Is a cleat the same as a nail?

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Q: We are installing 1400 sq. feet of 3/4″ X 5″ wide maple prefinished flooring. Would you recommend using a stapler or nailer?

A: I prefer to use cleats. If you have a misfire with a staple, I hear they can be a pain to deal with. Cleats hold just fine.

Follow-up Q: Is a cleat the same as a nail, and if not can you rent a cleat applicator?

A: Yes, a cleat is similar to a nail. They come in strips of 100 nails. See, for example, the web site for Powernail.

Related Q: My hardwood floors were installed in my new house using nails instead of cleats. What is the difference? I have a few places where the boards are lifting. Are the floors going to start to lift and spread over time? The house is only 8 months old. What will it be like in 5 years?

A: Do you mean your floors were installed with finishing nails using a hammer? As long as they are spiral nails you are good provided they nailed every 7-9″ or so. If you have boards lifting is this being caused by swelling boards due to a moisture issue? By lifting do you mean heaving, as in a hump in the floor? I have heard a few times of somebody trying to cheat and skipping rows which got no nails. That of course would be a big mistake and I’m not saying that was done in your house.

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