5 Best Applicators for Staining Your Deck

deck stain applicator and equipment

Much similar to floors, a deck of a house is a wooden platform that is built above the ground at a height and is connected to the main building.

Typically, it is constructed outdoors and has been enclosed by a railing for safety purposes.

Many homeowners use this outdoor living space for partying, barbecuing, or just relaxing on weekends.

No matter how frequently you use your backyard deck area, you cannot deny the fact that the surface is highly exposed to getting damaged due to various environmental factors.

The most common damages are due to mold, wood rot, and water intrusion.

So, unlike other surfaces in your house that do not need frequent painting, your deck outdoors needs to stain very often for longevity and durability.

However, when staining and restoring your old deck, it’s important that you choose the right technique and stain applicators that are appropriate for getting the job done.

5 Best Stain Applicators for Deck

You wouldn’t use a paintbrush to paint your ceiling. You wouldn’t use a blowtorch to fix your computer. And you wouldn’t use a knife to cut your lumber.

Instead, you’d choose the right tools for the specific job. And this holds true even when you’re attempting to stain your deck.

Because of this, you’ll want to find the best tools—applicators—for staining your deck.

Below, we’ve included some of the best deck staining equipment you can use to get the best deck stain results possible.

1- Sprayers

If you can get the hang of using deck sprayers, you can get beautiful, even coating on your deck very quickly.

These tools are perfect for those who are looking to coat their deck with a thin layer of paint.

The only problem with devices like HVLP or pump sprayers is that they can be a bit difficult to use if you are a beginner.

Unlike many other deck staining tools, you’ll want to experiment and get used to using sprayers—especially the airless variety—before attempting to use them on your deck to get the even coating you want.

Wagner Spraytech 0529042 Control Spray 250 HVLP Stain...
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*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2- Paint Rollers

Paint rollers aren’t the most efficient way to stain your deck, but they will work in a pinch.

To apply the stain to your rough decking area or other weathered exterior wood, choose a roller with 3/4-inch or thicker roller covers.

For a smaller deck area, they’re one of the simplest painting tools to use—simply load the roller with your preferred deck stain or paint and get to work.

What you’ll want to look out for, however, is having enough paint on the roller that you can keep a consistent and even coating.

Another good option is to use a power paint roller that is electrically operated. It lets you quickly paint like a pro without worrying about the refill.

The Wooster Brush Company RR929-9 Super Fab FTP Roller...
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*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3- Deck Stain Brushes

Deck stain brushes are fairly easy to use and are made to get the job done.

These brushes come in different varieties—from 6 inches to those smaller 2 inches ones that are designed to paint cracks and grooves.

For painting or staining between deck boards, you can also choose a “crack and groove brush” that comes with a shape and texture ideal for getting into small spaces.

These give you the flexibility to stain your entire deck (along with railings and sides of stairs) with a consistent coating that you’ll love.

12PK 2.5 inch Flat Brush Premium Wall / Trim House...
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*Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4- Speed Mops and Stain Pads

Speed mops and stain pads are incredible deck stain application tools that can cover up to eighteen inches at a time.

The speed mops have adjustable nozzles allowing you to customize the width of your stain application. They also feature non-slip handles, which help you keep a secure grip when using them.

The stain pads are designed to glide effortlessly over the decking area while providing even stain coverage.

What makes stain pads like Shur-Line deck stain applicator great is that they hold more paint and staining material when compared to rollers and other kinds of brushes.

This means that you’ll be able to get more out of your tool and that you can more easily even coat the entire deck.

They’re also relatively easy to use compared to paint sprayers, making them an excellent choice for those looking for a quick, great finish.

Shur-Line 9-Inch Stain Pad with handle
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*Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5- Push Brushes or A Push Broom

Push brushes or a push broom is one of the best stain applicators for horizontal deck board surfaces.

Typically, these offer similar results as achieved with a pad applicator.

But it’s my favorite for cleaning and staining the decks due to the reason that it’s extra durable compared to the deck staining pad.

I love using it as it holds up more of a stain than a pad which means I can end my staining job relatively easier and faster.

Also, the push broom is provided with bristles that can help me work between the boards.

This is extremely helpful when I need to coat both sides, along with the top of the board, in a single coat.

You won’t believe it; this push brush applicator can also be used for staining the latticework, which is often difficult to treat.

Well, if you ask me – what is the best way to evenly stain a deck?

It’s an Eversprout Goliath Deck Stain Brush applicator for me that’s specially designed for staining and sealing the exterior deck area.

You can, of course, try and choose the one that’s most comfortable for you to stain your deck. Just make sure to choose the right kind of deck stain before you get started.

EVERSPROUT Goliath Deck Stain Brush | ULTRA WIDE 7-Inch...

*Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Apply Deck Stain and Sealer?

As winter turns to spring, the warm days and nights may fill your thoughts with ideas about how you will spend the time on your deck.

While you may be ready for the warmer temperatures to arrive, the same may not be true with your deck. Wooden decks, in particular, need proper maintenance to be ready for use.

Depending on the wear and tear it has experienced due to changing temperatures combined with foot traffic and other erosive conditions, you may need to apply a new coat of stain with your preferred deck stain applicator every year.

