Flooring Nailer On Wheels
Several companies in recent years have been improving their fastening systems to make life easier on the seasoned professional. Now it’s a hardwood flooring nailer that glides along on wheels making the installation go faster. Other benefits include maximizing accuracy and preventing accidental fastener penetration on the surface of the flooring.
To explain the above in more detailed fashion, traditional nailers required dragging or lifting into position after each nail was engaged. For experienced professionals a keen feel of where the actual nailer was became a clue if it was time to hit the plunger for the next fastener.
These new products offered by Powernail and Primatech (from my latest research) present an adapter that allows the nailer to glide along the edge of the flooring being nailed. Four special ball bearing rollers mounted on the adapter (close up below) allow the tool to roll on the finished side of the floor while two smaller rollers in the front keep it aligned perpendicular to the flooring being installed.
Is it really all it's cracked up to be? When can we expect to see the first installation chair on wheels? All kidding aside, this new gizmo does make things easier but I found one drawback. Although the glide system is much easier than feeling for a proper fit, you’re kept in the same position at all times which can be hard on the back. Naturally this will be different for all. I don’t have any back problems to speak of, but staying in one bent over position is not an easy chore for a man of my age.
Update July 2015 - The adapter doesn't seem to be catching on with professionals after being available for several years.
Another potential drawback for inexperienced users is expecting too much from the roller system. Working too fast can easily allow the tool to “fall off track” that can cause fasteners to penetrate above the tongue or on the surface of the flooring. Symptoms caused by improper penetration location can result in dimpled floors. Essentially what occurs, once the next board is fastened the nail protrudes creating a raised or dimpled effect on the finished area.
Current Product Availability - Popular Models (September 2014)
Powernail Model 445FS- used with 15.5 gauge cleats for floor thickness from 5/8 to 3/4 inch.
Powernail Model 445 Flex- used with 16 gauge cleats for floor thickness from 5/8 to 3/4 inch. Powernail Flex 18- used with 18 gauge cleats for product thick nesses ranging from 3/8” to 5/8” Ideal for harder woods, exotics, and bamboo.
Primatech P250- (shown right) Offers the option of using staples or flooring cleat nails with floor thick nesses of 5/8 to ¾ inch.
Can We Rent One?
Considering this is a new product chances are slim. However, considering this innovation is able to improve speed, expect more home improvement stores to begin adding the option in the future.