Brad Nailer Vs Crown Stapler: Which Is More Worthy For Carpentry?

Wondering which of Brad Nailer vs Crown Stapler is more suitable for you?

Similarities in design and the principle of operation will easily deceive you. But if you look deeper, you can find that they are different in roles, holding capacity, fastener size, etc.

You can indeed do some of the brad nailers’ work by using a stapler and vice versa. But you’re not going to get the same leverage that each built for. Like, if you want to attach upholstery with a brad nailer or attempt to add crown molding with a stapler, your effort would be in vain.

So, the decision between a brad nailer and crown stapler is mostly depended on the project you are going to manage. If you are a skilled carpenter who wants to cover a wide variety of woodworks such as frame making, crown molding installation, or upholstery stitching, both the brad nailer and stapler are useful. On the other side, you can choose either one based on your trade if you have a limited job.

Keep your eyes on our next thousands of words to understand the difference between crown stapler and brad nailer more clearly as we are going to cover what they are about, what they are good for, and the similarities and differences between them.

So, let’s start.

Brad Nailer Vs Crown Stapler: An Overview

Experienced carpenters mostly use brad nailers to fasten crown molding or trim lumber with plywood or door and window frames. Whereas staplers are often used to attach fabrics with wooden furniture.

Conventional brad nailers or staplers are mostly pneumatic styles, and you must have an air compressor to operate them. Modern tools, however, are powered by electricity or battery, also manually controlled, which gives them extra convenience over pneumatically operated ones without losing strength.

Crown Stapler

A Crown stapler, a.k.a. stapler or staple gun, is a handheld power tool that looks more like a nail gun. So, when we think of a staple gun, the conventional construction stapler comes in front of our eyes. On another part, the basic paper stapler comes first in mind to an office guy, ha… ha…, right.

Milwaukee 2447-20 M12 Crown Stapler

Not only does it look like a nail gun, but it also works on the same principle. You’ve got to load the stapler into it instead of inserting conventional nails. The staplers are wire-made U-shaped fasteners that have two legs and a crown (the top portion that connects two legs) for which the crown stapler is named.

Because of its design, Crown Staples going to give you more holding power than comparable size nails. That’s why crown staplers are most widely used when people need to fasten thin plywood or fabrics or other materials with the wood.

However, there are also some drawbacks. The width of the crown is far larger than the normal nails or brads that will leave a larger mark on the wood you are going to fasten. If it is an obvious part of your work, then after using a stapler, you must apply putty to erase the marks.

Based on the power supply, the design of the staples, and the workability, various types of crown staplers are available on the market. Let’s get a brief on them.

Types Of Crown Stapler

The widely known crown stapler classification is the narrow crown stapler, the medium crown stapler, and the wide crown stapler. Where narrow crown staples are the smallest in size and are suitable for delicate trim work, wide crown staples are heavy-duty and are used for house wrapping and insulation, roofing or subflooring, and other construction work.

When we attempted to discuss the brad nailer vs crown stapler, it’ll be more accurate if we compared the narrow crown stapler with the brad nailer, as they are close to each other. You’ll get details about the types of crown staplers in our next article.

Applications Of Crown Stapler

Although our classification above covers the field of operation of the crown stapler, we repeat it again for your convenience.

The primary and widely recognized use of a crown stapler is for the upholstering of furniture. It helps you keep the fabric secure against the cushions and the frame. It also gives your couch, chair, and sofa cushions a static shape to achieve a vintage feel.

Besides upholstering, you can do a lot of other construction work with it. With a stapler, you can achieve heavy-duty to finish level tasks depending on their type.

Therefore, you can use a crown stapler for

  • Upholstery
  • Render your trimming
  • Picture frame
  • Pallet or crate manufacturing
  • Furniture construction,
  • Carpet or shingle installation,
  • Flooring or subflooring,
  • Sheathing, etc.

Limitation Of Crown Stapler

Every tool has some weakness in its use, and the crown stapler has no exception. The use of a finish nailer cannot be replaced by a crown stapler. Although the legs of the crown staples are long enough, they do not always offer the same holding power as the finish nails. In addition, if you are forced to apply a stapler, it might break the piece apart.

