When it comes to installing tongue and groove hardwood floors, choosing the proper nail and nailer will help to create a professional looking job that is relatively easy to do. When choosing these two important items look for the following:

The Nail:

Many tongue and groove cut nails may look similar but there can be distinct differences in quality and design that can mean the difference between a successful installation and one plagued with problems. The metal used for the nail must be made with high quality carbon steel that is uniform in chemistry, tensile strength, elongation and hardness. A material not meeting these properties will have a tendency to bend or break while trying to penetrate the hard wood. The design of the nail should include a properly formed head to help hold the flooring strip. The "L" head and the "T" head are two common types available today. The "L" headed nail has advantages over the "T" headed nail in holding power. The nail should have well defined and formed barbs along opposite sides of the nail. You should be able to see the individual barbs and feel them with your finger. Don't settle for a nail that has undefined barbs. The barbs give the nail the best possible holding power and should not be overlooked. The nail tip should not be sharp or blunt but rounded to eliminate splitting of the tongue. Look for a slight angle on the tip. This angle helps direct the nail on a straight path as it penetrates the wood. To check for the tip angle hold the stick of nails up to a light and look for spaces between the nails at the tip. The collating cement coating adds to the holding power too. The frictional heat from the nail penetrating the wood melts the cement and bonds the nail and wood together. The cement also holds the nail stick together so you don't have loose nails to load into the nailer. Look for a stick of nails with a plastic clear or colored coating appearance on its surface. Some sticks are held together with tape, which only holds the nails together. Choose the correct nail length for the thickness of flooring you are installing. Your flooring dealer should have the correct length, don't use a shorter or longer nail length other than what is recommended by the flooring manufacturer for your specific installation.

The Nailer:

Whether you are choosing a manual or pneumatic nailer look for a machine that is comfortable to use. Extension handles help relieve back strain and should be considered if you are concerned about your back. If the nailer feels awkward in your hands it probably will be when you use it. As with any machine the better and tougher it is built, the longer it should last and be trouble free. Look for sturdy construction, if you think it will break when you drop it or hit it with the mallet in the wrong place go to another brand. You will be hitting this nailer all day long. Name brand equipment is always the best choice. How about repairs? If it must be repaired what is the record of the manufacturer on repairs? Are loaners available from the manufacturer or dealer? Lost time can cost you money. Remember to always follow the manufacturers instructions on the proper use and care of their equipment. Ask if the manufacturer has an instructional video you can watch or buy, it might be helpful and answer some questions on proper care and repair of the nailer. Are there dealers in your area to provide you with support and help when you need it?