Staining a Deck with a Pump Sprayer

Staining a deck with a pump sprayer is different than using a regular paint sprayer. 

With a fence and deck stain pump sprayer, you use elbow grease and pressurize the stain with a manual hand pump (instead of a compressor or turbine) and then spray it out of the hose or wand.   

Find out below why staining a deck with a pump sprayer is an affordable solution. 

staining a deck with a pump sprayer
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Can You Use a Pump Sprayer to Stain a Deck? 

A pump sprayer is one of the ways you can stain your deck and fences. Staining a fence is a great way to protect and enhance the appearance of your property. While there are several methods for applying stain, using a pump sprayer is a popular and efficient option.

However, pump sprayers are more labor intensive than a paint sprayer.  You’ll be using elbow grease to build up pressure inside the sprayer instead of an air compressor. 

pump sprayer for stain
My Trusty Pump Sprayer

A pump sprayer is a good option over a paint sprayer if you are on a budget.  They are much cheaper than a regular stain sprayer.  Because they are built with less moving parts, maintenance and cleaning are minimal.  With less moving parts, the chances of something breaking and needing to be fixed are almost zero. 

A pump sprayer is also great if you don’t have any experience using a spray gun.  Think of it as a beginner sprayer.  Because it’s all manual, you have total control over the sprayer.  It can help build confidence. 

Pump sprayers can be used for many things other than stain.  You can use it for spraying water, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides.  

You can buy pump sprayers that are hand held, on a cart or even as a backpack.  Depending on the size or tank capacity you get, they can weigh quite a bit compared to a fence stain sprayer.  Some pump sprayer weigh over 16 lbs!  

Compare that to a stain sprayer that usually weighs around 3-5lbs and you can see that you might want to choose a paint sprayer for stain over the manual pump version. 

Wow, you can even buy a pump sprayer that is battery operated now!  The battery in the pump sprayer actually does all the compressing of the contents for you, instead of you physically pumping!  It costs like 3-4 times more than a normal sprayer, but its neat to have this option from Scotts!

Pros and Cons of Using a Pump Sprayer for Your Deck 

No Compressor NeededSlow Spraying
Multi-PurposeLabor Intensive
User FriendlySpray isn’t Uniform

Staining a Deck with a Pump Sprayer: How Do You Use a Pump Sprayer? 

As long as you’re prepared, staining your deck will be easier than you think.  You can then enjoy the results of your hard work and your deck for years.  Let’s go over the following things that you need to get in order before your start staining your deck.

  • Preparation and planning
  • Tools/supplies needed 
  • How to Use your Pump Sprayer on your deck

Preparation and Planning for Staining Your Deck

You need to prepare and plan to stain your deck.  Follow our steps to get ready to stain!

You will first need to remove everything from your deck.  Chairs, BBQs, tables, decorations, lighting, anything that you’ve put on your deck needs to go.  Put it in a place where it’s protected from the elements and getting any overspray from your stain.  

Make sure to keep up on repairs to the wood, fixing cracks or broken piece when they happen. Make sure to pick a time when the weather will be clear, with high temperatures and lower humidity.  These are the ideal conditions in which to stain your deck.

Next, you have to clean the wood.  A power washer will do the trick.  This will remove all build up, mold, mildew, or any paint on your deck.  Don’t turn up the pressure too high or you’ll damage your wood. If you don’t have a power washer you can grab one online or use a sturdy bristle brush to hand scrub the gunk off your deck.

Use the pressure washer at an angle to your wood so it removes all the gunk that’s built up on your deck.  This prep work ensures that your deck will be protected from the elements and the coat of stain will last and last.

Once you’ve pressure washed your deck to look great, you need to wait for the wood to dry completely before staining your deck.  This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.  It all depends on the weather.  

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Tools and Supplies Needed for Staining your Deck with a Pump Sprayer

Here is a quick list of the tools and supplies you’ll need to go with that pump sprayer to stain your deck.

How do You Use a Pump Sprayer?

A deck stain pump sprayer is different from a regular paint sprayer.  Paint sprayers use air (usually from a turbine or compressor) and mix it with the stain and shoot it out at pressure onto your deck.

With a deck stain pump sprayer, you use elbow grease and pressurize the stain with a manual hand pump (instead of a compressor or turbine) and then spray it out of the hose or wand.  

To use your pump sprayer, fill it to the fill line with the stain of your choice.  Then, pump the handle up and down until your unit is pressurized enough to deliver an strong even spray of stain onto your deck. Overlap each stroke by about 50% to ensure an even and consistent application of the stain. Make sure to work in sections, starting with one section of the fence and moving on to the next.

Stain your railings first, if you have them.  Start from the top and work your way down using a sweeping motion with your arm instead of your wrist.

Once you’ve completed the railings, you can move onto the floor part of your deck.  Start staining as far away from your house as possible and work your way either to your deck stairs or your backdoor.

As you stain your fence, keep an eye out for drips and runs. If you notice any drips or runs, wipe them off immediately with a clean rag or brush to prevent them from drying and ruining the finish.

How do You get the Best Results from Deck Stain? 

When planning to stain your Deck with a brush or roller, pump sprayer or stain sprayer be careful.  Some stains are better applied using one method over another.   

The manufacturer will list the best way to apply their stain on the can.  You shouldn’t apply stain with a brush and roller that is made for a pump sprayer and vice versa. 

Stain that is made for spraying with a deck stain sprayer will be formulated for sprayers versus a brush and roller or a pump sprayer.  

How Long Does it Take to Stain My Deck? 

Obviously that depends on how big your deck is. It usually takes a couple of hours to stain a typical sized deck.  How does your deck stack up to the norm?  If it’s smaller or bigger, you will have to subtract or add time to your project plans.  

If you need to coat your deck twice, and you might, you multiply the time above by 2.  Don’t forget to include drying time between your coats!  This is especially true if you are using a semi-transparent stain, which is the most popular.  Also take into consideration the type of weather that you’re staining in, it could take longer to dry.

Allow the stain to dry completely before applying a second coat or moving on to another section of the fence.

Logistics: Stain Dry Time and Coats of Stain 

In ideal conditions, warm weather and low humidity, stain will take about 12-24 hours to dry completely.  Depending on the type of stain you’re using, you could be looking at a longer dry time as well.   Stains that are solid colors are thicker like paint and take longer to dry. 

Thinner stains like semi transparent (which is the most popular) take much less time to dry, closer to the 12 hours.

With a solid color stain, 1 coat is usually enough.  With a semi transparent you may need to do 2 coats.  So, wait 3-4 hours after your 1st coat (before it’s completely dry) and spray on your second coat.


Staining a deck with a pump sprayer might take a bit more time and effort than with a paint sprayer, but you’ll save money and have a tool that you can use for a ton of different applications around your home. 


What is the best fence stain sprayer I can buy?

Check out our detailed reviews and discussion post where we compare nearly 10 fence stain sprayers HERE.