You cannot even use a crown stapler where aesthetics are relevant. If you’re driving staples at the front end of your furniture or anything obvious in naked eyes, it certainly left its mark on it because of its big crown. Often adding putty is not enough to erase or mask certain marks. So, be very vigilant about this.

Brad Nailer

When we say that the crown stapler looks like a nail gun, the brad nailer is exactly the nail gun. It’s the smallest version of the family of nail guns, designed to drive brads instead of nails. Brads are basically thin (18 gauge wire), small and short (up to 2 inches long) pins with no or very insignificant nail head.

PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer

As brad nailers are designed to actuate brads with a nearly invisible head and a thin diameter, they are very useful for trim, glue, and other delicate work. It’s also good for decorative work as you don’t need to apply any wax or putty to hide the nail head mark.

Its thin feature, however, also has some disadvantages. You can’t get the same hold power out of it as the crown staples. They are therefore not suitable for fastening large thick boards due to their limited load capacity.

Types Of Brad Nailer

There are two broad categories of brad nailers on the market – pneumatic and cordless. Like other pneumatic tools, pneumatic brad nailers are also designed to deliver powerful and consistent drives. On the other hand, cordless versions will give you the freedom to work in tough corners and outdoor conditions. You will find a detailed discussion about them in our Brad Nailer Reviews and Buying Guide article.

Applications Of Brad Nailer

In contrast to crown staples, the brads are very thin and headless. They are, therefore, best suited for delicate trim and molding work where there is no need to apply putty and no chance of splitting or breaking the thin trims.

You can also use a brad nailer to hold two sheets of the baseboard or a piece of wood together when they are glued together. Due to the fact that they are designed to drive 18 gauge nails, they are the preferred choice for furniture work where you need to attach thin strips of wood.

Therefore, a brad nailer is best for

  • Trim work
  • Paneling
  • Adhere decorative molding
  • Case making
  • Adhere baseboards with drywall, etc.

Limitations Of Brad Nailer

Since you will not get the same holding capacity that the crown staples or finish nails offer, it is not wise to use the brad nailer to attach large baseboards. Also, you can’t use brads to hardwood like oak, as it can bend halfway through.

You can’t use a brad nailer for roofing work, too, because it doesn’t have heads to grip the roofing tiles in place, especially in times of stormy winds.

Brad Nailer Vs Stapler: An Honest Comparison

Now, you know what the stapler and brad nailer is, their uses, benefits, drawbacks, etc. Which is enough to differentiate them and choose one for you. But again, if you get a side-by-side overview of brad nailer vs crown stapler, it will be more convenient to compare. So, let’s see their commonalities and dissimilarities below-

Working Principle:

With the exception of the manual crown stapler, both pneumatic and cordless brad nailer and stapler follow the same working principle as the nail gun. Manual staplers are using your muscle power to be operated. They obey the spring mechanism and the elasticity – when you push the trigger, it raises the plunger, squeezes it, and stores the energy, then triggers the tension bar and releases the hooks to the loader, snaps the firing piston, and sends out the staple.

However, the pneumatic brad nailer and stapler require an air compressor as they use compressed air pressure to push the piston and thus the fastener. In contrast, the cordless models use either direct electricity or battery power. There was a quick and easy operation in mind during the design of the power stapler and brad nailer.

Fastener Style:

They do have a lot of resemblances in the working principle, but they drive completely different types of fasteners. Brad nailers are designed to drive small and thin pins like nails called brad and crown staplers are used to drive crown staples that are U-shaped wire fasteners.

Fastener Gauge:

Brads are usually made of 18 gauge diameter thin wire, while crown staples are found in three sizes – fine, medium, and heavy. Here fine crown staples are 20-22 ga., medium crown staples are 18-19 ga., and heavy crown staples are 15-16 ga. in diameter.

Holding Capacity:

Compared to the crown staples, the brads are thinner and headless, making them less able to hold large baseboards together. As a result, a brad nailer is used for intricate trim or molding work and a crown stapler for a wide range of applications.


Although there is some overlap between the two, both the brad nailer and the stapler have some distinct tasks. Brad nailers are best suited for trim and molding work, sticking thin wood strips on wooden furniture or boards, and other fine woodwork.

