Staining Center

Application Tools

  • Sprayer
  • Brush — 5” block
  • Pad
  • Nap Roller


Using a brush or paint pad will give you the most control. Brush application (natural bristle) is the preferred method because it works the oil-based stain into the wood fibers and cells more effectively. To avoid lap marks, make sure that the leading edge is kept wet and that the wet stain is brushed into the wood. On new decks, it is important to only apply one coat of oil-based deck finishes.

Staining Techniques
During new construction, staining should be a 6-sided process, don’t forget to stain the sides and front and back edges of the board.

A contracting team may apply using a roller or sprayer, but this should always be followed by back brushing. This technique should only be used by professionals with the ability to work quickly.

Are More Coats Better?

A major source of problems for deck finishes is the over-application of the coating. Many homeowners and even some professional paint contractors incorrectly believe “more is better.” In order for an oil-based stain to be effective, it must be able to penetrate the wood’s surface. Over-application leads to a buildup of material, forming a film on the wood which can ultimately peel or crack when exposed to excessive moisture. Too much oil-based product can also produce an excessively waxy, sticky or slick surface, interfering with the finish’s ability to dry properly.

Color Coverage

Brushing Stain

There are important objective factors that influence color perception. Among these are the coatings themselves, the wood or substrate texture, subcoats and light source. The color of the wood or substrate will affect the appearance of all stain products; and this is especially true of clears, translucent, semi-transparent and semi-solid stains. Porous wood, such as rough-cut lumber, will absorb more product and allow more of the substrate to show through.

A color will appear different under various light sources as the pigments in a coating absorb or reflect different wavelengths of light. Observe the color under the proper light source; i.e., exterior stains should be viewed under daylight conditions.

Color samples such as color cards and stained or painted wood chips offer an approximation of the true color. Never rely solely on a small chip to determine a final color choice. A color chosen from a one-by-one inch sample will look a lot darker when applied to a large surface. In addition, take into consideration that store-matched colors may not match exactly to a manufactured ready-mix color.

For best results, a sample of the chosen color should be brushed out on the surface to which it will be applied. Colors change as they dry; therefore, no color decision should be made until the product is completely dry. This is especially true of latex or water-based products.

Just like all home improvement projects you want to be mindful of the safety instructions on the products and tools. Always apply common sense liberally, wear clothes you don’t mind ruining and protect your skin and eyes.