If you’re planning to install hardwood flooring in your home, you’ll need to use multiple techniques and tools to get the job done. A flooring nailer is a specialist type of power tool that is used for only one purpose, nailing hardwood flooring. It is a must-have tool, and getting the best flooring nailer is worth considering whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional contractor. It is also used to install softwood floors and to lay tongue and groove floorboards on top of a subfloor.
A flooring nailer does not use nails in the traditional sense; instead, it uses cleats which should be inserted at a perfect angle, usually 45 degrees. The cleats come in two forms; T-cleats and L-cleats, and they are packaged in cartridges of many cleats rather than single cleats. Most flooring nailers are also used to shoot staples, a trend that is becoming popular in floor finishes. Flooring nailers are available in manual and pneumatic variations, and they both require little practice to get the hang of using the nailer.
Comparison Table for Best Flooring Nailer in 2023
Whether you do a lot of professional flooring work, or just a couple of home projects, getting the best flooring nailer is essential. There are different flooring nailers for different jobs, and as such, you must pick the right flooring nailer for your desired floor. In our review, the flooring nailers are compared on their model, type and size of fasteners used, magazine capacity, flooring thickness, and operating pressure when applicable. We believe that you’ll be in a better position to make the right choice after reading our detailed review and the buying tips.
1. NuMax SFL618
The NuMax SFL618 provides a revolutionary design at far less expense than similar tools. This tool is both lightweight and rugged for the precise installation of tongue and hardwood flooring. Also, it is designed to accommodate 16-gauge T-cleats and L-cleats as well as 15.5 gauge crown staples making it ideal for almost any flooring project. It offers a high cleat magazine to reduce downtimes at the job site.
Features and Benefits of NuMax SFL618
- i.Right tool for your flooring needs: This air-powered flooring gun features a 3-in -1 design that allows you to switch between L-cleats, T-cleats, and crown staples. Depending on the thickness of your flooring, the fasteners range from 1-1/2″ to 2″ for the cleats and 1/2″ for the staples. There are also two interchangeable no-mar baseplates for installing both thin and dense floors while also protecting finished flooring surfaces.
- ii. Ergonomic design: The NuMax SFL618 features a lightweight aluminum body with heat-treated steel parts for maximum functionality. Also, it has an ergonomically designed handle with a rubber grip, which provides ease of use during extended use. The extended 23-inch tall handle helps to improve balance and to prevent back pains while nailing. Recent improvements include a semi-quick release that allows easy access to the drive blade for jam release. Others are a magazine cover for seamless fastener feeding and a small tool body.
- iii. Large magazine capacity and easy reloading: With NuMax SFL618, you don’t need to worry about downtimes. Its large magazine capacity can accommodate up to 120 nails for high production applications. Also, it offers the option to switch between cleats and staples easily. Besides, reloading is pretty more straightforward, although the unit lacks a low capacity indicator. Also, it comes with oil, wrenches, and a rubber mallet for maintaining the tool.
- iv. Quality and efficiency: The NuMax SFL618 comes with a pre-installed ¼-inch NPT fitting, so you don’t have to purchase an extra one. The presence of this fitting allows you to use the tool with an air compressor. The machine is operated at between 70 and 115 PSI, which is ideal for installing various flooring thicknesses. The high-quality O-rings help to prevent air leaks while the anti-dust cap helps to keep the debris away.
- We liked the fact that it accepts both cleats and staples.
- Highly versatile thanks to the interchangeable ½ inch and ¾ inch non-marring baseplates.
- It provides a comfortable grip and long handle for easier handling.
- High-capacity magazine which can hold up to 120 cleats or staples.
- It does not jam as often as other models, and there is no risk of misfiring.
- It does not have industrial power, thus it is best for home use.
- It does not have a low-capacity indicator.
The NuMax SFL618 is a smart budget-friendly option, and it is great at is the job. It is user-friendly, and you can rely on its performance for high production applications. However, it requires a little extra maintenance.
2. Freeman PFL618BR
Are you looking for a versatile tool for installing different flooring thicknesses? The Freeman PFL618BR is the nailer for you. It fires both staples and cleats while allowing you to switch between them without having to change the magazine. This air-powered tool is perfect for DIYers and construction contractors who are looking for a flooring nailer for laying solid tongue and groove hardwood flooring.
Features and Benefits of Freeman PFL618BR
- i. Multiple fasteners for added versatility: This nailer can drive the three common types of fasteners without having to stop to change the magazine. Typically, it takes 16 gauge T-cleats and L-cleats (1 ½ – 2 inches in length) and 15.5 gauge staples (½ inch in length). It also comes with a high-capacity magazine to allow you to complete the task on a particular grove floor quickly. It is, however, prone to jamming.
