Can You Use Staples Instead Of Nails?

Staples vs nails

We’re wondering whether or not staples can be used in place of nails. Between staples and nails, which is more appropriate? When it comes to securing items like wall or roof framework, sheathing, roof decking, packaging, adding trim moldings, and so on, this is a regular topic we get.

Both fasteners have their unique usage area. They can also be used interchangeably at times. However, you should never apply them in the same way. So, in the next adventure, we’ll learn when to use staples and nails.

Can I Use Staples Instead Of Nails? An Overview

Staples can deliver a greater holding capacity than nails since they have two extended legs and a board crown. Therefore, staples are great to use in cabinet shops and for upholstery work.

On the other hand, the flexibility of nails allows them to bend without breaking against shear stress. As a result, professional contractors prefer to utilize nails while building house frames or heavy-duty structures. Nails were also recommended by most construction codes for structural stability.

Nails and staples both have benefits and downsides. Staples, for example, can give more gripping power, but they can quickly snap if subjected to excessive vertical strain.

On the other side, when you need to keep two objects tightly together, such as drywall on a frame wall, nails may pop out after a while, but staples will not.

So, whether you should use staples or nails depends on the nature of the projects you’re going to handle.

We decided to go over numerous projects like framing, sheathing, roof and floor decking, furniture building, fabric stitching, and more to help you understand when to use staples and when to use nails.

Effectiveness Of Staples Vs Nails In Different Projects:

Staples Vs Nails For Framing:

Wood frames have been used to construct walls and decks in North American homes for millennia. A house’s wood frame is the fundamental skeleton on which the entire structure is built. As a result, a frame must be strong and robust enough to endure all exterior forces, such as wind, earthquakes as well as internal loads.

Whether you should use staples or nails for framing is depends on the following points –

  • Shear strength of staples vs nails
  • Tensile strength of staples vs nails
  • Gauge Number
  • Fastener Size
  • Building Code

Shear Strength Of Staples Vs Nails:

When it comes to building wall or roof frames for your home, the structure must be able to withstand horizontal forces. When horizontal parts, known as joists, are connected to lengthy vertical studs, they tend to slide horizontally. As a result, a fastener that can endure horizontal or shear forces is required.

Because staples are comprised of thin wires, they cannot withstand shear tension. Nails, on the other hand, are the most widely used and oldest fastener in frame construction built to withstand severe horizontal loads and shear stress. The flexibility of the wire used to create nails provides the necessary shear stress resistance.

As a result, to withstand shear stress, nails are a perfect choice.

Tensile Strenght:

A structure faces vertical stress in addition to horizontal strain. Due to vertical pressure, when we connect ceiling sheathing to studs, the sheathing panel tends to sag away.

As staples have greater gripping capacity than nails, we may use them in such situations. However, professionals prefer to use screws instead of staples. Because screws with a helical or threaded shank provide increased resistance to tensile stress when applied vertically, protecting a structure from pulling apart.

Gauge Number:

The gauge number indicates the thickness of a wire. The lower the gauge number the thicker they are. Heavy crown staples are usually constructed of 15 to 16 gauge or more high number gauge wires. Whereas nails are made of 9 to 11 gauge wires.

As a result, staples and even screws (as screws are not as flexible as nails) may snap when the structure is subjected to shear strain.

Size Of The Fasteners:

We also observed that the maximum leg length of construction grade crown staples is usually not more than 2-½ inches. Whereas, to construct a framing panel you have to connect 2×4 or 2×6 studs or joists. The thickness of a two-by-wood plank is 1-½’’. According to the rule of thumb, you have to choose a fastener that is two and a half times longer than the thickness of the material you’re going to connect. For what 16d nails, size 3-½-inches long, are perfect.

Building Code:

Besides the above reason, most North American and international construction codes also encourage using nails for framing. As a result, the usage of nails for home construction is the only way to get an inspection pass.

Edge: Using staples instead of nails to join wood frames or studs for walls or roofs is not recommended.

Staples Vs Nails For Sheathing:

When staples are totally inapt for wall framing, roof, or floor decking, you can use staples for sheathing.

Despite the paradoxes, contractors love to use staples instead of nails because they are easy to drive and cheaper than nails. Not only staples are cheaper, but they can also provide higher gripping power than nails because of their two extended prongs.

The International Building Code also permits the use of both nails and staples for a wide range of purposes, including joining drywall or plywood sheathing on roof or wall frames.

