Q: What is the main reason for using the correct number of staples while stapling down hardwood? I have a shrinkage issue and a splitting problem. I’m not sure if using the wrong number of staples is the cause. What would cause this to happen to my hardwood floors?
A: There are certain procedures that should be followed when installing a wooden floor. First, the flooring itself should be taken to the job site and allowed to acclimate to the climate in that house for a week or more. Greater care needs to be taken in newly built homes which at some stage during construction were totally open to the elements. So, it must be determined that sub floors in particular have dried out to a normal level. Checking with a moisture meter, good and safe practice says a sub floor should not contain more than 4% higher reading for moisture than the floor to be installed on top of it. If these steps are not followed and if there isn’t some climate control in the house you may end up with first expansion of the floor, resulting in some cupping followed by severe shrinkage and very large gaps after the moisture starts to finally equalize.
I would choose cleats over staples any day of the week. Staple will allow a little stretch with expansion. Staples won’t and in severe cases can lead to breakage of the tongues on the boards which fit in the grooves on the back edge of the flooring and keep the flooring securely in place.