What Are Flooring Staples & How Do You Use Them?

Are you building or renovating your home? Flooring is one of, if not the biggest, decisions you’ll make when creating the space of your dreams. Hardwood flooring is a valuable investment you can make to ensure your home has optimal resale value. Plus, it is easier to maintain than carpet, especially if you have children or pets in your home. Not to mention, it is also beautiful to look at and gives a boost to your home decor.

Hardwood flooring is easier to keep clean, it doesn’t stain, and there is less risk of allergens accumulating in your home when compared to other types of flooring. When it comes to installing hardwood flooring in your home, you have the flexibility of hiring professional installers or installing it yourself.

Installing Hardwood Flooring

As a DIYer, installing hardwood flooring may make you second guess yourself. This is your floor, after all! Since it’s a considerable investment, you want to make sure that installation goes as planned. Installing your own hardwood floors can be a cost-saving measure, and you can use what would have been the installation money towards a nicer hardwood floor. 

When purchasing your hardwood flooring, you’ll need to calculate the amount of flooring you’ll need by figuring the area of the space. Once you have the area, tack on another 10 to 15 percent to account for any mishaps or boards that are not quite up to par. 

Next, you’ll need to prepare your space and decide on how you’ll actually attach the flooring.


Before laying that first board, you’ll need to prepare all of your materials and ensure that your flooring is ready to be installed. 

The first step in preparations is ensuring that your subfloor is prepped. This will ensure that your hardwood flooring will last for years to come.

For clarity, we are referring to the plywood installed on top of the concrete or joists as the subfloor. This plywood is what your hardwood flooring will be attached to. Make sure that your plywood is in tip-top shape, and secure any loose boards. Installing a vapor barrier under the plywood helps ensure that moisture does not ruin the subfloor or hardwood flooring. 

If you are renovating, removing the existing flooring is the first step. After that, make sure your subfloor is level and clean. There should not be any debris on the subfloor, so sweep and vacuum as needed. You can also install underlayments for noise and temperature control depending on if your subfloor is placed directly on top of concrete or joists. 

Use a chalk line to ensure that your boards are laid perfectly straight. After choosing the wall that you will start from, measure ⅜ of an inch out and place the chalk line in this spot. This space allows your hardwood flooring to swell with higher temperatures and humidity. Not allowing for this space can cause your hardwood flooring to buckle and crack, as it will not have any place to expand.

Acclimating the Flooring

Hardwood flooring can’t be delivered and installed on the same day. It is important to allow the hardwood flooring time to acclimate to the variables, like temperature and humidity level, in the room.

Remove the hardwood floor from its packaging, spread it out, and allow the hardwood flooring to acclimate for around 48 to 72 hours in your home. 

Pro tip: When spreading out your hardwood flooring, mix up the pieces from various boxes to ensure that you have a consistent color variation from room to room. 

Understanding Flooring Fasteners

There are two ways to attach hardwood flooring to the subfloor: nails and staples. Knowing how each works and any pros or cons is the best way to determine which method is better for installing your hardwood floor. Additionally, some types of flooring respond better to being nailed or stapled down. 

Nails, commonly referred to as cleats, are how hardwood floors were first installed. Using cleats allows the wood to expand and shrink with temperature changes in the home. However, cleats can take much longer to install and may require professional help. Cleats are also the preferable choice when installing thicker, harder types of wood. Cleats are also more expensive and can be hard to find. 

Staples allow you to fasten your hardwood floor more securely to the subfloor since the staple is essentially two points of contact instead of just one like a cleat. Many staples also contain an adhesive on their prongs that allows for more strength when holding the wood flooring to the subfloor. Stapling makes hardwood flooring very quick to install, and it’s easier to install than cleats. With the ease of installing, you may not need professional help. This is a huge perk for people trying to stick to a budget. 

Staples are also less costly than cleats and are more easily found in stores.

However, staples might hold hardwood flooring down a little too well. When stapled hardwood floors expand and contract with the household temperatures, this may force the staple out as the wood changes shape.

Because we view this installation of your hardwood floors as a DIY project, we will discuss using flooring staples more in-depth as this fastening method is more DIY-friendly.

Laying Your Hardwood Floor

When laying the floor out, you must take some considerations into account to ensure you lay your floor in an aesthetically pleasing way. You also want to maintain the quality of your flooring and the subflooring beneath. This also helps the structural integrity of the foundation of your home. 

You should lay flooring perpendicular to flooring joists. This ensures that the joists do their job of providing structural support for the floor. If you run your flooring in the same direction as the joists, you may cause weak spots in the spaces between the joists as nothing is supporting the flooring in between. 

If you are unsure which way your flooring joists lay, look at the nails on your subflooring. This should give you an indication of which way the joists are running. If you are still unsure, you can always take a peek from the crawl space. 

You’ll also want to determine the longest point from wall to wall in the room and try to run your flooring in that direction. If this is not perpendicular to the joists, move your flooring in another direction to ensure optimal support. When laying the boards, make sure the boards are staggered. 

Using Flooring Staples

You will use a flooring stapler to install the flooring staples. Manual and pneumatic (air-powered) staplers exist, and both are easily rentable at stores. Pneumatic staplers make installing much easier and faster. 

Choosing the correct length staple is essential. You want to make sure that your flooring is attached to your subfloor but doesn’t go through the subfloor. If the staple does go through the subfloor, it could puncture the vapor barrier and damage your floor. The staple length is based on the thickness of your hardwood flooring. You’ll likely find the manufacturer's recommendations on what length staple, as well as stapler, to ensure that your flooring is secured in the best way for the particular type of hardwood. 

Laying Your Floors

When laying the first boards near the wall, you will need to nail them down because the stapler can’t fit in the space between the board and wall. Determine where you want to place the nails and drill pilot holes at these locations. Drilling the pilot holes helps keep the nails at a 45-degree angle, which is crucial to ensuring the board is secured and attached to the subfloor. 

Once the first row of boards is set, you are clear to staple away! You may need to nail another row or two of boards if the stapler cannot fit. Place the staples every four to eight inches on the boards. 

You’ll want to place the staple at a 45-degree angle between the board and the tongue (the small piece that sticks out on one side of the board). The tongue connects the boards, just like puzzle pieces. Making sure the staple is placed correctly allows you to attach the board securely and allows the tongue and groove to fit together seamlessly. 

Take your time when stapling, especially when placing the angle of the staple. It may take a few boards to get the hang of it, but pretty soon, you’ll be laying the floor like a seasoned pro! 

Just like laying the first boards with nails, you’ll need to do the same with the last boards. Remember to include ⅜ of an inch from the wall for expansion in warm/humid weather. You may have to trim your board to fit into this space. Again, you’ll need to drill those pilot holes for the nails to ensure that you are placing the nails at a 45-degree angle. 

Once your boards are laid successfully, you can install the baseboards and other finishing pieces.


Hardwood flooring is a wonderful way to update your home and increase its value. 

With the advancement of tools to help make laying hardwood flooring easier, you can complete this huge task on your own. If you have completed large house projects on your own before, you know and love that feeling when you look at your completed work and know that you did it on your own. 


Is It Better To Nail Or Staple Hardwood Floors? | Wood Floor Cleaner

How to Install Prefinished Solid-Hardwood Flooring | how-tos | DIY 


Leave a Reply