How To Paint or Stain a Deck Using a Paint Sprayer

Project Overview

Staining a deck with an airless sprayer

If you just added a new deck or are refinishing an existing one, keeping the deck coated will protect the wood from the sun and harsh weather. Simply applying a new coat of finish to your deck can make all the difference in the appearance of your entire home.

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Safety Notice: Whenever operating spray equipment, take proper safety precautions, stay alert, and be mindful of potential hazards. Wear protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses/goggles, spray sock (hood), hat, proper footwear, dust masks and respirators. Make sure there is adequate ventilation. If you’re painting in the vicinity of appliances, turn them off. (See Safety Precautions in your Sprayer Operation Manual.) Always refer to the specific instructions and safety procedures for the spray equipment you are using.


How to Spray a Deck: Quick Summary 00:44


Suggested Tools & Equipment

  • Graco, Magnum, or TrueCoat Paint Sprayer (see comparison chart or sprayer selector)
  • Paint/Stain
  • Spray tips – a wider spray pattern for large surfaces and narrow size for smaller surfaces (see tip selector)
  • Empty buckets for priming sprayer and cleanup (two needed)
  • Stir sticks
  • Paint strainer bag – helps prevent tip plugs and provides a better finish
  • Tarps, drop cloths, or plastic sheeting
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brush for touch-ups
  • Magnum tip extension/TrueCoat tip extension (optional) – for hard-to-reach areas that would otherwise require a ladder
  • Pressure roller kit (optional)
  • Additional airless hose sections if needed
  • Spray shield
  • Pump Armor storage fluid or TSL fluid (see pump protectant product details)
  • Cleaning rags
  • Stiff nylon brushes for cleanup
  • Safety and protection equipment – safety glasses/goggles, dust mask/respirator, spray sock or hat to cover head

Getting Started/Prep

  1. Move all outdoor furniture or any other items such as a grill away from the area to be sprayed. Allow plenty of space for your tools and equipment.

  2. Cover all nearby shrubs, bushes and plants with plastic tarps, and do not spray on windy days. Because the material being sprayed and any overspray can travel between open spaces, cover anything below the deck or on the other side of rails or spindles. Cover any house walls near the deck with plastic to protect them from overspray as well.

  3. Sweep the deck of all dirt. Wash the entire deck surface with a pressure washer, or use a long-handled brush or broom to apply deck cleaner. Let the cleaner set per manufacturer’s instructions; then rinse and allow the surface to dry completely.


Spraying

  1. Select the spray tip that’s best suited for the stain you are using and the surface to be sprayed. In most cases, a tip with a narrower 8-inch-wide spray pattern and a .013 hole size will give you the best control. Be sure the tip’s hole size does not exceed the maximum capacity of your sprayer (see spray tip info).

  2. If you’re using paint from multiple containers, mix it together in an empty 5-gallon container to ensure consistent color even if small color differences exist between individual paint cans. When spraying lighter materials like stains, select the lowest pressure setting that enables you to maintain a good spray pattern. Lower pressure settings will give you better control and a finer finish.

  3. Start by spraying the railings and deck supports – you may need to hold the gun at an angle in order to completely spray any inside surfaces. Keep a brush handy in case you need to brush out any excess-sprayed stain.

  4. For the decking, work in sections only as far as you can comfortably reach and follow the planks lengthwise, keeping the spray tip approximately 12 inches from the surface. (A tip extension is a useful accessory, as it will allow you to spray the decking at the proper distance with needing to bend over.) Spray the outer edges first, “banding” the area that you will spray, and then spray any corners. Make repeated passes following the boards, overlapping each pass by 50%. Pay special attention to any inside surfaces – you may need to angle the gun to completely spray those hard-to-reach areas.

Visit How to Use a Paint Sprayer: Spray Techniques for more spraying pointers.


Clean-up

  1. Follow paint/stain manufacturer’s recommendations and allow significant time for the stain or deck coating to dry.

  2. Remove all coverings from shrubs, bushes and plants. Carefully remove all tape and plastic covering from wall surfaces, windows and trim.

  3. Replace any lighting fixtures that you removed and move furniture or other items back into place.

  4. Clean your airless paint sprayer after each use. Follow the directions in your user’s manual for Power Flush cleaning with water based materials or use the bucket method of cleaning if applicable. For more information, see Power Flush Video or refer to your Sprayer Operation Manual.

  5. Return any other items (furniture, grill, etc.) to their proper place.