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Thread: Manual vs. Pneumatic Floor Nailer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Lexington, KY
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    Manual vs. Pneumatic Floor Nailer

    I'm getting ready to install several rooms of hardwood flooring and wonder if there is a great difference in the manual vs. pneumatic nailers. I've done lots of laminate before, but never anything that needed to be nailed down.
    Thanks for your help!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    walnut creek, california
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    casey, if you're doing a lot of rooms, get the pneumatic - either rent or borrow one! they also show up on ebay and craigslist from time to time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Never used a pneumatic, I have a manual nailer. I went with a relatively inexpensive Port A Nailer, been happy with it so, however, I only do 2-3 floor installs a year. The nice part of a pneumatic is, you only hit it once, the bad part is, you only hit once. With the manual nailer you need to hit them twice to drive the nail, but I use a harder hit for the second blow to really drive the floor together tight.

  4. #4
    My former employer had the manual drivers. They will work you hard. When I went on my own, I went for the pheumatic & have never regretted it.

  5. #5
    I have put in several hardwood floors and the pneumatic is awesome. Especially when putting in "hard" woods like brazilian cherry. They rent for usually $25 a day or $175 a week in my area. If you are going to have it more than a week or two you can buy one for under $200 and then sell it on ebay or craigslist. If your doing a lot of floors you'll want the ease of the pneumatic.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2007
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    Carol Stream Illinois
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    I have put in a couple of floors, the first one was working with a friend that believes in cheap equipment, both manual and pneumatic, total PITA (constant jams). The second floor that I put in was working with a professional and his helper, we installed about 6000 square feet in 2 1/2 days, used a Bostitch pneumatic nailer and never had to stop for one jam (would have liked to) . We are currently considering hardwood floors for our home, if we go that route I will definately buy a Bostitch nailer and never look back, maybe even pick up some side jobs that will pay dividends.

    Heather

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    Portsmouth, VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey Gooding View Post
    I'm getting ready to install several rooms of hardwood flooring and wonder if there is a great difference in the manual vs. pneumatic nailers. I've done lots of laminate before, but never anything that needed to be nailed down.
    Thanks for your help!!!
    Manual nailers are for young guys who need the workout. Go with a pneumatic. either rent or buy it and then sell it later. You could also look at the Harbor Freight version, I have heard that its decent especially for the money. If you are doing a good amount of square footage, you will save money in the long run buying it then renting plus you wont feel pushed to get it done and return the gun.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Rent a pneumatic unit for the job. I helped my GC put down some of the 11" wide pine flooring in our addition and that was exactly how he handled it. You still whack it good, but most of that energy is used to tighten up the joint, rather than drive the fastener. (Which in our case were 2.5" long staples...adhesive was also used)
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Oliver Springs, TN
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    pneumatic!

  10. #10
    I have used both. The pneumatic obviously involves less energy and the combination of the shorter plunger and not needing to really slam it means it is easier to handle when you get close to the walls or in tight spots where you can't take a full backswing.

    Manual nailers are way cheaper both for the nailer and many times for the nails as well. I got a porta-nailer at HD for $140.00 and I have had good success with it.

    Research, research, research I read a lot before I bought my Porta-nailer. The porta-nailer and a few other manuals have the ratcheting feature which means the plunger doesn't "pop back out" until the nail is completely set. Which could take one hit (not often) or could take 4 hits (like when you are installing teak)

    I will say it is kinda nice working without dragging a hose around and the manuals are much lighter units. Plus if you don't have a compressor you need to ante up for the pneumatic and the compressor. Don't forget you will probably need a 16 guage finish gun for your install as well.

    For me it came down to money. I didn't want to continue paying the rentals for pneumatics but I couldn't affor the $400.00 too buy a Bostich (the overwhelming favorite pneumatic amoung pros) I am a teacher who installs floors on the side, Next big job I will probably step up to a pneumatic bostich.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Minnesota
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    33
    I did 1800 sq ft in our home with a port-a-matic pneumatic. Awesome nailer. No jams and a nice tight floor. I'd hate to have done it with a manual. I bought the nailer slightly used with a case of nailos for 400. Sold it when done (2 weeks later) with no nails for 400. Sure beat renting!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Bucks County, Pennsylvania
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    I had a large room done a few years ago with 5" Brazilian cherry -- I went with that wood because I do not like the lines from pre-finished flooring and I figured the wider floor would naturally minimize the lines.

    The guy I had install it had trouble even with a power nailer - I do not remember what type he used - but that stuff is tough. You do not indicate what wood flooring you are installing.

    I have used a manual nailer on pine and oak -- there is a little learning curve - but you get into a rhythm.

    Today I would rent a pneumatic.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Pooler (Savannah), GA
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    Casey,

    Definitely Pneumatic! I put down a floor about 4 years ago (which is to say that I was 4 years younger than I am today) using a manual. I got it from a friend to use for free and to be completely honest with you, after 1 day of slamming nails through 3/4" hardwood flooring, I thought I was going to DIE. Actually, at one point, I thought I WAS dead. My back was sooo stiff that I thought I'd never straighten up. So, either use a manual and suffer the consequences of pain OR use the pneumatic and enjoy actually putting in that beautiful floor of yours.

  14. #14
    Last oak floor I installed I used a manual nailer. Never again while it worked fine it took over a year to get rid of my case of tennis/nailer elbow.

    Good Luck

    Alan

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    607
    I would recommend getting a decent pneumatic stapler like the Bostich, install your floors and then sell it on ebay. Likey cheaper than renting and you have more flexibilty in putting down the floor.

    Greg

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