What Kind Of Stapler And Staples To Use For Carpet?

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If you've already decided to install your carpet with a stapler, then the first thing you need to know is - what kind of stapler? We've checked into the recommendations from flooring experts, and we're ready to tell you everything you need to know.

There are four basic kinds of staplers that you can pick from. They are:

  1. Electric
  2. Pneumatic
  3. Manual
  4. Hammer tacker

All of them are possibilities, and there are no wrong answers here. But each has advantages and disadvantages to consider when picking the best one for you.

Read on, and we'll break down exactly what the pros and cons of each type are. Then we'll cover crown staplers and what you need to know there. Finally, we'll review what size staples you need - and how to tell what size your stapler takes.

A stapler with staples on the side placed on the floor, What Kind Of Stapler And Staples To Use For Carpet?

The Kinds Of Staplers For Carpeting

1. Electric Stapler

An electric stapler is one of the more common choices for installing carpeting. It's smaller than a pneumatic gun, making it a bit easier to fit into corners and tight spots.

It's also more affordable than a pneumatic gun and can be used in a variety of settings. Many of the other tools on this list are cheaper - but also aren't very flexible, and you won't find yourself using them on many other projects.

Electric staplers are relatively safe. There's little danger of misuse, as long as you're trying to follow instructions. It doesn't take a lot of training or experience to manage. For this reason, many people feel comfortable selecting an electric stapler to install a carpet.

Click here to see this electric stapler on Amazon.

2. Pneumatic

Pneumatic staplers are very strong and powerful - but for this reason, they can be a bit hazardous as well. Of all the staplers on this list, this is the one you have to "watch out for." Not that you can't safely use a pneumatic stapler, of course. But people who aren't particularly handy often steer clear of this one.

It only works with an air tank, which also means it's a bit more expensive and may be less practical. You need room to move around with the stapler and the air tank as well.

Plus, that air tank is loud. Many people find this whole system a bit intimidating. If you're comfortable with it, it's an option. But often, non-professionals select a different kind of stapler for carpeting.

Click here to see this pneumatic stapler on Amazon.

3. Manual Stapler

The pros? It's cheap, easy to use, and you might already have one. Plus, it's even smaller than an electric gun. If you need to be able to squeeze into a lot of nooks and crannies, this is the one for you.

The cons? Squeezing that trigger over and over will start to tire your hand out. It's hard to control just how deep the staples go - you'll end up hammering quite a few "half-done" staples in the rest of the way by hand. And it jams pretty easily, meaning you'll spend some time just fixing clogs and misfires.

Basically, if this is a one-time job in a small area and you already have a manual stapler, go for it. But you won't catch a professional wasting time with a manual stapler on a regular basis for a reason.

Click here to see this manual stapler on Amazon.

4. Hammer Tacker

A hammer tacker, or slap stapler, is similar to a staple gun. In fact, it's technically still a kind of manual stapler.

However, it's not what most people picture when they think of a stapler.  A typical manual staple gun works by squeezing a trigger. But a hammer tacker actually "hammers" the staples into place. The nice part is that you don't have to worry about the constant "trigger squeeze" motion tiring your hand out.

But because you have to swing this tool like a hammer, it's not very precise. You can't neatly line a row of staples up along the edge of the carpet. They tend to come out a bit uneven - because of this, many people use them for carpet padding but not the carpet itself.

Can You Use An Electric Staple Gun On Carpet?

There are several methods for laying new carpeting. An electric staple gun is one possibility - but not the only one. While a staple gun can be used on carpet, it may not always be the best choice.
Other options include tack strips or adhesive. To use a staple gun, you'll want to consider:
  • The size and shape of the room. Electric staple guns are bulky and hard to use in small, tight corners.
  • The subfloor. A staple gun won't hold carpet to concrete, for example.

You may also use more than one method. For example, you might use tack strips around the perimeter of the room. However, staples may be the best way to join the seams between pieces of carpeting.

Unrolling and installing a new carpet padding using staplers and small mallets

Can You Use A Crown Stapler For Carpet?

Looking for the right stapler, you might see a lot of references to something called a crown stapler. It's important to note that a crown stapler isn't a kind of stapler as much as a description. All staples and staple guns are either narrow, medium, or wide crowned. You still need to decide between a flooring stapler, construction stapler, etc.
So, you first need to decide the style: electric, pneumatic, or manual. Once you know which of those three, look for the best kind of stapler for your job.
For installing a carpet, the ideal tool is a carpet stapler. If you can't find one that markets itself as a carpet stapler, look for a heavy-duty stapler instead.
Then, you'll get to pick between a narrow, medium, or wide crowned stapler. In most cases, a narrow crown staple gives the best results. It has a smaller "head" or crown, making it less noticeable on the carpet. However, a very plush or thick carpet may require a wider crown.

What Size Staples Do You Use For Carpet Padding?

A worker installing a carpet padding in the living room

The best tool to use for carpet padding is the hammer tacker stapler. It's a very fast way to put in a lot of staples. Plus, it's small, light, and easy to work with. Since carpet padding is hidden underneath the carpet, it doesn't matter if the staple placement is a bit scattered.
The size of staples you use for carpet padding will vary, depending on the specifics of your stapler. Make sure you pick the right staples for your tool. It should be able to take a "range" of sizes - at the bare minimum, use at least 3/8 inch staples for padding. This will give you an adequate grip to keep the padding where you want it.
For the carpet itself, pick staples around 1/2 inch. Some staplers even go up to 9/16, which will give you a bit of extra holding power.
No matter what size staples you use, be sure to adjust the depth gauge on a power stapler. This is so that you don't set the staples too deep. You may "dent" or even tear the carpet if the staples are pushed too far in.

Three layers showing the carpet, carpet padding and flooring

How Do You Know What Size Staples Your Staple Gun Takes?

Finding the right size staples for your staple gun can actually be a bit tricky. For the best results, use the staples recommended by the gun manufacturer. You can usually find this printed right on the staple gun's magazine.
You might balk at having to use the company's brand of staples - won't any staples work just the same? The problem is that staples aren't determined by one specific size. The leg length, the "crown" (or head) of the staple, and the gauge of the metal all change how the staple fits in a stapler.
Joining two pads of cut out carpet in the living room
Since one brand's half-inch staple may not be identical to another brand, it really is just easier to use the recommended product.

In Conclusion

Many people choose an electric staple gun for installing carpeting. It's less exertion than a manual staple gun. It fits into smaller spaces and is more affordable than a pneumatic staple gun. But it's possible to use any of these staplers on carpeting. Each one comes with pros and cons, so simply weigh them out to pick the right staple gun for you.

If you enjoyed this, try reading:

Should Carpet Or Baseboards Be Installed First?

How To Fill The Gap Between Carpet And Baseboard

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