What’s the Best Way to Apply Deck Stain? 4.6/5 (77)

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

Deck Stain Pad

Deck Stain Pad

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 Staining Brush

Deck Staining Brush

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!

Please Rate This. You may also post comments or ask questions below.

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klinden7
klinden7(@klinden7)
7 months ago

I am using the Restore A Deck wood staining brush to do a maintenance coat. I think I have seen it mentioned, somewhere, that using the brush eliminates the need for the groove tool, as the brush spindles may reach down a bit. Is that the case?

JL portch
JL portch
8 months ago

I bought a house with an older deck (est 10yo) which has no visible stain or sealer that I can tell. It is probably 800sf+ and has many issues but multiple contractors say the structure is solid – replacing all the tread and verticals isn’t in my budget for the next two years so I’ve demolded, cleaned, made safe for dog paws and corrected what I can for now. Imagine warping, gaps from splintering and some screw heads that I personally couldn’t fix yet. Should I bother to seal & stain it to at least discourage additional borer bee activity or should I put the money into budgeting instead? And if I have replaced some tread boards do I use the same stain on both if the wood isn’t an exact match?
ps thanks for this advice, I really got a lot from your feedback on other posts

Lee
Lee
11 months ago

Would pressure washing suffice as a cleaner on old deck with no previous stain? Or do I need to do both?

Lee
Lee
11 months ago

Correction: (typos 😖) Will a deck stain flooring brush work with Armstrong semi a solid stain?

Lee
Lee
11 months ago

Can you use s deck stain flooring brush with semi a solid oil based stsins

Jean
Jean
1 year ago

How do you clean the RAD wood staining flooring brush if using a semi-transparent oil-based stain? Will mineral spirits or paint thinner ruin it?

Jerry
Jerry
1 year ago

Best way to clean a deck before selling it

Louis Tseng
Louis Tseng
1 year ago

HI,
I just installed an IPE deck. Because of the size of the deck (1400SF), I’d like to use an airless paint sprayer, with back brush. Do you recommend this method?
Other options would be between using a pad and a deck brush. What is your preferred method and the rationale behind it.

Thanks,

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

Hello. If using an 18 inch roller for deck boards with semi transparent ready seal, what size nap should I use? 3/8”? 1/2”? Thanks!

Sandy
Sandy
1 year ago

My pickets and railings around my deck still have all the semi transparent stain on them and this part was done 6 years ago. The deck boards was replaced 5 years ago and painted and the stain is pretty well worn off. I want to have the entire deck stained and the person doing this rolls on the stain. Should this all turn out ok?

Sandy
Sandy
1 year ago

I have already purchased a 5 gallon bucket semi transparent stain which I cannot return. It was stained cedar the first time which has turned dark and I wanted to keep the same color. If I put 2 coats on will it cover it? I guess I should say I don’t have a choice since I had the color mixed when I purchased it. What could be the out come when I put this on?

Sandy
Sandy
1 year ago

Will pressure washing take off the old stain?

Tanya
Tanya
1 year ago

I used a roller to apply my deck stain but it all peeled off . Why did this happen I wonder?

Tanya
Tanya
1 year ago

Thanks! Another question would you recommend me pressure washing it to get it off?

Linda Thomas
Linda Thomas
2 years ago

I power washed deck most old stain semi transparent was removed. It’s an older deck…what is the easiest and best way to apply new stain.

Mary
Mary
2 years ago

What type of stain to use for a wood deck around a pool & should we use a pad to apply

Thomas
Thomas
2 years ago

I’m staining a new deck. Its 28×85. Brushing is taking forever. Do you recommend a pad or roller?

John
John
2 years ago

Can you stain over mold?

Jeff Knecht
Jeff Knecht
2 years ago

Staining 16 foot x 6 inch, Pine deck boards with Cabot Oil Based Semi Solid in garage, before installing on dock. Trying to avoid hot temps in NC. What would be best applicator(s) method ?

Thinking of using 6 inch pad then back brushing with natural bristle brush.

Jeff Knecht
Jeff Knecht
2 years ago

These are deck boards that I am flipping and were previously installed 4 years ago.

Dan E
Dan E
2 years ago

Staining a new (7 months old) deck. Stain rails and spindles before the floor? Should floor be covered to avoid dark areas caused by drips?

David C Stoltzfus
David C Stoltzfus
3 years ago

I want to stain the underside of my deck boards, I tried a cotton cloth but that didn’t work very well.

Que
Que
4 years ago

Can you recommend the best way of staining around the aluminum spindles other than taping off every single one?

tom
tom
5 years ago

Is it ok to use another wood brightener other than armstrong clark, if we decide to use armstrong clark deck stain? Also, is the minimum recommended over an existing treated pine deck and dock which is 20 years old to do brightener . We have treated previously with various transparent and semi-transparent products? Thank you

tom
tom
5 years ago

sorry, have pressure sprayed would that suffice as a cleaner?

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