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Whether you’re a professional who installs flooring regularly or a homeowner itching replace your old carpets with exotic wooden flooring, the best way to get the job done quickly and accurately is with a specialized nail gun for hardwood flooring.
Buying the wrong one will end up costing you money and time – Two things that you don’t want to waste.
This guide will make sure you find the right flooring nailer for your budget – without wasting it.
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In a Rush?
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
The Best Flooring Nailer with Reviews
Here's a list of the best flooring nailers we found on the market:
1. Freeman PF18GLCN Pneumatic Flooring Nailer
Not so Good
Comfortable enough to use that you’ll be able to install large areas of flooring pretty quickly, this nailer also holds up to 120 fasteners. You’ll be able to keep working for a long time without having to stop to rest or reload.
This Freeman nailer uses 18 gauge L-cleats which are great for dense flooring. It works with cleats from 1 ¼ – 1 ¾ inches long so that you can use it on a wider variety of materials.
Speaking of materials, you can only use this flooring nailer with certain exotic floors. The list not especially extensive: bamboo, brazilian teak, cherry, and most exotic hardwoods. Check with the manufacturer if you’re not sure your flooring is compatible because it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you do have one that works, this flooring nailer will help you get the job done fast.
One downside to this nailer is that it’s hard to find more fasteners that are compatible with it and you’ll end up having to use the ones made by the brand. There’s good and bad sides to this. No one knows what will work better in their nailer than Freeman, but it eliminates any chance of shopping around for a better deal.
2. Freeman PFL618BR Flooring Nailer
Not so Good
If you’re a DIYer or looking for something to help with a small job or two, Freeman has the flooring nailer for you. This nailer is compatible with three different kinds or fasteners – T-cleats, L-cleats and staples. It has a comfortable grip, long handle, and can hold up to 120 fasteners at once so you’ll be able to work for a long time with this one.
This flooring nailer comes with some accessories. You get a durable case that’s ideal for storage and travel, a white rubber mallet, oil, goggles, wrenches, and interchangeable face plates. Freeman calls this their “workhorse” and it’s so versatile, it’s easy to see why.
Though there are some customer complaints about it jamming after getting into longer projects, the nailer does come with a 7 year limited warranty and the customer service is generally good. However, it is for these reasons that our recommendation has to be that this is not a good choice for professionals. It lacks the consistency to handle the heavy use it will take with a professional work load.
That said, it’s still a great choice for casual use and a good addition to any home workshop.
3. NuMax SFL618 Flooring Nailer
Not so Good
This is a versatile tool that you can use with T-cleats, L-cleats, or staples. The large magazine holds up to 120 fasteners which allows you to work for a longer time without having to stop to reload. The long handle and comfort grip help keep your back and your hand pain free after long jobs.
It comes with 2 interchangeable base plates so you can use it with both ½ inch and ¾ inch flooring. You get a few sample cleats and staples to try, but not enough to do a job. It’s just to get a feel for the nailer so you can decide what kind you want to work with. The solid aluminum built is solid without being too heavy.
You get oil, wrenches, and a white rubber mallet with this nailer – all the things that you’ll need to maintain the tools. Unfortunately, it does not come with a case to store it all in which is really inconvenient for a tool you’re not going to use on a daily basis.
This is a nice tool for a homeowner who wants to install his own flooring in a room or two, but it will not stand up to industrial level work.
4. DEWALT DWFP12569 Pneumatic Flooring Nailer
Not so Good
This versatile DEWALT flooring nailer is strong and durable enough for professionals to use and a powerful tool for anyone looking for something a little more substantial for their home. The tall handle makes it easy to work on the floor without hurting your back and the ergonomic comfort grips keep your hand from aching while you work on long jobs.
What’s great about this nailer is that, even though it’s one of the few designed for regular heavy professional use, it only weighs a little over 10 pounds. This makes it really easy to maneuver and balance, which makes it perfect for long term use and bigger jobs.
It’s versatile in that you can use both 16 gauge cleats or 15.5 gauge staples from 1 ½ to 2 inches.
While the base plates adjust for ½ to ¾ inch flooring, this might not be enough options for a flooring professional. If you’re going to use this tool to do a lot of different projects professionally, make sure the materials you work with will be compatible with the ½ or ¾ inch shoes.
5. BOSTITCH MIIIFN Flooring Nail Gun
Not so Good
This is a really easy tool to learn which makes it great for first timers who homeowners about to take on a flooring project. It’s comfortable and easy to use, letting the user get into a position that won’t hurt their back or hand.
It’s made of lightweight aluminum and weighs in at just over 11 pounds. It’s definitely durable enough for professional use. It comes with a 7 year warranty so you can be sure it will last a long time, something ideal for anyone professionally installing floor.
The base plate is extra wide, which helps the user with balance and control. You get professional results quickly because you can get consistent angles every time.
Though this nailer is on the expensive side, you have to weigh the alternatives before buying one. Chances are, purchasing this tool is going to save you a lot of money on installation, especially if you use it over and over again for projects in your own home or if you reach out to help other people.
6. Freeman PDX50C Floor Nail Gun
Not so Good
You get the option to use 3 different kinds of fasteners with this nailer, which makes it a little more versatile than some of the other options in our reviews. It’s a great choice for DIYers and professionals. If anything goes wrong, Freeman has an impressive 7 year limited warranty that will cover materials and workmanship defects on the tool. It’s one of the best in the business and is a definite plus when considering which flooring nailer to buy.
There are a few things unique to this model. It’s one of the lightest flooring nailers out there. It also comes with a 3 pound fiberglass mallet. This is a reasonably priced option that you will be able to use for a long time.
