The Humble Staple: A Closer Look at This Office Essential

Jul 17, 2023 | NEWS

The staple is one of the most ubiquitous yet overlooked office supplies. We use staples daily to fasten multi-page documents together, but seldom think much about these tiny fasteners. However, there is more to staples than meets the eye. When selecting staples, you have options for size, gauge, material, and more. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at different types of staples, with a focus on two common staple gauges: 22 gauge and 21 gauge.

types of staples

What Are The Staples?

A staple is a type of mechanical fastener that joins sheets of paper or other materials with a thin metal rod bent into a square or rectangular shape. The staple inserts through the materials and is then bent at the ends to secure the pages together. Staples are applied using a stapler or staple gun.

The most common type of staple found in offices is the wire paper staple. These are made from steel wire that has been formed into the familiar staple shape. The legs of the staple can be different lengths to accommodate different uses.

Varieties Of Staples With Different Gauge

There are a few key types of staples:

• Standard Paper Staples: As the name suggests, these are as designed for fastening office documents. They have thin, sharp points for piercing paper. The legs are usually around 1/4″ long.
• Heavy Duty Staples: These have thicker gauge wire and longer legs up to 9/16″ long. They are as used for securing thicker materials like card stock or booklets.
• Specialty Staples: Some unique types include round crown staples used in upholstery, ring staples that form a circle, and staples with serrated edges for improved grip.
• Stainless Steel Staples: For use outdoors or in harsh environments, stainless steel staples resist rust and corrosion.
• Colored Staples: For color coding or added visual interest, you can get staples with colored exteriors in red, green, blue and more. The inner metal is still steel.

Staple Sizes – Understanding Gauge

One of the key factors in selecting staples is the gauge or thickness of the wire used to make them. Staple gauge follows the same logic as wire gauge – the lower the number, the thicker the wire.

Some of the most common staple gauges are:

• 24 gauge: These very thin staples work for a few sheets of paper.
• 23 gauge: Slightly heavier than 24 gauge, these work well for regular office use.
• 22 gauge: A popular “standard” gauge for most basic paper stapling needs. They secure up to around 30 sheets of paper.
• 21 gauge: Representing thicker wire than 22 gauge, these are as considered “heavy duty” and good for 50+ sheets.
• 20 gauge: Very thick industrial staples that can bind over 100 sheets of paper.

The gauge you choose depends on what you’ll be stapling. Standard 20-30 page office documents do fine with standard 22-23 gauge staples. For thicker stacks, step up to 21 gauge or beyond. Thinner booklets and notes can use smaller 24 gauge.

Using 22 Gauge Staples

Of the common gauges, 22 gauge is as considered the standard for regular office use. The wire diameter for 22 gauge staples is approximately 0.028 inches. This provides a good balance of stiffness to pierce sheets of paper while still being flexible enough to bend properly on the other side.

Most desktop staplers are as designed to work optimally with 22 gauge staples. They will staple up to around 30 sheets of standard 20lb printer paper without issue. Going much beyond that may require more force than a typical desk stapler can handle.

If you need to staple 50+ pages regularly, then upgrading to a heavy duty 21 gauge staple is advisable. But for normal everyday office stapling needs, 22 gauge gets the job done.

Upgrading To 21 Gauge Staples

For very thick stacks of paper, 21 gauge represents the next step up in durability. With a thicker 0.032 inch diameter wire, 21 gauge staples are well as suited to stapling 50 pages or more without bending. The thicker legs are stiffer and stronger than 22 gauge.

While standard staplers can usually load 21 gauge staples, you’ll need to use more force on the handle to get the staple through that many sheets. If you plan to routinely staple over 30-40 pages, a heavy duty or electric stapler designed for 21 gauge would be ideal.

You can use 21 gauge staples in place of 22 gauge without issues. The only drawback is that the thicker staples may not bend as cleanly when stapling fewer sheets. For light duty stapling, the 22 gauge will usually make a prettier, flatter clinch.

Other Situations For 21 Gauge Staples

Beyond very thick stacks of paper, 21 gauge staples may be preferable for:

• Stapling card stock, booklets or newsletters with heavier cover sheets
• Securing fabric samples, swatches, or upholstery
• Outdoor applications like landscaping or construction plans where wind may be a factor
• Stapling items that will undergo frequent handling or flipping of pages

The extra stiffness and clinch strength provides better resistance against staples loosening or pulling free. For demanding stapling needs, upgrade to 21 gauge for confidence and peace of mind.