The Right Floor Nailer Makes Hardwood Flooring Installation A Breeze

The Right Floor Nailer Makes Hardwood Flooring Installation A Breeze

Floor Nailer

Are you getting ready to begin a hardwood floor project, or are you in the middle of one and find that you just dont have the right tools?

Its pretty common to rent a floor nailer and then find that its taking much longer than you though to finish.  I know its hard to swallow shelling out $500 for a floor nailer.  Well, I have some good news for you.  You dont need to spend that much.

There are some very nice alternatives that wont break the bank and youll come away owning the tool rather than returning it to the rental store.

What to Look For In a Floor Nailer:

  • Pneumatic/Air Powered
  • Rent or Buy
  • Professional or Home use
  • What size nails does it take
  • Nail Magazine Capacity
  • Jamming Issues

We are going to walk through each of these criteria in a little more detail to help you make the correct choice for your floor nailer.

Manual or Pneumatic

Take my advice and get a pneumatic floor nailer.  You will spend so much more energy trying to do the same amount of work with a manual nailer.  The only advantage I can see would be with price.  Although, that isnt even true anymore.  There are floor nailers made with the DIYer in mind that will do an admirable job and cost about the same as a manual nailer.

To use a manual nailer you will hammer the top of it until it the button pops back out. If you hit it hard enough you can drive the cleat with one hit but that takes practice, good aim, and strength. The other factor to consider is how many cleats you will be using. I read a review where someone who tried to get by with a manual nailer was really surprised when they needed to drive 3,500 cleats for the 1,100 square feet of flooring they installed. Bottom line, buy a pneumatic floor nailer.

In case you are still on the fence here is a video of a manual floor nailer being used.  It doesnt look to bad, just think about doing that about 3,000 times though.

The Right Floor Nailer Makes Hardwood Flooring Installation A Breeze

To show you the difference here is a Pneumatic floor nailer being used. As you can see, it takes much less effort to use the pneumatic nailer. You still use a hammer to activate it but it takes much less effort. Just a tap as opposed to hammering it until its flush. Again, I highly recommend  you will go with a pneumatic nailer.

To Rent or To Buy?

The next decision is whether to rent or buy a floor nailer. This decision isnt very difficult. You just need to calculate roughly how long you will need the nailer and compare the cost to rent as opposed to buying a floor nailer.

You can usually rent a floor nailer for $30-$40 a day. Depending on how long you will be using it you may want to explore this option. To give you an idea, an experienced installer can do a 400 square foot room in 10-12 hours. If you are inexperienced I would add a significant amount of time. There are many, many comments online for various nailers where the customer had tried renting a nailer but they severely underestimated the amount of time it would take them to finish the job. They ended up returning the rental and buying a nailer because in the long run it was cheaper.  I figure might as well buy it in the beginning if you may end up buying one in the long run.

Professional or Home use

This question is similar to the rent or buy question.  The quality of floor nailer you should get is directly related to how often you will be using it.  For a home owner or hobbyist a less expensive model may be more than adequate.

However, if you are a contractor that will be using the tool frequently the cheaper residential model is probably not an option.  Homeowners give very high marks to the less expensive models.  If you are only laying 800-1,000 square foot the residential nailer may work flawlessly.  If you try to lay 1,000 square foot of flooring in 5 homes, it may be a different story.  The residential models arent made to be used and abused on a job every day.  Make sure you get the tool to fit your need.

What size nails does it use?

Two inch cleats are standard size nails for ¾ inch hardwood flooring. However, depending on the type of wood you are using you may need a different size. Make sure that your chosen floor nailer fits your needs. If you may use it on multiple projects it is nice to get one that accommodates varying sizes. Most do.

Nail Capacity

You are going to be driving hundreds of nails into your flooring. Make sure your magazine holds at least 100 nails so you dont have to stop every couple of minutes. You will be driving a nail every 6-8 inches.  Depending on the size of your room 100 nails should get you through about 4-6 rows.  Its also important to get one that is easy to load. Time loading is wasted productivity.

Jamming Concerns

Depending on how much you are using your floor nailer you will inevitably have a jam. The important thing is to make sure that the nailer you are using keeps them few and far between. When it does jam you want to be certain that the jams are easily cleared.

How Much Should I Pay?

How much you pay depends on what you get. The popular brands are Bostitch, Senco, Porter Cable, and Porta-Nail. Many people rate the Bostitch MIIFN as the top pneumatic nailer. It is a fine flooring nailer, but it comes with a heafty price tag too. You can expect to pay $450-$500 or more for a Bostitch. Those other brands are similarly priced. Some are significantly more.

If you are a professional and will be using the a hardwood florr nailer frequently then you can justify the money on one of these professional grade tools. If you are a weekend warrior the Akuzuki Floor Nailer is a nice alternative. Its selling for roughly $200 online. It has been rated very highly, meets all of the criteria we have discussed, and the price is right.

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