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 2021
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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
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
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
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
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
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.