9 Best Manual & Pneumatic Hardwood Floor Nailers Worth Buying in 2019

Hardwood Floor NailerAssembling a hardwood floor is quite a laborious project, requiring not only time and effort but also a wide range of tools. One of these tools is a good hardwood floor nailer.

If that’s just the thing that you are looking for, we may have something of interest to you. Today, we’ll introduce you to our top 9 of best hardwood floor nailers, as well as will guide you through the buying process of a hardwood floor nailer. Let’s begin our guide with no further ado!

Best Manual and Pneumatic Hardwood Floor Nailers in 2019

ImageNailer Brand/ModelTypeCompatible Fasteners

Availability

NuMax SFL618 Pneumatic 3-in-1 15.5-Gauge and 16-Gauge 2NuMax SFL618 - Value for MoneyPneumaticT-Cleats, L-Cleats & Staples Check Price
BOSTITCH MIIIFN 1-1/2- to 2-Inch Pneumatic Flooring NailerBOSTITCH MIIIFN - Best Heavy Duty NailerPneumaticL-Cleats Check Price
Freeman PF18WRB Pneumatic 18 Gauge 1-3/4-inch L-Cleat Flooring Nailer & Roller Base Converter KitFreeman PF18WRBPneumaticL-Cleats Check Price
Freeman PFL618BR Pneumatic 3-in-1 15.5-Gauge and 16-GaugeFreeman PFL618BRPneumaticT-Cleats, L-Cleats & Staples Check Price
BOSTITCH BTFP12569 2-in-1 Flooring ToolBOSTITCH BTFP12569PneumaticL-Cleats & Staples Check Price
DEWALT DWFP12569 2-N-1 Flooring ToolDEWALT DWFP12569PneumaticL-Cleats & Staples Check Price
Porta-Nails 402A, 16-Gauge Manual Hardwood Flooring NailerPorta-Nails 402AManualT-Head Check Price
BOSTITCH MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer KitBOSTITCH MFN-201ManualL-Cleats Check Price
Estwing EFL50Q Pneumatic 2-in-1 15.5-Gauge and 16-Gauge Estwing EFL50QPneumaticL-Cleats & Staples Check Price

What tools & materials do you need to install a hardwood floor

While a hardwood floor nailer may be the central tool for your hardwood floor project, there are many other tools & materials that you will need to buy. Due to this, installing a hardwood floor can be quite a pricey project.

Below is a list of tools & materials that will be necessary for the vast majority of hardwood projects. Depending on the specifics of your project, you may need fewer tools than listed below.

  • A flooring nailer with a proper gauge + nails/staplers.
  • A mallet to operate the nailer and to help you put the floorboards in place.
  • Hardwood flooring, whether engineered or not.
  • Nail gun to nail the hardwood near walls.
  • Miter saw or jigsaw to cut the flooring to make it fit into doorways or architectural elements.
  • Air compressor (if using a pneumatic nailer).
  • Tape measure.
  • Chalk line to mark the location of floor joists.
  • Concrete/wood moisture meter.
  • Level to ensure that the subflooring is level.
  • Spacers to leave some room between the planks for contraction and expansion.
  • Safety equipment like safety goggles, a dust mask, or earplugs.
  • Shop vacuum to have the mess cleaned after you are done.

Hardwood floor nailer types: Pneumatic vs Manual

Floor nailers are available in manual and pneumatic types. Pneumatic floor nailers are generally preferred to manual nailers due to their quicker operation, but there are some things that may make manual nailers more appealing to you.

To drive a nail into the floor, you will need to hit the tool’s driver with a rubber mallet in either nailer type. However, since pneumatic nailers rely on air pressure to drive nails, you only need to lightly tap the driver to sink the nail. With a manual nailer, two blows with a mallet are sometimes required.

Pneumatic nailers are more efficient in larger projects since they allow for quicker nail driving. Plus, in tight spots, it is easier to drive nails since pneumatic nailers don’t need a solid blow to work.

However, you will need an air compressor to operate a pneumatic floor nailer, which means that you will need to spend money to buy an air compressor, as well as to keep it in a good shape. Manual nailers boast the luxury of not having any hoses or cords though, as well cost less upfront, not to mention that you don’t need to spend money on any hose fittings or air compressors.

