Pneumatic Floor Nailer

Power: The typical Pnuematic Flooring Cleat Nailer, uses a compressor to provide air at approximately 70-100 psi as the power source to drive the cleats into a wood floor. It still uses a hammer to active the driver head, but the power stroke is significantly reduced as compared to a manual floor nailer.... even a weakling like me can handle the job.. in fact you muslce bound guys have to be careful NOT to over hit the driver head or you'll spend a lot of money in replacement parts :)

The actual pressure setting can vary for a number of reasons:

  • Type of wood. Very dense woods like Brazilian Cherry require higher PSI settings
  • Thicker floors need longer nails, thus 2" floor cleats will need more air then the 1 1/2" cleats.
  • if you must leave the compressor in the garage and run 200' of air hose, you will experience pressure loss through the length of the hose, thus require higher pressure settings at the compressor itself.
  • and lastly, some pneumatic floor nailers use staples and some use "L" or "T" shaped cleats. I have found that the cleats require more air then the staples... which should make sense because the staples are often thinner.

Bottom line is though, it is all about practice. You must experiment with your nailer FIRST! Don't give your first try when you are installing your good wood floor.

Too much pressure:

  • you will break the tongues of your hardwood floor
  • tongues will then cause cracking and creeking in your floor

Too little pressure:

  • nails don't seat themselves properly in the groove of the floor
  • this then prevents the next board from installing tight to its neighbour allowing moisture and dirt penetration below the surface.


  • experiment first as suggested earlier
  • move your regulator closer to the installation (if you are forced to leave the compressor in the garage) this will allow you to more accurately control the PSI

Loading Nails: This is one thing I would always check either with the pneumatic or manual nailer. Try installing floor cleats, into the gun you are looking to purchase to make sure that it is a smooth process and that the carosol holds enough nails (100+) so that you are not constantly getting up to refill

Nail Shoes: These shoes attach to the bottom face of the nailer to allow the typical floor nailer to adapt to various thicknesses of hardwood flooring. Usually the shoe for 3/4" hardwood flooring is standard with all nailers. Some manufacturers also include a number of extras in the package, to accomodate 3/8-5/8" floors, others upcharge, so be sure to ask if this is something you require.

Face Nailing: ask how this particular floor nailer handles the face nailing of the first few rows. Some manufacturer have a completely separate tool for that purpose, others have an adapter plate. ASK, so you don't get a surprise.

Jambed Nails: This is a given. You will always have times when life just doesn't flow and every second nail jambs in the nailer (often an indication of a bent driver head) so ask how your rectify this. If you have to bring out the heavy duty tool box to take the head apart and remove a jambed nail, you are not going to be too happy.

Lubrication: most air tools require some sort of lubrication, preferring a light oil especially designed for this purpose. Frequency will of course depend on usage, but also on the quality of your air. I have a water filter on my air line that picks up moisture that has condensed in the hose. This helps prevent water migration into the metal parts of my tools, and extends their life. It is similar to the set up in the picture on the right AND since I have a habit of forgetting to add the oil, I have also installed an automatic oiler with a built in regulator.. the all in-one-solution that you could mount to your compressor. If that seems just too bulky then just add a few drops of air tool oil to the air fitting on the end of your pneumatic floor nailer everytime your use it and that will help alot.

Further Information:
Installing Hardwood Flooring