Buying Advice: Pneumatic or Electrical Nail Gun?

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Old 06-02-18, 08:12 AM
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Buying Advice: Pneumatic or Electrical Nail Gun?

I'm looking to tear up a tile floor and replace it with a solid wood floor matching the rest of the floor. With this project I'll need to lay down about 300 sqft of 3/4" 2 1/4" sold red oak flooring. I've already gotten some advice on this at this forum (see link bottom of this post)

But the reason for this post is I'd like advice on what king of nail gun to buy. I'm very comfortable using a variety of powered wood working tools, but I've never owned or really used a nail gun. Primarily, I'd be buying this tool for the job at hand, but it might be nice for other small word working projects or doing trim work. I'm not a pro, just a household DIYer. I currently don't own any pneumatic tools and so I don't own or really want to store a compressor. My interest is primarily woodworking and doing home projects and I don't work on cars or do mechanical work.

That said, I'm considering pneumatic , but leaning against it. In fact, I'm not even seriously considering a cordless nailer because I don't expect to use it much beyond this job and even if I do, much of what I'd use it for would be inside my shop where outlets are always in reach.

So, anyway, I'm planning to go with a corded nail gun. If anyone here can make a strong case for going pneumatic (and having to invest and store a compressor), please let me know.

That said, let me confirm that for this flooring (3/4" 2 1/4" sold red oak), I should be using 2" Cleat nails. My subfloor is 3/4" 7 1/4" wide plank, running diagonally. Considering I might use it for wood working, I guess I'd want the gun to be able to shoot staples as well. I'm assuming I should buy a "flooring" nail gun that shoots at the 45 degree angle to secure the tongue or at least get a model that supports that angle.

Anyway, advice is welcomed. Shoot me a brand or model if you can, but I'm mostly looking for general advice.

Thanks!

Related thread:
https://www.doityourself.com/forum/s...h-rip-out.html
/4" planks.
 
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Old 06-02-18, 12:03 PM
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For your flooring project, you will need a floor nail gun which both sets cleats but as you hit the piston with your hammer, drives the pieces of flooring tight together. This is the only function that this gun will do. It will not be suitable for any other job, be it finish nailing or framing.

As a one off job, you may look into renting or look into Harbor Freight as they have the most affordable floor nailer, I have one and it works great.

Then, from time to time they have combo packs where you can get a compressor and 3 nail guns for a decent price. That will satisfy all your other nailing needs.
 
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Old 06-02-18, 02:16 PM
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czizzi,

Thanks. On your advice I checked out Harbor Freight, but all things considered I think a rental is the way to go. 2" cleats correct considering the thickness of the wood floor and subfloor?
 
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Old 06-02-18, 08:50 PM
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A general guide to cleats. You want the most grab as you can get. If the subfloor is plank set on the 45, then you risk sending a cleat down a void which may result in a squeak down the road. Hope you can read the diagram.

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Old 06-03-18, 05:11 AM
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czizzi,

Thanks. I didn't realize the answer would be so nuanced.

I've watched a few videos by now on the topic. After and unfinished floor is in place, is it general practice to go over the cracks with some kind of wood putty before finishing? I always assumed the finish would fill those in without issue.

If you get a minute, here's a video where this guy made it so much harder than it had to be....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiPacBQcL0o
 
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Old 06-03-18, 05:32 AM
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There is a wood paste that you can smear over the floor before your final sanding [before stain/poly] It's easy to apply and once sanded the only filler that remains is what's in the cracks.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 05:57 AM
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Thanks for the reply. Okay, I can handle that, but is it necessary or common practice? In my case I'd be using it with new unfinished flooring. Is there any issue with hindering expansion? I'm having a little trouble identifying the actual product.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 06:03 AM
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I don't remember the product's name but you can buy it at most any hardwood flooring store.
It's a fairly common practice when finishing new flooring.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 09:57 AM
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All the floors I've installed have been the pre-finished variety. From that experience, I noted that not all the boards are exactly the same width. It varies a 1/16" in either direction. If you put a board next to one that is a 1/16" narrower, then when the next course of wood goes in, you will have a small gap. What I do is measure each and every board and separate into piles by width. Each row only comes from the same pile of like widths. Result is, no gaps. This works for pre-finished wood, I imagine it would also work for unfinished wood and negate the use/need for fillers.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 11:25 AM
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I checked out Harbor Freight, but all things considered I think a rental is the way to go.
Two lessons learned,

Rentals are iffy, your doing a project, your trying to get the job done so you can get the equipment back and you just run out of time and have to rent the second, or third day.

