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If you’re planning some home improvement projects that require you to install new flooring or repair what you have, it’s crucial to have a flooring nailer for the job.
While you can nail the pieces of wood in by hand, it’s time-consuming and a lot harder. Plus, your results might not be the best.
A flooring nailer makes the job easier and ensures that your nails are inserted at the right angle (45 degrees). That way, you don’t have to deal with the wrong placement.
Flooring nailers are available in pneumatic and manual models, and each one has good and bad points for them. Apart from deciding which option to buy, there are other things to figure out.
Today, you’re sure to learn about the best flooring nailers for contractors and DIYers, so you can tackle any flooring project you might have!
9 Best Flooring Nailers for Hardwood Floors
The NuMax SFL618 is a 3-in-1 machine that lets you use staples, T-cleats, and L-cleats. Therefore, it’s a versatile flooring nailer and stapler that’s ideal for large flooring projects.
This product also includes interchangeable base plates, so you can easily install dense and thin wood floors. Plus, the NuMax SFL618 has a high-capacity magazine, which accommodates 120 nails to reduce your downtime.
Overall, this brand features a lightweight and tough die-cast aluminum body to make it durable and easy to balance and move while working.
There are many other things to like about this machine, such as the anti-dust cap, extended handle, and the non-marring white rubber mallet. Plus, the 1/4-inch NPT fitting ensures that you can use about any air compressor with it.
When you have a lightweight aluminum body like the Freeman flooring nailer, you are confident that you can use it for many years to come.
Besides the durable body, this product is versatile and fires T-cleats, L-cleats, and staples. Plus, it features interchangeable base plates in 3/4 and 1/2-inch to handle different thicknesses.
The nailer runs at up to 100 PSI, and you get a high-capacity magazine that handles up to 120 cleats and staples. Plus, it’s comfortable to operate because of the long handle and padded grip.
You’re sure to appreciate the carrying case and other accessories included here. You get oil, wrenches, goggles, and non-marring base plates. There’s even a white rubber mallet and a 7-year warranty!
The Bostitch is one of the lightest items shown in these flooring nailer reviews. Therefore, you’re confident that you get an easy-to-balance tool that’s easy to use and a joy to work with.
This hardwood flooring nailer is designed for convenience and speeds up your flooring projects. Plus, the flooring nailer features an easy-sight tongue guide, so you can install your bamboo or hardwood flooring effortlessly. Just drive the staples into the pockets each time.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about scratching exotic hardwood because it has a non-mar cap. The oil-free operation ensures that you don’t stain the wood.
With that, this product handles any floor size because it features adjustable knobs. The tool-less adjustments tackle any thickness. Operating it is easy because of the soft rubber grip and the muffled rear exhaust. Plus, you get a 7-year warranty.
If you want good results from a solid tongue and groove flooring, it’s crucial to have a nailer and stapler that’s suited for the job. The Freeman brand has you covered with its 3-in-1 nailer. It shoots T- and L-cleats and staples, so you can handle various projects.
Plus, it uses 15.5-gauge staples or 16-gauge cleats and operates at between 70 to 115 PSI. The nailer also features interchangeable base plates that let you choose between 3/4- and 1/2-inch options.
As with other flooring nailers, you don’t scratch the floor or material because of the non-marring feet. Plus, you get a fiberglass mallet and a 7-year warranty.
The Bostitch brand makes the best hardwood flooring nailers, and the 2-in-1 model is a great example of such a versatile tool.
It’s also great for engineered flooring and features interchangeable plates that are non-marring. The base plates ensure that you don’t leave scratches on the material and can handle different thicknesses and brittle wood.
This nailer shoots L-shaped cleats and staples and is ergonomically designed with a rubber-grip handle for more comfort. Overall, it operates at 70 to 100 PSI and has a 7-year warranty.
Everyone trusts the Dewalt brand because it’s a reputable company and makes high-quality power tools. The pneumatic flooring nailer is the most expensive item on the list. However, as with other options, you get what you pay for. This one is definitely worth the price.
