You can apply stain in several different ways: brushing, rolling, wiping and spraying; however, the quickest of all the possibilities is spraying. The procedure will require some additional prep work in order to prepare the spray gun, but when the sprayer is ready, you will work circles around those who choose to brush, roll, or wipe their stains on. The average do-it-yourself homeowner can spray on stain with little difficulty, and, depending on the size of the project, in less than six hours.
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Sprayer and Stain
When choosing to spray on stain with a sprayer, you should know about several types of materials and tools. The sprayer can be purchased or rented from your local hardware or tool rental store. At least two different types of sprayers can be used for spraying on stain: an electrical sprayer that has a 1 quart container attached to the gun, or an airless sprayer that is fed through a 25 to 100 feet hose. The airless sprayer allows you to retrieve the stain directly from a 1- or 5-gallon can. Use the 1 quart sprayer for smaller jobs and the airless sprayer for larger jobs.
The only type of stain that can be sprayed through a sprayer is pigmented stain. You can purchase this stain in either oil or water-based varieties. Never attempt to spray gel stains with a sprayer because it will clog the jets. You will also need several cotton rags for wiping away excess stain.
Prepare all surfaces before you spray the stain on. Clean your deck with a deck cleaner and allow it to dry before continuing. Sand and prepare any other surfaces with 60-, 80- and 120-grit sandpapers. If you are spraying house siding, such as cedar shingles or lap boards, then pressure-wash the siding and make sure no mold or mildew remains on the siding. If you are spray-staining concrete, make sure the concrete surface is etched and prepared to receive concrete stain; although the concrete stain will be slightly different than the pigmented stain for wood, it can still be sprayed through the same sprayer.
Mix your stain thoroughly and load the sprayer. Make several test strokes on a piece of cardboard or old wood. You should get the feel for how the stain is going to apply and how quick the sprayer works. Once you have a feel for the sprayer, make even strokes from left to right and right to left, over the surface being stained. Don't allow the sprayer to stop in one area long. After spraying wood surfaces, wait five minutes and wipe away any excess stain with a cotton rag. Spray concrete surfaces with a light mist in the beginning, wait five minutes for the coat to become tacky, and finish spraying. Clean the sprayer with water if using water-based stains and paint thinner if you are using oil-based stains.