Deciding between brushing or rolling on the stain can be difficult when staining a deck. Both options have their pros and cons. Brushing offers greater control over where the stain is applied, allowing for a more precise finish. 


On the other hand, rolling can cover large areas quickly and efficiently.

Picking between brushing or rolling wood stains can feel like an Olympic-level decision-making process if it’s your first time! 

But fret not – let’s compare both approaches so you can finally get off the fence and progress toward staining that lovely patio or porch area once and for all!

What is the Best Way to Apply Stain to the Deck?

When applying deck stain, there are a variety of techniques to choose from, including brushing, rolling, and spraying. 

However, the most popular methods are brushing and rolling. While spraying is a quick way to apply stain, it can be messy and difficult to control. 

Most professionals use a brush or roller to apply deck stain.

Do You Need a Special Brush to Stain a Deck?

A high-quality natural bristle brush applies stain to a deck. The bristles should be soft enough to spread the stain evenly but firm enough to work it into the wood grain. 

The best brush for staining a deck is a broad brush with long, soft bristles.  Warning, don’t mix up your stains and brushes! Ensure you grab a brush designed for your oil- or water-based stain.

Using a high-quality brush will help you to apply the stain evenly and to reach all areas of the deck, including corners and hard-to-reach spots. It will also help you to avoid pesky drips and streaks, which can ruin all your hard work.

In addition to using the right brush, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your stain. A successful staining process starts with proper preparation, including taking care of yourself by putting on protective gear such as gloves and eyewear, unless stained palms are your thing!

Is it OK to Use a Roller to Stain a Deck?

Brush Or Roll Stain On A Deck

Yes, using a roller when staining your deck is perfectly acceptable. Many professionals swear by this method because it’s a faster way to apply stain to a large surface area. 

Choosing the right roller for the job is essential – typically, a 9-inch roller with a 3/8-inch nap is ideal for applying stain to your deck. 

The thickness of the nap determines how much stain the roller can hold at once and thus makes it easier or harder to apply evenly across surfaces. 

While thicker naps are great for holding more paint, they can also leave an undesirable texture on your deck if not used correctly. 

So, make sure you choose wisely!

What are the Pros and Cons of Brushing and Rolling?

Both brushing and rolling have pros and cons when staining a deck. Here are some things to consider:



  • Allows for more control and precision when applying stain
  • Can work the stain into the wood grain more effectively
  • Ideal for smaller areas and hard-to-reach spots
  • Produces a smoother finish than rolling


  • It takes longer to apply stain to a large surface area
  • It can be more tiring on the hands and arms



  • A faster way to apply stain to a large surface area
  • Ideal for larger decks and flat surfaces
  • Can produce a uniform coat of stain


  • It can leave behind a rough texture on the surface of the deck
  • Not ideal for hard-to-reach spots or smaller areas

Key Takeaways:

  • When applying deck stain, brushing and rolling are the most popular methods.
  • A high-quality natural bristle brush with soft but firm bristles is recommended for applying stain to a deck.
  • Using the right brush and following the manufacturer’s instructions is essential to avoid drips and streaks.
  • Using a roller to stain a deck is also okay, but choosing the right roller that won’t over-apply the stain is essential.
  • Brushing allows for more control and precision, while rolling is faster for larger surface areas.
  • Brushing is ideal for smaller areas and hard-to-reach spots, while rolling is better for larger decks and flat surfaces.
  • Brushing produces a smoother finish, while rolling can leave behind a rough texture on the deck’s surface if not done correctly.

Have trouble deciding if hiring a professional deck stainer worth it?