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How to Spray Wood Stain – Step-by-Step Guide


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If you love to do DIY projects with wood, this question must have popped up in your mind- can you spray wood stain? The answer is we certainly can spray wood stain and it is much faster to cover a wooden area by spraying than doing the hand application. The results too are much better. The only disadvantage of spraying wood stain will be that it will need more wood stain and hence you will spend more money while completing your project.

You need to prepare the product well to achieve a high-quality finish. You will have to choose the right spray gun, and you need to be proficient with using a spray gun. Even though the most common method of staining wood is applying a wet coat of stain, and wiping off the excess stain before it dries, spraying yields much better results.

Other methods of staining wood include using rags or brushes. The wood can even be dipped in wood stain and wiped off. However, there are quite a few advantages of using a spray gun to stain the wood-

  • If you are using tight-grained blotchy woods like maple, cherry, birch, or pine, there will be perfectly even coloring if you use a spray gun. Do not wipe it after spraying.
  • If you spray the stain on the wood and do not wipe off the excess, there will be an even amount of colorant on the surface of the wood. Hence, there will be very little blotching in tight-grained wood.
  • If you are using lighter woods or sapwood, it will leave a dark color on its surface. The lighter wood will look closer to the type of wood used in furniture-making.

A step-by-step guide – can you spray wood stain?

Step 1- Prepare the wood- Use sandpaper

Use coarse sandpaper (80 – 100 grit paper) first to sand the surface of the wood which you are going to stain using a spray gun. Then use fine sandpaper (220 grit) to make the surface smooth. It is better to sand the wood before assembling the different parts of the furniture. If you are reviving old furniture, then you will need to sand off the paint on the furniture first. Once the old paint is gone, you will need to sand off the coarse surface before you start the process of staining the wood.

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Step 2- Clean the wood

After the process of sanding is complete, you need to ensure that your wood surface is clean of any of the fine particles left after the sanding. Even old dust needs to be removed. You can use a tack cloth and solvent to wipe off the wooden surface properly. Some people prefer to use a blow-off gun to ensure all the fine particles and dust is gone.

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Step 3- Select the right kind of spraying instrument

Air caps are extremely important as they atomize the coating and provide the smooth finish you are looking for. However, each air cap atomizes in a different way, and you need to understand it before you pick up your perfect spray gun.

You can choose between air-assist airless guns which are faster and can be used for larger areas of wood. However, you need to be proficient in using it. Conventional air caps use the air pressure as it is supplied to the spray gun, and hence there is a lot of wastage of the stain spray.

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HVLP Spray guns

HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray guns are quite efficient for applying stains. They do soft spraying as they use a lot of air. As a result, the cost of stain is reduced and there is very minimal wastage.

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LVMP Spray guns

If you are doing a DIY project for home and do not have any need to have HVLP compliance requirements, you can think about using other kinds of equipment too. An LVMP (Low volume medium pressure) spray gun will allow better atomization than an HVLP gun.

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Suction fed spray guns

If you are not confident with an air assist airless, pick up a regular suction-fed spray gun for your job. You will have better control during the application process. The most important part is to select the proper sized nozzle so that the work is done and wood stain is not wasted.

You might have to change nozzles for spraying stain at different parts of the wood pieces. If it is a long and broad piece of plywood, you may use a bigger nozzle as the stain will be spread in a large area. However, for smaller wooden pieces like the handle of a chair, legs of a bed, etc. will need smaller nozzles are the area to cover is smaller.

Step 4. a- Apply the stain using a pressure fed spray gun

Pressure Fed Spray Guns are the best for DIY projects at home. Gravity Fed and Suction Fed Spray Guns are more suited for industrial usage. Pressure Fed Spray Guns provide better coatings and are easy to use for someone who does not use spray guns every day.

You need to turn off all the regulators of the Pressure Fed Spray Gun before connecting air to the pressure pot. After you adjust the fluid pressure, check if the stream is adequate to evenly spray paint your wooden surface. Do a small patch test first to check the spray gun’s power and ability. Even the nozzle adjustment can be a bit tricky. Check the pressure on the fluid and accordingly select the nozzle. Finally, you need to adjust the atomization air regulator and you are all set to start spraying.

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Check out this video to understand the technique better-

Step 4.b- Apply the stain using a gravity fed spray gun

This is a little tricky if you are using HVLP gravity feed spray gun. Settling up the nozzle so that the right amount of paint in the right pressure comes out will need some amount of practice. There are three of them. You need to work with all of them individually to figure out the right pressure, the right quantity of stain coming out of the nozzle, and the right amount of atomization.

Wear eyeglasses to safeguard your eyes and always handle all the equipment after wearing proper gloves and mask to ensure your hands and nostrils are safe.

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Check out this video to understand the technique better-

Step 4.c- Apply the stain using a suction fed spray gun

You can take this operator training program if you are planning to use a suction-fed spray gun. However, I would not recommend you to jump to using this spray gun if you are using spray guns for the first time.

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Check out this video to understand the technique better-


Now you must have got an answer to your question – Can you spray wood stain? So what are you waiting for? Use the vacation time for your children and involve them in these DIY projects. They will pick up a new skill and will not waste all their time playing computer games.