What’s the Difference Between a Staple Gun and a Tacker? A Comprehensive Guide

Staple guns and tackers – two of the most commonly used tools for home repairs and DIY projects. Many people often mistake one for the other, blurring the thin line between staple guns and tackers. But it’s not a big surprise, considering that both tools perform similar functions, like fastening materials and attaching them to various surfaces. But the truth is, there is a difference between the two that you should know about.

If you’re not familiar with staple guns and tackers, you might think they’re interchangeable, but they’re not. The two tools may share some similarities in functionality, but their design and method of operation make them different from one another. Understanding the difference between the two will not only help you make the right choice for your project but will also ensure that you do your job right the first time.

So, what’s the difference between a staple gun and a tacker? Well, to start with, a staple gun is a tool that shoots metal staples into materials for attaching them to surfaces like walls and floors, while a tacker, on the other hand, uses plastic fasteners and pins to attach materials to surfaces. Although these tools may look alike and even have similar abilities, their applications differ considerably, and it is essential to know which to use based on your specific project requirements.

Types of Staplers

Staplers come in many different shapes and sizes. They are an essential tool for anyone who needs to fasten papers or materials together. There are several different types of staplers on the market, and each type is designed for a specific purpose.

  • Desktop Staplers: These are the most common types of staplers and are usually found in offices and homes. They can staple up to 20-30 sheets of paper together and are available in various sizes and colors. Some are manual whereas some are electrically operated.
  • Handheld Staplers: These staplers are used for lightweight tasks such as stapling a few sheets of paper, attaching posters to walls or stapling fabrics. They are compact, inexpensive and easy to use.
  • Long Reach Staplers: This stapler is designed for stapling sheets of paper when you need to reach beyond the normal margin. It is perfect for stapling large booklets, pamphlets or other materials that need to be stapled in the center.

Aside from the different types, staplers can also be categorized into staple guns and tackers. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same tools.

Uses of Staplers and Tackers

Staplers and tackers are two of the most essential tools for office and DIY projects. They both use staples to fasten materials together, but the difference lies in their specific uses. Here’s a breakdown of the uses of staplers and tackers:

  • Staplers: The most common use of a stapler is to fasten pieces of paper together. However, staplers can also be used for other tasks such as attaching fabric to furniture, insulation to walls, or even constructing a simple wooden fence. Staplers come in handy when you want to connect thick materials that require a more permanent fastening solution.
  • Tackers: Tackers are designed with a different purpose in mind. They are best used when you want to fasten thin materials together such as fabric, paper, or insulation. Tackers are commonly used for home upholstery projects, carpet installation, or even when wrapping presents. They allow you to get the job done quickly without leaving any noticeable marks on the surface.

Regardless of which tool you choose, it’s important to remember that safety should always be your top priority. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, wear safety goggles, and avoid using either tool on sensitive body parts such as your fingers or eyes. With just a bit of practice, you can master the use of staplers and tackers to make your DIY projects more efficient and enjoyable.

If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of staplers and tackers available, check out the comparison table below:

Type of Tool Uses Staple Length
Manual Stapler Small projects around the house 1/4 inch to 9/16 inch
Electric Stapler Bigger DIYs that require speed and precision 1/4 inch to 9/16 inch
Upholstery Tacker Attach fabric to furniture 3/8 inch to 9/16 inch
Hammer Tacker Roofing, insulation, and carpet installation 3/8 inch to 9/16 inch

No matter the job, a good stapler or tacker can make your work a lot easier. With this knowledge, you can choose the right tool for your next project and get to work with confidence.

Features of Staplers and Tackers

Staplers and tackers are essential tools in any DIY enthusiast or professional tradesman’s toolbox. They both serve the same purpose – to fasten materials together – but there are significant differences between the two. Here are the key features that differentiate staplers and tackers:

  • Size and weight
  • Staple or Brad size and type
  • Applications and Uses

Let’s take a closer look:

Size and weight

Staplers are usually larger and heavier than tackers, and they require more force to operate. This is because they are designed to drive longer staples, which are typically 1/4″ to 1/2″ in length. In contrast, tackers have a smaller and lighter design because they only need to drive small brads or staples, usually no more than 1/4″ in length.

Staple or Brad size and type

Another significant difference between staplers and tackers is the staple or brad size and type they use. Staplers can handle a variety of staple sizes and types, including flat wire, round wire, and narrow crown staples. Tackers, on the other hand, are designed to handle only small brads or staples, and they typically use the same narrow crown staples.

