When installing hardwood floors, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is how to fasten the boards down; should you use staples or nails? Both methods work well, but each has its pros and cons depending on your specific flooring project and preferences.
Staples Or Nails For Hardwood Flooring
Let’s take a look at the key differences between staples and nails for hardwood flooring installation.
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Should I Use Nails for hardwood flooring?
Nails have been used for hardwood flooring for centuries and are a tried-and-true method that provides a very sturdy attachment to the subfloor. Many professional installers prefer nails.
There are special flooring nails made from hardened steel that are slightly ring-shaped to better grip the wood. This provides excellent holding power.
Installing with nails can require a nail set tool to fully seat the nail heads flush with the wood surface for a smooth finish. It takes more time and expertise than staples.
Should I Use Staples for hardwood flooring?
Staples are a newer technology that some DIYers and low-budget builders prefer for their speed and ease of use in an air-powered stapler. Stapling goes much faster than nailing.
Flooring staples have thick, barbed legs that twist and clamp tightly to the wood as they’re driven in. Properly set staples can be nearly as strong as nails.
Staples don’t require a nail set tool since the barbs hold the fastener up high. It leads to less bruised or dented wood surfaces during installation.
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What’s the difference between hardwood flooring nails and staples?
The main differences between hardwood flooring nails and staples are their design and how they grip the wood. Nails have tapered points and barbless shafts that rely purely on being driven into the wood for holding power. Hardwood flooring nails are ring-shanked, giving them an even tighter grip.
Staples have broad, barbed legs that twist and squeeze the wood as they’re driven home. This provides powerful clamping pressure to keep staples firmly in place matching or exceeding nails in many cases. Staples also have shorter legs than nails, sitting a bit higher off the wood surface.
How strong are flooring staples compared to nails?
When properly installed with the right equipment, flooring staples can be nearly as strong as nails in holding hardwood boards securely to the subfloor. Newer staples are made of hardened steel like nails to withstand pull-out pressure over time.
In most tests, nails have slightly more inherent holding power pound-for-pound since their entire length is embedded in the wood grain. However, with today’s technical staples, the difference is minimal – often 5% or less. Proper substrate and correct fastener spacing is more important than the choice of nail or staple alone.
With comparable flooring material and the right tools/settings, either staples or nails done by a pro can sufficiently hold hardwood for the life of your installation. For high-traffic areas, nails may have an edge, but staples are certainly strong enough for most residential applications.
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So, nails are recommended if you value durability and don’t mind a longer installation. Staples are a good budget-friendly choice for speed and simplicity, though nails may outperform them long-term in high-traffic areas. Both can work, so see what method matches your flooring project needs and preferences best. Be sure to use the right fasteners made for hardwood floors to ensure a lasting installation.