August 22, 2023 4 min read

A deck is a beautiful addition to any home, allowing you to enjoy alfresco dining and entertaining in warm weather. You can use decking stain products to change your wood's color and provide high-level UV protection. Staining a deck protects the materials from rain, mold and even algae. This guide will give you deck staining tips and teach you about the different tools to use.

The Best Tools for Staining Decks

What do I need to stain a deck? Start with three essential tools — brushes, rollers and sprayers. Let's break down the uses and advantages of each. 


Brushes are the traditional way of applying stain to your deck. There are a lot of positives to using this tried-and-true method, but there are also some limitations to be aware of when determining the best tools for deck staining.

Benefits of brushes include consistent coverage, accuracy and control. You can get an even coat and manage how much stain you apply to each area, easily painting narrow gaps and hard-to-reach areas. However, when using a brush, you must add at least two coats of stain to your deck to complete the job correctly. If you are in a hurry and need your deck stained quickly, consider looking into another method. It's also nearly impossible to avoid leaving brush marks, which you may find unsightly.


Rollers have distinct pros and cons you should consider when evaluating if they are a good choice for you. They are relatively inexpensive, and using a roller to apply deck stain can be almost twice as fast as using a brush. A roller can be effective when reaching tall areas of your deck and staining side rails and barriers.

Roller drawbacks include the following.

  • Inconsistent: You might mistakenly go over the same part of your deck multiple times.
  • Needs even surfaces: Rollers do not cover uneven surfaces as well as other tools do.
  • Roller marks: Rollers can leave tracks and use more product than a brush.
  • Prone to damage: You must use more caution with a roller than when using a brush or sprayer. For example, ensure your roller doesn't get snagged on an edge and tear while you're working. 


A sprayer is the most efficient deck staining tool you can use. There are benefits to spraying deck stain vs. rolling and painting, but also some drawbacks to remember.

Depending on your deck's size, you can stain it in a matter of minutes with a sprayer tool, getting decent coverage in a single coat with no risk of brush or roller marks. Sprays are also a reliable tool for applying stain through narrow gaps and hard-to-reach spots. 

Sprayer limitations include the following.

  • Lengthy cleanup: Spraying is a quick way to apply stain, but the cleanup process takes a surprisingly long time.
  • Uneven coverage: Sprayers aren't as accurate as brushes and rollers. You may accidentally overspray or get stain on areas you didn't intend to cover. 
  • Challenging to use: A sprayer can be tricky to use if you are inexperienced. 
  • Potential waste: You might use more stain when you spray than you would when brushing or rolling.

Calculating the Right Amount of Stain

“How much stain do I need for my deck?” is a fair question, especially for first-time stainers. The amount you need to use will vary depending on your deck's size and if you are also staining rails and stairs. You can use tools to help you with this, but remember that one gallon of stain will cover 175 square feet of deck.

Having some formulas in your back pocket is a wise strategy. Use the following equations to find out how much stain you need.

  1. Measure the floor's length and width, then multiply these numbers to calculate its area.
  2. If you have a deck railing, measure its length and height, and calculate its area by multiplying both numbers.
  3. If you want to stain your stairs, measure the number of steps and each step's width, run and rise. Then, add the run and rise and multiply the result by the number of steps and their width.
  4. Calculate the total area by adding the floor, rail and stairs.
  5. Finally, divide the total area by 175 ft2 per gallon to get the needed amount. 

Expert Staining Tips

Here are some helpful staining tips and hacks for you to use to get the job done well.

  • Check the weather forecast: Damp wood won't adhere as well as dry wood, and rain will make the job a lot harder. It's best to start staining when you have at least two consecutive days of dry weather between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare the surface: Sand splintered areas, clean off dirt and dust, remove other stains, sweep the deck, clean between the boards with a knife and use deck cleaner or a pressure washer before applying deck stain.
  • Use the right brushes: Synthetic brushes are ideal for working with water-based stain products. Use a brush with a quarter-inch nap to avoid pooling while applying the stain.
  • Match the stain and the wood: Ensure you use the correct stain on your wooden deck. 
  • Apply thin coats: When using more than one gallon of stain, mix them to keep the colors uniform. Apply thin coats to avoid puddles that cause flaking.

Start Staining

With 32 locations on Long Island, Aboff's Paints can give you all the tips, tricks, tools and stain you need to keep your deck perfectly maintained and ready for the next season. Every time you stain your deck, we can help you finish the task quickly and efficiently. Find one of our stores or shop online to get everything you need to start staining your deck.

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