It does have a lower CFM requirement than other pneumatic nailers, which means less run-time for the air compressor. Plus, it’s optimized to handle most nailing fasteners, such as 15.5-gauge staples and the 16-gauge cleats.
You’re sure to appreciate the ergonomic design of this flooring nailer. It’s so easy to use and doesn’t fatigue your hands when working for long periods.
Overall, this nailer offers non-marring and interchangeable base plates to adjust to all flooring thicknesses and sizes. Plus, this pneumatic tool uses the standard 1/4-inch fitting, so it works with all air compressors.
You don’t have to choose the most expensive models to get the right pneumatic flooring nailers. The Freeman PFBC940 is very affordable and works well. It’s actually the cheapest option, but it performs well and could be the right flooring nailer if you want something small.
This is a versatile tool because it shoots nails and staples, and it converts into a brad nailer to handle woodworking projects. In a sense, you have two tools in one.
Plus, this nailer is one of the lightest at 4 pounds, making it great for more extended usage. There’s also a quick-release nose to clear jams, and the reload indicator tells you when you need more nails.
Even though the Bostitch MIIFN is more expensive, it’s still one of the top flooring nailers available. If you need something that handles high-speed nailing, it’s the go-to option.
This one delivers 420 in/lbs. of driving power, and that’s a lot compared to others. Plus, the high-speed pneumatic operation means that you drive nails into pre-finished and unfinished wood planks with ease.
The flooring nailer also has a wider base plate to offer more control and stability. That speeds up the work and ensures an accurate outcome.
You’re sure to appreciate the ergonomic design of the longer handle and rubber grip. It’s easy to hold for long periods!
Durability is the name of the game because of the graphite mallet and aluminum body. Plus, you get the 7-year warranty, too!
The NuMax S50LSDH could be the perfect flooring nailer because it shoots cleat nails or staples. Plus, it works with 16-gauge cleats or 15.5-gauge crown flooring staples, making it ideal for many applications.
This flooring nailer also features a dual-handle design, so you can use the short handle in a kneeling position and the longer one with a comfortable rubber grip when standing.
With the high-quality rubber O-rings and aluminum body, this is a durable machine that can serve you for many years.
Other features you might like include the non-mar base foot to protect the surface, a light-strike bumper, and the quick-release nose to clear jams quickly.
Difference Between a Flooring Nailer and Stapler
It’s common for people to use the terms flooring staplers and flooring nailers interchangeably, but they are different devices. Each tool serves a similar role, but they’re different and have their own pros and cons.
Flooring nailers are the older of the two different types, and they’ve been around for about three decades. This nailer features cleat nails for fastening, and it’s what many contractors call the flooring cleat nailer.
Typically, flooring nailers can be manual and pneumatic. The manual nailers require more muscle because they rely on the user’s strength. However, pneumatic ones need an air compressor.
Both types require the user to hit the head when inserting nails. This is often done by a rubber mallet. The amount of pressure needed depends on how dense the wood is.
Flooring Cleat Nail Gauge
Flooring nailers tend to use 16-gauge or 18-gauge cleat nails, though some feature 20-gauge cleats, especially for engineered flooring. Cleat nails are a better choice for places that have temperature changes because the wood can contract and expand more freely.
If you’re using hard and thick wood, like Brazilian cherry, walnut, or bamboo, the flooring nailer is the best choice because it applies even more pressure so that the wood stays in place.
Since nails are more expensive than staples, the machine also costs more to operate than a stapler.
A flooring stapler also comes in manual and pneumatic form. However, you can also find electronic staplers, and they’re gradually becoming more common.
As the name suggests, a flooring stapler uses staples to attach the wood to the floor. These staples feature two prongs that anchor the wood into your subfloor.
Flooring Staples Gauge
Flooring staples are often found in 15.5-gauge, so they’re larger than a nail cleat. While the initial power of the larger staples is stronger than any nail gauge, they don’t do a great job of holding the wood to the subfloor in the long term.
Plus, the shape of the 15.5-gauge staples and penetration force means that they often split the flooring’s tongue when the planks are less than 3/4 inches thick. You may not be able to work with brittle wood and use staples.
