How To Paint or Stain Railings Using an Airless Sprayer

Project Overview

Painting railings with a handheld sprayer

Railings take a lot of abuse. Keep them looking their best by staining or painting them to help preserve and protect them from the sun and weather.

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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.


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. Use a pressure washer and cleaning agent to wash the railings. (If you don’t have access to a pressure washer, use a stiff bristle brush and deck cleaner to scrub all of the railing components). Let the cleaner set per manufacturer’s instructions; then rinse and allow the surface to dry completely.

  3. Cover all nearby shrubs, bushes and plants with plastic tarps. Because the material being sprayed and any overspray can travel between open spaces, cover anything surfaces near the railings or behind the spindles. Cover any nearby house walls with plastic to protect them from overspray as well.


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. Apply paint or stain by spraying along each spindle or railing component, following the grain of the wood. Start at the top of the railing section and work your way down. To protect against overspray between the spindles, place sheets of cardboard behind the railing.

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


Clean-up

  1. Allow significant time for the paint or stain to dry; then remove all coverings from shrubs, bushes, plants and surfaces.

  2. Return any furniture or other items to their proper place.

  3. 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.