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Thread: Solid wood flooring nailers - cleats vs. staples

  1. #1
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    Solid wood flooring nailers - cleats vs. staples

    I have been going crazy this morning trying to find a thread I read in the last month concerning using a flooring nailer to install solid wood flooring. The discussion was on using a manual nailer or going to a cheaper Harbor Freight pneumatic nailer to install the flooring. There was also discussion on using cleats vs. staples. The last post I read had someone suggesting just grab a handful of spiral nails and a nailset and go at it. I am failing at the new forum's search function!

    I have rented a manual porta-nailer before from the Orange borg - but the installs were about 200sf (kitchens) and I could do it in a day by myself. I am committed now to installing 1000sf in a basement and I know it is going to take a month of Sundays for me to complete the job.

    I am installing Platon and 3/4" tongue and groove 3/4" OSB over the slab per the recommendations. I am installing 3/4" cherry unfinished. I need to use a 1.5" fastener to prevent any puncturing of the vapor barrier.

    I had read some good reviews of people using these from Amazon :

    http://www.amazon.com/NuMax-SFL618BR...486480&sr=8-12

    or

    http://www.amazon.com/Ramsond-RMM4-H...6486480&sr=8-2

    or the HF one with an additional 20% off coupon? http://www.harborfreight.com/3-in-1-...ler-99640.html

    I have the following questions:

    Cleats or Staples?
    What nailer? Amazon or Harbor Freight?
    Face nailing the first row - 16ga or 15ga?

    Thanks guys!
    oops ....1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 - yup all there, whew!

  2. #2
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    I like the manual nailers with the rachet feature because you don't need one big whack all the time. Plus, I have taking a 6" bow out of a piece
    with just by working the strip along. After the first day my arm was dead, but after the second, I was used to it. I also prefer the cleats to staples.
    Have had some issues with them in the past not holding as tight as the cleats did. But that might be a difference in manual vs air. Not sure.

    One trick to the first few pieces I did. Try to face nail where the baseboard is going to cover, then finish nail 16ga in the tongue just like
    the floor nailer. My Bosch nailer has a 'V' tip that helped fit the tip to the tongue (sounds like fun).

    The first piece I actually drilled the tongue and hammered a finish nails in. 500+sf and not one nail showing. A nice clean look.

    Just my 2cents though.

  3. #3
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    I used staples for almost the exact same situation...Delta FL (similar product to Platon) over 3/4" T&G OSB...3/4" oak hardwood. If memory serves 1-1/2" staples so I wouldn't penetrate the Delta-FL. I face nailed 15 Ga and wasn't worried about hiding them as this was for my shop. All I know is on a few misfires those staples were a b*tch to remove. I can't image them failing. It was more economical to buy mor than I needed so IIRC I spaced the staples 8-10". No loose boards in about two years.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Wright View Post
    I have the following questions:

    Cleats or Staples?
    What nailer? Amazon or Harbor Freight?
    Face nailing the first row - 16ga or 15ga?

    Thanks guys!
    I would get the cleat nailer. Manufacturers of many hardwood floors now won't warranty if staples are used. This is due to increased splitting on the higher density exotics. I have a stapler and have never had a problem but if I were to repurchase now I would get the nailer.

    I looked at the options you presented there and I would purchase the Ramsond. Lots of good reviews and great price.

    Like the other fellow suggested, if you can nail under a baseboard and then through the tongue, you're set. I usually glue my first and sometimes second row. Wait till the next day and continue. This holds things firm. The nailers have a lot of force and you can throw your alignment out easier than you'd think when the first row is held with 15 or 16 gauge nails.
    Last edited by Neil Bosdet; 01-31-2011 at 11:07 AM. Reason: spelling

    "What do you mean my birth certificate's expired?!"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Bregar View Post
    I used staples for almost the exact same situation...Delta FL (similar product to Platon) over 3/4" T&G OSB...3/4" oak hardwood. If memory serves 1-1/2" staples so I wouldn't penetrate the Delta-FL. I face nailed 15 Ga and wasn't worried about hiding them as this was for my shop. All I know is on a few misfires those staples were a b*tch to remove. I can't image them failing. It was more economical to buy mor than I needed so IIRC I spaced the staples 8-10". No loose boards in about two years.
    George - I am basing a lot of what I am doing from your shop thread from last year. Thnaks for the input - ordered my edge tape and snapcons from Amazon and should have them today. Just got a flier in the mail from HF with the SDS drill on sale for $59.99.
    oops ....1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 - yup all there, whew!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Bosdet View Post
    I would get the cleat nailer. Manufacturers of many hardwood floors now won't warranty if staples are used. This is due to increased splitting on the higher density exotics. I have a stapler and have never had a problem but if I were to repurchase now I would get the nailer.

    I looked at the options you presented there and I would purchase the Ramsond. Lots of good reviews and great price.

    Like the other fellow suggested, if you can nail under a baseboard and then through the tongue, you're set. I usually glue my first and sometimes second row. Wait till the next day and continue. This holds things firm. The nailers have a lot of force and you can throw your alignment out easier than you'd think when the first row is held with 15 or 16 gauge nails.
    Any concerns with cleats vs. staples into the OSB?

    Also - should I put red rosin paper or felt on the OSB prior to installing the flooring? Any downside to the felt(tar paper) in an inside living space situation? I have used red rosin in the past.
    oops ....1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 - yup all there, whew!

  7. #7
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    I have a grex 15 ga stapler and couldn't be happier. The staples hold great and I had no issues with splitting, I wasn't using dense exotic's either. I don't know that there's very much difference overall. I would certainly go pneumatic. I face nailed with 16 guage and got close enough that quarter round covered most everything. The others are hardly noticeable even though nailed about every 6 inches.