9 Best Manual and Pneumatic Hardwood Floor Nailers

NuMax SFL618 3-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Stapler/Nailer – Value for Money

NuMax SFL618 3-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Stapler/Nailer with White Rubber Mallet Ergonomic & Lightweight Pneumatic Nail Gun for T-Cleats, L-Cleats & Staples with Replaceable Base PlatesNailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: T-Cleats, L-Cleats & Staples

The NuMax SFL618 flooring nailer is a budget option suitable for those individuals who just need a tool to do their home hardwood project with.

While this nailer is in the lower price range, it has a couple of things that may make it appealing to you.

The most remarkable feature of this nailer is that it works with T-cleats, L-cleats, and staples – basically, with any kind of floor nail you can find out there. Not only that, but this pneumatic stapler is also suitable for thicker floors since it takes in thicker and longer 15.5-gauge staples and 16-gauge cleats with up to 2 inches of length.

With that being said, this thing is relatively light-duty, so it isn’t the best choice for large-volume projects or workshop use.

Advantages

  • Best value for money.
  • Takes L- & T-cleats, and also staples.
  • Suitable for thicker floors.

Drawbacks

  • Won’t be suitable for high-volume projects.
  • The rubber grip tends to come off.

Bottom Line

Looking for a cheap floor nailer to complete your pending hardwood project with? NuMax SFL618 may be an excellent choice, but keep in mind that it won’t work well in large-volume applications.


BOSTITCH MIIIFN Pneumatic Flooring Nailer – Best Heavy Duty Nailer

BOSTITCH MIIIFN 1-1/2- to 2-Inch Pneumatic Flooring NailerNailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: L-Cleats (BOSTITCH FLN-200)

The MIIIFN pneumatic floor nailer isn’t as versatile as the NuMax SFL618 nailer since it only supports L-cleats, but it has another thing going for it – its excellent durability.

Made from aircraft-grade aluminum, the BOSTITCH MIIIFN flooring nailer is excellent for larger-volume projects, albeit it isn’t the most durable nailer on our list. BOSTITCH has also put some effort into the provided mallet – made from graphite, it is very lightweight yet quite durable.

Like the NuMax floor nailer, the BOSTITCH nailer is aimed more at thick floors since it works with 16-gauge 1-1/2- to 2-inch L-cleats. However, thanks to its durability, this floor nailer is much more suitable for high volume project use than the NuMax nailer.

Advantages

  • Durable design.
  • Great for thicker flooring.
  • 7-year limited warranty.

Drawbacks

  • Hefty price.
  • You may dislike the bare grip of this nailer.
  • Only works with L-cleats.

Bottom Line

You get what you pay for, which perfectly applies to the BOSTITCH MIIIFN nailer. A little on the pricier end, this floor nailer boasts durability that is unachievable for something like the NuMax floor nailer.


Freeman PF18WRB Pneumatic Flooring Nailer

Freeman PF18WRB Pneumatic 18 Gauge 1-3/4Nailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: L-cleats

The PF18WRB floor nailer by Freeman is very similar to the BOSTITCH MIIIFN nailer, but it is made to work with shorter and thinner nails. Taking in 1-1/4- to 1-3/4-inch 18-gauge L-cleats, this thing should be excellent if you have a large project but thinner hardwood flooring.

An interesting feature of this nailer is the included roller base attachment which allows you to move the nailer along the edge of the flooring without lifting the tool. This should increase your productivity quite a bit, especially in larger projects.

In terms of durability, the Freeman nailer should be no worse than the BOSTITCH nailer since it boasts a strong aluminum body with heat-treated steel parts. Not only that, but this thing weighs around 9.7 pounds, nearly two pounds lighter than the BOSTITCH.

Advantages

  • Strong body.
  • Suitable for thinner flooring.
  • Weighs under 10 pounds.
  • The included roller base attachment can increase your productivity.
  • Comes with 3 baseplates.
  • 7-year warranty.

Drawbacks

  • Only works with L-cleats.
  • Quite pricey.

Bottom Line

Have a big project with thin flooring? Then the Freeman PF18WRB may be a good pick. This thing is not only durable but also labor-efficient thanks to the included roller base attachment.


