Crown Stapler vs Brad Nailer – Which is Best for Your Project?

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Crown staplers and brad nailers each have their strengths and weaknesses. While they sound like they are similar tools, they do well in different kinds of tasks, and while there is some overlap between the two, the amount of extra work they require on the same task varies greatly. Read on to find out which tool is right for you.

Crown Stapler

Crown staplers sound like a device that is used for crown molding. However, this tool’s name is very misleading. Instead, “crown” refers to the kind of staple it uses. Crown staples come in various sizes, but they have a consistent shape that defines the line. The top part of the staple, or “crown” is narrow, and it features long legs relative to the staples you use for paper.

Since this tool uses staples instead of nails, it has a wide range of potential uses. They’re great for working with upholstery, where they are good at holding fabric tight against the frame. However, they’re power tools, and you can use them for heavier work. They’re good for trimming doors and windows and can also be used to attach decorative trim to cabinets.

Compared to a similar-sized nail, staples have better holding power. However, since staples get driven past the surface, and have a large “head” in the form of the crown, they leave significant holes behind. These holes aren’t a big deal if the surface is hidden, but if it is, you’re going to have to touch up with wood putty.

Overall, crown staplers are great for upholstery but are also good for fastening wood together, especially if no one will ever see the stapling site.

Pros
  • Good for fabric
  • Good holding power
Cons
  • Big hole

Brad Nailer

You’ll generally use brad nailers for work that is more delicate than that for which you would use a crown stapler. They use a special, small type of nail called a “brad” nail. Brad nails are short, thin, and have a very small head. Typically, brad nailers use 18-gauge nails. The bigger the gauge, the thinner the nail.

Brad nailers are good for situations in which you don’t want to use wood putty, as the hole that they leave is very small, due to their narrow width and small head. If you’re doing cabinetry, putting molding or trim on a project, or doing other kinds of finish projects, there’s probably not a better tool for you than a brad nailer.

However, brad nailers cannot do heavy-duty work. Brad nails are one of the smallest nail types, and they’re not designed to hold a lot of weight. Brad nailers are also generally weaker than other kinds of nailers, which means its hard to fully drive the brad nails into harder pieces of wood, like plywood.

Overall, brad nailers are great for doing finishing work. You shouldn’t expect them to be major load-bearing components, nor should you expect them to work with harder woods, but they excel in light-weight situations where you don’t want to have to use wood putty.

Pros
  • Small hole
  • May not require wood putty
  • Great for finishing work
Cons
  • Not meant for heavy-duty work
Image
Our Favorite Crown Stapler
Hitachi N3804AB3 1/4" Narrow Crown Stapler, 18...
Our Favorite Brad Nailer
DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch...
Model
Hitachi N3804AB3 1/4" Narrow Crown Stapler, 18...
DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch...
User Rating
Our Favorite Crown Stapler
Image
Hitachi N3804AB3 1/4" Narrow Crown Stapler, 18...
Model
Hitachi N3804AB3 1/4" Narrow Crown Stapler, 18...
User Rating
User Reviews
Our Favorite Brad Nailer
Image
DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch...
Model
DEWALT Brad Nailer Kit, 18GA, 5/8-Inch to 2-Inch...
User Rating
User Reviews

Conclusion

Crown staplers are better in heavy-duty situations since they come in longer varieties and have better holding power. They’re also good for upholstery. However, they leave big holes, so they need to be used in areas that won’t be seen or covered up with wood putty. Brad nailers, on the other hand, are great for light-duty work. They leave small holes, rarely require wood putty, and are much better for doing trim, molding, or other kinds of finishing work.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!