When it comes to fastening material, sometimes a nail gun just won’t do. Nail guns exert large amounts of force to drive nails deep into tough framing lumber, so if you are working with weaker material like sheathing or thin plywood, you may find the nail head rips right through it.
The best staple gun could be just what you need for jobs where a nail gun would be overkill. Staples can penetrate and fasten weaker material like thin plywood, sheathing, screen, or fabric without tearing it apart. Whether you’re hanging outdoor holiday decorations, installing house wrap, laying carpet, or mounting delicate moldings, a staple gun can be indispensable for plenty of projects.
To help you choose the best staple gun, we performed hands-on testing with several models. We found the DEWALT DWHTTR350 Heavy-Duty Aluminum Stapler/Brad Nailer to be the best choice overall, with the Bostitch 18-Gauge Crown Stapler being a handy choice for finish work and light-duty projects. Here’s our official ranking:
- BEST OVERALL: DEWALT DWHTTR350 Heavy-Duty Aluminum Stapler/Brad Nailer
- BANG FOR THE BUCK: Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun
- BEST ELECTRIC: DEWALT 5-in-1 Multi-Tacker and Brad Nailer
- BEST FOR FINISH WORK: Bostitch 18-Gauge Crown Stapler
- BEST FOR CONSTRUCTION: Senco SNS41 16-Gauge Stapler
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Staple Gun
With the huge variety of staple guns available online and at the local home center, you’ll need an idea of what to look for when picking out the best staple gun. The following sections will highlight some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when comparing models and hunting for the right staple gun.
Types of Staple Guns
Before you choose a staple gun for your project, you should know that there are several styles available.
- Manual staple guns: Handheld, spring-loaded models that fire thick staples when their levers are depressed. These guns are perfect for hanging exterior decorations.
- Electric staple guns: Models that either plug in or use a battery to fire staples with the pull of a trigger. Electric models are easy on the arm, so they’re well suited for carpet or upholstery jobs that require large numbers of staples.
- Pneumatic staple guns: Guns that use air pressure to fire thick, heavier gauge staples into framing materials and moldings.
- Flooring staple guns: Typically air-powered guns that fire staples into the tongue of a hardwood plank when struck with a mallet. Some versions are spring-loaded only.
- Tack-hammers: Staple guns that are struck against the face of a surface to fire a staple into the material. These tools are great for hanging house wrap or resin paper.
Staple Gauges and Sizes
Staple thickness is measured in gauge; the lower the number the thicker the staple. For example, a 16-gauge staple is thicker than an 18-gauge staple. Common gauge sizes for all-purpose staple guns are 16, 18, and 20 gauge, with some upholstery guns firing 22-gauge staples. Within that range, staple guns will use staples in widths from 7/32-inch to 7/16-inch and lengths of up to 2 inches. Outside of these typical ranges, some industry-specific tools may use larger or smaller staples.
“T50” is also a common type of staple for most manual staple guns. This type of staple is a trademark of Arrow Fastener, and other manufacturers have designed their staple guns to operate with them. They’re somewhat of the gold standard in staples.
Comfort and Ease of Use
One of the complaints about manual staple guns is discomfort. Some users with smaller hands or weaker grips find these tools awkward or difficult to use. In this case, an electric or pneumatic staple gun may be a better choice. These types of tools simply require depressing the safety mechanism at the tip while pulling the trigger with one finger.
But, it’s entirely possible for those with smaller hands to fire a manual staple gun. Most of these models have large lever-style triggers which sit in the palm of the user. All the user has to do is push the lever with their body weight.
Electric vs. Pneumatic
Manual staple guns will always be useful for a plethora of projects, but they’re not always the best staple gun for heavy-duty work. A staple gun with a power source, whether it be electric or pneumatic, might be best when firing a lot of staples or when stapling through thicker materials.
When it comes to choosing electric or pneumatic, there are reasons for both. Pneumatic staple guns tend to be the most powerful, sinking staples deep into tough materials. The issue is they require an air compressor to run. On the other hand, electric staplers simply plug into an outlet, but they pack less of a punch. If light-duty work is all that’s required, an electric model may be the best staple gun for the job.
Our Top Picks
That’s a lot of information on staple guns, and choosing the right model might seem intimidating. To help, we compiled the following list of the best staple guns by performing hands-on tests and seeing what they can do. Be sure to keep the top shopping considerations in mind when comparing these staple guns.
When it comes to manual options, our top choice for the best overall is Dewalt’s DWHTTR350 Heavy-Duty Aluminum Stapler/Brad Nailer. This manual nailer fires standard T50 staples and 18 gauge brads, providing flexibility for many fastening projects. It’s lightweight and durable, thanks to its aluminum construction.