- ii. Light-strike bumper: Unlike other modes, the PFL618BR requires a short strike to drive the fasteners onto the material fully. In addition, it boasts of 70 -110 PSI operating pressure and high-quality O-rings for compressor efficiency. You’ll also get several accessories, including a durable case for storage and transportation, oil, wrenches, and a white rubber mallet. It, however, lacks consistency to handle a professional workload.
- iii. Interchangeable base plates: The PFL618BR is equipped with two base plates that can be switched as needed to match your flooring thickness. This means that you can switch out the 1/2 “and 3/4 “plates to provide stability and prevent damaging your workpiece. This will help to achieve professional results for both grove and tongue flooring. There is also a wooden mallet for easy handling and a quick to access drive blade for jammed nails quick release.
- iv. Lightweight and Ergonomic construction: The construction incorporates high-quality components, which include die-cast aluminum for both the body and the cylinder. On top of that, the lightweight frame allows you to use the tool for extended periods making it a much more comfortable experience. Besides, the design is ergonomic, which helps to reduce fatigue during use while the included air filter helps to protect internal components from dust and debris.
- It works great on hardwoods.
- Strong-die-cast aluminum body for durability.
- It comes with a couple of accessories, including a carrying case, mallet, and lubricating oil.
- It accommodates multiple fastener sizes.
- Interchangeable base plates ensure that this is nailer is stable.
- It jams frequently
- It lacks automatic depth control.
This flooring nailer does a great job installing hardwood than other kinds. Jammed nails are a snap to clear, and when it comes to the price, it is a pretty good deal. It is also super easy to maintain and an excellent addition to any home workshop.
3. BOSTITCH BTFP12569
BOSTITCH BTFP12569 will offer you a perfect balance between price and performance while working with various flooring thicknesses. Engineered for both hardwood and engineered flooring, the BTFP12569 comes with non-marring base plates, which enables you to work without scratching the floorboards while also eliminating gaps between the boards. Besides, its low CFM requirement ensures less compressor run-time, especially when using it for hours.
Features and Benefits of BOSTITCH BTFP12569
- i. Pneumatic driving action: The BOSTITCH BTFP12569 features high speed, mallet actuated pneumatic operation enabling you to use the tool on hardwood and engineered flooring. It uses a 1/4″ N.P.T. male plug, usually 5 mm in diameter with the capability of discharging tool air pressure after disconnecting from the air supply. In addition, it operates at 70 to 100 PSI, a range that should not be exceeded for best fastener performance.
- ii. Composite non-marring baseplates: Just like other flooring nailers in our review, the BTFP12569 comes with interchangeable baseplates for stability and to prevent scratching wooden flooring. They also allow installation of the various floors from solid hardwoods, engineered hardwood to bamboo with ease while eliminating gaps between flooring boards. Along with this, you’ll get two additional non-mar tips, oil wrenches, and 15.5GA flooring staples.
- iii. Air Consumption: The BTFP12569 requires 3.7 C.F.M of air supply to operate at the rate of 60 fasteners per minute. Determining the amount of air supplied is essential as inadequate supply may result in misfeeds, slow operation, and reduced driving force. Hoses and fittings are designed to be free from distractors that might prevent full volume airflow to the tool.
- iv. Accepts 16G L-shaped cleat nails and staples: This nailer effectively shoots both 16 GA “L” shaped flooring cleats and 15.5 GA flooring staples 1-1/2″ to 2″ length. It, however, does not support T-cleats. The magazine can hold up to 100; thus, it better-suited for lower-volume projects. Also, the design of the magazine offers a clear view allowing for precise placement of the fasteners making BTFP12569 undoubtedly one of the best flooring nailer on the market.
- Ergonomic design that includes an extended handle.
- It includes a sturdy and safe carrying case.
- Relatively low CFM requirements.
- It comes with adjustable knobs.
- The non-mar adjustable base allows you to use this nailer on both hardwood and lingered flooring.
- It is prone to metal cleat feed issues.
- It does not accommodate T-cleats.
- It tends to misfire now and then.
The BTFP12569 does the Bostitch’s good name well, and it performs exceptionally in holding cleats/staples in place. It comes with three baseplates out of the box, which makes it a little bit more versatile and more reliable.
4. DEWALT DWFP12569
This DEWALT flooring nailer is designed to tackle all flooring profiles and regular professional use. Besides, it is optimized for almost all flooring fasteners. Also, it is really easy to maneuver, making it perfect for bigger jobs. The ergonomic grip and tall handle make it easy for you to work on long jobs without hurting your back while protecting the prefinished flooring.