This nailer rarely jams but when it does it can be a little tricky to clear. It doesn’t come with a carrying case which makes it a little difficult to store while keeping all the different pieces together. It’s also a little larger than the others we reviewed, which could affect storage.
7. PowRyte Basic 3-in-1 Air Flooring Nailer & Stapler
Not so Good
This is a versatile flooring nailer that can used with all three kinds of fasteners. It’s easy to use and great for a homeowner who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money but still wants a reliable tool for in home flooring projects. The long handle will save your back because you won’t have to bend over as far and the ergonomic grip will help keep your hand comfortable so you can keep working for longer periods of time.
It’s made of lightweight die cast aluminum and includes an aluminum magazine making it really durable. It’s definitely a much better option than renting a flooring nailer for your project as it’s sure to be more cost efficient and you can work at your own pace.
You get a non-marring white rubber mallet, oil, and all the wrenches you need to change out the base plates for different thicknesses. A great thing about this choice is, unlike some of the other nailers we reviews, this one is compatible with major brand name staples and cleats. No need to buy anything special.
The larger nail cartridge was designed to hold more fasteners, but the downside is that it sticks out a bit too much which could make it hard to fit it into tight spaces. You might have a hard time positioning it correctly in corners or against walls.
8. Ramsond RMM4
Not so Good
The Ramsond RMM4 is a 2-in-1 flooring nailer that uses both staples and L-cleats. It’s extremely durable and industrial quality, perfect for contractors and other professionals. It’s the heaviest option on our list weighing in at 26.9 pounds. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it for jobs in your home, but it’s a lot of tool you’ll be carrying around.
Because it’s made of die cast alloy, it really durable and can handle any job site. The extra wide base helps with stability and balance, making it easier to handle so you can get more accurate results. Because the internal driver blade is made of hardened steel, it’s tough and can take a lot of wear and tear. While some flooring nailers are designed so that it’s hard to get close to walls and edges, this one is made to get closer to walls.
The ergonomic handle makes it comfortable to hold, which is especially important because it is so heavy. One thing that makes this a great choice for professionals is the patented air booster chambers which increase driving force and speed. It makes quick work of any floor installation and is worth the investment.
How to buy a flooring nailer
There are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration when buying a flooring nailer. The most important thing you need to think about is what you’re going to be using it for.
Home or Professional Use?
If you’re an amatueur, there’s no reason why you can’t use a professional grade nailer at home. It might be a little more than what you need but it’s better to have more than not enough. What this usually boils down to is money. Professional grade equipment is usually more expensive and it’s up to you to decide how much you want to invest in a tool that you might not use all that often.
What you really need to look out for here is if you’re a professional contractor or floor installer. You cannot just use any nailer for professional work. Make sure you get one that’s versatile, durable, and has a good warranty. This goes for any tool, really. If you’re going to be using it a lot for a lot of different clients, you’ll need to have a tool that you can depend on.
Weight is heavily reliant on the material that the nailer is made out of. Most are made out of lightweight aluminum, which is an ideal material because it’s also really durable. It’s important that the nailer you choose is light enough for you to be able to move it around easily and that it’s not too hard to balance.
Ergonomics and Comfort
This is a tool that you are going to be holding onto for a long time when doing large jobs so you need to make sure you can hold it comfortable. Most flooring nailers have an ergonomic rubber handle that will make it easy for you to get a nice grip. This keeps you hands from aching while you work which ultimately allows you to work for a longer amount of time.
You also want to make sure your floor nailer has a long handle. This will help you use it without having to stoop down as far which will do wonders for your back at the end of a long job.
Pneumatic or Manual
While there are some great manual flooring nailers out there, we only reviewed pneumatic ones, or those that need to be connected to an air compressor to work. There are much more powerful and you can get more precise results.
Flooring nailers have a bumper that you hit with a mallet to trigger. Your flooring nailer should come with a mallet, some are rubber and some are fiberglass. Manual floor nailers require 2 hits with the mallet while pneumatics need only one. This translates to less work and more accuracy.
Cleats vs Staples
Some of the flooring nailers we reviewed are capable of using both cleats and staples while some are not. Depending on what you’re going to be using your flooring nailer for, you might want to consider getting one that gives you the versatility to use different kinds of fasteners.
Most flooring comes with some kind of adhesive but you will still need to use an additional method of securing the planks. That’s where cleats and staples come in.
There are 2 kinds of cleats. They are either T-shaped or L-shaped. They’re made of steel and have a ribbed edge that firmly attaches to the both the flooring and the subflooring. Cleats get a little better hold on the flooring than staples do because of these ribs. They’re preferred for places where temperatures fluctuate drastically from season to season because they are more forgiving of the wood expanding and contracting.
The downside? Cleats are significantly more expensive than staples and can even cost twice as much.
Staples have two long smooth prongs that go through the flooring and into the subflooring. They’re just a little bigger than cleats and are initially a better hold.
Over time, they start to loosen a bit because of the continual expansion and contraction of the wood. It will separate from the subflooring slightly and the floor can creak. Staples are much more affordable, but you have to way the price with the downsides before deciding which works for you.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s easy to see why we recommend getting a flooring nailer that allows you the choice of cleats or staples, especially if you’re a professional. This is one way to make sure you get as much use out of your flooring nailer as possible.
Now that you know what to look for when buying a flooring nailer, you can see why the Freeman PF18GLCN is our favorite. It’s specially designed for exotic flooring and therefore is only suitable for cleats, but its performance is just so good that we have to recommend it, even if it’s not very versatile.
If you need a flooring nailer for something that the Freeman PF18GLCN can’t handle, make sure to check out the rest of our reviews to help you find the right one for you.