During testing, I found that this model packed more punch than any other manual model. Loading staples was easy, but it was a little tricky to figure out how to load the brads at first. Once I figured it out, this model drove them through moldings with ease. I liked that Dewalt includes a built-in view window so the user can see when the staples are getting low, as well as the built-in belt clip (which was very sturdy). Also, compared to the other models, the DEWALT’s build quality really stood out.
DIYers looking for a value-minded staple gun with enough power to tackle most projects should check out Arrow’s Heavy-Duty Staple Gun. This manual model features chrome-polished all-steel construction that’s both durable and rust-resistant. This staple gun shoots the brand’s own T50 staples, so it’s useful for stapling house wrap, upholster, signage, and more.
Testing revealed that this manual staple gun had decent power. Though it did well, the Arrow wasn’t the most powerful in the group (despite being the most difficult to squeeze). I liked the classic design and robust construction. And though it can be a little finicky to load, the price tag is hard to ignore. It performed better than some more expensive models.
The DEWALT 5-in-1 Multi-Tacker is the only electric staple gun to make our list. The Multi-Tacker can fire several sizes and styles of fasteners, including T50s and brad nails. It has a comfortable rubber grip, an on/off switch for added safety, and a power regulator for hard and soft woods.
The Multi-Tacker’s ability to switch between staple styles and brads makes it an attractive option for homeowners as it can take the place of a few tools. It also includes a wire guide for safely stapling electrical wire in place — a handy feature for any job requiring even a little bit of wiring.
Anyone considering switching to staples for their finish work should check out this 18-gauge Crown Stapler from Bostitch. This pneumatic gun features a tool-free depth adjustment, an overmolded grip for comfort, and it can switch from sequential firing to contact firing easily. It comes with a handy carrying case to keep it safe when not in use and a universal belt clip that can be affixed to either side of the stapler. It uses 18-gauge staples that range in size from 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches.
The Bostitch passed all of our tests without breaking a sweat. Positioning the tip in place was very easy and led to accurate staple placement — something that’s very important in finish work. The staple holes left behind were small and clean, allowing the user to come behind with a bit of nail hole filler for a seamless finish. Using this staple gun was very intuitive, and the built-in belt hook is a nice touch. If there are any complaints, it’s that there’s quite a bit of plastic on this gun, making it suitable for a DIYer but maybe not a professional finish carpenter.
Senco’s 16-gauge staple gun is a pro-grade model that can hold its own on a construction site. This 16-gauge stapler is capable of firing staples up to 2 inches in length. It has an overmolded rubber grip for comfort, and a 360-degree adjustable exhaust port.
Testing the Senco really put its heavy-duty nature on display. This powerful staple gun easily fired staples through plywood and construction lumber, creating a strong mechanical bond that was difficult to break up. It also had a large capacity, holding more than two sticks of 16-gauge staples at a time. Also, I liked that the magazine doesn’t cover the staples, as I could tell how many staples were left at any point.
This staple gun isn’t perfect, though. It doesn’t come with a hose fitting (you’ll need a ⅜-inch male fitting), and it does double-fire from time to time. That’s not a big deal with sheathing, but it could be an issue when installing fence slats or other visible work.
How I Tested
I spent years working as a commercial maintenance technician and carpenter, and I’ve fired my fair share of staples. With that experience in mind, I was able to come up with a test to challenge these staple guns.
For the manual staple guns, they were each loaded with the same T50 staples and then fired into a piece of scrap Douglas fir construction lumber. The depths of the driven staples proved valuable when judging their power. Then, I took a piece of scrap leather and stapled it to the lumber with each gun, again, testing the penetration.
For the finish staplers, I used a similar method but with 18-gauge staples. I stapled a piece of chair-rail molding to that piece of Douglas fir. I stapled in different locations to see how well the staples would penetrate.
The test for construction staplers include a scrap of ¾ inch plywood and construction lumber. I fired several staples as I would when sheathing a house, checking on the performance every few staples.
With those hands-on reviews, you should have a pretty good idea of which model to go with. Overall, the Dewalt DWHTTR350 was the best manual option, providing flexibility, power, and robust design. But, for finish work, the Bostitch 18-gauge Crown Stapler’s power and ease of use will yield excellent results. For heavy-duty work, the Senco construction stapler is tough to beat.
FAQs About Your New Staple Gun
Even with all that background on choosing the best staple gun, there might be some new questions popping up that you’d like to sort through. The following sections aim to answer those queries, as they’re a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about staple guns.
Q. What kind of staple gun is best for wood?
If you’re stapling something thin or light to wood, the Dewalt DWHTTR350 is one of the best staple guns on the market.
Q. Can I use a staple gun for carpet?
You can, but make sure you use long enough staples to make it through the pile, and that the staple gun has the power to drive them into the wood. Otherwise, loose staples will find their way into bare feet.
Q. What type of staple gun is the most powerful?
Construction staplers are definitely the most powerful. These models fire thick, heavy-gauge staples into construction lumber, so they have to pack a punch.