A staple’s a staple, right? Wrong. There are dozens of different kinds of staples designed for different applications and intended for different kinds of staplers, from office staplers to large industrial staplers. Keep these different types of staples in mind when you’re selecting fasteners for a project.
There’s more to it than just wire. Staples come in varieties of metals, which may or may not be rust-resistant. Staples made from uncoated metal, or bright metal, are not rust-resistant, so they’re unsuitable for use outdoors or in damp environments. Galvanized staples have a rust-resistant coating, and stainless steel staples provide the highest level of corrosion resistance.
The type of wire is just the start. Next comes the thickness: fine, medium, or heavy. It’s important to understand the appropriate application for the different gauges of wire. Use fine wire staples for upholstery or for other applications where the look of the staple may be important. Fine wire also works for ordinary office staplers you use to fasten less than 20 pages of paper. Medium wire can handle thicker or stronger materials such as wood, floors, or moldings. Heavy-gauge wire staplers are for industrial uses, such as closing cartons or attaching boxes to skids.
The shape of the wire comes into play, too—staple wire may be round or flat, and the shape makes a difference in the proper uses for the staple.
Staples also vary by the size and shape of their parts. The crown of the staple is the part that shows on top of the material after you apply the staple. The legs of the staple are the two parts that extend perpendicularly from the crown, which the stapler drives into the wood, paper, or fabric. The legs vary in length; the material you’re fastening as well as what you’re fastening it to determine how long a leg you’ll need. Some staples have legs that splay outward instead of crimping under when applied in order to provide a more secure attachment or lock.
Other staples’ crowns are wavy, which makes them easy to remove without damaging fabric or other materials. Florists, dry cleaners, and dressmakers or tailors might use these undulating staples to temporarily secure a pattern to fabric or a plastic cover to a paper coat hanger. The staples need to come out easily without struggle or without a remover that might harm the clothes.
The width of the crown often identifies the right kind of use for the staple, but not necessarily the machines it fits. Industrial staplers, for example, require a certain size of staples with a specific product code that identifies which machines can use them. Here are some of the most common staple widths:
- Wide-crown: Wide-crown staples are those big, usually copper-colored staples you find closing the bottom and top of large cardboard cartons or securing cartons to pallets. They can also work in construction projects in places you won’t see them, such as on house wrap that’s later covered with siding.
- Medium-crown: These staples fasten subfloors, shingles, and siding. They can also hold furniture frames or close boxes and crates.
- Narrow-crown: These staples are made of round wire, and they may have round crowns. They can fasten cables or wires to wood—think fence wire to fence post or coaxial cables held in place within a wall. But leg length is another consideration for this type: narrow-crown staples with long legs are best when the staple needs to penetrate harder materials. Narrow-crown staples hide well, so they’re useful in finer applications such as cabinets, drawers, and trim. You may notice them holding lattice-style trellises made of thin wood together or securing more visible parts of the exterior of a house, such as soffits.
Staples have “teeth” at the end of their legs. Teeth are flat or pointed, depending on the staple’s purpose. Typical office staples have flat or beveled tips that are perpendicular to the legs. Other staplers have sharp, pointed, or chiseled teeth for heavy-duty use and to puncture thicker materials or larger stacks of paper. Construction staples and staple gun staples may have these pointed ends, making it especially important to use protective gear such as eye protection, to understand the stapler’s proper operation, and never to leave a staple gun anywhere a child could get at it.
Staples come in strips, cartridges, or rolls. Strips refer to those stuck-together strips of staples that most ordinary office or home staplers use. These typically have either 100 (half-strip) or 200 (full-strip) staples. They generally come in cardboard boxes, and you can usually break them apart if you don’t need a full strip or if your stapler is short.
By contrast, some types of electric staplers that can bind thicker stacks of paper use staple cartridges. These replace not only the staples, but also the parts of the stapler that can become worn each time you put a new cartridge in the stapler.
Large industrial applications in which machines quickly apply a lot of fasteners one after the other generally use staples that come in rolls or coils. Carton-closing operations use these most often.
Variety by Use
The job or project often defines which of the different types of staples you should use. At Staple Headquarters, you’ll find staples for upholstery, flooring, fencing, and carton-closing. We carry stainless steel and rust-proof staples as well as specialty staples or “points” for picture frames. We can special-order staples that are hard to find, staples that have gone out of production, or custom staples (these orders may require a minimum of one million staples).
The Right Staple for the Right Tool
If you’re a pro looking to upgrade your nail gun, a bindery looking to increase speed or volume, or a DIYer wondering which tool to use for your project, you’ll likely find the right tool and the matching staple at Staple Headquarters. Remember, the staple should match the tool. Consider the kinds of materials you’ll be fastening together (wood, fabric, aluminum, roofing, flooring) and how big the job is. You’ll need not only the right crown width, but also the right leg length and the appropriate teeth that match your chosen tool. Our technical support and customer service staff are here to help you find the best tool and fastener for your application.