How to Prep & Stain a Deck Like a Professional Painter

Deck With Red Color Flood Stain

Basic Prep Work Required For The Job

The above Deck was painted by Eco Star Painting in 2013. We stripped it down using a power sander, scrapers, and a little elbow grease.First we used  50 grit sandpaper using a 1/4 sheet Porter Cable Palm Sander.

After most of the paint is removed, we use  80 grit sandpaper and finally  120 grit to smooth it out.

A scraper was used in tandem with the electric sander. Add a putty knife and that's basically all the tools  you need to prepare a deck for paint. Of course you'll need a broom to sweep off the dust and paint chips. We like to use a Leaf Blower because it's super fast and moves every last speck of dirt.

Note: If the deck is in extremely rough shape we first use a pressure washer to remove some of the paint. Be careful not to gouge the wood by stripping too deep with the water pressure. The aim is to get rid of the loose stuff and then come back after it has dried and start the sanding as described above.

Porter Cable 1/4 sheet palm sande
Typical Wood Scraper
Sandpaper 9" X 11" sheets of various grits
Flat scraper for stripping decks

How To Stain a Deck With A Paint Sprayer

Ok, now the deck is prepped and ready for some stain. What tools are needed,what kind of stain do we recommend, and how many coats of stain will the job require?

For best results we recommend using an airless paint sprayer. You want to use a quality pump like a Graco,Titan, Airlessco or Lemmer. They are all similar in construction and functionality. Ideally you'd like a sprayer to deliver at least 2,000 PSI at .50 Gallons per Minute (GPN). The bigger pumps deliver more than 1 gallon per minute.

We use the Graco RAC X SwitchTip reversible airless paint sprayer tips. For deck spraying a 215  is perfect for the spindles in the regular BLUE tips. That'll produce  a 4" fan.

Minimally you'll need a 9" roller with a 1/2 inch nap. Lint free is recommended. We like the Wooster Pro Dooz sleeves.

A 2 1/2" sash (angled) paint brush is ideal for the spindles and a 6" deck brush for the deck floor.

We like the Wooster Sherlock Extension Poles. For  deck staining  a 2'-4' extendable pole is recommended. Obviously you'll need a roller pan wide enough for a 9" roller.

That's basically all you need.

What About the Stain?

Flood Pro Series Solid Color Stain. We've been using Flood Stain for decades with great success. It has to be a great product to withstand the harsh winters of Calgary Canada. Flood stain is an acrylic stain that is water cleanup and recoat time is approximately 3-4 hours. You can apply 2 coats in one day and finish the job. We've never had to use 3 coats. It covers extremely well over any color.

What makes Flood stain stick so well is a chemical called Emulsa Bond. It's basically like a built in glue or primer in one. The same manufacturer also sells Emulsa Bond to add into paints for increased bonding onto difficult substrates like chalky siding or weathered stucco.

 

Flood Stain Paint cans
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Picture of distressed, weather beaten deck stairs before the paint job.
Picture showing the brilliant white deck after applying Flood stain