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The best way to stain a deck

How to Paint or Stain a Deck

Learn how to paint or stain a deck with a sprayer this summer to achieve a long lasting finish. Make painting or staining the deck boards and railings easier with a Wagner Control Pro 130 airless sprayer.

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate


Your deck is an important feature of your home. Like any part of that investment, you need to protect it and keep it looking great. To do that, you can hire a deck staining service, or deck painting service to refinish it every couple of years, or you'll run the risk that you may have to replace the whole thing. A more economical option is maintaining yourself by using an airless stain sprayer. While this DIY project focuses on how to stain a deck, you can follow the same steps for painting a deck, in addition to using your Control Pro 130 to spray wood sealer.


Before DIY Deck Staining Project


After DIY deck staining project

Prep Your Deck

Clean & Repair Before Spraying

  • If your deck boards and railings are in great shape, all you have to do is clean them to prepare for painting or staining. If there are any rough spots or chipping paint/stain, you should sand the deck beforehand. The Wagner PaintEater is an excellent tool if you need to sand away old paint or stain before beginning your project.
  • An important first step is to always power wash your deck, which gets rid of the dirt, grime and any old finish that might be flaking off. Wait a few days for the deck boards to completely dry and ensure you have a day or two of good weather before staining your deck. You should also mask and cover any areas you don’t want stained such as your home’s siding, windows, shrubs, and grass.
  • Another part of prep work is choosing the right paint or stain. There are a lot of options so make sure you do research and find a coating that suits your preferences, deck type, and climate. How much paint/stain you'll need depends on the size of your deck. Read the label on the can and also consider how long it's been since the surface was last stained. The longer it's been, the more stain the wood will likely absorb. Also, painting or staining new wooden decks will likely absorb more paint and stain too.

A man pressure washing deck boards before stain spraying the deck

Start Staining the Railings

Spray Your Deck In This Order

  • Start by staining the railings first,
  • Second, the deck boards and
  • Lastly, the stairs.

Spraying in this order of operation will ensure you don’t step in any wet stain.

Spray With the Grain of the Wood

When paint or stain spraying a deck, you always want to follow the woodgrain on an area like a railing. That means you'd be alternating between moving up and down and side to side. You can either adjust the tip guard to change spray pattern directions, or just rotate your hand. You will need to spray the spindles from a couple different angles to ensure all sides are evenly covered. If you are stain spraying with an HVLP sprayer like a FLEXiO you have the option to change the pattern width to narrow.

A man staining deck railings with a spray gun

Stain the Deck Boards

Keep the Sprayer Moving

On the deck boards, you want to keep the spray gun moving anytime you have the trigger pulled. Otherwise you will end up with heavy spots and possible drips. It’s always best to cover lightly and fill in with heavier coats as you go. Pro Tip: Keep a brush on hand to quickly blend in any drips or runs.

Continue to Spray with the Grain

As with the railings you’ll want to move with the grain of the wood and work in long passes. This might mean walking from one end to the other. Spray each board to ensure each one is completely covered and coated. You will want to start closest to the house and work your ways towards the stairs to avoid having to step in wet stain. Once complete, move onto the stairs (if applicable). 

A man using an airless paint sprayer to stain his deck

Enjoy the New Deck!

Wait for the Stain to Dry

Make sure to let the stain fully dry (see the manufacturer’s instructions/guidelines) before placing furniture and other items on your newly stained deck. Your deck will quickly transform from a blotchy, dirty, weather-beaten deck to a beautiful outdoor space! Perfect for entertaining friends or just relaxing with family.

Be sure to watch our how to stain a deck video to see these tips and tricks in action!

The best way to stain a deck
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