiled Nailers

Personal preference is the primary reason to own an oiled nailer. Oiled tools have been around for decades, and many people prefer using tools they’re familiar with. Others simply enjoy taking a more active role in maintaining the tool.

Cons of Oiled Nailers

Over-oiling a tool can result in oil splashing on the work surface, a big problem in finish-and-trim. Under-oiling can result in the nailer wearing out quickly and requiring a rebuild. Using the wrong type of oil — such as an oil that is too thick or contains solvents — can cause critical failures. The cost of pneumatic tool oil adds up over time.

Traditional Oilless Nail Guns

A more accurate name for oil-free nail guns would be “self-lubricating” tools. Oil-free nailers are manufactured with a base layer of grease that lubricates the tool internally, without the need for action from the user.

Over a long period of time, the grease may dry up or become ineffective. The nailer can be disassembled, relubricated and reassembled. Essentially, oilless tools trade constant, daily maintenance for a single round of more in-depth maintenance every 5 to 10 years.

Pros of Oilless Nailers

Reduction of maintenance is the primary benefit. Oil-free nail guns improve productivity and are more convenient. There is no risk of over- or under-lubricating, and oil-free tools won’t spit oil onto work surfaces, improving work quality and reducing cleanup.

Cons of Oilless Nailers

The transition may be difficult for people who are used to oiling their nailers frequently or who own both oiled and oilless tools. Accidentally oiling an oil-free nailer occasionally won’t be an issue, but it may cause problems if done frequently. Tools will eventually need to be regreased.

SENCO NeverLube® Nail Guns

SENCO’s NeverLube® technology makes nail guns truly oil-free. NeverLube® nail guns don’t need to be oiled daily, and there is no grease applied to the tool during manufacturing. Instead, it uses proprietary components made from a unique graphite composite that require no lubrication at all.

These wear-resistant parts keep your tool firing for years without daily oiling. Apart from elimination of maintenance, NeverLube® tools operate exactly the same as other types of nailers, and last as long.

Pros of NeverLube®

NeverLube® nail guns don’t require daily lubrication or periodic regreasing. They can’t be over- or under-lubricated and won’t spit oil on work surfaces. There is no significant difference in price between NeverLube® and traditional tools.

Cons of NeverLube®

Accidentally oiling the tool will cause problems. If you have multiple kinds of nailers, make sure you never accidentally lubricate the NeverLube® tool. Don’t use it on a compressor with a line lubricator equipped.


SENCO offers a wide range of oiled, oilless and NeverLube® pneumatic nailers. Check out all the options for finish and trim.