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Installing flooring is as serious an undertaking as it seems like it would be — but that doesn’t mean you should be intimidated by it. With preparation and a few tools, you can get professional-looking floors without having to pay professional prices. Two handy tools are flooring nailers and finish nailers.
Flooring nailers are typically pneumatic. That means that rely on an air compressor and a mallet to drive fasteners into the floorboards. They’re large tools with a long, angular handle that allows the user to stand while operating it. Pneumatic flooring nailers are fast and powerful, but they have some limitations. Their large size limits their functionality once you get to the part where the floor meets the wall. That’s where a finish nailer comes in. Many finish nailers are designed to be able to reach tight spaces, allowing you to install those final floorboards along the walls. The other benefit that a finish nailer has over a flooring nailer is versatility. Flooring nailers only do one job, but finish nailers can handle a variety of tasks. Even if you’re not planning on redoing floors, you can use a finish nailer for cabinets, furniture and an array of other woodworking tasks.
Finish nailers are often mistaken for brad nailers — it’s an understandable confusion considering their similar appearance. Brad nailers use smaller, 18 gauge fasteners. That makes them great for doing finer work. Finish nailers are also distinct from framing nailers, which use larger nails. Between these three tools, framing nailers are the most heavy-duty and brad nailers are the lightest. Finish nailers are in between, making them a great all-around pick for a variety of tasks. We’ve picked out some of the best finish nailers — these are the ones to get.
1. Metabo HPT Finish Nailer
Metabo HPT may not be a household name, but the brand behind the label, Hitachi, is one of the oldest and most dependable manufacturers of power tools. Metabo’s pneumatic finish nailer uses 15-gauge nails, between 1.25″ and 2.5″ long. The built-in air duster clears the area while you work. You can easily switch between sequential or contact nailing.
Pros: Convenient features like easy jam clearing and a selective actuation switch. Built-in air duster.
Cons: Whereas the other options on this list use between 1″ and 2.5″ nails, this one has a more limited range of 1.25″ to 2.5″.
2. DEWALT Finish Nailer
Dewalt’s finish nailer uses slightly smaller gauge nails than the option from Metabo. This nailer uses 16 gauge nails, between 1″ and 2.5″. Functions like the adjustable belt hook, nail-depth adjustment, jam clearing and a 360-degree exhaust are all done without the use of tools. A carrying case is included.
Pros: Versatile option that utilizes 1 to 2.5″ nails. Easy to clear jams. Comes with carrying case and sample finish nails.
Cons: Loading nails can be tricky.
3. NuMax Straight Finish Nailer
NuMax’s finish nailer uses 16-gauge nails between 1″ and 2.5.” It features an adjustable exhaust and a quick-jam release. Like the other options on this list, this finish nailer is pneumatic, so it has to be paired with an air compressor. The pre-installed fitting is compatible with most air compressors.
Pros: Affordable. Quick-jam release. Adjustable air exhaust. High capacity magazine holds 100 finish nails.
Cons: Not as powerful as some other options.