Take my advice, look at Craig's List or eBay, find a good quality, NOT HARBOR FREIGHT, nailer, like a Porta Nailer, use it at your leisure, then resell.

Ive done this many times with specialty tools and in the end the cost in almost nothing!

Second, skip the pneumatic, the manual nailers are best to really set the boards tight with the hammer strike!


It varies a 1/16"
Z3, I have to ask what brand of floors you have used that you find this level of variation with. I've installed many floors, all prefinished, and never found this kind of situation.

To be honest, if I did, Id probably pack it all up and return, it's not acceptable!
 
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Old 06-03-18, 12:24 PM
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Marq, it was more on the short side than the wider side but frustrated me none the less and feel it worthy to mention as something to watch out for during your install. Particularly if purchasing from a box store which may not carry the highest end materials. You don't find out about it being off until you set the next row. Then you have to cut out the nails and waste time getting it right.

I've also seen brand new unfinished, put in by others with filler everywhere waiting to be sanded. To me, if there wasn't a variation in widths, fillers wouldn't be needed.

Another thing that gets me is tile that is not square (rectified). Impossible to hold a grout line. Had one batch that there were tiles mixed in that were 3/16" out of square. I swear, will never do another tile job where the tiles are not bought from a tile distributor.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 12:38 PM
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I've got the Freeman flooring nailer, it works great and was fairly inexpensive. Just part of the cost of doing a floor.
 
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Old 06-03-18, 04:55 PM
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Marq1,

Thanks for the reply. When I consider cost it's more about my cost verses the cost of hiring a pro. At least that's how I justify buying new tools when I present it to SWMBO. For me, after this, I don't see myself laying down another solid wood floor, but I'll check the rental price vs. purchase before deciding as you do make a good point. Generally, I do a very good job on projects and keep code, etc, but I'm slow and don't like the deadline of a rental return.

Counting walls and floors, I've done 7 tile jobs and I've never had a problem with big box store tiles, but I can see how I'd be once bitten twice shy if even one time I got burned.

BTW, what's your 2 cents on the topic. Rip out or tooth in?
 
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Old 06-07-18, 11:30 AM
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Hey, me again...

What about manual floor nailers where you smack them with a special hammer? Whether I rent or buy they're significantly cheaper than an air nailer being I would need to rent/buy the compressor.
 
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Old 06-07-18, 11:32 AM
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They work but do take significantly more effort to set the nail than the pneumatic floor nailer does.
 
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Old 06-07-18, 02:24 PM
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Be careful of wood from Lumber Liquidators, They tend to have a lot of "shorts" and the quality is sometimes lacking.
 
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Old 06-07-18, 04:37 PM
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Your replies are appreciated even if I'm not answering them directly.

Well... I've checkout some of the rental prices at my local big box stores (which is really quick and easy to do online, btw just google "rental" and your big box store name). It looks like manual or air nailers are going $20-$40/day or $116-$156/week, PLUS I would need to rent the compressor which goes for $40/day, or $156/week. I don't think I'd need a whole week, but more than day would be nice. Say, 2 day rental for nailer and compressor will cost at least $120. On the other hand I think I could buy a new (low end) air nailer for $110 and a new compressor (port cable) for another $90 for a total of $200. I really don't see myself ever needing another nailer, but I might... MIGHT use the compressor for other tools. Painting, maybe a framing nailer. Either way, for $80 more than the rental I have a tool I can keep verses having nothing to show for and, as mentioned, I could maybe sell it.

Here's one for $106 and it comes with the hammer and it's 4.5/5 stars from Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/NuMax-SFL618-...matic+Flooring

Air compressor $89
https://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-...air+compressor

Of course then I'd need to buy some accessories, etc. Ug, I need to think it over. Normally I'd just buy the new tool, but here I just don't see myself using it again. And yet, the thing I like best about buying one is that I'm covered IF I ever need it and I like that I'm not under a deadline to return it if something comes up.

Sorry I'm being so wishy washy and repeating myself. Just thought I'd share my reasoning.
 
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Old 06-07-18, 04:39 PM
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Now you are thinking like a man.
 
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Old 06-07-18, 04:49 PM
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sam floor Be careful of wood from Lumber Liquidators, They tend to have a lot of "shorts" and the quality is sometimes lacking.
I bought a floating floor from them but installed it myself. Product was good quality, but it's easier to make uniform engineered flooring. As for the service, I found the floor people were hit and miss with their knowledge and not really helpful as you often see with a lot of retail outfits. I would just ask for the store manager who was better but not totally informed about his products. (He tried to get me to buy a nail down threshold to work with the floating floor which isn't correct.)

