Sometimes a nail gun just doesn’t hit the spot. Nail guns exert large amounts of force to drive nails deep into framing lumber, so if you are working with weaker material like sheathing or plywood, the nail head sometimes rips right through. A staple gun could be just what you need in these situations where using a nail gun would be overkill. Staples can penetrate weaker materials without tearing those materials apart.
Whether you’re hanging outdoor holiday decorations, laying carpet, or installing wall moldings, there are a great many home projects for which a staple gun can be indispensable. We’ll help you find the best staple gun for your needs by breaking down the available styles and which features to look for.
- BEST ALL AROUND: Arrow Fastener T50 Heavy Duty Staple Gun
- BEST FOR DIYers: BOSTITCH Crown Stapler
- BEST FOR PROS: Senco Construction Stapler
Types of Staple Guns
Before you choose a staple gun for your project, know that these tools are available in several styles.
- 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 a large number of staples.
- Pneumatic staple guns: Guns that use air pressure to fire thick, heavier gauge staples into framing materials.
- 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.
What to Look For in the Best Staple Gun
Choosing the right staple gun for your needs is a crapshoot unless you know what to look for. The considerations outlined below will help you make an informed decision.
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. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions. Outside of these typical ranges, some purpose-specific staple guns use larger or smaller staples.
Comfort and Ease of Use
One of the complaints about manual staple guns is that they’re uncomfortable to use. People with smaller hands or weaker grips often find these tools awkward or difficult to use. In cases like this, an electric or pneumatic staple gun may be the best choice. To operate an electric staple gun, all you need to do is depress the safety mechanism at the tip while pulling the trigger with one finger.
Electric vs. Pneumatic
Manual staple guns will always be useful for a plethora of projects, but the best staple gun for you might be a powered version. 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 you’ll be tackling, an electric model may be the best staple gun for you.
Our Top Picks
Arrow Fastener has been selling high-quality staple guns for more than 90 years, and this classic model is among their most popular. It fires common T50 staples, which makes finding the right fasteners a simple task.
This is an ideal staple gun for a homeowner, but it also has its place in professional shops. Its versatility and ease of use means that an upholsterer or furniture maker could comfortably use this staple gun all day. Add the fact that it takes a variety of T50 staple lengths, and it’s easy to see how this model has been in production for so long.
You’ll need to understand this tool’s limitations before use. It’s not meant for fastening two pieces of wood together, regardless of their thicknesses or staple length. Trying this could lead to frustration and jamming.
The BOSTITCH Crown Stapler is a pneumatic gun, meaning that it runs off an air compressor. With tool-free depth adjustment and an overmolded grip for comfort, the BOSTITCH can be instantly switched from sequential firing to contact firing. 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 is a good choice for a DIYer who’s just getting into trim work or more involved projects. It’ll do a great job of hanging baseboards and door moldings, and can even be dialed back enough for delicate materials like polystyrene moldings. We also like the no-maintenance and oil-free design, as it keeps grease off your workpieces.
The most common issues with this model are the safety plunger breaking and staples not loading properly. These problems might be due to user error, but they are something to keep an eye on nonetheless.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty construction stapler, the Senco is a highly deserving option. This 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 to keep air out of your face.
For heavy-duty jobs like roof and floor sheathing, the Senco can’t be beaten. A 2-inch staple will hold plywood firmly in place. Boosting your compressor toward the top of the Senco’s working pressure range will ensure staples are below surface height while still holding tenaciously. It’ll be right at home on any construction site.
Things to look out for are jamming and double-firing. Jamming will slow down your workflow but double-firing can be a quality-control issue. Keep in mind that damage from double-firing staples will be easier to hide on surfaces like floor or wall sheathing than when working on other materials, such as fence slats.