Upholstery Stapling Done Right: A Guide to the Best Staple Sizes and Types

Jul 16, 2023 | NEWS

Creating or repairing upholstered furniture involves securing fabric and cushioning to the furniture frame. This is often accomplished using a staple gun loaded with specialized upholstery staples. With the wide range of fabrics and materials in upholstery work, using the best size staples for upholstery is crucial for getting a long-lasting finish. Read on to learn about the staple sizes and varieties best suited to upholstery projects.

what size staple for upholstery

Why Staple Size Matters?

Upholstery work deals with a diverse blend of fabrics and cushioning materials of varying thicknesses. Using an incompatible staple can lead to problems:

Smaller staples may not fully penetrate thicker fabrics
Oversized staples can create unsightly rippling in delicate fabrics
Weak or short staples allow materials to loosen over time

Matching your staple size to the fabric prevents these issues and creates a smooth, wrinkle-free finish.

What Size Staple For Upholstery?

The gauge or thickness of the wire used for upholstery staples is the first consideration. Common gauges include:

24 gauge – Very thin wire for delicate fabrics like silk
23 gauge – Appropriate for many light to medium weight fabrics
22 gauge – The standard thickness for most upholstery jobs
21 gauge – Provides extra strength with heavy fabrics
20 gauge – Heavy duty staple for very thick/rigid materials

22 gauge represents the best all-around choice for most upholstery work involving standard weight woven fabrics and leathers. Stepping down to 23 gauge adds gentleness for finer materials, while moving up to 21 gauge brings more penetrating power for heavy fabrics.

Optimal Leg Length

Beyond gauge, the leg length of the staple is important for gathering just the right amount of material. Standard office staples have legs around 1/4” long – too short for upholstery use. Look for the following lengths:

1/2″ leg – For minimum fabric grab with delicate materials
9/16″ leg – The standard length for most upholstery jobs
5/8″ leg – Provides a deeper bite for heavy stapling tasks
7/8″ leg – Extra long for very thick cushions and fabrics

9/16” or 5/8” staples work for most furniture projects with standard weight woven fabrics and medium cushioning. Use longer legs if working with extremely thick cushions and fabrics to get full penetration. Go shorter for light fabrics to avoid gathers.

Staple Crown Types

The crown (top) shape of the staple also affects performance:

Round Crown – Rounded tops with smooth edges for safe use with delicate fabrics
Chisel Crown – Wider flat tops grip better with fewer staples
Dome Crown – Very wide crown disperses pressure across entire top

Chisel and dome crown staples clinch fabrics more tightly with fewer needed staples due to increased surface contact. Use round crown staples for a gentler approach appropriate for more delicate materials and antique furniture.

Specialty Upholstery Staple Features

Beyond basic sizing, some other helpful upholstery staple features include:

Coated staples – Epoxy or polymer coatings reduce friction and protect finishes
Barbed legs – Tiny barbs on the staple legs improve retention in the frame
Colored staples – For color coding projects or hiding visibility
Bell-shaped legs – Easier penetration with tapered leg tips

These enhanced staples cost a bit more but provide added performance in certain upholstery applications.

Proper Use Guidelines

With the right staple for your materials, proper technique also helps create a professional finish:

Adjust air pressure so that staples just fully penetrate – Avoid overdriving.
Stagger staples to distribute tension evenly across fabric.
Staple the center first, then outward toward edges.
Check for proper penetration and adjust driving force as needed.
Use tacks or adhesives along stress points for added strength.

Take the time to test different types of staples on fabric scraps before tackling your actual project. This will ensure you have the right staples for the job and help perfect your technique.

Achieve Lasting Results

Upholstery work involves bringing together diverse fabrics, cushioning, and framing materials. By using the best matched staple size and type for your particular fabrics, you can create professional, long-lasting results free from looseness, ripples, or tears. Take the guesswork out of staple selection and rely on the specialized offerings made for upholstery work.