What I will say is that you should talk to a manager and ask if there are any sales coming up and name drop the competitions prices on similar products. The manager actually gave me a little better price that was advertised, although not as good as their better sales on flooring. It was a pain though, as I had to call back a few times to get the manager as the floor people were useless about getting back to me and they had no authority to give me a better price.

Friend of mine is right now in the process of hiring LL to rip out and install a solid wood floor at a house he's selling. Seems the people they send out are hit and miss for their knowledge but he went with them over home depot because HD was very unprofessional and sent people out then lost the measurements, etc... the usual inconsistent quality of work and management you find individual to your local area.

Anyway, LL messed up the scheduling of the install due to a customer name mix up but the wood got there on time and is acclimating. Don't quote me, but I think demoing the old floor was a 3rd the cost of the install.

Long story short, your advice to let the buyer beware is good, but I think if you stay on top of them you can probably get a good result.
 
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Old 06-07-18, 04:54 PM
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I wrote: Sorry I'm being so wishy washy and repeating myself. Just thought I'd share my reasoning.

XSleeper
Now you are thinking like a man.
Wha? You must not be married.
 
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Old 06-08-18, 03:18 AM
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What X meant is most of us have a good selection of tools and look for ways to get more .... kind of like my wife and her shoe collection.

On the other hand I think I could buy a new (low end) air nailer for $110 and a new compressor (port cable) for another $90 for a total of $200. I really don't see myself ever needing another nailer, but I might... MIGHT use the compressor for other tools. Painting, maybe a framing nailer
While that compressor will work well with any nail gun and should be able to power an impact gun for short periods, it's not big enough for painting or sanding/grinding - that requires a lot more cfm.
 
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Old 06-08-18, 03:37 AM
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They work but do take significantly more effort to set the nail than the pneumatic floor nailer does.

But in the grand scheme of installing a floor the greatest amount of time is spent on measuring, cutting and fitting, the few additional seconds a manual nailer takes is in coincidental.

IMO forget the pneumatic nailer and just get a good manual nailer and take your time.
 
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Old 06-08-18, 04:17 AM
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Late to the show here but I would buy the flooring nailer offered by HFT: https://www.harborfreight.com/2-in-1...ler-61689.html It gets high reviews and I have a friend that bought one and it worked just fine for him. I would NOT buy a manual nailer and a pneumatic nailer is soooo much easier.
 
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Old 06-08-18, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
While that compressor will work well with any nail gun and should be able to power an impact gun for short periods, it's not big enough for painting or sanding/grinding - that requires a lot more cfm.
Thanks, this is good to know as I hadn't researched painting/sanding tools enough to even consider this.

Funny thing about the low-end manual nailers is that they really aren't much different in price from pneumatic, and I'm not seeing much for electrical to even compare and (so far) couldn't find any electrical to rent.

So this might be a dumb question, but can you just use a pneumatic nailer as a manual nailer simply by not attaching the compressor?
 
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Old 06-09-18, 06:35 PM
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I have used both manual nailers and pneumatic nailers. With manual, you sometimes have to hit the nail 2 or 3 times to get it to sink fully. Was very labor intensive. Pneumatic, is almost always a one sharp wack and the deed was done for that nail. I have the Harbor Freight nailer and it works flawlessly.
 
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Old 06-09-18, 07:55 PM
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can you just use a pneumatic nailer as a manual nailer simply by not attaching the compressor?
What? No!

 
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Old 06-10-18, 04:40 AM
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Originally Posted by XSleeper View Post


What? No!

Hey, in my defense I did preface that by saying it might be a dumb question!


So thanks everyone for your help, advice and suggestions, especially the usual suspects who have helped me on this and other threads.


I have a few other things to do before getting to this part of the project, but I'll post back a picture once's it's done.
 
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Old 09-05-18, 06:13 AM
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update: No, I still haven't finished this job!

I've reread this thread but czizzi's picture about cleats was hard to read. I've got 3/4" red oak hardwood floor going over a 3/4" subfloor, most of which is just diagonal plank, but some of it is is 3/4" plywood.

I don't want to get into a debate about nails, staples, or cleats. What's the tried and true? I'm thinking I should go 1 3/4" cleat or 2" cleat?

Can I get a straight up recommendation on what size to use?

Thanks!


(used floor nailer I'm looking at does up to 2" cleat nails)

 
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Old 09-05-18, 07:06 AM
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2" cleat, as it's at an angle you want full depth of fastener retention!
 