Still, staples are simple in design, so they’re cheaper to make and are an affordable option, especially for softer wood.
What to Buy
The choice between getting a flooring nailer and a floor stapler depends on your personal preferences. However, a flooring nailer is better when handling tough wood or in areas that have more frequent temperature changes.
Staplers are ideal when the wood isn’t brittle. Plus, it can be more affordable.
When you want the best flooring nailer, there’s much more to consider than the reputation of the brand. The choice you make should ensure that you reach your objectives and get value for money. Overall, you want to have beautiful, solid wood flooring in your home, and here’s what you should know about the tool designed to give you that:
Pneumatic vs. Manual Flooring Nailer
The first choice to make when buying a nailer is whether you want a manual or pneumatic one. Both options can do a great job, and each one has pros and cons that you should understand before buying such expensive tools.
Manual floor nailers are the simpler option between the tools because they don’t need an air compressor to help drive the nail into the wood.
Overall, a manual floor nailer relies on muscle power, so they require you to make two hits to the bumper. The first one positions the cleat, while the second one actuates the nail into place.
This simple design makes it more affordable. Plus, you don’t have to buy extra tools to make them work.
- Quick and easy to use
- Low operational costs
- Relatively affordable
- Multiple hits with the mallet required
There’s no flooring task too big or hard when you’ve got the best pneumatic flooring nailer. That explains why they’re a popular option for professional contractors and DIYers.
Pneumatic floor nailers are designed to use an air compressor to drive the cleats into your planks. Unlike manual nailers, you only have to hit your bumper once to get the nail into your material.
These nailers tend to work faster than manual versions and give you more accurate and precise results. Therefore, if you’re handling a large project, they are the best choice. Still, they are more expensive to buy and require you to have an air compressor or get one.
- Great for larger surfaces
- Single mallet hit needed
- More precise results
- Relatively powerful
- More expensive
If you want a reliable, accurate, and fast nailer to handle large projects, a pneumatic one is the best choice. However, if you’re on a budget or only tackle flooring tasks periodically, a manual nailer is just fine.
16-gauge or 18-gauge Flooring Nailer
If you use the wrong nails in the flooring project, you run the risk of ruining the floor. It might not stay in place, which results in squeaking. Alternatively, you might split the material, which is extremely bad if you’re using Brazilian teak and other expensive wood pieces.
Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that you pick the right cleat gauge and flooring nailer to fire them. Most of the time, you must choose between 16- and 18-gauge nailers, as these are the two most popular cleat gauges used for flooring purposes.
An 18-gauge flooring nailer is designed to shoot out thin 18-gauge cleats. The thin nails are ideal for delicate jobs and thinner floors. However, some 18-gauge nailers shoot cleats strong enough to go through hardwood planks. Still, they might not offer sufficient affixing power to hold them in place for a long period.
A 16-gauge floor nailer can shoot thicker 16-gauge cleat nails, and they are designed for hardwood planks that are thicker because they offer more holding power.
These nailers are what most contractors prefer because they handle any flooring job, including unfinished flooring needs!
If you plan to use brittle and thinner material when flooring, the 18-gauge nailer is ideal. However, if you’re a professional who wants something to handle thicker and harder planks, the 16-gauge option is best.
Cleats or Staples
Another crucial decision you must make when choosing your best floor nailers is whether you want to use cleats or staples.
Modern nailers actually use both staples and cleats. They’re often called a nailer/stapler combo, and they let you use whatever you need.
Depending on what you want to use such a tool for, it might be a good idea to go for a model that offers both fastener types. Generally, a nailer/stapler doesn’t cost that much more and can be used as a cleat nailer or stapler on wood flooring.
Cleats are the most popular choice for hardwood flooring because they handle just about any type of wood. You can find T-shaped and L-shaped cleats.
Generally, flooring cleats are made of steel, and they often have a ribbed edge. That way, they can attach to the subflooring and the floor firmly. The ribs are also an advantage because they give your cleats a better hold to the flooring than traditional staples.
