Cleats or Staples for 3/4 Hardwood Flooring

DIY enthusiasts are interested in knowing the best way to install hardwood floors. It has always been a strong debate on whether cleats or staples are the perfect fasteners. Of course, both choices have advantages and disadvantages, but which is the excellent choice for fastening ¾ hardwoods?

Cleats provide security and flooring flexibility while staples fasten the floors tightly. Cleats have been used to install ¾ solid hardwood planks for as long as possible, and this is because they work well with solid woods with a high Janka hardness rating. On the other hand, Staples may cause cracks and splits when used to fasten solid woods.

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Cleats for Hardwood Floor Installation

The first question that needs to be asked is what cleats are. They are manual flooring fasteners that usually come in L-shaped or T-shaped heads, depending on their brand. Both head shapes come with a series of ribs extended at about 2/3 on both sides of the nail shank that help securely grip the subfloor.

Cleats can also be seen as a piece of metal, wood, or plastic attached to something to strengthen it. Hence, the reason why they are used as fasteners. They are less available and an expensive option compared to staples, as 5,000 cleats will cost $65-$85, which is half the price of 5,000 staples.

Cleats are the ideal fasteners for hardwood floors due to their advantages; they provide flexibility and security. Firstly, unlike staples, how cleats are designed to allow for flexibility. This means that the hardwood floors can contract and expand without the risks of cracks and splits.

When cleats are used to fasten hardwood floors in places with high humidity, the floors will maintain their beauty for a long time, and greater movement is also guaranteed. Due to the smooth part of the cleat, the hardwood floors will go through temperature, climate, and humidity changes without cracking or splitting.

Lastly, cleats are the perfect choice for woods with a high Janka hardness rating and exotic wood species. They are seen as the standard for installing these hardwood floors. The floorboards do not get damaged easily and can be removed faster than those fastened with staples.

Staples for Hardwood Floor Installation

Staples are made from steel, just like cleats, but one significant difference between these two fasteners is that staples provide a firmer initial grip which is an advantage that leads to a disadvantage in the long run. The problem with the strength it gives is that it does not allow for greater movement.

Hardwood floors are susceptible to contraction and expansion, especially in areas with low humidity, since wood is a porous material. Unfortunately, staples fasten the foundations tightly, which does not allow movement and leads to damage, cracks, warps, and splits.

During winter seasons, one would have to deal with squeaky floors. After using staples as fasteners for your hardwood floors, the floorboards will fluctuate when the humidity drops, resulting from the solid initial grip.

Staples are the perfect option for DIY enthusiasts; all you need is to get your staple pins and staple gun, then you are good to go. Their simple design makes them low in cost, with the price ranging from 30$-$40 per 5,000 staples. They are cheaper than cleats, as a box of 5,000 staples costs half the price of a pack of 5,000 cleats.

One significant advantage of using staples is that they are stress-free. Apart from being budget-friendly and time-saving, they are also very efficient. A professional can fasten about 500 square feet of wood in eight hours by using staples alone.

Lastly, contractors have stated that it is difficult to remove old floorboards that were fastened with staples than cleats because they do their jobs a little too well, which is also an essential factor to consider.

Cleats vs. Staples for ¾ Hardwood

Now it is time to answer whether cleats or staples are the perfect choices for fastening ¾ hardwood floors. Cleats are majorly used by contractors and professionals when nailing ¾ solid hardwood because they can handle strong hardwoods. On the other hand, Staples are said to be a safe bet for fastening domestic ¾ hardwood floors such as Oak, but that is about all they can do.

Even though both choices are guaranteed to fasten your hardwood floors securely, it is apparent that using cleats is a much better option for long-term advantages. It provides security and flexibility in terms of movement and drastic temperature changes.

Staples provide a firm grip, but in the long run, it will eventually lead to damage and a high risk of squeaky floors due to the fluctuation of the floorboards as a result of zero movement and low humidity. Your floors will not be able to maintain their beauty for a long time.

One thing staples have over cleats is their efficiency; a professional can install 500 square feet of flooring in eight hours using staples, while that same professional can only install 300 square feet of flooring in eight hours while using cleats. This shows using staples is less time-consuming.

It is also worth noting that removing old floorboards installed using staples is much more difficult to remove than the ones installed using cleats because of the firm grip.


Due to all the long-term disadvantages that come with using staples to fasten your hardwood floors, it is safe to say that cleats are a much better option. If you want to make use of staples, ensure to do so in a place with little to no drastic temperature changes to avoid cracks, splits, and squeaks. Although, staples have some advantages over cleats, such as being more affordable and more available. It is now up to you to choose which you think will be the best option for your home.

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