Air compressors come into play for nailed floors. For finishing touches they prove invaluable when installing quarter round trim. You may notice many do it yourself sites suggest pre-drilling then nailing with finish nails when running quarter round or shoe molding against baseboard.
Folks, that’s a lot of trouble, and chances of banging up that new baseboard is high if you’re not too handy with simple carpentry. Finish nailers are a dream come true. Simply hook it up to an air hose that connects to an air compressor and you’re off to the races. No more fumbling with a nail set either, or trying to find the danged thing when you’re squirming all over the floor.
What Type Of Compressor Is Needed?
I'll take it directly from the National Wood Flooring Association because those folks have all the technical know how. They report the following.
When choosing a compressor select the proper size to produce adequate air volume (cubic feet per minute) and air pressure (pounds per square inch) for your pneumatic floor stapler or nailer.
A one horsepower electric compressor with a four gallon tank will produce about three cubic feet per minute of air volume at 90 pounds of pressure. It should weigh less than 50 pounds drawing very few amps of electricity, or adequate for running one pneumatic tool at medium speed.
Their suggestions are geared for professionals that handle this work day in and day out. We know folks that handle this work by themselves can probably count themselves as ¼ of a true hardwood guy. Hey, it takes time and rhythm to get the hang if it, not to mention all that bending over.
So What’s All That Mean To A Slow Poke Like Me?
Personally you shouldn’t have to spend much money for a compressor that handles the job. Prices are quite low to begin with. I recall one out of town job I was handling when my old compressor broke down at the start of the job. The nearest store that handled compressors was selling a bargain brand at under $100. It lasted the entire job or 1,000 square feet and survived well into a year with use now and then. I would avoid larger and heavier products because of the lugging factor especially if you’re working on different floor levels.
Pancake compressors are my favorite. They’re more stable and don’t fall over like others. Whatever you decide to buy, rent, or borrow, make sure it sits in a convenient location where tripping over hoses can be avoided. Also keep an eye of the bottom feet. They may have rubber insulators, but once they fall off it’s all metal…sure fire way to scratch any new floor. Keep some heavy cardboard underneath or similar.
Wrong Air Pressure Problems
Hardwood floor manufacturers vary slightly in actual pressure settings, but agree a good range is in the 70 to 90 PSI range. Pressure set too high results in fasteners penetrating too far which can cause board tongue splitting. It may not sound like a problem but can be responsible for floor squeaking later.
Air pressure set too low doesn’t drive fasteners in far enough. Once again it may not seem to be a problem but a very minor difference in fastener depth with low pressure will cause board dimpling. This is caused when the next board goes into place as seen in the image on the right.
For those unfamiliar with installing any hardwood floor it’s wise to pay strict attention to pressure settings. Do a few tests before you begin the installation. Step back and look at your work in the glare of light.