Choosing between pins and staples for assembling your ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets is an important decision that will impact the strength and durability of your finished project. Here is a detailed overview comparing pins and staples to help you decide which is the better fastening option for your RTA cabinet assembly.


RTA or “ready-to-assemble” cabinets provide a convenient and budget-friendly way for DIYers to install new cabinetry in their home. RTA cabinets come with all the cabinet parts pre-cut and drilled, along with hardware like screws, pins, staples, and cam locks for assembly.

Choosing suitable fasteners like pins or staples is crucial for proper RTA cabinet assembly. The fasteners hold the cabinet components together firmly and impact the overall structural integrity of the finished cabinets. Considering the pros and cons of pins versus staples will ensure you pick the best fastening method for secure and long-lasting cabinet construction.

Pins vs Staples for RTA Cabinets

Holding Strength

One of the biggest factors in choosing pins or staples is the holding strength they provide for keeping cabinet parts secured together.

Pins consist of two interlocking components – a bolt and a barrel – that join cabinet pieces with very strong compression. The pin barrels inserted into pre-drilled holes provide tremendously secure holding power. Pins form an incredibly rigid connection that resists splitting or loosening over time.

Staples on the other hand rely solely on the two thin, pointed legs inserted into the cabinet material to grip pieces together. Longer staple legs and wider crowns provide more holding power. But staples are more likely to loosen as wood expands/contracts over time compared to pins.

Overall, pins offer superior holding strength and durability for assembling RTA cabinets. The interlocking pin barrels provide vice-like compression that outperforms the limited grip of thin staple legs.

Ease of Use

Another consideration is installation ease when deciding between pins or staples.

Pins require two steps – pre-drilling holes, then inserting pin barrels into the holes. But pin assembly with a screwdriver is quite fast and easy after holes are drilled. The interlocking design allows easy pin insertion without needing to hold pieces flush together.

Staples are shot into the material using a staple gun in one step, without pre-drilling. However, keeping the cabinet pieces flush together requires more effort when stapling. Cabinet parts can shift, resulting in off-angle stapling which weakens the connection.

Overall, staples have a minor advantage for quicker one-step fastening. But pins offer more user-friendly assembly without needing to align pieces perfectly when inserting the barrels.


The appearance of the finished cabinets should also be weighed when selecting pins or staples.

Cabinets assembled with pins will have small pinhole marks on the inner surfaces. But these are not visible externally once cabinets are installed. Pins allow a blemish-free and seamless outer cabinet appearance.

Staples leave obvious penetration marks from the staple legs on both inner and outer cabinet surfaces. Filling these staple holes requires extra puttying/sanding work to achieve a smooth exterior finish.

So pins provide a cleaner and more seamless cabinet appearance without noticeable fastener marks. Stapled cabinets require additional prep work to conceal the staple holes for a finished look.

Recommendation: Use Pins for RTA Cabinet Assembly

In summary, here are the key reasons why pins are the recommended choice over staples for assembling RTA cabinets:

  • Stronger holding power with compression from interlocking pin barrel inserts
  • Rigid connections that resist splitting or loosening over time
  • Easier user-friendly installation than aligning pieces for stapling
  • No visible exterior fastener holes for flawless cabinet appearance

Pins are specially designed to provide the ideal fastening method for RTA cabinets. The ultra-secure pin connections and concealed appearance make pins the superior choice over basic staples. Investing in quality pins ensures your DIY RTA cabinet project will have structural integrity that lasts for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pins vs Staples for RTA Cabinets

Are pins or staples better for RTA cabinet assembly?

Pins are better for RTA cabinet assembly because they offer stronger holding power with their interlocking barrel design. Pins form more rigid connections that are less likely to loosen or split over time versus staples.

What gauge pins should I use for RTA cabinets?

1/2 inch or 5/8 inch pins with #5 or #6 gauge thickness are ideal for assembling most RTA cabinet components. Use the thicker pins included with the cabinet hardware rather than thin upholstery pins.

Can I assemble RTA cabinets with just staples instead of pins?

You can assemble RTA cabinets with just staples, but they don’t provide the same strength and durability as a pinned connection. For critical joints, use at least one pin supplemented by staples for the best results.

Do I need to pre-drill holes for pins when assembling RTA cabinets?

Yes, you should always pre-drill holes for inserting pin barrels using a drill bit slightly smaller than the pin diameter. This prevents splitting the wood and allows easy pin insertion.

How do I hide the pin holes when finishing RTA cabinets?

Fill pin holes with wood putty, allow to dry completely, then sand flush. Apply wood stain marker to concealed pinholes for color blending. Finish with paint/stain to completely hide inner pin holes.


Choosing pins over staples when assembling ready-to-assemble cabinets will lead to the most secure, long-lasting finished product for your cabinetry project. Pins provide superior holding strength, easier installation, and invisible exterior appearance when used properly. Investing in quality pine ensures strong and durable RTA cabinet construction. Pre-drilling holes and using pins specifically designed for RTA cabinets is the recommended best practice for DIY cabinet assembly success.