Features and Benefits of DEWALT DWFP12569
- i. Lower CFM requirements: The DWFP12569 has a relatively low CFM demand than other pneumatic nailers, which results in less air compressor time. Besides, it is equipped with the standard 1/4-inch air fitting, which allows you to use the nailer with any compressor rapidly without jamming. The only downside is that the O-ring tends to fail often, which can lead to loss of air pressure.
- ii. Optimized for the most popular flooring fasteners: The current trend in floor installation is using both cleats and staples to hold flooring in place. DEWALT DWFP12569 is optimized to work with both 16 gauge L-cleats and 15.5 gauge staples for added versatility. This nailer also uses non-marring base plates, which can adjust from ½ to ¾ inch depending on the flooring size and thickness. As such, you may want to ensure that the material you are working with is compatible with the baseplates.
- iii. Lightweight at only 10.6 lbs.: Weighing only a little over 10 pounds, this flooring nailer is compact, versatile, reliable, and it comes at a price that won’t break an arm or leg. The lightweight construction allows you to balance and move it around, even when working on intensive flooring jobs. Also, the tall handle will make it easy for you to work on extended jobs without hurting your back.
- iv. Silent rear exhaust: The silent rear exhaust in DWFP12569 deadens the level of noise while allowing the user to direct exhaust air away from the workplace. Besides, the dust covers help to keep debris and dust away. Other accessories included in the package are mallet, wrenches, lubricating oil, and air gun.
- Built for professional use as well as to be used on a wide range of materials.
- Comfortable and easy to maneuver.
- It is fitted with a silent rear exhaust.
- It comes with a standard size air fitting to ensure optimal use of compressed air.
- It is a lightweight model.
- It may experience O-rings issues after some use.
- Lack of dry-fire lockout.
- It does not include a carrying case.
If you want an amazing experience while doing a tedious task, then DEWALT DWFP12569 is your stop. This tool is strong and durable enough for any DIYer looking for something substantial for their projects or professional use. Also, it is backed by a long handle for added peace of mind.
5. 3PLUS HFSNS
The 3PLUS HFSNSP 2-in-1 flooring nailer presents a great choice to homeowners or DIYers looking for a durable and reliable tool for their flooring projects. Its ergonomic design and lightweight construction ensure the best results in installing flooring materials such as oak, maple as well as various solid hardwoods. Besides, it includes a set of flooring plates to suit different flooring sizes for added versatility.
Features and Benefits of 3PLUS HFSNS
- i. Sturdy yet lightweight construction: The 3PLUS HFSNSP is built to bear the pressure created by the pneumatic force required to drill nails to the wooden floorboard. This design incorporates alloy metal in the main body and rubber grips at the bottom to help the tool stay in place. The handle is made of steel to offer extra protection from air pressure. The alloy metal is used together with aluminum to ensure that the unit is lightweight and portable.
- ii. Reliable, pneumatic force: Flooring can be a long and tedious work that requires a lot of back and forth. This is why a pneumatic nailer is much more effective as electric ones tend to consume a lot of power. The 3plus runs on pneumatic power to drive nails into the board without denting the floor. This helps to reduce operator stress resulting from manual labor.
- iii. Convenient long reach handle: Perseverance and accuracy are vital when nailing the floors. This nailer is designed with a long, curved handle to ensure comfort and proper posture for the user. This ensures that you will not bend too much when nailing as well as ensuring proper positioning. In addition, the handle can be detached when needed, making it even more portable and easy to store.
- iv. Exceptionally versatile: The 3PLUS HFSNS has the ability to shoot both L-cleats and staples, a feature that enables you to work on a wide range of materials. L-cleats provide a much stronger hold on hardwoods while staples are used for wooden floors. Also, this nailer comes with a rubber mallet to allow you to use this tool manually when needed without staining the board.
- Well-designed 2 in 1 magazine.
- There is no risk of misfiring.
- It comes with a removable long reach handle for all sizes of floorings.
- It features a ¼ inch NPT air inlet for stable control when nailing.
- The included white rubber mallet leaves little to no stains on the board.
- It may not be the ideal option for real hardwood flooring.
- It does not include a carrying case.
- HFSNSP is not compatible with T- cleats.
The 3PLUS HFSNSP is equipped with useful features and as well as the ergonomic design for maximum functionality. This includes the anti-vibration padded grip and removable long-reach handle. Moreover, it will get your floor done in half of the time and finish more works; there really is no other better choice within this price range.
