Nails or staples: choosing the right option for your hardwood flooring

Wondering what is better for your hardwood flooring – nails or staples? When you are stuck in such a dilemma, it’s best to consider two main factors, which can help you zero in on the right option. Your first consideration should be the type of sub flooring or base you would be using to install your flooring on. This determines the methods of fastening your floorboards. The second and the final consideration should be the manufacturer’s recommendation, since an improper installation can harm your warranties and put you in a bit of a tight spot.

Differentiating between the types of hardwood flooring

There are two types of hardwood flooring available in the market these days: solid wood and engineered wood. Thankfully, you can use nails and staples on both the types of flooring. The floorboards are fastened to a subfloor, which consists of plywood installed on a slab foundation or joists. There will always be a moisture barrier below the plywood. This helps prevent vapors and moisture from reaching the plywood, which can otherwise wreak havoc with any type of flooring installed above it.

Given the importance of a vapor barrier, it becomes imperative to use the recommended nails and staples, which meet the quality criteria. This is done with an intention to avoid any kind of perforation into the subfloors. This way, one can avoid moisture from seeping in and creating a situation of recurring mold, mildew and popped floorboards.

Nails vs. staples: making the choice

Nails and staples differ from each other, especially with regards to their holding properties. A staple has the capability to provide a stronger yet less forgiving hold, given its two pronged stature. On the other hand, nails allow a natural expansion and contraction of the hardwood flooring, and help prevent any future problems.

Since stapled floors are fastened closely, hardwood flooring boards often become more prone to cracking under the pressure. The presence of moisture does not provide the necessary space for the boards to expand or contract, making them more vulnerable to the forces of nature. There is no denying the fact that staples are relatively more popular over nails; however, they tend to damage the floors more than aid them. The tongues of the floor boards are intertwined, which make them crack eventually. This makes the floorboards creak and squeak, till the time the tongues don’t snap and the floorboards fall apart.

Depending on which method you choose, the nails and staples are usually spaced at regular intervals. Ideally, the spacing should be at intervals of eight to ten inches for solid hardwood flooring. On the other hand, in engineered wood flooring, the recommended spacing ranges from four to eight inches.

If you are going for staples, then it’s best to nail the first and final row of the floorboards by hammering them in. When you are laying the other floorboards, avoid mixing staples and nails together, since hardwood contracts and expands with the changes in humidity.

No matter what option you choose, following the right approach for your flooring is of utmost importance which makes the flooring procedures very effective and durable. 

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