    Ryan

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Wright View Post
    Any concerns with cleats vs. staples into the OSB?

    Also - should I put red rosin paper or felt on the OSB prior to installing the flooring? Any downside to the felt(tar paper) in an inside living space situation? I have used red rosin in the past.
    Subfloors are plywood or OSB so no concerns with cleats in OSB. Tar paper will off gas for a while. I used a wax paper under a reclaimed floor and I don't think I'd ever do it again. If you ever have a need to inject some glue between a split or gap it will be useless with a paper layer between. Doubtful this will be a concern with a manufactured floor but I'm just saying. Clean your floor well and go at it.

    "What do you mean my birth certificate's expired?!"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Wright View Post
    George - I am basing a lot of what I am doing from your shop thread from last year. Thnaks for the input - ordered my edge tape and snapcons from Amazon and should have them today. Just got a flier in the mail from HF with the SDS drill on sale for $59.99.
    That HF SDS Hammer drill worked out great for me...I think I also paid $60. While I'm sure it's not the best SDS out there it worked fine for me and now I have one...won't get a lot of use. Get some extra drill bits and also make sure you have a torguey drill. I snapped off a lot of tapcons (yeah, I call 'em snapcons too) because every time the drill would bog...snap. I rented a Milwaukee corded drill that had the ooomph to drive the snapcon all the way flush and life got easier. 1000 sf? You will have a new appreciation for not being a professional floor installer

  10. #10
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    [QUOTE=Also - should I put red rosin paper or felt on the OSB prior to installing the flooring? Any downside to the felt(tar paper) in an inside living space situation? I have used red rosin in the past.[/QUOTE]

    Use the red rosin paper. The tar paper is will act as a moisture barrier and could be a problem if you have some osb sandwiched between moisture barriers
    at some point. The rosin paper just helps to eliminate squeaks due to friction.

  11. #11
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    I just started laying oak flooring in a 200 sq. ft. bedroom addition so haven't done enough to to really give a thorough report (my first flooring experience). I looked at the price of the Bostich and others and figured, for just one job and maybe my shop (if/when my ship comes in) I'd just go with the HF pneumatic nailer. It looks identical to a number of the Chiwanese nailers. It is sweet! A tap with the mallet and those boards are rammed home and anchored securely. I can't say how it will do with a heavily bowed board.

    My house has about 3000 sq. ft. of white oak floors. The installer used "L" cleats and tar paper. I am using cleats too, but opted for the rosin paper because the roll was lighter, cleaner, and cheaper. I've heard some folks use newspaper- the ink helps the boards slide. The underlayment in my house is Advantech- really tough stuff. It is a wafer board like OSB but smaller flakes, more binder, much denser, smoother surface, etc. than OSB. As tough as it is, the cleats penetrated it easily with the air set at 100 psi. Contrary to my original thoughts, this is going to be fun!

    The only tough parts so far were two areas I needed to weave to avoid a long butt seam- it was kind of a pain to get the old boards out (I used a drill and chisels) in a staggered manner and fit the new ones in.

    I'll be looking for recommendations on sanders- anyone use the commercial units that have a rectangular base that contains a number of smaller ROS pads? They are supposedly easier to handle and have better dust collection than the old drum type.

    IMG_3632r.jpgIMG_3559r.jpgIMG_3629r.jpg
    Last edited by Alan Schaffter; 01-31-2011 at 1:28 PM.

  12. #12
    I bought the Ramsond to put down about 900 feet on 3/4 prefinished white oak in our master bedroom and couldn't be happier. I used the l cleats because I hate staples. Don't know why but I do. This is my third flooring job and I have never used naything between the flooring and the subfloor. I could never see the point in it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Hulbert View Post
    I bought the Ramsond to put down about 900 feet on 3/4 prefinished white oak in our master bedroom and couldn't be happier. I used the l cleats because I hate staples. Don't know why but I do. This is my third flooring job and I have never used naything between the flooring and the subfloor. I could never see the point in it.
    I think the 15# roofing felt is a holdover from the days of 1 X 6 subfloor. The tar paper was a vapor barrier. A lot of installers have gone to the rosin paper because you can also tape it down to protect finished floors. The only other reasons I can think of is that it makes chips and dirt show up easier so you can clear then out before laying planks and it also alows the planks to slide easier for a tighter joint.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Schaffter View Post

    I'll be looking for recommendations on sanders- anyone use the commercial units that have a rectangular base that contains a number of smaller ROS pads? They are supposedly easier to handle and have better dust collection than the old drum type.
    Based on recommendations from my neighbor who has redone his whole house with both refinishing and a new floor, get the drum sander for a virgin floor. A lot of what you are doing is leveling and the 4 disc sanders aren't aggressive enough to level.

  15. #15
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    I've done several floors and would highly recommend the air nailer. Manual are a real PITA and your arm will be junk for a day or 2 everytime you use it. Even with the air version doing 1000 sq. ft. puts a good amount of wear and tear on the body....I still feel it in my knees
    I've used both the cleats and staples and in the 10 years since my first job still haven't noticed any discernible difference. The first was a 3/4" plywood over concrete slab so those also had to be short too, and no problems. I used rosen paper b/c that's what the flooring guys use.....couldn't tell you for sure if you need it or not?
    One thing I'll say is if I were to do it over again I'd have bought the Bostich nailer. I've rented so many times over the years it would have been paid for by now.
    good luck,
    jeffD

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