How to Buy Flooring Nailer-Buying Tips
When it comes to choosing the best flooring nailer, there is a lot more to consider besides the price and the brand. Here are some essential points to keep in mind.
i. Cleats or Staples
Most flooring nailers are capable of using both cleats and staples while some don’t. Depending on the nature of the job, you may want to consider a nailer that gives you the versatility of using different kinds of fasteners. Cleats are made of steel, and they provide a better hold on than staples. They are also designed to tolerate temperature fluctuations that may cause the wood to expand now and then. They are, however, significantly more expensive, and they can cost twice the price of staples.
Staples are relatively longer than cleats, and they also provide a strong initial grip. However, with continual expansion and contraction of the wood, they can loosen, making them to separate from the flooring leading to creaking.
Taking that into consideration, you’ll need to weigh the advantages and downsides of each before you decide on which works for you. However, we recommend that you get a flooring nailer that allows you to use both fasteners.
ii. Nail gauge
Nail gauge is simply the thickness of the nail and in the case, the thickness of the cleats/staples. It is important to determine the gauge of the fasteners as using the wrong gauge will either damage the floor or won’t hold it in place. Most flooring nailers accept 16-18 gauge cleats and 15.5 gauge staples. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the nail, and vice versa. This means that if you have a thicker floor, you’ll need to use a lower gauge. Floor manufacturers usually provide the recommended nail gauge for their products, but you may want to experiment to determine the right gauge for your type of floor.
iii. Nail length
Just like the nail gauge, the thickness of the flooring is going to determine the nail length you will need. Generally, the cleats/staples need to be long enough to go through the flooring into the subflooring. However, they should not go past the surface beneath the subflooring. Generally, the fasteners range from 1-1/2″ to 2”, but you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Installing a floor requires a considerable amount of time, and this can lead to fatigue and back pain. Although this can be inevitable, some measures can help minimize the conditions. Most nailers will have a padded handle to give you a comfortable grip. You can also look for one with a more extended handle to ensure that you will not bend as often to drive fasteners. The bottom line is that you should try and purchase a nailer that will help cut down on discomfort.
v. Power Source
The most common options when it comes to the source of power are pneumatic and manual nailers. Manually operated are tedious to operate, and they are not suitable for large flooring jobs. They are, however, more affordable than their pneumatic counterparts. Pneumatic flooring nailers, on the other hand, are the most popular for both professional contractors and DIYers. They are quite convenient, but they are also more expensive since you will also need to acquire an air compressor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1: How does a flooring nailer work?
A flooring nailer is not a trigger powered or an automatic nail gun. It requires the user to hit the actuator with a rubber mallet to fire the nails. This action drives the nails through the tongue of the board. You’ll need to increase the pressure or apply more physical force if the nail does not go through well.
Question 2: Do I require an air compressor to operate a flooring nailer?
Flooring nailers are available in both pneumatic and manual forms. An air compressor is only necessary for pneumatic nailers only. If you don’t have an air compressor, you can opt for the manual ones, although they are very labor-intensive.
Question 3: Cleats or staples, which one should I choose?
Answer: This will depend on the nature of the flooring. Cleats are best suited for thicker floors, while staples are better for thinner ones. However, it is always a good idea to go for a machine that can accommodate both types of fasteners.
Question 4: Do I need any other nail gun other than a flooring nailer for installing hardwood flooring?
Answer: Yes. Other than a flooring nailer, you’ll require a finish nailer for installing trim around and down the hall. A finish nailer will give your floor a finished look, and it helps to hide any gaps that may be left around the edge of the room.
Question 5: How can I prevent a flooring nailer from getting jammed frequently?
Answer: Jammed nails can be as a result of using the wrong type and size of nails. To fix the problem, ensure that you are using the fastener size and type as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The problem could also be as a result of obstructions in the driving gauge. You can disassemble the nailer to see if this is the case. Tightening the nail channel or replacing a worn-out one can also help to stop your nailer from jamming frequently.
Question: Can I use a Brad nailer or a pin nailer to install a hardwood floor?
Answer: No. A brad nailer shoots lighter 18-gauge nails, and it does not offer much holding power required to install hardwood floors. A pin nailer, on the other hand, uses smaller 23-gauge pin nails that are best suited for delicate and discreet nailing. For hardwood floors, you want heavier gauge nails (cleats and staples) that will stand up the heavy use, which dictates the use of a flooring nailer.
Now that you know what to consider when buying the best flooring nailer, you can see why NuMax SFL618 is our overall best. It is tough, dependable, durably constructed, and it is ideal for almost any flooring project. Its large magazine capacity allows you to work for longer periods, and it accepts both cleat nails and staples, providing you excellent value for money. In conclusion, choosing a flooring nailer does not need to be hard, and neither does using one. Your flooring needs should determine the nailer you choose. Whatever flooring nailer you decide on, you should keep in mind that it will have an impact on the accuracy and quality of the outcome.