Tips for Spraying a Deck With an Airless Sprayer

Updated on August 22, 2019
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

Using An Airless Sprayer to Stain Your Deck

One of the easiest and fastest ways to stain a deck is using an airless sprayer instead of brushing the stain on only by hand. Using a sprayer will save you at least a couple days of labor on your deck staining project, believe me. I wouldn't stain a deck without my sprayer.

A sprayer is used simply as a means to apply the deck stain, but spraying is not a substitute for brushing the stain after it's applied to the surface. You still have to back-brush the stain into the pores of the wooden spindles and deck boards. The most important part of spraying stain onto a deck, other than cleaning the wood first, is making sure you've carefully masked off the siding and nearby surfaces not being stained.

Don't let the worry of airborne over-spray prevent you from using a sprayer outside. Over-spray is easily controlled, starting with the number one rule: never use an airless sprayer outside when it's windy. By spraying at the lowest pressure possible, using the right tip size and masking materials, you won't have to worry about over-spray ruining your neighbors car.

Deck Staining Prep

  1. Unless the deck is brand new, the wood needs careful power washing to get rid of dirt and mildew. If the wood is severely weathered with moss and mildew stains, apply deck cleaner, or deck brightener, to restore the natural color of the wood. After a good washing, wait a few days to let the wood dry out before applying the stain.
  2. Peeling paint and stain must be removed through a combination of power washing and sanding. Power washing removes most of the loose material, but not all of it. I own both the Makita orbital sander and the Wagner Paint Eater. For fast and effective paint and stain removal from a deck, the Wagner Paint Eater is, by far, the best. Always sand a deck after power washing to smooth out the surface and remove splinters.

Masking A Deck for Airless Spraying

The actual deck itself usually doesn't need much masking, but the area surrounding the deck is what to focus on, especially the house siding. When I spray a deck, I cover the siding with one long sheet of plastic.

Use the 3M hand masker to mask off the siding above your deck quickly and easily. I've used this awesome tool to do paint prep masking for over twenty years. Along with the masker, buy a roll of 99-inch masking film (3M brand) and your choice of painter's tape.

The 99-inch film is perfect for covering siding above a deck. This allows you to spray the yard side of the spindles without worrying about the spray gun spitting stain all over the bare siding, which will happen if you don't protect it with plastic. Move nearby lawn feature to the other side of the yard and cover flowers with drop cloths.

The Best Deck Stain Sprayer

The best deck stain sprayer to buy is one that makes sense for your situation. You can buy an HVLP sprayer, which are great for smaller projects, but a poor choice when you're faced with staining a huge deck. The cup of an HVLP is small and empties fast when you're spraying dozens of spindles.

You can buy a cheap sprayer from a home improvement store to get the job done, but if you only plan to stain your deck once, consider renting a contractor airless sprayer from a paint store instead.

I'm a long time user of Graco airless sprayers. I own a Graco 495 Ultra Max and use it for decks, cabinets, walls, and fences. This is a bigger and more expensive sprayer, but there are smaller Graco sprayers that cost less and can be used for more than just spraying deck stain.

Staining A Deck with A Pump Sprayer

Using a pump sprayer to stain your deck is one of the cheapest sprayer options, but the annoying task of having to continually pump them is tiring and time consuming. Not only that, but pump sprayers are limited to one or two uses.

Using an airless sprayer is so much faster and more versatile. You can spray deck spindles in minutes without having to pump anything. The staining process is more efficient and worth the extra cost for the time saved at the end of the project.

Spraying Stain on Deck Spindles and Floor Boards

When spraying a deck with an airless sprayer, never spray at a high pressure, or you'll waste a lot of stain and produce excessive over-spray. You want to spray at the lowest pressure possible, only enough to get the stain onto the surface for brushing.

Best Spray Tip Size for A Deck

I recommend using an airless sprayer brand that offers fine finishing tips, not for the fine finishing, but the ability to spray efficiently at a lower pressure. With my Graco sprayer, I use the green FFLP (fine finish, low pressure) spray tips a lot, and I've used them for decks and interior spindles too. These spray tips last longer than the less expensive tips Graco sells.

The best spray tip size for deck spindles is a 110. This tip produces a 2-inch spray fan that reduces the amount of wasted stain blowing between the spindles instead of onto the surface.

To save stain when spraying spindles, turn the gun sideways and shoot just enough material onto the surface to spread out with a brush, or a roller. Spray the deck spindles first and the floor last, two coat each, back-brushing the stain after you spray it onto the surface.

Use A Spray Gun Extension

A spray gun extension, or wand, is another awesome tool that makes spraying with an airless sprayer less taxing on your body. You can spray a deck floor without having to bend over the whole time.

For the floor, you'll want to increase the size of the spray tip for faster coverage. The key is not going too wide though with the spray fan, otherwise you won't be able to brush between the boards fast enough before the stain starts to dry, especially working in the sun.

A good tip size for a deck floor is a 410 (8-inch spray fan). If you have a helper to brush in the stain as you spray, you could even go wider, but I probably wouldn't choose anything wider than 410, or 510. To prevent lap marks, spray and brush the floor from one side of the deck towards the other side, in one direction.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Matt G.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)