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Nailing reclaimed flooring

We have acquired 75 sq ft of 1-1/2" wide 3/4" reclaimed maple flooring (unsure of age, likely at least 50-75 years old) to patch an area in our schoolhouse. We were planning on renting a pneumatic flooring nailer (which shoots 2" L-shaped cleats) to secure the flooring.

A friend who was a flooring contractor advised us not to use the pneumatic nailer as "it can cause more problems than it's worth". He recommended pre-drilling and then nailing the flooring.

Anytime I've seen someone lay flooring like this, it has been with a pneumatic flooring nailer, but I have taken some pause due to the fact that this is reclaimed material and is likely drier (true?) than when it was first laid.

Should I use the pneumatic flooring nailer? Thanks.

A. Spruce
Re: Nailing reclaimed flooring

Pneumatic nailers generally cause less damage than hand nailing, unless you predrill as suggested by your friend. 75 square feet isn't much, so predrilling and hand nailing won't be that big of deal, in fact, for that small of an area, you can have it hand nailed before you could be back with a rented gun for the job.

Re: Nailing reclaimed flooring

If it is flooring made from reclaimed wood, you can fasten it any way you want; if it is old flooring, it has already been penetrated by nails at regular intervals, and so may have running splits, etc. A flooring nailer doesn't split lumber because the "cleats" it fires are so slender, but where you may need to nail could correspond with a pre-existing defect.
Pre-drilling and hand nailing floorboards is an excruciatingly slow process compared to firing the nail gun.
If you trust the installer, let him do what he believes to be best.

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