Can I Use A Nail Gun To Install Hardwood Floor?

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. At no cost to you, I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

You can use a nail gun for hardwood floor, but the question is how you can use it safely. You need to know what to use where since there are many things that your floor will require.

Since there are various factors and aspects to consider, you need the right nail gun so that you can work and finish on time instead of using the time consuming old swing hammer.

Also, with different types of woods to apply for the floor, some will come as real wood made into planks or the engineered wood. We will look at the difference between the two types, and other things to check on as you install piece by piece.

Caution: Before you know the right technique to nail the floor, please experiment on scrap wood first. The last thing you want is trying to do it on the actual planks. You will be using different tools hence the need to master the right move.

What Types Of Nail Gun For Hardwood Flooring?

Here are the nailers to add to your collection if you want to get your floor done.

Flooring and Mallet Nailer

They are the standard types that we have recommended below, and until the emergence of powered nail guns, they have been around and still doing a great job.

More like the pneumatic types, they carry flooring nails and a nail-shaped shoe that goes over the planks’ and tongue edges.

Once the nail gun is in a suitable position for nailing, strike lightly on the bumper strike with the provided mallet to shoot whatever is getting out of the magazine – cleats, nails or staples.

To nail on the floor, they may use a spring system and gravity to push the pins or use the air compression mechanism when hitting the bumper.

Flooring nail gun

A pneumatic nail gun is one of the best nailing tools to use when installing hardwood floor. It is also made to go over the tongue and plank’s edge.

After that, it’s all about shooting the headless nails into the hardwood and floor beneath via the tongue. When used correctly, it is not easy to mistake the steps in your procedure.

Finishing nail gun

Since a flooring nailer is not one of the tools to use often, you could opt for a finishing type instead of buying something that you will probably use only once. A finishing nailer will also do a decent job on the hardwood floor by shooting almost headless nails, and it will leave no traces behind as you move.

For correct use, make sure the tool’s nail shoe is well positioned on the tongue, angled at about 15 degrees inward and downward as if moving to the plank. 

When everything is intact and pressed towards the floor, it’s now time to strike. For proper hardwood holding, it is advisable to use longer nails, at least ½-inch sizes to go into the joists.

Solid or engineered wood?

Solid wood may be directly from the trees such as mahogany or oak, and to make it floor compatible, they are designed to fit together using the grove-and-tongue joints and the nailing.

On the other hand, it is easy to confuse with engineered wood that is made from thin hardwood with plywood layers supporting to form a sturdy plank. That way, the engineered type does not warp with ease when compared to the solo hardwood planks.

If you go for the hardwood, you will enjoy the following:

  • Sanding and refinishing the floor when the need arises
  • They have better sound transmission than the engineered wood
  • You will have a thick surface level that will feel steady and compact as you step on it
  • You can choose your favorite staining color since they come unfinished

On the other hand, engineered hardwood will give you the following benefits:

  • Cheaper flooring material
  • It’s more stable when compared to hardwood especially if it is in contact with the concrete floor
  • The pieces are sold as ready to install so you don’t need other preparations on them before installation
  • An easier installation that one can learn after checking a DIY procedure

External factors

If you are replacing an old floor, then that is never a problem since hardwood is all natural. When it’s time to dispose of if they cannot be recycled for other uses, then eliminating by leaving them on the ground in your backyard will still be a viable option because they are biodegradable.

That is however different with the engineered floors. The wood pieces are actually wooden, but they are stuck together with glue which may form harmful gases and chemicals in the soil. People who are sensitive to hazardous environmental effects may start to feel the impact.


When using a nail gun for hardwood floor, you need to apply some safety measures to make sure that you work smoothly and get protected in case the unexpected happens. Here are some of the things to consider:

  • First, make sure your eyes are protected. That calls for protective goggles.
  • Wearing a hard cap or hat is also necessary but optional if you remember that every nail is going to floor.
  • When working on the floor, it is clear that you will be kneeling a lot. Having some knee-caps will ease the wood and floor pressure on your kneecaps as you work through.
  • Lastly, the nailer should have the correct placement before you trigger or hammer strike. That way, there are minimal accidents in case the gun does not fire the nails appropriately.