Freeman PFL618BR 3-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Nailer

Freeman PFL618BR 3-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Nailer Ergonomic & Lightweight Nail Gun for Flooring with Padded Grip Long Reach Handle & Interchangeable No-Mar BaseplatesNailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: T-Cleats, L-Cleats & Staples

The Freeman PFL618BR pneumatic flooring nailer may offer the best value on the money on our list. Priced a little above the NuMax nailer we reviewed at the beginning, this floor nailer appears to be a more reliable pick, though it again isn’t for heavy-duty use.

In terms of projects, this Freeman nailer is similar to the NuMax nailer – it works with the same kind of staples and cleats, including their gauge and maximum length. Thus, this nailer is a good option for thicker hardwood flooring.

What makes this nailer particularly stand out from the NuMax nailer is its 7-year warranty, which means that you could expect longer service from this tool. As a little bonus, this flooring nailer comes with a carry case and safety goggles, which should be enough to get you going at the beginning.

Advantages

  • On the cheaper end.
  • Works with T- & L-cleats and staples.
  • Great for thicker floors.
  • Comes with a carry case and safety goggles.
  • Extensive 7-year warranty.

Drawbacks

  • Not for large projects.

Bottom Line

If you care about your every dollar spent and want a lighter-duty floor nailer, then the PFL618BR may be the best option for you. Costing just a tad more than the NuMax nailer, the Freeman tool to us seemed far superior.


BOSTITCH BTFP12569 2-in-1 Flooring Tool

BOSTITCH BTFP12569 2-in-1 Flooring ToolNailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: L-Cleats & Staples

The smaller brother of the BOSTITCH MIIIFN floor nailer, the BTFP12569 offers a nice balance between price and performance. Furthermore, some things are better in this nailer than in the MIIIFN, though the latter still is the more durable option.

First of all, this BOSTITCH tool can work with not only 16-gauge L-cleats but also 15.5-gauge staples, which makes the BTFP12569 a little bit more versatile than the MIIIFN. Not only that, but this nailer comes with three baseplates out of the box – 1/2-, 5/8-, and 3/4-inch ones – which allows you to perform a wider range of projects.

But then it comes to heavy-duty work, we’d still give our vote to the MIIIFN. The BTFP12569, albeit a durable tool, appears to be better-suited for lower-volume projects.

Advantages

  • Takes in staples and L-shaped cleats.
  • Suitable for thicker floors.
  • Comes with 3 baseplates.
  • 7-year warranty.

Drawbacks

  • Mallet quality could be improved.
  • Small issues working with staples.

Bottom Line

Looking for a durable hardwood floor nailer but don’t want to break the bank? The BOSTITCH BTFP12569 may be an excellent choice for you with its versatility thanks to the support of L-cleats and staples.


DEWALT DWFP12569 2-in-1 Flooring Tool

DEWALT DWFP12569 2-N-1 Flooring Tool

Nailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: L-Cleats & Staples

The DEWALT DWFP12569 is a nice alternative to the BOSTITCH MIIIFN floor nailer tool, especially if you are looking for a nailer that can work with more than one types of nails.

Unlike the MIIIFN nailer, the DEWALT nailer works with L-cleats and staples. Not only that, but DEWALT includes 3 baseplates with this thing – 1/2-, 5/8-, and 3/4-inch – to allow you to work on a wider range of floor thicknesses out of the box.

Speaking of floor thickness, this thing, like most nailers on our list, is designed to work with thicker 15.5-gauge staples and 16-gauge L-cleats with up to 2 inches in length, so it’s a great pick for thick floors.

One thing that is better in the BOSTITCH MIIIFN nailer is that it is backed up by a 7-year warranty, while DEWALT only offers 3 years. Due to this, the MIIIFN may be a better pick in the long run.

Advantages

  • Durable and reliable.
  • Works with staples and L-cleats.
  • Great for thick floors.
  • Comes with 3 baseplates.
  • 3-year warranty.

Drawbacks

  • Quite expensive.

Bottom Line

If you want a reliable and durable nailer that can do various projects out of the box, then look no further than the DEWALT DWFP12569 nailer. Working with L-cleats and staples and including 3 baseplates, it can do a wider range of jobs without additional money spent.


