While it is not everyday that we need to install tongue and groove flooring, we recently had an opportunity to put down about 2000 square feet of 6” wide cypress. The cypress is a lot softer then say oak or bamboo but the process is the same for all kinds of both pre-finished and post-finished nail-down flooring. In our particular case, the wood was not finished and required sanding, stain and a clear top coat finish once we were all done. To do this project we probably should have used a pneumatic floor nailer, but since we fell into a really good deal on a pair of Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer Kits, we went this route.
The Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer Kit comes in the sturdy black blow-molded carry case that includes the nailer, a really nice graphite handle mallet, white no-mar foot plates for 1/2 inch, 5/8 inch & 3/4 inch flooring, wrenches for working on the tool, and the user manual. Weighing in at a hefty 8.6 pounds, the MFN201 flooring nailer has an aluminum die-cast body with rubber bumpers on the sides and front of the tool to make sure that your new floor is protected from any dings and dents from the tool. On the top is an ergonomically shaped rubber grip with a long handle. The long handle is supposed to help reduce fatigue so you don’t have to bend quite as far. The flooring nailer works with 16 gauge “L” -shaped flooring cleats and has a magazine capacity of 120 fasteners.
The Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer features both a single hit and ratcheting drive modes. To switch between driving modes, there is a tool-free adjustment that simply requires pulling a pin and repositioning the ratcheting mechanism. The ratcheting drive mode lets you strike the driver multiple times if the cleat is not set flush after the first blow. This is helpful if you are working with harder types of flooring and also when you are trying to tighten up a joint. By using the ratcheting mode we found that it really reduced the need to have to use a nail set to re-set the cleats that were not quite flush. Just as important as the flooring nailer is the included graphite-handled mallet that has several key features that makes doing flooring work easier. To start with, there is a large replaceable no-mar white rubber front face that is used to strike the driver on the floor nailer. Since the oversized face is soft and will not mar the wood floor, it is also useful for tapping a board in place. If a board needs a little more help fitting in, turn the mallet around and use the slightly angled side to tap the edge of the wood into place. We found that by having a multi-use mallet it helped to speed up the floor installation process because we did not have to grab a different tool to set the boards then drive the nails.
Testing and Use
We found that using the Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer was simple and pretty much problem-free. Of course nearly any project related to flooring tends to be back breaking and strenuous. With a daunting task of laying about 2000 square feet of flooring though a four bedroom house, we knew we had our work cut out for us. After a little experimenting, we found that working with a team of three guys was the most productive. We had one guy squaring the ends and cutting the boards to length, one guy laying out the boards on the floor and taking measurements and the last guy going to town nailing. With this combination, and everyone working at a nice steady pace, we were able to put the flooring down pretty quickly. One thing that helped us on this project was that the 3/4″ cypress floor material was fairly soft so it made it easy to fasten down. Many times we found that with just a single, solid blow with the mallet on the driver head, that we could set the nail perfectly. Since we had two nailers at our disposal, we left one set in single blow mode and the other in ratcheting. The ratcheting mode we found was helpful when we were working in a tight space and did not have adequate space to make a single, hard hit on the driver head. By using the ratcheting mode, we could take a few small hits and still drive the cleat correctly. By using the Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer the flooring was tightly fastened down to the sub-floor and spaces between the boards were nearly perfect almost all the time.
The Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer kit is a professional grade tool that gives professional results. Installing nail-down flooring tends to be a specialty type job that most folks hire out to a flooring contractor. With the reasonable cost of the Bostitch MFN201 Flooring Nailer kit we think that any adventurous do-it-yourselfer can, with relative ease, tackle that new wood floor that you have been wanting to put in. For our Value rating, we gave the flooring nailer a 7/10 since it not only offers the flexibility to do several types of floor thickness, it gives you what you need to do a good job. For our Professional rating, we gave the Bostitch MFN-201 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer kit an 8/10 since it gave us trouble-free operation and a tightly laid down floor with no squeaks.
Stanley-Bostitch, a subsidiary of The Stanley Works (NYSE: SWK), is a leading manufacturer of pneumatic nailers & staplers, fasteners, compressors, office products, and related accessories for market segments including commercial/residential construction, manufactured housing, manufactured furniture/bedding, professional woodworking, sophisticated hobbyists, and office workers everywhere. Headquartered in East Greenwich, RI, Stanley-Bostitch operates multiple manufacturing facilities throughout the globe.