According to the fastening schedule under Table 2304.9.1 (2022 May), you can use 6d (2’’ size) common, box or casing nails or 1-3/4″ 16 gauge staples at 6’’ O.C. at the edges and 12’’ O.C. at the field to connect 7/16’’ OSB (Oriented Strand Board).

However, both staples and nails have some benefits and drawbacks. True, staples are easier to drive, but once in place, they are difficult to remove for correction. You may have to pry the plywood apart from the wall framing to remove it. Professionals view it favorably since it will stay longer if it is tough to separate.

On the other hand, whether or not you can use staples instead of nails for roof or wall sheathing also depends on the project’s location. If it falls under high wind or earthquake zone, the fastening system will require special engineering.

Edge: Using staples or nails to connect OSB, gypsum, or plywood sheathing on roof or wall panels is not a problem. However, you should consult with a specialist before making a decision.

Pro Tips: When you decided to use staples instead of nails, you also have to take care that the staples are not in overdrive as the small cross-section may cut the sheathing material and reduce the blow-off potential. We should also take care that the two prongs of staples are driven into the frame equally to avoid weakening the structure.

Staples Vs Nails For Shingles:

After constructing the wall or roof framing and installing the sheathing, the next critical step is to install roofing shingles to protect your property from rain and storms.

Roofing shingles can be fastened with staples or nails. Staples provide better holding power and are simple to use. Special nails for roofing shingles, on the other hand, can provide the best protection against the wind and are easier to remove for correction. So, which fastener is the most appropriate?

To determine this, we must examine the following factors.

  • Proper fastener placement
  • Holding capacity
  • Cost and ease of installation
  • Jurisdiction of roofing

Proper Fastener Placement:

Roofers prefer to use staples instead of nails to install roofing shingles because staples are less expensive and easier to install. However, driving the fastener perpendicularly is necessary to keep the roofing shingles firmly in place, which is not always possible with a staple gun.

During firing, the crown of the staple should be parallel to the long axis of the shingles. The roofer, on the other hand, has a natural proclivity to rotate his body. Unless, at the very least, he rotates his wrist. As a result, staple crowns are slanted or misaligned with the long axis of the shingle. This misalignment reduces the bonding capacity of the structure and makes it vulnerable to high-speed winds.

You won’t have this difficulty if you use a modern roofing nail gun, on the other hand. Roofing nail guns can shoot nails perpendicular to the substrate and are flexible enough to drive nails where they are needed. As a result, in this contest, a nail gun is the best alternative.

Holding Capacity:

Though there is a myth that staples can handle greater weight than nails, this is not the case. According to a roofer’s test, a 5/8″ staple (which may penetrate up to 1/4″) can sustain around 1 or 2 pounds of pull-out force. A 3/8″ staple may also endure up to 10 pounds of strain.

A 1-1/2” galvanized roofing nail, on the other hand, can endure up to 50 pounds of pull-out force. You may get up to 100 pounds of pull-out force by using ring shank roofing nails.

As a result, nails are the ideal option for joining asphalt or cedar roofing shingles.

Cost And Ease Of Installation:

Though the cost difference is negligible, same-size staples are less expensive than roofing nails.

Staple guns are lighter than roofing guns. So, you can easily maneuver them on the roof. You’ll also face less hassle to reload a staple gun as you can carry a large number with you.

If you consider the jamming issue, you’ll find staples are less frequently jammed during the drive and it’s easy to reset if getting jammed than the roofing nail guns.

So, in consideration of cost and ease of installation, staples are the clear winner.

Precision Of Driving:

Though staple guns are easier to handle, it’s difficult to get a precise depth of drive every time. You’ll often find the staples either overdrive or underdrive into the shingles. If overdrive, it will pierce the shingles and cause a crack in the cold weather. Underdrive staples won’t provide enough holding power.

Roundhead roofing nails have no such problem, however. You’ll find a precise depth of drive every time.

Building Code:

Galvanized, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, or copper roofing nails are the appropriate fastener for roofing shingles, according to Chapter 9 of the International Residential Code (IRC 2015). It should have a least 12-gauge [0.105 inches (3 mm)] shank with a 3/8-inch-diameter (9.5 mm) head and meet ASTM F 1667 specifications.

Nails must be long enough to penetrate the roofing materials and not less than 3/4 inch (19.1 mm) into the roof sheathing. The nails must pierce the roof sheathing if it is less than 3/4 inches thick.

Edge: In accordance with the preceding discussion, we may state that nails, not staples, are the ideal fastener for roofing shingles.

More on this topic is coming soon. Your patience is highly solicited.

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