Porta-Nails 402A Manual Hardwood Flooring Nailer

402A, 16-Gauge Manual Hardwood Flooring Nailer

Nailer type: Manual

Fasteners: Porta-Nails 42629 2-Inch x 16-Gauge T-Head

Being a manual flooring nailer, the Porta-Nails 402A is very different from everything we’ve seen so far.

The biggest benefit of this flooring nailer is that it doesn’t require you to own any air compressors, thus cutting your costs regarding buying and maintaining a compressor. On the other hand, since you are no longer aided by the air pressure, it may take you more than one hit to drive a nail through the floor, which means that this nailer is a better option for low-volume projects.

Another interesting thing about this tool is that it can drive nails into up to 33/32 inches thick solid wood flooring. Other nailers may also be capable of this, but the thing is that not all models have proper baseplates that would allow them to do so.

What you may also like about this nailer is its weight of just 8 pounds, which is a welcome feature given that doing projects will be slower with this tool.

Advantages

  • No air compressors required.
  • Weighs just 8 pounds.
  • Can nail extra-thick solid flooring.
  • Comes with a rugged carrying case and safety goggles.

Drawbacks

  • Only uses T-cleats.
  • Rather expensive for a manual nailer.
  • Not as time-efficient as pneumatic nailers.

Bottom Line

If you don’t want to deal with any compressors and want a nailer for low-volume projects, the Porta-Nails 402A nailer may be an excellent option for you.


BOSTITCH MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer Kit

BOSTITCH MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer Kit

Nailer type: Manual

Fasteners: “L” Type 16 Gauge Flooring Cleats (FLN-150, FLN-200)

The MFN-201 nailer basically is a manual alternative to the BOSTITCH BTFP12569 nailer. Of course, as a manual tool, the MFN-201 will not be as great for large-volume projects, but it nonetheless has a few benefits up its sleeve.

The most notable feature of this nailer is the multi-hit mode, which allows you to lower the pressure exerted by the nailer on not fully driven cleats in order not to damage the flooring. Not less important is the fact that you don’t need any air compressors to run this thing.

Other than that, the MFN-201 has the same purpose as the BTFP12569 – to drive nails into thicker floors, though you only can do that with L-cleats in this model.

Advantages

  • Requires no air compressors.
  • Suitable for thick floors.
  • Has a low-pressure multi-hit mode.
  • 7-year warranty.

Drawbacks

  • Slow operation.
  • Only uses L-cleats.
  • Pricey.

Bottom Line

In case you liked the other BOSTITCH nailers but didn’t want to deal with any air compressors, the MFN-201 nailer may be an excellent option for you.


Estwing EFL50Q 2-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Nailer

Estwing EFL50Q 2-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Nailer and Stapler Ergonomic & Lightweight Pneumatic Nail Gun for Hardwood Flooring with Interchangeable Base Plates, No-Mar Feet & MalletNailer type: Pneumatic

Fasteners: L-Cleats & Staples

Lastly, we have the EFL50Q nailer by Estwing, an excellent option for those looking for a featherweight pneumatic nailer. Weighing just 9.2 pounds, this thing is great if fatigue is an issue for you. Plus, it’s got a good amount of oomph in it for larger projects.

If we were to pick the closest competitor for this tool from our list, we’d say that it is BOSTITCH BTFP12569. They are nearly identical functionally, but the EFL50Q is going to be a better pick if you want a lightweight pneumatic nailer.

A downside of the lightness is the proneness of this tool to tipping over, which could result in a nail driven through your foot. Due to this, exceptional care is required when handling this nailer.

Advantages

  • Works with L-cleats and staples.
  • Good for thicker floors.
  • Weighs just 9.2 pounds.
  • Comes with a carry case.
  • Can be used with both BOSTITCH FLN-150 & FLN-200
  • 5-year warranty.

Drawback

  • So light that it tends to tip over.

Bottom Line

Handling a hardwood floor nailer can be quite fatiguing during larger projects. EFL50Q not only is reliable enough for bigger jobs, but it also is less fatiguing on you during longer sessions thanks to its weight!


What to look for when buying a hardwood floor nailer

Beautifully Installed Hardwood Flooring
Everyone deserves to have this hardwood floor beautifully installed!

