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How to Spray Wood Stains

Why Spray Wood Stains?

Spraying stains is faster than hand application and yields a finer quality finish when done appropriately. The primary disadvantage to spraying wood stains is that it can cost more because you will use more coating. For an idea of how much more coating you will use spraying over hand applying you can use this paint use calculator.  

How To Spray Wood Stains

Key Factors in Spraying Stain

The key factors in achieving a high quality finish with spraying stains is to ensure the product is well prepared before spraying the stain, choosing the appropriate application equipment, setting the equipment up properly, and using good spray technique. In this article will cover preparation, equipment best suited for application, equipment set up, and technique.

Product Preparation

Properly preparing wood for staining will require a variety of steps.

  1. Ensure the surface has been appropriately prepared – typically this will mean sanding from coarse to fine sand paper,  If the wood is not excessively rough to start you can usually start with an 80 – 100 grit paper and work your way up to about 220 grit. If the wood is coarser by nature consider a lower grit sandpaper to start. Typically it is easier to sand prior to assembly of your product.  If your refinishing old furniture you will need to strip the paint on the furniture prior to prepping for a new coating.
  2. After preparing the surface ensure the surface is properly cleaned – After sanding you want to remove all residual sanding dust with a tack clothe, shop vac, blow off gun. You may also want to consider a quick wipe down with an appropriate solvent.  For an overview of solvents for wood working you can consult this article .

Choose the appropriate Spray equipment

The most common application method for stains include spray guns and air assist airless paint sprayers; for a review of which one would be best for your project here is a review of air assist airless and of spray guns for woodwork. Air assist airless are faster and good for high production while spray guns allow for greater control of your finish application. To know what size air assist airless would be ideal for your wood finishing consult this article though written for airless the principals apply to air assist airless. If you do not need to have HVLP compliance and are not in need of the production ability of air assist airless, an LVMP spray gun allows for better atomization than HVLP and can yield better results especially with stains.  Within each style of spray equipment you can have the gun fed by gravity, suction, or pressure.  For a one man shop who wants versatility and future growth a suction fed gun can be a great idea because it will allow them to expand in the future to pressure fed which allows for more production and finer control of the application of coating, while also providing an immediate solution that can be used with a variety of wood coatings. Gravity fed spray guns are great if you will never use very much coating. For further information on gravity vs suction vs pressure feed guns here is a good overview. Make sure when you select your equipment that you select an appropriate fluid nozzle that will not provide too much coating which can result in runs, you can determine a proper sized nozzle by reviewing this calculator.

Set up the Spray Equipment Appropriately and Apply with Correct Technique

After choosing the right spray equipment for your project you will need to adjust the paint gun or air assist airless unit to appropriately apply the stain.

Key points on technique

  • Overlap each spray pass by about 30 percent of the previous pass
  • Do not over apply stain rather consider multiple coats

If you have additional issues or need help further determining how to spray your stains feel free to contact us for consultation.

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