Applications and Uses

The applications and uses of staplers and tackers depend on the type of project you’re working on and the materials you’re fastening. Staplers are ideal for heavy-duty projects such as upholstery, flooring, roofing, and carpentry work. They can fasten thick materials such as plywood and hardwood with ease.

Tackers, on the other hand, are perfect for smaller DIY projects, such as attaching moldings, trim, and other decorative pieces. They can handle delicate fabrics, thin wood, and other lightweight materials without damaging them.


Stapler Tacker
Large and heavy design Small and light design
Can handle a variety of staple sizes and types Designed to handle only small brads or staples
Ideal for heavy-duty projects such as upholstery, roofing, and carpentry work. Perfect for smaller DIY projects, such as attaching moldings, trim, and other decorative pieces

Staplers and tackers are both excellent tools, but they have different features that make them suitable for different types of projects. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional tradesman, it’s essential to choose the right tool for the job to ensure the best results.

Advantages of using a staple gun

Staple guns and tackers are both manual tools used for fastening materials together, but they have some fundamental differences. While tackers use thinner and smaller staples, staple guns have the ability to handle larger and thicker staples. In this article, we will explore some of the advantages of using a staple gun compared to a tacker.

1. Versatility – Unlike tackers, which are limited to light-duty tasks such as fastening fabric, cardboard, or thin sheets of wood, staple guns can handle a wider range of applications. They can handle thicker materials such as hardwood, plywood, and even metal sheets, which makes them versatile and practical in various projects.

2. Speed and Efficiency – Staple guns are designed for speed and efficiency, making them perfect for large projects that require a lot of stapling. When compared to a tacker, a staple gun can fire more staples per minute, making work significantly faster and reducing fatigue caused by repetitive motions. This advantage is especially important when working on time-sensitive projects that require a quick turnaround.

3. Precision – Staple guns are designed to deliver precise and consistent results, which means that you can achieve a clean and professional-looking finish. This is particularly important for tasks such as upholstery, where a single staple in the wrong place can ruin the whole project. Precision is also critical when fastening items that require tight and secure bonds, such as molding or trim pieces.

4. Strength of the bond – As mentioned earlier, staple guns can handle thicker staples than tackers, and this means that they can create stronger bonds. This is important when you need to fasten materials together securely, especially those that are subjected to stress or tension. For instance, when fastening a piece of hardwood to a frame, a staple gun will provide a stronger and more secure bond that will last longer than one created with a tacker.

Advantage Staple Gun Tacker
Speed and Efficiency
Strength of the bond

If you are looking for a tool that can handle a wide range of applications, deliver consistent results, and provide a strong and durable bond, then a staple gun is the way to go. It may cost more upfront than a tacker, but it will save you time and money in the long run.

When to use a tacker instead of a staple gun

If you’re doing DIY projects around the house or tackling upholstery jobs, you might be debating between using a staple gun or a tacker. A staple gun can be a versatile tool, but there are certain situations where a tacker could be a better option. Here are a few scenarios to consider:

  • Attaching fabric: If you’re working with delicate fabrics or lightweight materials, a tacker may be more appropriate than a staple gun. A tacker can work with smaller nails and staples, which means less damage to the fabric you’re attaching.
  • Working in tight spaces: Staple guns can be bulky and difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. If you’re working in a tight spot, a tacker may be easier to handle and give you better control over where the staples are placed.
  • Securing wire: A tacker can be a great tool for securing wires or cables, as it is designed to create a tight fit. Staples from a staple gun can come loose over time, but a tacker’s staple is less prone to moving around.

In addition to these specific scenarios, a tacker may be a better choice if you are new to DIY or upholstery work. A staple gun can be powerful and sometimes difficult to handle, so it’s important to start with a tool that you feel comfortable using. A tacker can be a good stepping stone to using a staple gun down the road.

Staple gun Tacker
Works with larger staples/nails Works with smaller staples/nails
Bulky and powerful Lightweight and easy to handle
May cause damage to delicate fabrics Can work with delicate fabrics
Good for heavy duty projects Good for lighter projects

Overall, both staple guns and tackers can be useful tools for DIY and upholstery work. If you’re deciding between the two, consider the scenarios above to determine whether a tacker may be a better fit for your needs.

