Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best pneumatic staplers

With a good pneumatic stapler, you can tackle a wide variety of tasks, from fixing upholstery to putting up decorative moldings to attaching roof shingles. Manual and electric staplers are fine when used for small areas and light-duty tasks, but pneumatic models give you a great deal more power and increased control. Perhaps surprisingly, many of them are very affordable, too.

Although these tools are popular for their flexibility, each has its limitations. You wouldn’t use the same pneumatic stapler for making a picture frame as you would for construction tasks. So while they all operate in a similar way and are very straightforward to use, it’s important to know the specifications you need to consider when choosing the best model for your job.

That’s where BestReviews comes in. We’ve been looking at all the most recent pneumatic staplers so we can help you make a fully informed decision.

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Pneumatic staplers have no motor, so there’s very little maintenance, but most need regular lubrication of the mechanism. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it’s important to the long-term performance of your tool.

Key considerations


One of the main advantages of a pneumatic stapler, indeed just about any pneumatic tool, is that it’s quite a simple mechanism. Power comes from compressed air, so there’s no need for a motor in the stapler itself, just a piston and pressure-release valve. This makes it lighter, more reliable, more durable, and easier to look after. With minimal maintenance, a pneumatic stapler should last for years.


The air pressure delivered, typically between 70 and 120 pounds per square inch, provides much more power than even the strongest electric stapler. High-performance models can drive 2-inch staples through hardwood shingles as fast as you can move from one to the next. However, it’s by no means an all-or-nothing tool. If you have an adjustable compressor, then the ability to vary the air pressure can give excellent control. This is even greater on models with independent depth settings.

Types of pneumatic staplers

As we said at the start, a pneumatic stapler can be a versatile tool, but there are limits. One of the easiest ways to define them is to look at the size of staple they’re capable of firing. There are, of course, variations on the capacities and capabilities of each tool, and it’s important to check specifics, but this gives you a broad overview of the three main groups.

Lightweight upholstery stapler: This fires 22- or 20-gauge staples. This can be quite a specialist tool, driving short staples of either 1/4 or 5/8 inch. Some of them have an extended “nose” so they can reach into difficult corners.

Medium-duty finish stapler: Also called a crown stapler, this typically fires 18-gauge staples, anywhere from 3/8 to 1 1/2 inches long. Magazines are normally straight, but some are angled so you can get the nose into tight corners or staple repetitively at a predetermined angle. Pneumatic finish staplers are perhaps the most flexible type, popular with woodworkers as well as carpenters and other site contractors.

Roofing staplers: These are the “big guns,” extremely powerful tools capable of firing 16-gauge staples anywhere from 3/4 to 2 inches long and doing it all day. This kind of pneumatic stapler can also be used for construction sheathing, making pallets, and building the kind of wooden packaging frames you often see protecting large items.

A small but very user-friendly feature is an exhaust port that either faces downward or can be rotated, so expelled air doesn’t blow into your face.



Size and weight

Size: This may be something you want to look at, especially if you regularly need to get into tight spaces with your tool. If you’re going to be working with it for hours at a time, a soft rubber grip will make it more comfortable and reduce fatigue.

Weight: This needs to be considered, but it may have limited impact on your decision. The bodies on cheap pneumatic staplers are sometimes steel, but most are aluminum or even magnesium. That means upholstery and other small models are typically under 2 pounds, and even the most powerful roofing staplers are under 6 pounds.

Firing mechanism

There are two types of firing mechanisms on pneumatic staplers: sequential and bump. 

Sequential: This is the standard method in which you put the nose against the material and squeeze the trigger. DIY staplers tend to offer sequential firing.

Bump: The other option is bump or contact firing. This is where the stapler fires as soon as the nose comes in contact with the workpiece. Using this method allows very fast stapling — literally as quickly as you can bounce the nose from one position to the next — though it takes time to acquire sufficient skill. Pro models may offer both sequential and bump firing, and some heavy-duty staplers are bump only, intended solely for experienced tradespeople.


A removable soft plastic “no mar” tip is often included, so the nose doesn’t mark delicate surfaces. It’s removable because sometimes you want to drive the staple below the surface, typically in situations where the hole will be filled and painted over, thereby creating an invisible fixing. Though adjusting air pressure may allow you to do this, depth control makes doing this kind of work a whole lot easier.

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A combination brad nailer and pneumatic stapler gives you lots of flexibility, allowing modest nailing as well as stapling. However, such mechanisms normally only take narrow crown staples.

Magazine capacity

This is also worth checking. Most small- and medium-duty pneumatic staplers take around 100 staples, and some can carry nearly 200. That might seem like a lot, but with bump firing, you could go through them in just a few minutes. A larger magazine means you have to stop less often, which can be a big deal for contractors.


All pneumatic staplers jam from time to time. It may or may not be the machine, but a slight flaw in a staple can also cause problems. Manufacturers almost invariably tell you that jams are easy to clear on their tool, but it’s worth checking feedback from actual owners to see if that’s true or if it’s a frequent problem. Jam-clearing mechanisms should be tool-free.


It’s nice to have a case for your stapler, but one is not often included, even with machines that cost hundreds of dollars.

If you do lots of different kinds of jobs, be sure to check the minimum and maximum staple length the tool can accommodate.


Pneumatic stapler prices


The mechanical simplicity of these tools means you can buy a cheap pneumatic stapler for DIY use for around $25 to $30 and you don’t have to sacrifice reliability. It might jam occasionally, but all staplers and nail guns do that.


Paying more doesn’t necessarily get you more power, but it almost always ensures better build quality and thus more repeatable precision. Good professional-grade pneumatic staplers from widely recognized brands cost from around $50 to $100.


If you’re looking for a high-capacity, heavy-gauge stapler you’ll pay $150 or more. Wide crown roofing staplers can be as much as $400.

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The need for an air compressor doesn’t mean you have to drag around an enormous, heavy beast. Many powerful portable models weigh just 20 to 30 pounds. Once you’ve got one, adding other pneumatic tools can be very cost-effective.


Q. How do I know if my compressor has enough power for a pneumatic stapler?

A. You should find either a minimum pressure requirement or an operating pressure range, for example, 80 to 120 pounds per square inch. You might find a rating for airflow (cubic feet per minute) but most pneumatic staplers have fairly low demands, so unless it’s a big roofing stapler it shouldn’t be a problem. You should also check air hose fitting size. Most are a standard 1/4 inch National Pipe Taper (NPT), but check anyway just to be sure.

Q. I’m confused by staple sizes. Can you explain “gauge” and “crown”?

A. Gauge (often marked GA) is the thickness of the staple wire. The smaller the number, the thicker the wire. Heavy-duty staples are 16 gauge (0.052 inch) going down to light-duty at 22 gauge (0.025 inch). 

Crown is the width of the staple, usually expressed as wide, medium, or narrow. Unfortunately, manufacturers use different measurements, so exactly how wide each of those is will depend on the brand.

Staples also have different leg lengths, which affects the thickness of material they can fix, and even different shaped points, though the latter is only important to commercial users.

Q. Are pneumatic staplers safe to use?

A. Yes. If it has bump mode, the stapler will fire as soon as it comes into contact with the workpiece, so you need to be careful to keep your free hand out of the way. But they should all have safety triggers, so they can’t be fired into the air or at people like you would a pistol.

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