When I first started in the flooring business, I always wondered why no one made a specialty nailer for nailing through T&G flooring without affecting the finish on the face of the board. Enter the Duo-Fast FloorMaster 250BN.
|I have tried a few nailers over the years. Right now, I’m using the Porter Cable FN250A and the Hitachi NT65MA4. These two nailers have different tips (see photo, right). The Porter Cable’s tip is curved back, which allows it to slide nicely across boards, but only when the magazine is pointing away from the board. This can be inconvenient, particularly when getting close to a wall. The straight magazine can also cause a problem once in a while.|
|The Hitachi works better for sliding across boards that are running parallel to other boards, and the angled magazine is helpful in tight situations. The best feature of the Hitachi, which I haven’t seen on any other nailer, is the air duster. However, a less welcome feature is that it’s 15ga instead of 16ga. The 15ga nails can spit the tongues off a board if the angle is tight when using close to a wall.|
At first glance, the Duo-Fast 250BN nailer looks very similar to the Paslode T250A-F16. The Paslode, itself, is a very good gun—I have used it many times on jobsites, and it’s a quite capable finish nailer. I never did get the chance to use it on flooring, though.
The Duo-Fast engineers addressed my biggest complaint about most trim nailers—not having tips that can be used for specialty purposes, particularly flooring. We need the ability to use the same nailer on multiple phases of a project to be profitable.
|But it also comes with a black tip, at a 45 degree angle, which allows for you to put the nailer right where you want it—in the seam of the tongue on boards.|
Some basic specs on the Duo-Fast 250BN are:
• Weight: 3.75Lbs
• Nails: 1-1/4”-2-1/2” Angled 16 Gauge Nails
|To clear a jam you pull on the blue colored plastic part that covers the driver area.|
|Duo-Fast supplies a sequential trigger, but the pre-installed orange trigger functions just as I want in this type of nailer, so I don’t see the point in changing it.|
I’m not sure why they didn’t include a belt clip with this model.
|They do, however, include rubber no-mar bumpers all over the nailer’s air chamber.|
This makes sense, given that this nailer is specifically designed for flooring.
|The problem, though, is that they forgot that the two screws near the rear of the nailer stick out, and are not protected from scratching the floor.|
I did find a great use for the T&G tip when doing trim work. You can put the nose in a detail and slide down the trim piece. This does make it harder to fill the nail hole than, say, putting the nail in a flat spot on the trim, but it makes it less noticeable from a short distance.
I shot two videos comparing the Hitachi and Duo-Fast (see below). You will see that it takes some time to set the tip of the Hitachi into the groove, and then if it moves when nailing off the board it will damage the face. The Duo-Fast, however, slides right along, which makes it faster, and poses less threats to the face of the board.
|This nailer allows me to blind fasten within 2 boards of the wall (2-1/4-in. flooring planks). The last two rows will need to be face nailed.|
Probably the best/worst thing about the Duo-Fast is it can be used by—dare I say it?—a less-skilled installer for a perfect finish. Before this nailer came along, I know I would never have trusted my helper to nail off the last few boards of a room. In the hands of a true professional, I can confidently say that this nailer will speed up your work, and make your life easier, in more ways than one.
• • •
Sal Donato is a fourth generation craftsman. He has been practicing carpentry ever since his grandfather allowed him into the workshop—when Sal was still in single digits. Sal was bit by the “Carpentry Bug” around age ten, and it has been a major part of his life ever since.
Sal graduated from college with a degree in Business Administration and founded BSA Renovations in 2004. His business is his passion and allows him to design and create custom projects to aid homeowners in transforming their house into a home.
Sal regularly contributes to the JLC online forum, is a founding member and part of the site staff for TheContractorsClub.com, and he frequently adds to the discussion on ContractorTalk.com. Sal believes in Internet collaboration between craftsmen: Sal says, “the internet is perhaps our best tool for solving some of the most challenging remodels. By sharing ideas with other like-minded contractors across the country, we are able to think out of the box and utilize new techniques and materials,…which helps to get your project done more efficiently.”
Is there a nailer that you can use on old house flooring that is only 3/8 of an inch thick?
Have you tried the secret nailers by bostitch/paslode and others that shoot a 1 1/2 to 2 inch staple. It’s standard with floor contractors here.
How does this compare with secret nail guns that use floor staples?
Hey guys for those asking if this would replace the hidden staplers? the short answer is no. those are for thinner hardwoods/engineered flooring. This nailer is designed to be used for tight situations with any T&G product, so this nailer would complement those staplers – for where they can’t fit.
I also used it on a T&G knotty pine attic job and it worked perfectly.
Nice piece, Sal.
Any idea whether the angled Duo Fast tip will fit on Paslode’s sister tool or if it’s available for purchase separately?
Greg if it looks the same as the tip in the above picture I can’t see why it wouldn’t fit. I told the duofast guys that they need to sell them separately. so I am not sure they have them available yet.
Hi Dan, & others looking to install 3/8″ hardwood
If you’re looking for a stapler for 3/8″ T&G flooring take a look at the Grex 9032F. It’s an 18ga stapler specifically made for 3/8″ to 1/2″ T&G. Haven’t used it personally but Grex guns have a good reputation. I think Stanley used to make a similar stapler, not sure they still do though.
Can the duo-fast 250bn be used to nail down a whole floor instead of just the first or last boards. I’m going to put down 3/4″ solid oak. This is a diy project and don’t have a flooring nailer. I don’t want to go to the expense of buying both nail guns. The 250bn would have multi functions not just a floor nailer.
I wouldn’t do a whole floor the 16ga don’t have the bite of a cleat nail to hold a full floor down. I have done a few closets with it but mainly not high traveled areas