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What Nails To Use For Hardwood Flooring

Staples Or Nail Cleats For Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Floor Installation (Nail Down) Like a PRO!

Cleats are a specialized kind of nail made for flooring purposes. It has been used for generations by the professional for flooring purposes. It has a unique L shape and its installation requires a mallet.

If you can install it correctly, it will insert smoothly and with a 45-degree angle leaving no gaps between the wood panels. Cleats give your hardwood floors look better and longer and allow for greater movement in areas with high humidity. But it has less availability and is not suitable for DIY tasks.

And its not surprising that DIY enthusiasts are very familiar with Staples. These are easy to load, affordable, and have more availability. However, staples are not suitable for harder woods leaving splitting and cracks.

What Nail Size Is The Best For Hardwood Flooring

Nails come in different shapes and sizes. Solid hardwood flooring of different thickness needs different sizes of nails. The general rule is this,

  • 1-3/4 for 3/4 thick flooring
  • 1-1/2 for 1/2 thick flooring
  • 2 for 1 thick flooring

The diameter is also important. 15, 16, and 18 gauge are the common ones, 15 being the widest and 18 being the narrowest.

With Staples You Get What You Pay For

Staples are made from steel, just like cleats. But because a staple is much easier to manufacture due to its simple design, a box of 5,000 costs only about half as much as a box of 5,000 cleats. Compared to cleats, staples provide a stronger initial grip. Sounds great, right? Theres a catch, thoughstaples are much more likely to cause problems than cleats.

Theres a high chance of staples splitting out the tongues of the wood, especially when youre working with engineered flooring composed of a plywood base. This is because the staples large crown and the surface area contacts the nail pocket.

Besides making the floors more susceptible to damage, using staples to install flooring also creates a bigger risk of squeaky floors during the winter when the floorboards fluctuate in response to humidity drops.

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What Type Of Nail Gun For Hardwood Flooring

A flooring nailer is the preferred type of nail gun for installing hardwood flooring. This is because the flooring gun is specifically designed for punching nails at the correct angle into the thin sheets of hardwood flooring commonly used in homes and offices around the world.

When doing hardwood flooring, you have to nail at an angle -usually 45-degree downwards- into the joist or subfloor to ensure that the wooden panels are secured with no gap between them. This is called blind nailing which is different from face nailing.The design of the flooring nailer makes blind nailing an easy task.

If you do not have a flooring nailer, then a finishing nailer or a Brad nailer is probably the next best hammering power tool to use. However, you will need to use it in the right way to get the same results as a flooring nailer. This means that you will need to choose the correct type of nail and shoot it in at the right angle if you want the Brad nailer to work properly in securing hardwood flooring.

With a brad or finish nailer, you may also want to increase the depth setting to ensure that the head is not protruding out. If you are using the old fashion hammer and nail, you should use a nailset to countersink the nail head into the material.

Glueing Vs Float Vs Nail Down Flooring Installation Which Is The Best Method

How to Install Prefinished Solid

The longevity of your hardwood flooring depends on how it has been installed. Glueing, nailing and floating are some of the popular methods of flooring installation. The species of hardwood, the design of the floorboards, thickness, subfloor, appearance and durability are certain factors which should together influence your decision. Each method poses certain advantages and disadvantages and there is no absolute answer as to which the best is.

This post outlines the various features, pros, and cons of the different installation methods and compares them to help you while taking a decision regarding the best method for your home.

This is the commonest method of installing a hardwood floor. If you have wooden or plywood subfloor, the floorboards are directly nailed on it by this method. The method of nailing is called blindly nailed where the nail is angled at 45 degrees and nailed through the tongue. The tongue is the protruding portion of the wood planks that fit into the groove of the adjacent board. Hence, it is nearly invisible once the installation is complete.

Some advantages of this method:

  • It is the cheapest and the fastest method of installation
  • It is suitable for both hardwood and engineered hardwood floorboards
  • The floorboards will be firmly set against the sub-floor

On the other hand, some major drawbacks of this method are:

However, this method has some disadvantages as well that you must be aware of:

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How Long Does It Take To Install

Much depends on the width of the board you are installing. Other factors coming into play is what the overall layout looks like. For a standard 400 square foot room, furniture moved, and ready to go common 2 1/4″ strip flooring will take 10-12 hours for an experienced installer. If you’re hiring out, be careful with those bragging artists that claim the job can be done in half the time. Some have been known to skip nail. Skip nailing is fastening every other row only.

Engineered Flooring Requires Acclimation

Just like solid hardwood flooring, engineered flooring needs to be acclimated to its environment before installation. Consult the specific manufacturer for their acclimation process.

Do not store engineered wood flooring in basements or garages where humidity levels are higher.

To allow for proper acclimation, the heating/air-condition system must be operational for least 14 days prior to installation and thereafter at a temperature of 65°F 75°F to reach desired humidity level. The relative humidity level at home should be controlled between 35% 55% at all times prior, during and subsequent to installation.

