Many people set out to stain their own deck but do not realize that just slapping it on can have less than mediocre results. There is a little more to applying deck stain than just squirting it on with a pump sprayer or slapping it on with a brush. Applying a deck stain evenly is going to ensure a nice even professional like finish. It can also help ensure proper stain penetration and reduce the chance over applying, which can lead to a blotchy finish that ends up flaking off.
First wash the wood surface with a wood cleaner, brush, and/or pressure washer. Follow up the cleaning with an application of deck brightener to help open up the wood pores. After the wood as dried for a couple of days it is now ready for stain. Most deck stains can be applied using various application tools. A brush, stain pad, roller, or an airless sprayer can all work well. Use whatever tools work best for you.
Read the application instructions of the stain label to ensure you are within the guidelines and applying 1 or 2 coats as suggested. Apply stain to one board at a time and finish that board from end to end before staining the next. If using a wide roller, stain pad, or sprayer you may be able to apply to several boards at a time. Still be sure to coat the boards from one end to the other. This will help eliminate overlap marks that can occur when staining only a portion of a board at a time. You can back brush the stain if you are using a roller, pad, or sprayer. Using a brush to even out the finish will give you better results.
Once you have applied stain to several boards from end to end be sure the stain is soaking in. After 20-30 minutes wipe away any excess stain that is still puddled up or running and has not been absorbed. At that point, it is not going to be absorbed as the wood has soaked up all the stain it can. Puddled up stain left to dry will leave a blotchy inconsistent finish that will not be appealing. Practice these methods to apply a deck stain evenly and you will get professional like results.