Hand vs. pneumatic flooring nailers
I have installed many hardwood floors over the years and have always used a hand nailer. I have a large flooring job coming up and was wondering if there were any advantages to using a pneumatic flooring nailer vs. a hand nailer?
Alan Manuel, Calvert County, MD
Charles Peterson, owner of Connecticut Premier Hardwood Floors in Gales Ferry, Connecticut, replies: A hand nailer is a tool that you strike with a hammer to drive flooring nails. The force you apply to the hammer translates directly to how hard and fast the fastener is driven and also to how tight the board is driven to its neighbor. A pneumatic nailer uses compressed air to set the fastener. Striking the pneumatic nailer with a hammer is more akin to depressing the trigger on a pneumatic nail gun than it is to driving the nail with a hammer. A pneumatic nailer lets you fasten floorboards with equal pressure throughout the day.
If you’re using a hand nailer and your strength starts to wane toward the end of the day, odds are that you won’t be getting the boards as tight as you were first thing in the morning. This variance can lead to problems matching up rows of flooring. With the consistent force of a pneumatic nailer, the boards stay consistently tight throughout the day. The biggest drawback to pneumatic nailers is being tethered to the air hose, but I think it’s worth the hassle.