Hardwood floor install: nail heads visible, what now?

Hi all,
A floor installer has just finished installing new unfinished hardwood on the floor of our apartment. The floor has been sanded, but no polyurethane has been put down yet.
The base floor is concrete.
Due to concerns about the total height of the floor, we used 5/8'' plywood as the subfloor instead of 3/4''. The flooring is 3/4'' thick.
The problem is that, on the boards that were face nailed, the nail heads are right at the surface of the wood. So in the midst of our nice cherry floors, silver nail heads gleam in the light. We're told this is because the floor is not thick enough to do anything else.
We'd like to ask the installer "why didn't you mention this before?" But that's not exactly constructive.
So the question is: what now? It's not the nail heads that bother us, it's that they are silver and shiny. Can we color them? If so, with what? It seems like it would be tough to punch the nails deeper. But is that possible? How should it have been done? Screws and plugs? If so, can the nails be pulled out at this point?
Thanks in advance!
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On Jul 22, 9:34 pm, snipped-for-privacy@chicagoits.com wrote:

Don't worry about how it should have been done. Your concern now is having the mistake corrected. Do not allow any finish work on the floor until the nails are gone and the holes filled to your satisfaction. Read over your contract, and if possible withhold any further payment until it is done right. Contact a lawyer , BBB, whoever you feel can assist if there is reluctance to make it right. The installer must have used 1 1/2" nails and he could have as easily used a shorter nail or screw or snipped off what he had with side cutters given the small number needed. Sounds like an inexperienced box store job to me.
Joe
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ask the installer what he can do. It may very well be possible to punch them down lower. & fill the holes. that would be my first choice. it also would be pretty simple to color them, A black or red sharpie would do a nice job.
wrote:

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> The problem is that, on the boards that were face nailed, the nail

So it's just a few boards. Normally these are at the edge of a room of similar. Ask him if he can punch the heads below the surface and fill the holes. Fill ONE hole and check what you think of the colour match. Be prepared to pay for a few different pots of filler and consider mixing to get the right match.
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On Jul 23, 5:51 am, "CWatters"

Contacting a lawyer because a floor installer didn't set his nails? Would it be a criminal case or a civil case?
Are you having the floor professionally sanded/finished? Call the installer back to set the nails if you want--seems easier to me to just buy a 2 dollar nail set at the hardware store and do it yourself. Less frustrating. Then, your finisher should be able to putty the holes. You tend to look at new work with a microscope. Once your furniture is moved back in etc, are these nails even going to be an issue?
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On Jul 22, 10:34 pm, snipped-for-privacy@chicagoits.com wrote:

The nails are more of a problem than simply cosmetic. When you go to refinish the floor the nails will tear up the sandpaper on the floor machine. That's the reason that all nails, whether through the tongue or face-nailed should be set as deep as the top of the tongue.
You could color the nail head, after doing some tests to make sure that the floor finish doesn't cause the paint or whatever you use to streak and discolor the floor. Coloring the nail heads only deals with the cosmetic issue and not the long term one.
The nails will probably hit the concrete and bend which would cause the nail set to slide off the head. If that happens it'll leave some larger than necessary holes and the nails might not be set deep enough anyway. A mangled head also won't look better than a uniform one. Setting the nails would probably be difficult, but it's probably worth a shot.
Pulling the nails would leave some nasty scars. I don't see any reason why you should have scars in a brand new floor. It is possible to use a pull the nail, use a Forstner bit to drill a counterbore and then use screws and plugs. That's a crap load of work and it would probably be just as easy to just install new boards and sand them down. Cherry wood darkens with age quite a bit, so if the putty looks perfect when first installed, it will look too light down the road.
The thin plywood underlayment is the problem. If the floor installer put it down, the whole thing is his puppy. If you had the plywood installed by someone else, and the installer wasn't aware of the problem, then it's yours. Such thin underlayment doesn't give much leeway for fasteners. A solid wood floor will move a fair bit - you're lucky that you have cherry which moves less than oak - and shorter fasteners can work loose more easily.
R
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All great responses, thank you everyone.
The floor installer put the subfloor down. We knew it was a little thin, but we were told there was enough room to secure the boards properly.
The most important thing I've learned is that the nails can not stay the way they are due to problems when refinishing in the future.
Sounds like screw and plugs might be the way to go. We have extra boards too.
I'll report back on the outcome.
Thanks again!
--Greg
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snipped-for-privacy@chicagoits.com wrote:

IF you choose to set the nailheads and putty them DO NOT putty the holes until at least the first coat of sealer/finish has been applied. If you fill nail holes on raw wood, the area surrounding every single one of them will show up as light splotches.
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