To ensure the flooring is properly acclimated and has achieved equilibrium moisture content with the surrounding ambient conditions, you need to measure the MC in the wood planks. Whether installing on a concrete or wood substrate, always reference the NWFA Installation Guidelines for the appropriate method of installation.

According to the National Wood Flooring Association guidelines, moisture readings of the subfloor should be no more than 13% on average . And, depending on the flooring manufacturers installation guidelines, there should be no more than 2% MC to 4% MC difference between properly acclimated wood flooring and the subfloor.

Tip: Test the subfloor moisture in several locations taking note of higher readings. Higher readings indicate a moisture problem that needs to be addressed before installation can begin.

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How Many Nails For Hardwood Flooring

Most of the nail boxes that you will purchase from the market will have an approximate coverage area. For example, the ones that we took a look at in our reviews are 1000 for 200 square feet area. That means with the 5000 pack boxes, you can cover up to 1000 square feet of flooring.

Nevertheless, this approximation will not be enough if you are working with an area that is not within that range. The project that you might be handling might be 1158 square inches or something that is in odd numbers. Also, the number of nails will highly depend on the spacing that you are going to put between each nail.

To give you an idea about the quantity that you are going to need, let us give you a guide that most follows. It is recommended to put at least 8 inches of spacing in between each nail for the standard flooring boards. If we do the calculation, the number stands for 1-1/2 nails per foot.

However, if you are working with wider planks, you need to reduce the spacing to 6 inches, which will equate to two nails per foot. On the other hand, if the planks are narrower, the spacing should be 10 inches. And that equates to 1-1/5 nails per foot.

Best Flooring Nailers Buying Guide

How to Install Nail Down Hardwood Flooring

You should have discovered the primary characteristics and options that we stated after going over the numerous flooring nailers mentioned above. If you’re still undecided, you might still be unsure of how to choose the ideal flooring nailer for your needs. Therefore, we’ve put up a complete buying guide that covers everything you need to know about flooring nailers.

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How Do You Nail The First Row Of Hardwood Floors

Begin by selecting a long board to start the first row. Pick one that is straight. Align the edge of the board with the chalk line and drill pilot holes down through the hardwood plank and into the sub-floor and joist. Face-nail each board at the point of every joist and set the nail with a nail-set.

Do you need underlayment for nail down hardwood?

The type of wood flooring installed also influences your choice of underlayment. Floating engineered wood floors or solid-hybrid floors will use a padded underlayment such as Floor Muffler, while naildown hardwood use paper underlayment such as Aquabar-B or Silicone Vapor Sheild.

The Floating Method Of Flooring Installation

The main advantage to a click-lock floating floor is the ease of installation and a shorter flooring installation time overall. A floating floor is also easier to repair in the event of a leak or issue that causes sectional damage. Besides the click-lock version of flooring, a tongue and groove floor can also be floated. However, the latter is more time-consuming. This is because you must manually apply glue along the inside bottom groove along the entire length of each plank.

But before you jump on the floating floor bandwagon, you need to be aware that there is one restriction that applies strictly to floating floors . It has to do with humidity levels in your home and run distances on your floor. Unless your home has stable indoor humidity year-round , youll have limits on the distance of continuous runs of flooring you can lay, both in terms of length and width .

CAVEAT: Do you live in a geographical area with stable humidity? Do you have an HVAC modulator that will keep your interior humidity within the 40%-60% range all year? If so, you do not have to follow these run limits.

However, if that is not the case, you must follow the run limits below:

  • For an engineered floating floor, run limits are 25 feet wide and 45 feet long.
  • For a solid floating floor**, run limits are 15 feet wide and 25 feet long.

**Ambient does NOT recommend nor advise installing solid bamboo flooring via the floating method.

Installing Click Lock Floor over a 3-in-1 Underlayment

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Set Another Chalk Line

Depending on what width hardwood you are installing this line will be different. Our job calls for a 3 1/4â³ wide prefinished Bruce Winter White product. Incidentally, this was a cabin grade product installed in 2003, purchased off the internet, with the customer full aware of what to expect with a cabin grade hardwood.

Considering solid wood floors are started with tongue facing out, I used our 3 1/4 inch board width and added 1/4â³ for the tongue. This insures the chalk line is not covered and can be seen easily. By adding another 3/8â³ inch for expansion our line was measured 3 7/8â³ off the drywall.