Now, how do you choose the best hardwood floor nailer from our list? Well, let’s overview the main features that you should pay attention to in a hardwood floor nailer.

Nail vs staple

One thing that you may have noticed from the reviews is that floor nailers can take either nails or staples. Strictly speaking, flooring tools that use nailers or staples are completely different instruments, referred to as floor nailers and floor staples respectively. Floor nailers are also sometimes called floor cleat nailers since the kind of nails they work with is called cleats.

In spite of their differences, these flooring tools are serving the same purpose. Some tools may even support both cleats and nails! But overall, you need to choose one or another type of tool based on your needs.

Let’s now see what the differences between staples and cleats are.

Cleats vs Staples

Staples

Staples have a two-prong build, which actually provides a stronger initial grip than cleats. However, staples do not hold in place as firmly when the flooring expands or contracts. This can eventually lead to creaking.

Staples can also split the tongue of floorboards, which usually happens with flooring that is less than 3/4 inches thick.

With that being said, staples are more cost-effective than cleats since they are cheaper to manufacture. However, we’d only recommend staples in areas where temperature and humidity don’t tend to fluctuate too much.

Cleats

Cleats don’t have any prongs and instead have heads shaped like the letter T or L. Either cleat type has ribs starting on two-thirds of the nail shank to grip the subflooring. The upper smooth portion of the body allows the flooring to easily expand and contract with seasonal humidity and temperature changes.

On the other hand, cleats cost more than staples, so they are a less cost-efficient option. But if wood tends to contract or expand in your area significantly, you have no other choice but to go for a cleat nailer.

Nail gauge

Nail gauge is important whether you are dealing with cleats or staples. Gauge determines the thickness of the nail, and using the wrong nail will either ruin your floor or just won’t keep it in place.

Floor nailers usually support either 15.5-, 16-, or 18-gauge nails. Some nailers also take 20-gauge nails. The higher the gauge number, the thinner the nail is. If you have a thicker and denser floor, you will need to go for a lower gauge.

Usually, floor manufacturers indicate the recommended nail gauge for their floorboards, so you should go with the figures provided by them. It’s difficult to say which gauge a flooring material will need since this will depend on the hardness of the wood, its thickness, as well as whether it is engineered or solid. You may need to experiment to find the right gauge for your floor type.

Nail length

Nail length also matters – the thicker the flooring, the longer nails you will need. Ideally, the nails need to be long enough to go through the floor tongue into the subflooring, but not so long that they penetrate the subflooring and hit the surface beneath it.

You may calculate the right nail length for the thickness of your floor and subflooring yourself. But you may also follow these tips as a rule of thumb:

  • Use 1- to 1-1/4-inch nails for thinner 1/4- to 5/16-inch flooring.
  • Use 1-1/4- to 1-1/2-inch nails for 3/8- to 1/2-inch flooring.
  • Use 1-1/2-inch nails with 1/2- to 5/8-inch flooring.
  • Use 1-3/4-inch nails with 3/4-inch flooring with 3/4-inch plywood subflooring.
  • Use 2-inch nails with 3/4-inch flooring over a wood subfloor with joists, or with 3/4-inch flooring with two layers of 1/2-inch plywood beneath.

Air pressure requirement (for pneumatic nailers)

If you are buying a pneumatic floor nailer, make sure to check what air pressure it requires for operation. And make sure that your air compressor does deliver the required pressure and no less or higher than that. If the pressure is too low, the nails won’t be driven properly, and if it is too high, you may crack or break the tongues off the floor.

Baseplate

The baseplate size is also an important thing to consider. Floor nailers usually come with a couple of baseplates for varying floor thicknesses to help you align the tool with the flooring tongue. Needless to say, you need to make sure that the desired nailer comes with a baseplate of required thickness.

Conclusion

A hardwood floor nailer is quite an investment, so you really need to think over whether you need it. It’s always nice to have your own tools for DIY projects, but it isn’t always feasible to spend $100-200 on a tool – sometimes, it’s better to hire a professional to do the job for you.

If you are sure that you need a hardwood floor nailer, then our guide should be enough for you to get started. Our advice would be not to rush it, think over all the possible options, and consider your needs carefully. If you follow these steps, you can be sure that you will find that best hardwood floor nailer!


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