How to Properly Use a Deck Stain Sprayer

A stained deck in a sunny backyard.
What You'll Need
Pressure washer
Fan tip
Drop cloth
Masking tape
Paint sprayer
Long handle
Paint pad
Eye protection

One of the best ways to apply deck stain is by using a sprayer. It speeds up the whole process by compressing a day of work into just a few hours, and it's easy to use. However, no matter how simple the job is, it's still important to understand how to use a sprayer properly in order for it to be truly effective.

Choose a Type of Sprayer

There are two types of sprayer you can use to apply a deck stain. The first is an airless variety that you’re unlikely to own. If you would like to use one anyway, your best bet is to just rent one. Be aware that you’ll need to return it fully cleaned.

The other option is to use a regular sprayer, such as the type you might already have in the garage. It’s cheaper and it will do a good job even if it’s not as fast or thorough as an airless type.

Prepare the Deck

Rent or use a pressure washer you already own to remove any dirt and debris from the deck's surface. Make sure you use a wide fan tip on your machine and avoid spraying too close to the surface so you do not damage the wood.

Having completely cleaned your deck, you also need to make sure that the deck stain you spray only goes on the deck. Hang a drop cloth on the wall of the house, all the way down to the deck, and put plastic around the edges of the deck to protect your landscaping from the spray. Finally, cover any outlets that are sunk into the deck.

Set Up an Airless Sprayer

If you choose to use an airless sprayer, a small tip will work best for applying deck stain. For the railings, select a 211 tip to give a spray width of only four inches. When you move to the decking itself, change to a 411 tip for a spray width of eight inches for better coverage. Use the sprayer on low pressure, no more than 100 PSI.

Spray Stain

Regardless of the type of sprayer you use, apply the stain in sections, each being no more than three or four boards at any one time. Start at one end of the deck and work progressively to the other side. Don’t stop in the middle of a section; if you do this, you’ll leave a mark when you start again. Ensure that you put a very liberal coat of stain onto the wood, but if it pools in any area, take your paint pad, attached to a long handle, and brush it smooth.

You’ll find it easiest to apply the deck stain if you spray all of the railings before you move on to the deck itself. Once you finish the job, be sure to give the stain plenty of time to dry while you clean out your sprayer.