If you’re planning on installing a floating floor — in particular a floor with a click lock system — you might not think you need a nailer. After all, the whole point of a floating floor is that’s not affixed to the subfloor. However, using a nailer is something you might want to consider because there are actually several advantages to it.
All subfloors are not created equal. As a result, floating floors will sometimes have hollow spots either under the floor planks or under the subfloor. These hollow spots can create noises when someone steps on them.
People tend to not like when their floors squeak or have movement from downward pressure. While some manufacturers are making click lock floors that have reduced noise levels, the risk of noise is always present.
When the subfloor allows for the installation of a cleat, doing so eliminates the noise problem. The cleat fastens the floating floor to the subfloor, reducing if not eliminating any hollow spots between them.
Another issue with floating floors is that once they are installed, they tend to behave like one giant entity. What this means is that the floor will require a gap (generally 1/4″) around the entire perimeter of the room. The whole floor will shift this amount depending on the fluctuations in humidity or moisture in the environment. When you nail down the boards they will still expand and contract. However, they will not move as much.
On the aesthetic side, if you install a floating floor the only transition option you have is an overlap-style molding. This overlap-style molding will have to cover a portion of the hardwood floor and a portion of whatever type of flooring it is next to. When you nail down the planks you then open up the possibilities of having a flush transition between two types of flooring.
You might think that using glue would be a good alternative to a nailer to affix the boards to the subfloor. However, glue tends to cost more than using cleats in this particular situation. You should also consider that glue tends to have a strong odor and its application and clean up can be messy.
Glue also needs time to dry and set up. Whereas with nails, as soon as the nails have been inserted into the planks the floor can be used.
If you do decide to use a nailer with your floating floor, we highly recommend the Powernail Model 2000 Cleat Nailer. This nailer excels in a few areas that make it great to use with floating, click lock floors.
Using the Powernail 2000 to install a click-lock, floating hardwood floor
Some “click lock” flooring requires the installer to put a nail through the groove side of the board instead of the traditional tongue side. The Powernail 2000 is one of the few nailers able to do so. This is because the base adjusts above and below the floor board to get a tight fit inside the nail pocket. While it seems counter intuitive, the fastener is placed in the groove side of the plank. The adjustable foot allows for the cleat to be recessed and not interfere with the click mechanism of the next plank.
The Powernail 2000 is recommended for use with planks that are 9/16″ to 5/16″ (which is considered a fairly large range of use). Many hardwood floor manufacturers are coming out with thinner products. This nailer uses 20 gage cleats that are ideal for use with the thinner planks. The thinner gage cleats mean there is less risk of any splitting tongues in the click lock. The cleats come in 1″ and 1 1/4″ lengths that are long enough to ensure a proper hold on the subfloor.
This nailer is one of the first trigger-operated flooring nailers. Trigger-operation is usually reserved for finish nailers, brad nailers, and engineered flooring staplers. But with the Powernail 2000 you get the advantages of triggers and cleats. The trigger-operation lends itself to ease of use. It’s much easier to pull a trigger to set a cleat than to hit a striker with a mallet.
The Powernail 2000 can work with a variety of hardwood floors like engineered, solid core, and even bamboo! This is because it uses cleats instead of staples. If you were to use a stapler with 20 gage staples, they would be more apt to damage the tongue with the type of wood commonly used in “click lock” flooring. Without the barbs that are present on cleats the staples cannot dig into the wood and provide lasting results.
As “click lock” floors become more common, you should consider the benefits to nailing the floor to the subfloor. While it does create more work, there are significant benefits to it. Click here to learn more about the Powernail 2000.