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How to Use a Concrete T Nailer Like a Pro

Pneumatic nail guns have been saving time (and thumbs) since 1950. They are common on jobsites from just after groundbreaking until the final punch list items are completed. Framing nailers build the bones; roofing nailers (or coil nailers) fasten shingles, wraps, and siding; and finish nailers drive the nails that hold trim. All of these nailers have wood as the common substrate. But what if you need to nail into concrete? That requires a different tool entirely. We show you how to use a concrete T nailer and provide the information you need to know before getting started.

About Concrete T Nailers

Tools like the Bostitch MIII Concrete T Nailer drive up to 2-1/4-inch T nails. With a more industrial design, The MIII has a more stout appearance than its wood-nailing brethren.

Bostitch made the entire housing of this particular model from aluminum, not plastic as you may see on other nailers. This makes for a good feature, considering the tough environment concrete nailing provides.

How To Use a Concrete T Nailer

T nailers typically hold a high capacity of T nails. Not as bulky as standard wood nails for roofing or framing, T nailers deliver capacities more in line with finish nailers. Knowing how to use a concrete T nailer means you can also likely use any pneumatic or battery-powered finish nailer.

What Are T Nails?

Concrete T nailers use T nails for fastening any combination of wood, concrete, and steel. Even though this nailer is less common than wood-substrate nailers, it fits many applications. You can nail:

  • tack strips
  • steel channels fastened to concrete
  • furring strips
  • joist hangers
  • metal plates to trusses
  • metal door & window frames
  • plywood to concrete
  • wire lathe installation
  • steel banding
  • decks
  • fences
  • cabinet frames
  • sub-floors
How to Use a Concrete T Nailer Like a Pro
T-nails aren’t paper or plastic collated. Similar to brad nails, they are temporarily fused together and come apart when fired by the nailer.

Similar to brad nails, T nails are collated by being temporarily fused together. This gives them more compact, dense packaging than if they used wire, paper, or plastic collation. The larger size of framing, coil, and finish nailers requires a different collation method.

There are several powder-actuated concrete T nailer models on the market you can use. These tools might require licensing for proper use in your area. There are powerful pneumatic alternatives that don’t require such licensing—like the popular Bostitch MIII. We have found these more convenient, even though they tether the user to a compressor.

Additionally, be sure to consider the age and density of the concrete substrate. This will determine the length and gauge of the T nail needed. Generally, longer nails work for more brittle concrete. Shorter nails may fail to hold and, instead, simply gouge a hole.

How to Use a Concrete T Nailer

If you’re an apprentice wondering how to use a Concrete T nailer, it’s much like using any other nailer. We won’t belabor the point. Simply follow these steps:

Load the Fasteners

Load the fasteners in the magazine. T-nails load just like most other finish nailers—from the side. Pull back the magazine and place the nails within so that the nails are pointing in the direction of fire. Once you have the nails inserted, slide the magazine cover back into place until it clicks.

Engage the Safety

Nailers have a safety mechanism built into the bose of the tool. Pressing this against the material frees you up to pull the trigger and fire a nail. With most T-nailers you won’t have to worry about protecting the surface of the material. As a result, most don’t include those small plastic nose guards you often see with finish nailers. If, for some reason, you want to put one of these on, be sure to disconnect the air from the tool before you touch the nose of the nailer. You don’t want to misfire into your hand!

Pull the Trigger

The next step—logically—is to just pull the trigger. You tend to feel some kick when nailing into concrete. Just be sure to have a solid grip and press firmly against the material. T-nailers typically use 14-gauge nails, so you get more feedback from the tool than if you fired a brad into pine or oak.

With concrete T nailers, we also tend to fire a single nail at a time. You don’t typically see bump-fire on these tools. Slow and steady makes for a better result with T-nails.

Check Your Work!

The last step we recommend is checking the security of the fastener. This step seems especially important in older, low density, or brittle concrete.

How To Use a Concrete T Nailer

You’ll notice many of the same features on a T nailer that you do other pneumatic nailers. It’s just likely to be a bit heavier construction since the job requires more force.

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