What's The Difference Between A Floor Nailer & Flooring Stapler?

So you are interested in replacing your hardwood floors, but you don't know which tool will work best for the job? If you look for a flooring tool, you will see there are flooring nailers, such as the Bostitch Miiifn, and floor staplers, such as the Bostitch Miiifs. Both tools look similar and cost the same, but which one is the one you need?
Bostitch Miiifs
The answer is, either tool can work for you, but let's explore some of the differences between a floor nailer and flooring stapler, to give you the most informed decision possible:
First, let's look at each of the tools. Floor nailers are available in two variations, manual or pneumatic (air powered). You might hear a contractor refer to this tool as a flooring cleat nailer, as it most often takes cleat nails for fastening. A manual flooring nailer will require additional muscle, as it relies solely on its user's strength. On the other hand, pneumatic floor nailers assist the user by providing additional force, when inserting a nail. Either of these tools will require a user to hit the driver head when inserting a cleat. The amount of pressure required depends on the density of the wood being installed. A thicker wood will require longer cleats, which also calls for additional force to drive the fastener. You will find it easier to use a pneumatic floor nailer like the Powernail 2000 (replaced by Powernail 2000F), for thick woods, such as Brazilian Cherry.
Powernail 2000
Flooring Staplers are also available in manual or pneumatic variations, although manual floor staplers are typically not preferred in the construction trade. As you can see on Nail Gun Depot, electric staplers are also an option, depending on the source of power that you prefer - although pneumatic is by far the most common offering. A hardwood stapler anchors the flooring planks to the sub-floor, driving staples into the tongue of a wood plank. Recognized as an industry "staple," the Bosititch Miiifs is one of the most popular tools for the flooring stapler segment, thanks to its superior performance and time-tested reliability. Operating at 60-100 PSI, the Miiifs can achieve 420 pounds of driving power.
Now that we know the tools available, let's look at the fasteners that make the difference. As you saw above, the tools operate similarly, which means that the difference primarily lies in the fastener itself. It all boils down to nails versus staples. [Also note that you should not switch between nails and staples when installing a floor - whichever fastener you start with should be the only one used throughout the entire project.]
A flooring nail, or cleat, is typically offered in either "L" head or "T" head variation - check and see which variation your nail gun requires. A cleat nail offers a sharp, rigid body to grip the sub-floor firmly. It also features a smooth portion of its body, which allows for seasonal expansion and contraction of the flooring. Typically, cleat nails are available in 16 or 18 gauge - although 20 gauge is also available for certain applications. The more durable option of the two, the drawback to cleats is their cost - compared to the cost of staples.
"L" Cleat
Floor staples provide two-pronged fastening for hardwood flooring. Flooring staples actually provide a stronger initial grip than cleats, but do not hold as firmly when the floor expands and contracts - which can eventually lead to creaking. Another drawback to staples, they can split the tongue of flooring - especially when the plank is less than 3/4" thick. Because staples are less costly to manufacture, they are typically the more cost-effective flooring fastener, when looking at cleats versus staples. However, you also have to consider the long-term durability of your flooring installation, when selecting between staples and nails.
Floor Staple
Regardless of the flooring nailer or stapler you choose to use, it is imperative that you understand your tools prior to using. Applying too much pressure can damage your floor, while applying too little pressure can cause cleats or staples to only be driven partially, resulting in each neighboring plank to not form a tight fit, ruining the entire project.
If you need additional assistance in choosing the perfect flooring nailer, stapler or fastener for your job, Nail Gun Depot's customer service team is ready to help! Just call 888.720.7892 or email Take advantage of limited-time, special pricing on Bostitch Miiifs and Miiifn floor tools, $449.00 each, only at Nail Gun Depot.
Best Of Luck On Your Hardwood Floor Installation,
The Team At Nail Gun Depot
Leave a Reply


  • gary June 8, 2017 at 8:58 AM

    I want to put 3/4" T&G Oak flooring on my ceiling (to cover foam roof insulation).
    Should I use a flooring nailer or a regular nail gun?

    • Nail Gun Depot June 12, 2017 at 12:20 PM


      We recommend using the Senco MD0054, a 15 gauge finish nailer with hardwood flooring attachment.

      You'll definitely want a trigger-pull flooring tool, and with the size flooring you're working with, this tool should be a perfect fit.

      Please let us know if there's anything else we can help with.

  • Nick November 30, 2017 at 7:18 AM

    Looking for the right fastener for my application. Have 3/4 hickory hardwood floor to install in attic room. In the summer it will get eventually somewhat humid and hot even the room is temp regulated. From that standpoint I am leaning more towards the neiler cleat then the stapler.

    Just looking for your opinion and experienced advise.


    • Nail Gun Depot December 1, 2017 at 10:11 AM


      We recommend the L-Cleat flooring nailer, based on your specific requirements.

      A flooring nail, or cleat, is typically offered in either "L" head or "T" head variation - check and see which variation your nail gun requires. A cleat nail offers a sharp, rigid body to grip the sub-floor firmly. It also features a smooth portion of its body, which allows for seasonal expansion and contraction of the flooring.

      Thanks for the question! Good luck with your project.

  • Ron February 11, 2018 at 9:08 AM

    I need to install 3/8" horizontal bamboo on the basement ceiling. It has been suggested that I use 18ga cleat nails. Is there an alternative to the Powernail 50F? Might 20ga cleats be sufficient?

    • Nail Gun Depot February 12, 2018 at 11:47 AM


      We suggest sticking with whatever size fastener your flooring manufacturer recommends. If you use anything different, you may void the warranty on their product.

      The Powernail 50F is an excellent option for you. It's scheduled for release this week, and should be available on Nail Gun Depot shortly thereafter.

  • Cameron March 9, 2018 at 1:08 PM

    I am looking for a floor nailer for numerous different flooring styles and jobs. Hardwoods, softwoods all different in thickness. looking for the most versatile tool for a contractor. any help would be greatly appreciated

    • Nail Gun Depot March 12, 2018 at 7:12 AM


      There are several great options for flooring, depending on project requirements. We have found the Bostitch MIIIFN to be a popular choice for flooring contractors. Powernail also manufactures some top-notch flooring nailers. Here's a link to all of our flooring nail guns.

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