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Old 09-05-18, 07:32 AM
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Marq,

Thanks. I'll do 2". Just checked Home Depot, but was surprised by the number of options. Being this is a manual flooring nailer, what kind of CLEAT should I get? L? T? 16 gauge? Steel?
 
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Old 09-05-18, 08:56 AM
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I have only used Porta Nailer with 2" nails for 3/4" flooring and 3/4" sub floor and they just break the bottom surface.

I assume you nailer will dictate the style!

https://www.doityourself.com/forum/a...1&d=1536162979
 
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Old 09-05-18, 10:15 AM
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Specs for the nailer I'm looking at (see above) it just says use flooring cleat stripnails, 110 piece magazine, glue collated, 0 degree collation angle. Nothing about L or T or the need for steel.

SHF15, hardwood flooring nailer | Senco EMEA

I researched the Porta Nails you listed. 16 gauge but maybe not steel. Says suitable for pneumatic, but doesn't mention manual.

Ah, I'm sure I'm just over thinking it because I've never used or even held one of these nailers before. I'll take it when me when I go to my local lumber yard and hopefully figure it out. Knowing I should get 2" long cleats is most of the battle.

thanks!
 
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Old 09-06-18, 05:28 AM
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One last thing.. so there are a few areas that are too cramped for me to be able to use the flooring nailer. Is there a specific sort of nail I should use when just using a hammer and nailset? Obviously I'll try to sink the nail at a 45 degree angle using 2" nails. But in areas that I can't I'll use a shorter nail.

Anyway, should I use a spiral shank flooring nail?

Any special kind of nail I should use for top nailing? Something that won't rust or otherwise be made to stand out after the stain and finish is applied?

thanks
 
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Old 09-06-18, 05:31 AM
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I've always just used a finish nail gun to face nail where there isn't room enough to angle thru the tongue .... not that I do a lot of floors. The filler you use on the cracks and over exposed nail heads will help hide the nails and prevent any rust from appearing. If just taking care of the nail holes you can use colored putty after the first coat of poly.
 
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Old 09-06-18, 05:33 AM
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For the last few rows that the floor nailer can't do, I have used GRK finish screws at the same angle as the nails, along with my smallest cordless 90 degree driver. Then the final row gets nailed down with a finish nailer.
 
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Old 09-06-18, 08:25 AM
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Cool, thanks guys.

Also, there were a few places where I had to tear up and replace the subfloor. Is there any problem with just screwing the subfloor down? Seems to me that nailing would be cheaper and quicker but is there any reason NOT to use screws?
 
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Old 09-06-18, 08:51 AM
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I just use 2" finish nails through the tongue for the last couple rows where hammer swing gets too close to wall then face nail the last row where the 1/4 round, or shoe, will cover!


Screws are always better!
 
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Old 09-06-18, 12:09 PM
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Plan on getting quite the workout with that nailer, you will most likely have to take 2 swings per cleat to get them to set. Did one floor that way and then bought a pneumatic one.

I try not to have any face nails except the final row and it is hidden under the shoe and base molding. When I can no longer use the floor nailer, I switch to my 15 ga angle nailer. I continue to shoot through the tongue like the floor nailer. When I can no longer use that angle, I switch to a 45 degree parallel to the flooring again, through the tongue. If the nail interferes with the bottom portion of the groove, I whittle the bottom groove away in that area so the rest of the board will set flush.
 
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Old 09-07-18, 01:21 PM
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Okie Dokie, I'll just use screws on the subfloor. Thanks for the info and tips on how to do it. No luck on the Senco, so I ended up get a used BOSTITCH MFN200 Manual Flooring Cleat Nailer, under $93, shipped.



https://www.amazon.com/BOSTITCH-MFN2...g+Cleat+Nailer

So, for my third "one last thing"....

Having already ripped up some of the old flooring, I sanded a scrap piece down to the raw wood. It looks like Oak, but doesn't seem like RED oak to me. How hard is this going to be to match and any advice on doing so? Is someone behind the desk over at lumber liquidators going to be able to look at the raw wood and give me a good match?

FYI: For this project I've ripped out an old tile floor and am replacing it with wood which will mean merging it with the existing wood floor, even fingering it in in places. The plan is to sand it all down and refinish, but first I'll be laying down unfinished wood. I'm planning to get a pro to do the sand/refinish work.

Link to different thread on this same flooring project with a few pics
https://www.doityourself.com/forum/s...-question.html
 
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Old 09-07-18, 01:23 PM
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Red oak isn't always red and no wood is consistently the same color from tree to tree. Local flooring folks should know what is common in your area and should be good at identifying what you have.
 
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