How to Nail a Hardwood Floor?

Now, for you to correctly drive the hardwood nails into the floor without having to do everything yourself when using a hammer and hitting the pins, we will look at what you need and the step-wise process to follow.


  • Hammer
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Drill
  • Finishing nails – 2-inch
  • Flooring nail gun and mallet
  • Nail punch
  • An optional pneumatic nailer
  • Cleats – 2-inch
  • Protective eyewear
  • Table saw

Subfloor installation requirements

Whether you are using engineered or solid hardwood, they all require a steady subfloor and involving an underlayment first over the subfloor before the top floor installation. Most of the times, if the old floor is still in proper condition, it can serve as an excellent base for attaching the new wood planks.

Concrete to wood floor: If you are taking the planks directly on the floor, then make sure that they have been dried for at least 30 days and are free of all moisture conditions. The engineered wood is better in such a scenario than the hardwood substitutes.

Since the latter is vulnerable to moisture from the concrete, it is advisable to use a layer of plywood first on the concrete before placing the hardwood floor pieces. The plywood will act as an isolator of the wooden floor when preventing dampness from reaching the top floor.

Wooden subfloors: If the current wood floor is okay, then it may not need an underlayment. On the other hand, installing a plywood sheet on the floor will lead to secure placement of the new wood planks.

Laminate floors: These are the floating floors that do not have the appropriate measures to make them secure to support a new wooden floor. Due to that, you need to remove it before installing hardwood or engineered floor planks.

Tiles: As long as they are not damaged and are all flat, then they can serve as a base for the hardwood floor. The nail gun will do a decent job in nailing the two, so you don’t need to worry about that.


Once you have your tools and requirements ready, it’s time to install the wood planks. In most installation scenarios, you will have to lay out a builder’s paper on the subfloor before nailing the new floor.

At times, hardwood is treated as softwood in the sense that you can nail it face-down via the faces into the supporting floor beneath. On the other hand, the agreed move is to hammer them diagonally through the tongue on each plank.

That is why you don’t see any single nail on the woods once the installation is complete.

Even though you can use the regular swing hammer and other carpentry tools, having a nail gun in the midst will make your work easier.

Even though you can use the regular swing hammer and other carpentry tools, having a nail gun in the midst will make your work easier.

Once applied in the right way, your hand will not match what the nail gun for hardwood flooring would do.

Other options to consider will include laying with staples and glue not forgetting the click-lock mechanism on the groove and tongue intersection.

Installation cost

For solid hardwood, the cost of materials is $5-$10 for every square foot. The specialist working on it will ask for $5-$8 after installing a single square foot.

The variation is allowed since the woods are also different and some will cost higher than others depending on availability.

When it comes to the engineered floor, the high-end cost is the same, $10 but the lowest price falls to $3 which is cheaper than the hardwood. The engineered wood cost depends on the thickness of the veneers.

Preparing the surface

If you need a successful installation, then adjusting the supporting floor with an underlayment is inevitable. We earlier talked about the types of subfloor and what you can do to them. Other considerations may include:

  • Before getting an underlayment, check the moisture levels if you are doing it on concrete using a moisture meter. If it’s above 4%, then you need to apply proper underlayment measures to prevent it from getting to the wooden floor.
  • It is also advisable to test the pH level on concrete.
  • Make sure the floor is super clean before installing the wood.
  • When choosing an underlayment, make sure you get the right one if you go for the engineered wood.
  • Lastly, after purchasing the planks to be installed, put them in the area they will be placed for some days to allow them to adjust to the humidity in the area.

