Staple Gun Vs. Nail Gun (What to Use and When?)

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

Have you ever wondered whether a staple gun or nail gun is better suited for a particular project? Years of practical experience have taught me that each difference matters, ensuring that the result is a satisfactory one!

So, what are the differences between a staple gun and a nail gun?

A staple gun is better suited to attaching softer materials; they will not damage the materials, and their hold is more robust due to their crown. Nail guns are meant for thicker fabrics and tasks like securing sheathing to plywood, and their small holes ensure the material isn’t damaged.

Regardless of the task you wish to undertake; you’ll benefit greatly from knowing how a staple or nail gun will impact your final result! Let’s review the differences to make a proper, informed decision.

Staple Gun Vs. Nail Gun

Staple Gun Vs. Nail Gun

A staple gun and a nail gun function similarly, using pressurized air to drive the nail or staple into the material. Both power tools are available in corded and battery versions. Even though they are mechanically similar, there are a few key distinctions.

Nail guns use a lot of force to drive nails into solid frame lumber, so if you’re working with softer materials like sheathing or thin plywood, the nail head may tear straight through it.

Different models of nail guns are available to fire different types of single-leg fasteners. 

A wood framework is held together with longer or heavier gauge nails, whereas molding and baseboards are attached with thinner, nearly headless “brad” nails. Nails are less noticeable once put and easier to remove with less harm than staples.

Nail guns are also used to secure sheathing, such as plywood, to roof rafters or structures. The disadvantage is that nails pull out of wood more easily than staples when humidity varies. 

A staple gun can be what you need for applications where a nail gun would be excessive. Staples can penetrate and fasten weaker materials such as thin plywood, sheathing, screens, and fabrics without breaking them apart. 

A staple gun may be helpful for various chores, including hanging outside Christmas decorations, putting house wrap, laying carpet, and attaching delicate moldings.

Can You Staple With A Nail Gun?

Some manufacturers have gone further and designed a product that can be used with staples and nails, such as the NuMax S2-118G2, a 2-in-1 brad nailer, and a staple gun. 

The 2-in-1 tool is small and light, yet it’s more than capable of getting the job done. This tool works particularly well to install trim, flimsy wire fences, foundation boards, picture frames, crates, window casings, cabinets, and anything else that comes to mind. 

Do Staples Hold Better Than Nails?  

Brad nailers and crown staplers have certain similarities in that they both employ materials to connect them. Although both narrow crown staples and brads are acceptable for similar trim applications, a brad nailer is usually the best choice for trim.

They are available for use in various gauges and lengths. The brad’s meter has the most impact on its holding power. As a result, a thinner brad will not hold as effectively as wider. 

The length of the nailer is significant since it dictates the material through which it will pass. An excellent rule to follow when using nailers is that the fastener should be twice the length of the material traveling.

The staple can be used to complete wood projects; however, it is not a nail. The staple is a durable finishing component used on hardwoods where a little brad nail would fail to keep the two parts together. They’re also great for use on timber casements or roofing jobs outside.

Staples are also typically used to secure papers, wood, and fabric; however, steel roofs, fences, and panels can also be stapled for added security. In the case of steel, it requires long staples and a high-powered staple gun to provide a perfect fit due to its thickness. 

Can You Use Staple Guns On Non-Wood Materials?

Staple Gun and Staples

Any material other than wood will not work with a staple gun. You must use your staple gun only on the surface where you work. If you try to use it on something other than wood, the staple may break or ricochet off the surface, hitting you in the eye. 

Keep your staple gun under control at all times. When working with a staple gun, it’s critical to prioritize safety; losing control of your gun can lead to sloppy work, bent staples, and, in the worst-case situation, an injured person.  

When Should You Use A Nail And Staple Gun?  

Both of these guns are used to attach and hold your material, such as MDF or wood.

Nails and staples are everyday household items, but when it comes to building a wood structure, you’ll also need wood glue since a few nails or staples won’t keep it all together, and it will break apart.

Compressed air is used in staple and nail guns, allowing them to fire staples and nails into wood with substantially more force and speed.

Even if they aren’t as secure as staples, nails are better for wood. A staple leaves a mark, particularly when removed, to reveal the harm it has caused. As such, staples can become troublesome for thinner materials used in delicate projects.

Compared to a Brad nailer, the nail is much smaller and only leaves a tiny hole that may be readily hidden. A Brad nailer is ideal for trim and molding because it secures materials on the surface and is difficult to notice.

If you enjoy exquisite carpentry, pick up a nail gun and go to work. However, if you’re making something out of wood, such as furniture, a staple gun is far superior and will get the job done.


The sort of woodworking job you’re working on, as well as whether you’re searching for a permanent or temporary hold, will determine whether you use a staple gun or a nail gun. 

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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