Can You Use a Paint Sprayer to Spray Wood Stain?

Don't use water to clean sprayers used to apply oil-based stain.
Don't use water to clean sprayers used to apply oil-based stain. (Image: water drops enters into water image by Denis Tabler from

Most people use a paintbrush, manufactured for use with oil paints, to apply stain to wood surfaces. This can make staining larger surfaces tedious and time-consuming. You can use a paint sprayer to apply wood stain, as long as you understand some important concepts.

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Wood stain is much thinner than paint. This quality causes higher quantities to eject through the tip of the sprayer, leading to an excess of stain that can contribute to heavy runs and drips. You can combat this issue by turning down the pressure setting on the paint sprayer.


Water is appropriate for cleaning paint sprayers used to apply latex paint; however, it will ruin paint sprayers used to apply oil-based stain. Mineral spirits are appropriate for cleaning a paint sprayer used to apply any type of oil-based coating.


Oil-based stains emit heavy fumes. This effect is exacerbated by paint sprayers, which expel the stain in fine mists. Always wear a respirator when applying stain to interior wood surfaces.

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