When you’re a carpenter or joiner you are very adept at the work working side of a project, but when there are upholstery elements to a job then its worthwhile making sure you either bring in someone else to do that part of it who is an expert, who fully research it so that you get the right materials and techniques to finish the job to a high standard.  A question we often hear is when should you use upholstery staples as opposed to dome head upholstery nails on a project?

When is it Best to Use Upholstery Staples?

As a carpenter your automatic go to fastener is a nail, you’re comfortable with the outcome, you know how to put them in and you’re confident that they will secure the pieces.  But when it comes to upholstery you might not be so familiar with the options and the techniques for securing fabric and also ensuring that it is taut and finished well.

The choice between upholstery nails and upholstery staples is often down to whether the fixing will be visible or not.  No one wants to see staples, so if a joint is going to be visible when the piece of furniture is in use then it definitely shouldn’t be stapled.  Staples are more secure than upholstery nails because they have two entry points and they tend to invert for a more secure lock.

The style of the piece of furniture will also determine which is best.  A more modern piece or classic piece of furniture often won’t look right with dome head nails, as they are more suited to rustic and old age style furniture.  Dome head studs are also synonymous with leather work so are much more suited to leather finished upholstery. But in other styles of upholstery it is usual to hide the seams and joints under the furniture and secure them to the wood with upholstery nails for a long lasting result.

Sometimes a combination of upholstery nails and upholstery staples is advised, using the staples in an obscure location to secure the fabric to the furniture frame, but then using the dome head upholstery nails to provide further securing and tautness to the fabric on the upper side where they also have a secondary function as a part of the design of the furniture.

Choosing Your Upholstery Staple Grade

Just like when you choose between grades of nails and lengths of nails, its important to get the right specification for the joint you’re trying to make, the same applies with upholstery staples.  Choose a staple that has a long enough projection to secure the upholstery based on the thickness of the upholstery and the expected wear on the joint due to the amount of cushion, i.e. play, in the joint.  The grade of the staple is also key if the furniture will be used in an outdoor environment, or perhaps in a seaside or humid location, because in this case you will want to ensure the staples are high grade stainless steel so they don’t corrode.