This post was updated on May 9, 2022
Like with any job, using the proper tools to stain your wood deck is half the battle. Our favorite and most-used deck staining tools are flooring brushes and stain pads, but you have a variety of deck stain applicator options to choose from that work fairly well. We’d also love to hear your thoughts: What do you think is the best way to apply stain and why? Leave us a comment below!
Deck Stain Brushes
Brushes certainly have their place when applying deck stain. Choosing the best brush for staining wood will depend on the specific area you’re staining. Use a wood stain brush for cutting along edges and in other hard-to-reach areas. A white China bristle brush works best for oil-based stains, sealers, and wood toners. A large 4- or 6-inch brush like the Wooster Pro Stain Brush can be used to back brush large areas to give a more even finish. Use a specific “crack and groove” brush for staining between fence or deck boards.
Deck Speed Mops and Stain Pads
A stain applicator pad or mop can be an excellent choice for larger areas. A speed mop like the one made by Shurline is a professional-grade 18-inch-wide mop that can make a stain job 50% faster. This speed mop also has replacement pads that can be used. Stain pads like the one from Padco use absorbent fibers that hold plenty of deck stain. A stain applicator pad is great for covering large areas like a deck floor. Replacement stain pads are also available. Some of these applicator tools come with a bucket, but we recommend one like the Wooster Wide Boy Bucket for holding stains while wetting your pad or mop.
Deck Stain Flooring Brushes
Newer to the application market for deck stains are flooring brushes. These brushes work great for applying a clear sealer, transparent stain, or semi-transparent deck stain. They attach to a threaded pole and allow you to use the stain similar to how you’d mop a floor.
Paint Rollers for Decks
A deck stain roller can be used to roll stain on. Use the proper roller nap for best results, but remember that rollers are not really designed to hold deck stain. A wide 18-inch roller may work well for staining a few fence or deck boards, but a mop or stain pad will hold more stain, lessening the amount of time you have to dip back into the stain bucket.
Deck Stain Sprayers
Sprayers are great for applying thinner deck stains. Some pump-up sprayers are decent, but it can be challenging to get a nice, even application. Using a sprayer like the Chapin Stain Sprayer will help. This durable sprayer comes with three different nozzles to help you get the correct spray pattern. An airless sprayer is another option, but they are expensive to buy or rent. An airless sprayer can have a bit of a learning curve, so you may want to practice a little before taking on a big project. It’s best to back brush the stain for an even finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Better to Roll or Brush Stain on a Deck?
A brush will perform better and stain a more extensive area faster. Brushes work exceptionally well on transparent stains. Rollers aren’t intended to hold stain, though a deck stain roller can work for small areas.
What Is the Easiest Way to Stain a Deck?
One of the easiest methods is using a stain mop. These mops soak up a lot of stain and can cover many areas quickly. They’re very easy to use and leave a good result behind.
What Kind of Brush Do You Use for Deck Stain?
There are brushes designed explicitly for staining a deck. Our favorite is the Wooster Pro Stain Brush. Brushes are great for staining in tight corners and hard-to-reach areas.
What Kind of Roller Do You Use for Stain?
Choose a roller that’s at least 18 inches wide to cover a greater surface area, and make sure the roller is the correct nap for staining.
Do Stain Pads Work?
Stain pads are excellent: They’re one of our favorite types of applicators to use. Stain mops are similar and also work really well.
Do you have any questions on the best applicators to use for your deck? If so, please ask in the comment areas below. We are here to help!
Deck Stain Help & Questions
Stain Reviews & Comparisons
As an article and comment contributor to the site, Scott has been around the pressure washing industry since attending college. In 1993 he started his first company called Oakland Pressure Wash specializing in exterior pressure washing and deck staining. That company evolved into OPW L.L.C. shortly thereafter concentrating more on exterior wood and deck restoration. Scott and his Deck Cleaning Michigan company have restored over 10,000 decks in the Metro Detroit area since the early years. He has become an authority in the deck restoration industry and has contributed to numerous wood restoration forums and informative sites.
All the products he suggests through this site are sold through online sites and in retail stores, allowing the consumer to choose their own means of purchase. Scott’s eCommerce sites do sell many top brands he endorses and if you appreciate any of the help he has offered then feel free to purchase from one of them.