Difference Between Hardwood Floor Fasteners

By Robert Robillard on Contractor Advice

installing a hardwood floor

Hardwood floor Fasteners: Cleat nails or Staples?

When  installing hardwood flooring if your going to use a mechanical fastener to hold the floor down you have two choices:  cleat nails or staples.The question I often get asked is whats the difference?  and What’s the best quality?

If you grabbed 10 hardwood flooring installed I’d bet dollars to donuts that the answer on which is better is a toss up. Another factor that holds weight is where in the country you live and what local suppliers sell.

When comparing the two fasteners I feel there are two very important issues to consider:  holding strength and seasonal movement, and there are differences.  Let’s look at each fastener separately:


Cleat nails come in 16 or 18 gauge and ate “L” or “T” shaped.  both types have ribs on two thirds of the nail shank.  The reason for the smooth area at the top of the shank is to allow for the hardwood floor to expand and contract with seasonal temperature and humidity changes.hardwood florr nail

Cleat nails are twice as much money as staples, the cost approximately $80.00 per 1000 nails. [box]


Staples have two prongs that penetrate and grip the hardwood.  Initially when installed they have twice the gripping power.  the problem I have with staples is that with seasonal movement of the hardwood the staples tens to loosen their grip and are more likely to cause squeaks.  Squeaks mean call backs.

Because the staple penetrates the wood in two locations they are also more likely to split the hardwood tongue.

Staples are cheap which is part of the reason they are popular.  They cost approximately $40.00 per 5000 nails. [box]

hardwood floor staple

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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