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Should I use hardwood flooring staples?

should you use hardwood flooring staples on your floorsWhen the very first power tools hit the market for flooring installation use, they were nail guns. These replaced the heavily labor-intensive manual nailers. However, within the past decade, many flooring contractors have embraced the use of staple guns due to technology advances and accessibility.

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If you were to surf around the Internet chat rooms that have the wood flooring business as the subject of discussion, you would see that a lot of people have varying opinions about the use of nails versus staples. One area that is constantly being discussed is the benefit of using cleats, or nails, instead of staples when it comes to sports flooring.

The Difference between Nails and Staples

The professionals offer differing opinions, with many of the old school preferring the use of nails (cleats) as opposed to staples. Gymnasium floors are typically made of maple, as was the gymnasium where the first game of basketball was played.

Maple can be used for home flooring, but it never takes the abuse that a gymnasium floor must endure.

The maple flooring installed in your home is more than likely on top of a cement slab or a subfloor that is made of much softer wood. The construction of a gymnasium floor takes a totally different engineering approach.

should you use hardwood flooring staplesThis type of floor has to have a great deal of mobility. Hundreds of athletes in any given year will be hitting the floor with their feet and athletic equipment. There is a need for some kind of flexibility where the foot does sink in a little bit but springs back quickly. This is never noticed.

The concept behind this type of flooring, also called an orthopedic surface, is to provide less negative impact upon a user’s body. A good example of trying to provide excellent support may be found in restaurants where flooring may possess padding on top, providing the same impact relief. Anyone who has to stand on their feet for a long of time during the day knows the surface that they’re standing upon does affect the body’s fatigue levels.

Commercial contractors installing large surface areas tend to use staples for a number of reasons including these two:

  • Cost-effectiveness – staples are less costly than using cleats from both a product purchase and labor point of view.
  • Holding Power – staples are known to have a longer holding power than cleats.

The Cons of Using Staples

Many wood flooring contractors choose to use staples as their means for fastening wood flooring to a wood substrate. First and foremost is because staples do cost less than cleats.

Many contractors believe that staples are better fasteners, according to the National Wood Flooring Association. But there are some drawbacks.

should someone use hardwood flooring staples on their floorAlthough cleats tend to re-grab much better than staples when under pressure, they also do not last as long. But when staples fail, they fail immediately.

Hardwood floors installed with staples, specifically large surfaced areas like gymnasiums, tend to suffer poorly when water damages the wood, as opposed to cleat installation. When gym floors become water damaged, the barbed cleats will hold better, allowing for less costly repair. However, the stapled floor suffering extensive water damage is typically a total loss.

Yet professionals continue to disagree whether to nail or staple the usual solid 3/4” hardwood floor found in home construction. Before the early ’90s, manual cleat nailers were the only choice unless you possessed masochistic tendencies relying upon manually nailing every board by hand. That method was definitely old school.

High Tech Provides Ease and Comfort

Once technology advances produced pneumatic construction tools, two choices became available for installing hardwood flooring. These were both air-driven, handheld nailers for either cleats or staples. And, unless you were a professional who owned these high-quality tools to as part of their job, do-it-yourselfers could find these labor-reducing machines at a local rental shop.

should someone use hardwood flooring staplesThe reason for using pneumatic tools is obvious. A seasoned professional with a lot of experience using such a tool can easily finish a 500 square-foot room, installing 3 1/4 inch wide planks in about eight hours. Realistically, using a manual nailer in the same amount of time would only finish about 300 square feet.

Although a consensus of professional flooring installers may answer that staples provide a tighter fitting floor once it is installed, there is a specific disadvantage to using staples. As is the case in almost all human endeavors, improper installation, or accidentally missing a specific fastening, creates challenges. It is going to happen, even to the best experienced professional.

While systematically using a pneumatic stapler, the fastener does not engage sufficiently or properly in the groove area. Yes, you missed the spot hitting it right into the board face. Now you are faced with the challenge of removing this piece of stapled flooring. The challenge is ripping up the specific plank, while not damaging any adjacent boards.

The pneumatic cleat nailer does not exert the same amount of holding power as does its stapled counterparts. This makes removal of mistaken cleat shots easier and quicker to accomplish, as opposed to stapled boards.

Fastener Costs Are Different

Using the Internet today makes it much easier to compare the costs of using staples versus using nails. Typically, the cost of a box of staples when purchasing online will be about $70. This box will cover installation of about 1,000 square feet when applying the standard 2 1/4” inch strip flooring. Nails are going to cost you a little bit more. Additionally, purchasing either a stapler or nailer will hit your pocket for at least $300 for a refurbished gun and more than $600 for a new one.

should I use hardwood flooring staples on my floorFortunately, checking with local tool rental companies in your area may get you a daily rental cost of as low as $45. Interestingly enough, online research does reveal these very same tools can be rented from local businesses offering Website contact. Some even advertise online special discounts when reserving a tool using a credit or debit card for later pickup at the brick-and-mortar store site.

If you’re dead set upon owning a specific pneumatic tool, these can also be purchased online for quick delivery. However, unless you intend to conduct a good many hardwood flooring installation projects in the near future, purchasing a costly pneumatic tool, even one with a special online purchase discount, may not be the most prudent way to go.

Nailing It Down

If you choose to nail down your hardwood floor, for the typical 3/4” wood stripping or planking, you will need to use 2″ cleats. Operate a pneumatic wood flooring nailer attaching these strips or planks to your subfloor choice.

Keep in mind that solid wood strips and planking must be nailed to wooden subfloors.

should I use hardwood flooring staplesAttempting to nail down a wooden floor by hand is not recommended for a number of reasons, including consistency and accuracy. The air-driven pneumatic nailer will produce enough force to ensure the fastening is tightly secure.

Going for the Staples

Using a stapler with 1 1/2 -to-2” staples is one method to attach wood flooring to your subfloor. As is the case with a cleat nailer, always use a pneumatic gun to drive the staples into your flooring to attach it to the subfloor.

Check with your wood flooring manufacturer. Not all manufacturers will provide a warranty for staple-gun installation. Often, manufacturers will provide a warranty for staple-gun installation only if it is done by an accredited professional installer. This is due to the fact that different flooring requires different types of staples as fasteners also require different pneumatic tools. A local professional will know which ones to use for your selected flooring.

Reasons to Hire a Professional

Granted, many handy individuals do and can accomplish professional quality results when tackling a new flooring project. However, if you are new to many do-it-yourself type projects, installing hardwood flooring may not be the best choice for your first project. There is a lot of necessary know-how and information to understand. Additionally, hardwood flooring can be very expensive and amateur mistakes can be very costly.

should I be using hardwood flooring staplesHiring a local professional should pretty much ensure that the job will get done correctly. The professional will know important steps, like that all flooring material has to be acclimated to your home environment for the time the manufacturer recommends before installation can begin. This will allow the natural elements to condense or expand before being installed.

Providing the proper acclimation time will allow all flooring materials to adjust to the ambient temperature and humidity of the room where it will be installed. Providing proper acclimation is a typical activity practiced in the flooring industry. However, it is one of those necessary activities that is often overlooked by do-it-yourselfers.

Professionals know that installing materials that are too warm can lead to a shrinkage problem. Also, installed cold materials have a tendency to expand once they become warm.

Your choice of a professional installer will ensure the product boxes are all opened properly and the acclimation process can be achieved correctly. The contractor will make sure all loose products are stored in the room where the flooring project will be installed.

Whether you decide to hire somebody or do the installation yourself, get all the necessary flooring information you need, HERE!

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