Useful Tips:

  • How to Nail Concrete


1. DEWALT DWFP12569 2-N-1 Flooring Tool

Nailing on the floor can be easier if you use the right tools. DEWALT offers a 2-in-1 flooring instrument that is smaller, compact and lightweight for better handling and control mechanisms as you concentrate on how the floor is working out.

The ergonomics include a long handle that consists of a secure rubber grip for easy carrying and holding. You can interchange the base plates depending on the size of the wood floor, and they are designed to leave no traces behind as you work.

This is a nail gun for a hardwood floor that will utilize a variety of fasteners which include 15.5ga staples and 16ga ‘L’ cleat nails. You need to be aware that larger dimensions than the specified types will not work in this tool.

To prevent too much jamming that interferes with your work, it comes with lower CFM (Cubic feet per minute) requirements that reduce the overall compressor run-time. For those who are asking, it comes with a mallet too.

To prevent too much jamming that interferes with your work, it comes with lower CFM (Cubic feet per minute) requirements that reduce the overall compressor run-time. For those who are asking, it comes with a mallet too.

2. Freeman PF18GLCN Cleat Flooring Nailer

Freeman is a reputable brand that designs all manner of tools meant for wood and concrete work. Here, they have a pneumatic nailer for the floors that features a durable aluminum construction that also makes it lightweight.

Other parts include a reach handle that hosts the handling grip. Near the handle’s base is a light strike bumper that you use to strike with the fiberglass mallet that comes with the package.

Still at the reach handle base is an attached air filter that is suitable for keeping the internals clean. The rest of the specifications involve a high capacity magazine that holds about 120-floor fasteners. The specified size is 18-gauge L-cleats that will help you with your flooring tasks despite the nature of the wood.

The base has an anti-mar foot while the base plate is interchangeable. Freeman also constructs staplers and nailers for every other task which includes flooring, roofing and anything else in the middle.

3. Freeman PFL618BR 3-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Nailer

Another Freeman nail gun for flooring series is a 3-in-1 pneumatic flooring that will help you install up to three types of fasteners without having to remove the magazine for a different set.

That means you can use the L-cleats, T-cleats, and staples. The base plate is interchangeable, and it is designed to leave no funny marks on the floor as you repair or put a new one.

The design is clearly from the pros. The ergonomic grip is included in the elongated L-handle that also houses an airtight nozzle at the base. The striking hammer is also added to work on the bumper strike.

To make it lightweight, Freeman uses aluminum metal to do it. Also included are a carrying case, protective eyewear, oil wrenches to keep the nailer going, and an anti-mar rubber mallet.

Freeman tools are made to be sturdy and durable so, going for this tool for your floor installation is not a regrettable decision.

4. NuMax SFL618 3-in-1 Pneumatic Flooring Stapler/Nailer

The last recommendation goes to NuMax 3-in-1 flooring stapler and nailer that is pneumatic in nature and just like the Freeman models, it includes a mallet.

The design is ergonomic for the flooring job, and the base plate can work on the staples, L and T cleats, giving you one tool for the three.

The elongated L-handle has a grip that makes it easy to hold and carry, and the bumper strike is in the right position to meet the hammer every time you need to install a cleat or staple.

The base plate and foot do not damage the floor as you move and overall, it is a tough and dependable tool for long-term flooring use.

Lastly, just like the rest of the recommended products above, these tools are available and warrantied all across the USA.


Working on the hardwood floor during the installation process requires the right mind and techniques to do it not to mention the right tools and safety measures.

Before you head for a nail gun for hardwood floor, make sure what you have read is well grasped as you follow more instructions regarding user manual and general installation rules.

On the other hand, once you get everything right, there will be nothing stopping you from achieving a smooth wooden floor.


This is Abraham. Professional power tools mechanic with years of experience. Writing is my hobby. So I decide to share my experience with people by writing about all types of power tools review and buyers guide that I'm using.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments