As a homeowner, nothing beats heading out on your magnificent deck on a warm day. Whether you enjoy entertaining or simply want to kick back and relax, your deck is a go-to spot. That’s why it’s so disheartening when it stops looking its best. When that happens, a fresh coat of stain might seem like the best solution, leading you to wonder, “Can you spray stain a deck?”
You can spray stain a deck, but you need to use the right overall approach. First, you have to start with cleaning and preparing the surface. After that, you need to protect nearby plants and structures and ensure you’re using the right sprayer and the correct technique.
However, that only scratches the surface of what you need to do. If you hope to spray stain a deck, here’s what you need to know.
- Can You Spray Stain a Deck?
- What Is the Best Type of Sprayer for Deck Stain?
- How to Stain a Deck Using a Pump Sprayer
- Is It Better to Stain a Deck with a Sprayer or Brush?
- Spraying Deck Stain vs. Rolling
- What Is the Best Pump Sprayer for Staining Deck?
- Can You Spray Stain on Pressure Treated Wood?
- Best Way to Stain a Deck
Can You Spray Stain a Deck?
Yes, you can use a sprayer to apply deck stain. Before you begin, you need to prepare the surface to ensure it’s ready for staining.
Typically, the first step you need to take is cleaning the deck. A thorough cleaning removes stuck-on dirt and grime and lets you address issues like mold, mildew, or moss. Once that’s done, you’ll need to thoroughly sand the deck to freshen up the surface and prep it for stain.
After sanding, you’ll need to clean your deck again to tackle any sawdust lingering on the surface. Then, you’ll want to put down some drop cloths or plastic sheeting to shield nearby plants from stain overspray.
Once the drop cloths are in place, it’s time to apply the stain using a sprayer. You’ll add the number of coats recommended by the manufacturer before letting it dry. After that, you can clean the drop cloths and enjoy your freshly stained deck.
What Is the Best Type of Sprayer for Deck Stain?
When you’re applying deck stain, the best type of sprayer to use is a pump sprayer. Along with being more affordable than sprayers that use air, the process is highly manual. As a result, you get a greater degree of control.
Deck stain also doesn’t need to be atomized unless you’re using an opaque stain. Since that’s the case, a pump sprayer allows for a uniform application while remaining easy to use.
Pump sprayers allow you to make sure the pressure doesn’t get too high, making it easier to avoid issues like overspray. It also works well for getting into tight spaces, so you can easily ensure stain reaches the gaps between the deck boards.
How to Stain a Deck Using a Pump Sprayer
Staining a deck using a pump sprayer is a reasonably straightforward project, but it does include several steps if you want the best results. Before you begin, you need to make sure you’re wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
During the entire process, you’ll want to wear gloves to shield your hands from cleaners and the stain. Goggles are necessary for protecting your eyes, and you’ll need a breathing mask to ensure you don’t inhale cleaners, stain, dust, or any other substance.
In many cases, it’s wise to wear disposable coveralls, too. However, you can choose shoes and clothing you don’t mind getting covered in cleaner or stain along the way.
After getting your PPE together, you also need to select the right day to begin your project. Generally, you want to make sure the temperature will remain between 50°F and 80°F and the humidity is between 40 and 70 percent. Additionally, make sure that rain isn’t in the forecast during the entire application and drying time.
Finally, being mindful of the wind is essential. Gusts or high winds make spraying deck stain harder, as the stain may get shifted in the wind as you’re spraying. As a result, it’s better to choose a day without much wind.
1. Clean the Deck
Before applying any stain to your deck, you need to clean the surface. Otherwise, stuck-on dirt and grime may prevent the stain from absorbing evenly in the wood.
Typically, you’ll want to begin by sweeping the surface to get rid of debris and dust. After that, using a pressure washer is usually best, as it’s excellent at tackling stuck-on dirt and grime.
Pressure washing also gives you some options. You can rely on the spray or add a brush attachment for additional scrubbing power. If you have a cleaner reservoir, you can also choose a mild solution designed for wood desks. Make sure you rinse thoroughly if you use cleaner to remove any residue that might affect the stain.
Since you’ll need to stain between your deck boards, make sure you clean those areas along with the walking surface. A slim broom lets you remove debris and dirt. After that, you can use your pressure washer or a thin sponge to get any stuck-on grime.
Once you’re done cleaning, let the surface dry completely before continuing. How long that takes may depend on local conditions, so drying times can range from a few hours to over a day.
2. Sand the Decking
After your deck is clean, you need to sand the surface. That allows you to address unevenness and promote better absorption or adhesive, leading to a better overall result.
In most cases, you can use 80 to 150-grit sandpaper to prep the deck. You can use an orbital sander to speed up the process for the surface, though manual sanding is also fine. As you sand, make sure you’re going with the grain to minimize visible scratches.
For between the deck boards and on your railings, a sanding sponge is potentially necessary. A fine sanding stick also works well between deck boards. Just make sure you choose an option slim enough to fit the gap.
3. Clean the Deck Again
After you finish sanding, it’s time to quickly clean your deck again. With this cleaning round, your primary goal is to ensure no sawdust is sitting on the surface or between the boards. However, it also allows you to address new debris that fell on your deck.
Cleaners aren’t usually necessary for this cleaning since stuck-on dirt and grime usually won’t occur that quickly if you handled it during the first round. Since that’s the case, begin with a quick sweep and follow that with a water rinse. You can use a pressure washer or hose to wash away sawdust, so choose the most convenient option.
After cleaning, you need to let the deck completely dry again. Any remaining moisture can affect how the stain absorbs, so you want to ensure the boards are as dry as possible.
How long it takes the boards to dry varies depending on local conditions. In warmer, dry areas, it may only take a few hours. If it’s humid and cooler and there isn’t much direct sunlight, it could take a day or so before your deck finishes drying.
4. Put Down Drop Cloths
As your deck is drying and before applying stain, you’ll want to put down drop cloths to protect your lawn, nearby plants, and anything beneath your deck. Otherwise, overspray could reach those areas, and that could harm your landscaping or any items positioned beneath your deck.
Usually, paint drop cloths work well. However, you can also use plastic sheeting if you prefer. Make sure the drop cloths are correctly positioned and secured before you begin, ensuring that the wind won’t blow them around if there’s a gust while you’re working.
5. Start with the Railings and Supports
Begin the staining process by handling the railings and supports first. By beginning with them, you can easily move across your deck to reach all areas. Plus, it allows you to handle drips or pooling before coating the deck boards.
Use smooth, relatively quick passes as you apply the stain. The idea is to apply a light layer at a time, only doing additional passes until the surface is coated. Continue using that technique until you handle all of the railings and supports. After you apply the first coat, it’s wise to back brush to work the stain in and address any drips.
6. Spray Stain the Deck Floor
After the railings and supports are done, you can begin with your deck floor. Begin on one side of your deck and go board by board. By using that approach, you can make sure the stain is getting between your deck boards and avoid issues like lamp marks caused by overlapping the stain.
After you stain a small section, back brush to work it into the grain. Plus, that allows you to address drips or puddling before you continue staining the rest of the deck.
7. Let Stain Dry
Once you apply stain to the entire deck, it’s time to let it dry. Refer to the manufacturer’s directions regarding drying times between coats and for the final coat.
If you need a second coat, use the same strategy as you did for the first one. Begin with the railings and supports, back brushing after they’re coated again, and then move onto the deck boards, back brushing as you complete small sections.
After the last coat, make sure you give your deck enough time to fully cure before using it. That can take between 24 and 48 hours, but refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for more precise drying times.
Is It Better to Stain a Deck with a Sprayer or Brush?
Whether it’s better to stain a deck with a sprayer or brush depends on your priorities. Using a brush lets you work the stain into the grain right away and allows you to focus on one board at a time. However, this approach takes longer than essentially any alternative. Plus, it’s not the most physically comfortable.
Using a pump sprayer is potentially faster than using a brush, even if you need to back brush. Spraying also lets you remain standing for most of the process, which could make it less physically uncomfortable. However, you need to take the time to ensure the spray is reaching between your deck boards, something that’s usually easier to manage if you’re relying on a brush instead of a sprayer.
If you’re concerned about getting between your deck boards, you could use a thin sponge brush for that part of the project. Then, transition to a sprayer to hit the surface with stain.
Spraying Deck Stain vs. Rolling
Rollers are another option for applying stain, and it’s typically faster than using a brush but slower than turning to a pump sprayer. Plus, you can attach rollers to poles to make standing up during most of the application an option.
However, getting into tight areas – like between deck boards or between railing supports – is challenging with a roller. Since that’s the case, you’ll usually need a brush to ensure the stain gets onto those spots.
What Is the Best Pump Sprayer for Staining Deck?Many highly-capable pump sprayers on the market work well for deck stain. If you’re having trouble choosing, the Chapin 20002 two-gallon sprayer is a solid choice. The size lets it carry a lot of stain, limiting the need to refill. It also has a wide mouth to make filling it easy.
The sprayer on the Chapin 20002 has a filter to prevent clogs, which is beneficial. It’s also easy to adjust the spray, giving you options from fine to coarse. The ergonomic handle ensures that pumping is comfortable, and the hose is long enough to limit the number of times you’ll need to reposition the container.
Can You Spray Stain on Pressure Treated Wood?
Pressure-treated wood stands up better to the elements, allowing it to last longer than its untreated brethren. If you don’t care for the original color and want to ensure that your pressure-treated wood lasts as long as possible, staining it is an option.
Usually, oil-based stains will work well as long as you prepare the wood for staining. Additionally, you can find stains that are explicitly designed for pressure-treated wood. Just be aware that using a different product on your regular decking than on your pressure-treated wood may lead to areas having slightly different colors, so you’ll want to do some tests if getting as close a match as possible is the priority.
Once you have your stain, you use the same overall process as you would for regular decking. Start with cleaning and sanding, then remove any sawdust by cleaning again. Next, apply the stain using your preferred method and let it dry. Add any additional coats and then allow the deck to fully cure.
Best Way to Stain a Deck
Generally, the best way to stain a deck is using the method that’s most comfortable for you. A pump sprayer is an excellent option, though some may prefer a brush or roller. Just make sure that you prepare the wood before you begin, as that leads to the best overall result.
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