Can You Use a Paint Sprayer to Spray Wood Stain?

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A paint sprayer can help save a lot of time.
Image Credit: svedoliver/iStock/GettyImages

An outdoor deck, the wood furniture sitting on that deck and any wood that is used outdoors loses its color and appeal if left to sit in the sun without a protective stain. Wood is porous and absorbs moisture, turning its attractive grain into splinters over time. Staining wood is recommended to add life and luster to your exterior wood.


Painting with a brush is laborious, and using stain in a paint sprayer is more complicated. While the sprayer does the job quicker, preparation is more complex and time consuming.

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Types of Paint Sprayers

A pump sprayer gives a more direct spray onto your deck or project since it is driven by air. It does create blotches or puddles of stain that can be evened out with a paintbrush. It does the job quicker, and the clean up is easier.

A high-volume, low-pressure airless sprayer gives a mist-like spray. It is easy to overspray the target. Cover any and all nearby bushes, furniture or other items surrounding your project.

Preparing to Stain With a Sprayer

  • Wear a respirator.
  • Be sure the sprayer is clean. Run water through it until it comes out clear.
  • Create a backdrop if you don't have a paint booth. This harnesses the overspray.
  • Be sure your paint area is well-ventilated.
  • Plan your spraying routine. First to last is vital to doing a good job.


Consider the Stain Base

Using stain in a paint sprayer is not reliant on whether the stain is water-based or oil-based. Select either depending on the local weather conditions of your project and the type of wood being sprayed. The water-based stain dries faster, making the process quicker. It is also more resistant to mildew and mold.


Oil-based stain penetrates the wood deeply, making the stain last longer. Maintenance is long term, and the stain provides a thicker seal. Drying time is longer between sprays, and sanding is required.

Practice Using Stain in a Paint Sprayer

First-timers and even those who are familiar with using a paint sprayer should practice before using stain in a paint sprayer. Find scrap pieces of wood and spray until you get the feel of the sprayer and the stain as it comes out. Each sprayer is different and uses a specific pressure to get the coating even.



Technique for Spray Painting Stain

Using stain in a paint sprayer requires a specific technique. For an even finish, start spraying before the sprayer nears the object and continue until it is past it. To avoid puddling, don't stop midspray. Use a light spray for the initial coat and then let it dry completely. Sand with a light-grit paper before applying a second coat. Sand between each coat.


Body Movement When Spray Painting

Your hand, arm and entire body must be synchronized if you are going to get an even spray, and this requires practice. Once you have the sprayer in hand, don't move any body part. Keep them locked in place as you walk the project.

The spray pressure must be consistent. Don't backtrack or overlap. Keep moving forward in order to get the most even coating.



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