Installing Strip Flooring and Avoiding Future Squeaks and Pops

What a change to the hardwood flooring industry! Suddenly, the flooring installer could shoot staples into the floor at twice the rate of the old mechanical flooring nailer. For the piecework floor mechanic, this meant twice the pay and half the backache, and why should he care about the effectiveness of this new staple. After all a well-known company is making them. It wasn’t long however, that the piece work rate went down, and if you didn’t have a pneumatic stapler you couldn’t compete at all at these lower rates. So everybody rushed to the staples, (but not me) leaving companies like Primatech loosing market share even with its superior fastener. So this innovative Quebec, Canadian based company developed a pneumatic nailer for its power cleats. This original nailer had its problems, but six years ago was replaced with a new model, the Primatech P210. I just put this tool through 5,000-sq. ft. of rigorous testing and you can read my glowing review on it free in this site.

Why choose nails instead of staples? Let’s go back to the Virginia Tech studies. They have found that staples can actually internally crack a hardwood floor. It will take about 2 years for this to show up and that’s beyond the limit on most floor installer’s warranties. But the owner will experience gaps between the rows, tilting of the boards, and bowing. And of course, the annoying squeaks. The internal cracking happens below the tongue where the staple simply holds the floor too well and doesn’t allow the board to shift during normal humidity changes. Even over-pressured pneumatically driven flooring cleats (nails) won’t do this.

While on the subject of air driven fasteners, I see a lot of production installers using thin 2″ 15-18 ga brads, to fasten the last 2-3 rows of 3/4″ strip floor that the big pneumatic nailer can’t reach. If you look at these skinny little nails you will realize that they too have no business in these thick floors. I use 2″ spiral finishing nails that I spin into the wood with a Vermont American Nail Spinner available through Lee Valley Tools at These nails take a little longer to install but are 12-13 ga. and will hold much better due to their stiffness. But that said, if you find yourself installing the thinner 1/2″ or 3/8″ strip floors these 15 gauge fully barbed pneumatic finishing nails are OK.

So in conclusion, why use flooring staples when you can use the superior flooring nails, driven also pneumatically? And for flooring contractors that own an older model floor stapler, you can now convert it to drive the more effective flooring nails with the Primatech staple conversion kit. So there’s no excuse to be using staples on your hardwood floors. And be sure to nail into a subfloor surface that will hold these nails for the life of the floor. Ignore this advice at your peril!