Since cleats are often more accommodative and forgiving for contraction and expansion of the wood, they’re the most suitable choice if you live in an area where the temperatures fluctuate significantly.
However, the biggest downside of cleats is that they cost about twice the price of staples. If you get a nailer/stapler combo, you can choose the one you need based on the project and your budget.
Staples often have two smooth and long prongs that go through the floor and into your subflooring effortlessly. They tend to be bigger than cleats, so they give you a better hold initially. However, the staples can loosen with time because the wood continuously expands and contracts throughout its life.
Overall, staples are more affordable than the cleats, so you should determine the price and downsides they have before you choose to use them over the cleats.
A professional contractor is likely to want a nailer that can use cleats and staples. However, if you’re a homeowner or DIYer who wants something cheap for small-scale projects, you might want to use staples. Just remember that you may have to redo the floors every few years if you go that route. Still, you might not mind if you’re doing your own flooring, but that should be factored into the overall cost of the project, as well.
A hardwood floor nailer isn’t necessarily the most expensive tool you might ever buy. However, you don’t want to continuously buy new ones after a couple of projects. Therefore, it’s best to choose something durable and well-built.
The build quality or body construction is a crucial factor to think about. Apart from choosing a sturdy and tough material, you also need to make sure that it is lightweight enough and has an ergonomic handle.
Lightweight die-cast aluminum is the most common material used by manufacturers. It’s durable and tough, and it doesn’t weigh as much as other materials.
When you focus on the power source, you have manual or pneumatic available to you. These are the most common choices. Generally, manual nailers are much more affordable, but they’re also more tedious to operate and aren’t ideal for a bigger project.
Pneumatic nailers are the most popular option of all, and professionals like them. However, DIYers should note that they are more expensive to purchase and operate because you must have or get an air compressor.
With that, you can sometimes find electric staplers. They’re useful and convenient, but they don’t do a nailer’s job, so you should keep that in mind.
The material used to make the nailer is a key determinant of how much it might weigh. However, you must choose a nailer that is lightweight enough so that you can move it around and even hold it for extended periods. Plus, you must think of how easy it is to balance because you are often using it with one hand while holding the wood in the other.
Everyone wants to get the most value for their money. Overall, that means that you must choose a flooring nailer that’s right for you. It must be high-performance and well-built, but you must also think about affordability.
Generally, a nailer that meets all your needs should be efficient and fast, but it must also have a reasonable price tag. That is dependent on your budget and needs. Therefore, you might go with a low-cost option while someone else has more money to spend and can get something a little fancier.
Still, you should understand that the tools have various price ranges. You may find high-end brands that cost a lot more. With that, price should never be the only consideration. If it doesn’t last long but costs less, you’re continuously buying a product when you need it.
You can’t be sure if the nailer you buy might serve you for a long time and do everything you want it to do. Even if you go with a top brand, things can go wrong. Therefore, it’s so important to choose a product that has a decent warranty with it.
Some brands just offer the 1-year warranty. This is nice, but you may have to replace it with out-of-pocket funds after that year is up. Generally, it’s best to go with a 7-year warranty when available. That way, you know you shouldn’t have to purchase a new nailer within that time frame.
It’s also possible to get limited lifetime warranties, which is the best deal.
Overall, a longer warranty is better. Still, it’s up to you to read the fine print and check the warranty terms. It might only include certain things.
Regardless of the flooring nailer you choose, it is bound to have a huge effect on how long it takes to complete your project and the quality and accuracy of the results.
Therefore, you can’t choose the wrong product, whether it’s for professional use or a specific DIY renovation project. After reading the flooring nailer reviews above, you’ve learned about the top nine products.
You also found out how to pick the right option with the buyer’s guide. There’s so much information to learn about nailers, and those used for flooring are different than for other tasks.
Overall, the best flooring nailer is the NuMax SFL618 because it has a tall and ergonomic handle, a durable aluminum body, a high-capacity magazine, and can run staples and cleats. Just be careful with the mallet handle, as it’s a bit smooth.