Choosing the Best Staple Size for Upholstery Work

Aug 9, 2023 | NEWS

When tackling upholstery projects, having the right size staples is crucial for achieving secure and reinforced seams. Using staples that are too big or too small can lead to a poor hold, visible staples, or damage to the upholstery fabric. As a general rule, upholstery staple length is determined by the thickness and layers of the material being attached. Read on to learn more about selecting the ideal staple size for furniture upholstery work.

best staple size for upholstery

Understand Upholstery Staple Sizes Explained

Upholstery staples size are measured by the “leg length”, which is the size from the top of the staple crown to the tip of the legs. Staple widths are standardized based on Wire Gauge sizes from 3/8″ to 1/2″ wide. For most upholstery jobs, opt for 1/4″ Wide 16 Gauge staples.

Common leg lengths for upholstery range from 1/4″ to 9/16″. Here are the staple sizes used for varying upholstery materials:

  • 1/4″ – Great for tacking lightweight fabrics and batting.
  • 5/16″ – The most commonly used staple for general upholstery fabric and foam.
  • 3/8″ – Best for heavyweight fabrics like canvas and leather.
  • 1/2″ -Ideal for very thick materials or tight spaces.
  • 9/16″ – Reserved for heavy-duty leatherwork.

As you move up in staple size, the wider crown helps prevent the staple from pulling through heavy fabrics. Longer legs allow for better clinch and penetration of dense materials.

Consider Fabrics, Padding, and Frame

Choose a staple length based on the type of fabric, amount of padding, and furniture frame:

  • Lightweight Fabrics: Try 1/4″ to 5/16″ staples for attaching delicate fabrics like linen, cotton, or polyester blends. The shorter length prevents puncturing or tearing.
  • Heavy Fabrics: For leather, vinyl, canvas and durable woven fabrics opt for 3/8″ or 1/2″ staples. The longer legs get a better grip.
  • Thin Padding: With little or no padding, 1/4″ to 5/16″ staples secure fabric directly to the frame.
  • Thick Padding: If using foam, batting, or cushioning, 5/16″ or longer staples are needed to go through the padding.
  • Thick Frames: On heavy wood or widened frames, use slightly longer staples, around 5/16″ or 3/8″, for better penetration.

Get the Right Fit

Proper staple length comes down to getting a snug fit without excess exposure. Here are some guidelines for best staple size for upholstery:

  • The staple crown should sit flush with the fabric surface. Staples that poke up will get caught and pull the fabric.
  • 1/8″ of the staple legs should extend through the bottom layers. This clinches the staple underneath.
  • Avoid longer staples that poke through and are visible. Use shorter staples on thin fabrics.
  • If the legs don’t come through the bottom, the staple doesn’t have enough grip and will loosen.

Test on Scraps

When uncertain, do a test with staple sizes on fabric scraps layered over the padding. See how the different lengths fit, clinch, and penetrate. This will give you a sense of what size staples to use for upholstery before stapling the real upholstery cover. Adjust length as needed if switching between light and heavy fabrics.

With the right staple size for your fabrics and padding, you’ll achieve professional quality upholstery. Taking the time to determine and use ideal length staples results in durable, reinforced seams that stand the test of time.