Here are a few tips to help you get the job done faster, so you can enjoy your deck more when the time is ready.

Step 1 – Preparing Your Deck

First, you will need to remove all furniture and other items that sit on your deck.

Once that is completed, follow these steps…

  • Use a broom to brush away any dirt and debris on the deck
  • Address any nails that have popped up or are damaged
  • Sand splintered areas of the deck with 80-grit sandpaper
  • Replace or repair any decking boards that have been damaged

Remember, sanding your old deck before staining is important if you already have an old layer of stain or sealer over it.

Once the deck is ready, apply a proper deck cleaner and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The deck needs to be wet as the cleaner penetrates the surface.

Then, rinse away the cleaner with your garden hose or a power washer set at the correct psi to keep it from damaging the wood.

Step 2 – Picking the Right Stain for Your Deck

Once the deck is dry, you can apply the stain – choose the transparency of the stain that ranges from clear to solid.

  • Transparent: You’ll see the wood, but it requires an annual re-staining
  • Solid: You will not see the wood, but it generally lasts around five years

If your deck has boards that have replaced damaged ones, using a semi-solid or solid stain will be best to even out the appearance.

There are stains that are in-between such as semi-solid and semi-transparent each having its advantages and disadvantages.

Choosing semi-transparent stains means seeing more of the wood than semi-solid, but both last longer than transparent stains.

Step 3 – Staining and Sealing Your Deck Properly

Once you have your deck stain ready, apply a small amount to a part of the deck that you do not usually see.

This will let you test and judge whether you really like the stain color or not. If you do not, the stain can be easily removed so that you can try a new color or brand.

a) Wait if it’s a new deck

If your wooden deck is brand new, you’ll need to let it sit for a few weeks for the wood to dry out fully. The dry wood will absorb the stain far more quickly and efficiently.

b) Check the weather report

You do not want to apply the stain if it is going to rain in the next 12 to 24 hours. Plus, you should not apply the stain in direct sunlight if the temperatures exceed 90 degrees F.

These conditions will not allow the stain to dry slowly enough to be absorbed by the wood.

c) Apply the stain to your deck

You have picked out the stain, tested it, and checked the conditions. To apply it properly just do the following.

  • Using your preferred deck stain applicator, apply even coats of stain
  • Use long, smooth, and thin strokes starting on the open end-grain of the wood
  • The stain that is too thick tends to be blotchy and peel or crack due to moisture present
  • Do not brush or roll more than two to three boards at a time, and if possible, brush the wet stain into the wet stain to avoid “lap marks”

d) Apply the deck sealer after the stain dries

Oil-based stains on your old timber deck will generally take 12-24 hours to dry.

But if you stained a brand-new deck made with pressure-treated wood, it’s good to allow hold off for a week for the stain to cure and get absorbed in the wood fully.

Once ready, you can use a sealer like Rust-Oleum’s Coppercoat Wood Preservative or Thompson’s Waterseal wood sealer.

  • Do not shake, but stir the sealer in the can to prevent the bubbles from forming
  • Once ready, apply the sealer on the clean, freshly stained deck using a brush, paint roller, or sprayer
  • To ensure an even coating in hard-to-reach areas such as crevices, railings, and staircases, use a fine-tipped paintbrush to apply the sealer.
long handled deck stain and oil applicator brush

How Often Should You Stain Your Deck?

Keeping your deck in shape is not easy, but if you inspect it every so often, you will know when it is time to re-stain.

Just remember that transparent stain needs to be re-applied every year. Solid stain every five years and stains in-between every two to three years.

So, how long the stain will last on your deck will most probably depend on the type of stain you have chosen and the maintenance you have done to keep it in tip-top condition over months.

A stain or the timber oil sealer that is still good will bead any water that hits the surface. So, spray a little water now and then to see if the stain is still beading. If not, it’s time to re-apply the stain.

How Can You Make the Deck Stain Look Darker?

The darker shade is what many of us love to get out of the stained deck.

If, after the stain application, you don’t feel the shade dark enough, you may look forward to making it darker.

Fortunately, there can be ways by which you can achieve darker colors on dense wood on your deck. Here are a few of them…

1- Use more stain

The first is simply using a higher concentration of stain/dye to liquid.

This means using very little water, thinner or mineral spirits when diluting the stain for the application.

Most of the toning is done with the stain color itself. So, if you are using a higher concentration of stain, it will add to the darkness and richness of the color you are looking for.

2- Add more coats

Remember that unlike paint (which often dries with darker shades), the stain will, most of the time, dry lighter.

Letting it dry properly and adding more coats of stain can therefore work better to make the wood darker. This way, you can achieve dense woods as dark as you want.

3- Use tinted polyurethane:

The original deck stain you use, if mixed with polyurethane thoroughly, can create a darker shade for you.

However, remember that this can create a slightly different shade as well by deepening and neutralizing the color.

The Bottom Line

Forget the fact that you have to spend huge money on tools and deck stain applicators that you may not use more than once per year.

Consider your skill level, and the time you will be committing to researching the right tools for your own personal needs, and then decide on which is best suited for your project.

Also, factor in your deck’s size and condition before selecting the equipment.

If you can use them, not just for applying the stain on your deck but also for various other projects like cleaning, it’s worth investing in.

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