How to Choose the Right Staple Gun for Your Needs

Staple guns and tackers are both valuable tools for a wide range of DIY and professional projects. However, it can be difficult to know which tool is right for your particular needs. Below are some factors to consider when choosing the right staple gun for your specific project:

  • Power Source: Many staple guns operate on compressed air, while others are powered by electricity. Choose the power source that aligns with your project needs.
  • Type of Staples: Different staple guns handle different types of staples, so it’s essential to choose a tool that is compatible with the staples you need.
  • Size and Weight: Staple guns come in various sizes and weights, which can impact ease of use. Consider the ergonomics of the tool and how much weight you can realistically handle.
  • Project Type: Consider the specifics of your project, including the materials you will be using and the degree of precision required. For example, a heavy-duty staple gun may be best for projects involving thicker materials like leather or carpeting, while a fine wire stapler may be ideal for upholstery work.
  • Budget: Staple guns come at various price points, so consider both the level of quality you need and your budget when making a purchase decision.
  • Safety Features: Finally, consider the safety features that each staple gun offers. Some models have a lockout feature that prevents accidental firing, while others offer an anti-jamming mechanism to prevent glitches during operation.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the right staple gun for your specific needs can make the difference between a successful project and a frustrating experience. Consider the factors above carefully, and always prioritize safety when operating your tool. With the right staple gun in hand, you’ll be able to tackle any project with confidence.

As a final note, always read the instruction manual carefully before using a staple gun, and consider taking a safety course if you are new to using these tools.

Power Source Pros Cons
Compressed Air High power for heavy-duty projects Requires an air compressor
Electricity No external power source required May not be as powerful as compressed air options
Manual No power source required Suited for lightweight projects only

The above table provides a quick comparison of the pros and cons of the three main power sources for staple guns: compressed air, electricity, and manual operation.

Maintenance and Care for Staple Guns and Tackers

If you want your staple gun or tacker to last longer, it’s important to maintain and take proper care of it. The last thing you want is a poorly maintained tool that doesn’t function properly when you need it.

  • Clean your tool: Dirt and debris can collect in your staple gun or tacker over time which can cause it to jam or lose power. After using your tool, take the time to clean it with a dry cloth or air compressor.
  • Oil your staple gun: It’s important to keep your staple gun lubricated to keep the mechanical parts running smoothly. Apply a small amount of oil to the moving parts in your staple gun to keep them in good condition.
  • Store properly: When not in use, store your staple gun or tacker in a dry and clean location. Make sure it’s protected from moisture and dust to prevent it from corroding or rusting.

Proper maintenance and care can go a long way in extending the life of your staple gun or tacker and ensuring it works properly when you need it most.

Here’s a table that compares how to maintain and care for staple guns and tackers:

Staple Gun Tacker
Clean Clean with dry cloth or air compressor Clean with dry cloth or air compressor
Oil Apply a small amount of oil to moving parts Apply a small amount of oil to moving parts
Storage Store in a dry, clean location protected from moisture and dust Store in a dry, clean location protected from moisture and dust

Keep your staple gun or tacker in good condition to get the best results every time. A well-maintained tool is a reliable tool.

What’s the difference between a staple gun and a tacker?

Q: Can I use a staple gun and a tacker interchangeably?
A: No, they’re not interchangeable. A staple gun is designed to handle larger staples and thicker materials, while a tacker is for smaller staples and lighter materials.

Q: How do staple guns and tackers differ in terms of usage?
A: Staple guns are commonly used for tasks that require more force and pressure, such as roofing, upholstery, and heavy-duty carpentry. Tackers, on the other hand, are ideal for lighter tasks like attaching fabric to a frame or stapling papers together.

Q: Is one tool more compact and portable than the other?
A: Tackers are typically lighter and smaller, which makes them more portable and easier to use in tight spaces. However, there are also compact models of staple guns available today.

Q: Can I use different types of staples interchangeably with a staple gun or tacker?
A: No, different staple types have unique shapes and sizes that require specific tools. Be sure to check the compatibility of staples and tools before making your purchase.

Q: What are the safety considerations when using a staple gun or tacker?
A: Both tools can be dangerous if used improperly or without proper protective gear. Always wear goggles and gloves, and keep your fingers away from the staple output. Be sure to store the tools in a locked cabinet or toolbox out of reach of children.

Thanks for reading!

Now that you’re more informed about the differences between staple guns and tackers, you can choose the right tool for your next project. Remember to always put safety first and to check the compatibility of staples and tools. Thanks for reading, and visit again later for more tips and tricks on DIY projects. Stay safe!