While crown staplers are suitable for upholstering, furniture making, picture frame or box making, carpeting or floor tiles installation, subflooring or roofing, and more.

Still not satisfied, let’s check the chart below to get a comparison between the brad nailer vs crown stapler.

Crown StaplerBrad Nailer
TypesNarrow, medium, and WideOnly One
PowerManual, Pneumatic, and CordlessPneumatic and Cordless
Holding PowerMore than the bardsLess than the Crown Staples
PuttyMust NeedMost of the time Not Required
Root ApplicationTrim and MoldingUpholstering
Price80-100$80-200$ or more

Which One Is Worthy & For What?

From the above comparison, you can easily understand which device is suitable for what purpose. We also see that there are some similarities and dissimilarities between the brad nailer and the stapler. And one cannot replace the work of others.

So, if you’re a professional carpenter who requires the facilities of both the brads and crown staples, it’ll be wise to collect both the crown stapler and the brad nailer for your tool shed. On the other hand, if you’re a DIY guy, you can choose one based on the nature of your job.

You May Also Want To Know

Q-1: Can You Use Staples In A Brad Nailer?

Usually, you can’t. But if you have a combo nailer that supports 2-in-1 functionality, capable of driving both the staples and the brads, you can able to fire the staples with the brad nailer in that situation. You can, therefore, use this combo kit for interior and exterior finishing and trim, furniture and cabinetwork, etc.

For example, the BOSTITCH SB-2IN1 Combo Brad nailer – allows you to drive 5/8 to 1-5/8 inches of 18-ga brad nails and the Narrow crown finish staples as your desired depth.

Q-2: Do Staples Hold Better Than Nails?

From the structure of the staples and brads, we can develop an understanding of their holding power. Staples have two legs joined by a crown against a single leg brad or finish nails. So, it’s clear that you’re going to get superior holding strength from the staples.

Gene Wengert, in his article “Staples in woodworking,” explains that the holding power of a staple can be measured by its withdrawal ability. And the withdrawal intensity can be determined by a number of different factors, such as

  • The extent of penetration of the base legs
  • The diameter of the staple shank or leg
  • The density of the foundation wood
  • Wood shear strength, etc.

There is a formula for measuring the withdrawal power of the staples derived from Dr. Carl Eckelman of Purdue University. The formula is – [16.4 x leg diameter] x [(196 x penetration depth)-36] x [wood shear strength/1130]

Using this formula, it is found that if the shank of a 16 gauge staple has penetrated about 1/2 inch into a wood of 1500 psi shear strength, it takes about 84 pounds to be removed. If it penetrates further than that, it may take more power to withdraw.

Brad nails, on the other hand, are usually one leg and not more than 18 gauge in diameter. So, we may assume that the staples have more holding power than the nails and are good to use in wire fencing, roof sheathing, house wrap, and insulation, installing batting, cushion material, and fabric to a wood furniture frame, and more.

Q-3: Can You Use A Staple Gun On Plywood?

You can comfortably apply a staple gun to the plywood as it often comes with a Hi/Low depth adjustment kit. In the case of 1/4 inch thick plywood, it is more suitable too. As if you’re using a brad nailer, there’s a risk that the brads are not going to hold the plywood properly in the long run.

However, if you’re using glue and fasten the brads or staples just to hold it until it cures, then it doesn’t matter which one you use.

Q-4: What Is The Crown On A Staple?

The crown is the top portion of the staple, bridging the two legs together. It increases the surface of the staple which gives it superior gripping power compared to the other fastener.


Q-5: What Gauge Is A Staple?

Gauge is the thickness of the wire with which the staples are made. There are fine, medium, and heavy gauge staples based on wire thickness.


I hope you will find the above discussion on the brad nailer vs crown stapler helpful and useful for selecting the right tools for your tool shed. Thank you for your patient reading.

Happy carpentry and woodworking!

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Tushar Mirror

Toolsmirror is a group of co-fighters led by Engr. Tushar is dedicated to gathering information, analyzing & test various items, and releasing reviews on various woodwork and outdoor tools. Our mission is to provide our readers with the most up-to-date ideas and approaches, as well as reveal the genuine features that will assist them in selecting the best items for their professions and DIY projects.

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