Can I use my stapler for laminate flooring for engineered wood flooring?
Matt Thrane, training specialist at Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Gehl Flooring Supply, answers:
At many flooring companies, it has become standard to install laminate flooring with a 20-gauge flooring stapler (what many people refer to generically as a “Floor Runner,” which is actually a brand name), but this isn’t the right tool for installing engineered wood flooring.
Most laminate floors are thinner (1/4–1/2 inch) and constructed of a composite material that may require a thin-gauge staple so the fastener does not telegraph into the face of the material. Engineered flooring is constructed of plies of plywood or sometimes fillets and glued together in perpendicular layers. The final material thickness can range from 3/8–3/4 inch. With this additional thickness, a 20-gauge flooring stapler that may be sufficient for a laminate floor will not have the holding power to properly fasten an engineered floor.
A 20-gauge Floor Runner can only accept a staple length of 1 inch, and if you insert a 1-inch staple at the industry standard of 45 degrees into 9/16-inch flooring, you will penetrate into the subfloor only about a 1/16 inch—not nearly enough holding power for wood flooring. A wood floor installed that way will likely come loose from the subfloor with seasonal changes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, using a standard hardwood flooring fastener (15.5-gauge staple or 16-gauge cleat) on engineered flooring may provide the correct subfloor penetration, but you will risk the fastener telegraphing through the surface of the flooring.
A commonly recommended fastener for engineered flooring is an 18- or 20-gauge staple or cleat in a nailer that will accept a fastener length up to 11/2 inch. Many manufacturers make a gun that will accept these fasteners.
Always check with the installation guidelines of the material you are working with, as most flooring manufacturers have suggested guns to install their flooring.