General Instructions Prior To Hardwood Floor Installation

Wood Flooring Nails
  • It is recommended that the flooring be installed at a 90 degree angle to the joists for wood subfloors. An additional 5% flooring must be added to the actual square footage needed when purchasing to allow for cutting and grading.
  • Plan out the installation determining an appropriate color match of boards before you nail down hardwood flooring. The floor should be installed from several cartons at the same time to ensure a good color and shade mixture. Otherwise it can make the room look off.
  • Remove any existing base molding, other moldings, door sills and old floor covering where applicable. Using a hand saw, undercut the bottom of door frames 3/4 to slide hardwood board beneath.
  • Do not use flooring pieces with obvious defects. As mentioned above, it is the installers/owners responsibility to ensure that the conditions of the flooring are acceptable prior to installation. Manufacturers typically decline any responsibility for flooring which is installed with obvious defects and/or flooring which is installed under improper jobsite conditions.

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Bigger Isnt Always Better

The two gauges of nails typically used for hardwood floors are 16- and 18-gauge. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the nail. Use the specific gauge of nail recommended by the manufacturer for your floor. This will depend on the hardness of the wood, its thickness and whether it is solid or engineered. The recommended gauges dont refer to standard construction nails, but to cleat nails designed specifically for use on hardwood flooring. Cleat nails are typically installed with an automatic nailing gun to speed the process and avoid hammer or mallet marks on the floor. They have a series of barbs near the point, which stops them from backing out of the wood. Staples are also frequently used to secure hardwood flooring. These are typically 15-gauge and include a resin-based glue coating to hold them in place.


Which Tool To Go For

It is evident that shears would be more versatile than nibblers. However, if you are planning to thin metal sheets mostly, a nibbler would be the ideal choice without a doubt. Then again, shears can also cut through thin metal sheets, although not as good as nibblers. The answer depends on your preference and your need. Nevertheless, the need might change every now and then, so shears might be a wiser choice as they are more versatile and applicable for heavier-duty works.

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Shouldn’t I Have Rolled Out The Tar Paper First

Good point. It would have been useful to layout the underlayment first so we wouldn’t have to go through these steps again. The control line serves another purpose after beginning the installation, which we’ll get into later. When rolling out your underlayment opinions vary on whether or not it should be overlapped or not.

Some claim if it is overlapped one can actually see a telegraphing effect after the floor is installed. In other words, small rises occur every 45 inches where the two layers overlap. Personally I never paid attention to it, and the National Wood Flooring Association calls for overlapping anyway.

Regular Nails Vs Cleat

How to Install Nails in a Hardwood Floor : Nails, Screws & Wall Hangings

The regular nails with different head designs and smooth body are meant for securing the pieces in position by preventing them from sliding. They do not have sufficient holding power to keep the pieces tight.

On the other hand, the staple and cleat are designed for holding the wood tightly and securely in position.

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Bostitch Flooring Nailer 2

  • Fasteners 15.5 GA flooring staples or 16 GA L cleats from 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches length
  • Power – Pneumatic
  • Weight 10.2 lbs
  • Warranty 7 years
  • Price Range Premium
  • Extra Features Interchangeable non-marring base plates for 1/2 inch through 3/4 inch flooring, mallet, wrenches, and 1/4 inch air fitting with dust cover. It also features an ergonomically designed long handle with a comfortable rubber grip.

Freeman Pfl618br Pneumatic 3

  • Fasteners 16 Gauge Glue Collated Flooring T and L Cleats, and 15.5 Gauge Glue Collated 1/2 Crown Flooring Staples from 1-1/2 inch 2 inch
  • Power Pneumatic, 70 110 psi
  • Weight 11.5 lbs
  • Warranty 7 years
  • Price Range Medium
  • Extra Features Magazine capacity T and L Cleats: 100 pcs / Staples: 90 120 pcs, comes with a carrying case, no-mar white rubber flooring mallet, safety goggles, oil, and adjustment tools.

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Finishing Off The Final Rows Against The Wall

There comes a point when the nailer will not fit near walls and we resort to the finish nailer again. If you’ve kept some longer straight boards for this area you’ll see how much easier it is to finish off the area opposed to using random boards that are not straight. Through the larger open areas it becomes much easier to get a tight fitting floor because there’s leverage in tapping them into place with the rubber side of the mallet. Pneumatic nailers also exert a good amount of force keeping those boards together too.

For stubborn boards there are several options. One can either do it by hand with a long handled screwdriver, or invest in a tool called the power jack shown on the right. When nailing the final courses do so by blind nailing or nailing into the groove at a 45 degree angle. At one point it will be necessary to top nail the last few rows.

What’s A Control Line

30 Stylish Nails or Staples for 3 4 Hardwood Flooring

A control line is a line that is established by measuring out from wall #1. The purpose is to check for square ness with a tape measure to other areas of the layout. Essentially you want to set the line in or near the center of the layout should the installation go into other rooms. A control line is not necessary if the job only calls for one square or rectangular room.

Use a general number to measure off wall #1. I’ll use 96 inches in this case because it nears the center of the area. Measure from two areas off wall #1 and mark. Draw a chalk line with a helper and snap where the two areas are marked. Once the line is set we can check if the starting area is parallel against two walls in the starting room.

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