Can You Apply Stain With A Roller? (& Tips)

Applying stain isn’t difficult. but you need the right tools to do it. So, can you apply stain with a roller?

Yes, you can apply stain with a roller. Using rollers is the easiest way to spread stain into the surface. Just take the roller, dip it into a can of stain, and roll over the surface you want to stain.

However, getting an even coat is difficult, you need the right technique and the right type of roller. It’s best to start from one edge of the wall rather than working across it. 

The most important thing is surface prep; the wooden surface should be clean and dirt-free. You also need enough water to clean up the spills as they happen. Down below, we have explained everything you need about applying stain with a roller. Check it out. 

Spraying vs Brush Roller (For Stain)

Brush and rollers are two tools that are used for painting. So, when it comes to stains, should you use a roller or a brush?

Applying stain is not the same as applying paint; there are some differences in methods and tools used. The best way to apply stain is to spray or roll it. These two tools apply stain deep into the wood for better protection from water. But, which one is better?

You have to be more careful while spraying the stain. You can easily overspray or spray the wrong surface by using spray paint. But, if used correctly (and at low pressure), sprayers can spray tough spots like corners or cabinets by getting right up close.

Spraying stain is faster than rolling stain, approximately 2 times faster. However, you may need to thin stain before spraying it. To thin stain, you can use mineral spirits. 

On the other hand, you can use a roller to apply stain on a flat surface. If you use a roller, you don’t have to thin stain. However, you can leave brush marks behind if you are not experienced enough. And, you can’t stain corners and hard-to-reach surfaces using a roller. 

So, both tools are good. If you have to stain hard-to-reach surfaces we recommend using a sprayer. If you have to stain a medium-sized surface, use a roller. 

Related Read: Should You Sand Coats of Stain?

What Kind Of Roller Do You Use For Stain?

The best roller to apply stain is a 9-inch napped paint roller. A napped paint roller is a quick and easy tool to apply stain on your deck. It’s cheap and applies stain the same way as a lambswool, but with twice the efficiency.

Using the right roller for stain is important. The natural fibers will mat if you use a roller with an alkyd-based coat. However, a roller with synthetic fibers won’t mat, and cleaning after you are done is easier.

Here’s how you should choose a roller:

  1. If you are staining smooth surfaces, such as hardwood floors, go for a 3/16 to 1-4-inch roller. These rollers give you an even finish and don’t leave any textured marks behind.
  2. If you are staining uneven surfaces with more texture, use a 3/8-inch roller for rough spots. 

Related Read: Should You Use a Roller or Brush For Varnish Paint?

Can You Apply Solid Stain With A Roller?

You can apply solid stain using a roller, rag, or sprayer. However, using a roller isn’t the best because it’s slow. 

After applying solid stain, you must wipe excess stain or it will turn sticky. But, if you use a roller you will take too long and the stain will turn sticky before completing the project. Since solid stain is thicker than transparent stain, you are more likely to leave brush marks behind too.

The best way to apply solid stain is to use a rag or cloth. The rag won’t leave residue behind and will apply a thin layer of solid stain. You won’t leave brush marks if you use a rag. A sprayer can also work, but you must thin the solid stain first.

Solid stain is the middle ground between paint and transparent stain. It penetrates the surface a bit but also stays on top of the surface. A solid stain creates a layer over the surface that protects the wood. 

Related Read: Latex Paint With a Roller?

Types of Surfaces You Can Apply Stain With a Roller:


You can roll stain on wood as long as the wood surface is even. If the wood surface has bumps or imperfections, using a roller isn’t the best option. 

If the wood surface has imperfections, you have to sand the surface first, then use a roller to apply stain. If you use a roller over an uneven surface, the roller will leave brush marks and un-paint patches behind. 

The best tool to apply wood stain on wood is a rag. The rag will apply the wood stain evenly without leaving any brush marks. 


The best way to apply stain on a deck is by using a roller. However, you need to sand the deck surface first to remove any imperfections or dust. Once the deck is sanded, you can use a roller to apply the stain. Just dip the roller into the stain and start rolling it. You don’t have to thin it. 

Hardwood Floors

You can use a roller to stain hardwood floors, but it takes a lot of time. So, a roller isn’t the best option if you want to stain hardwood floors fast. However, it is doable. 

The best way to apply stain to hardwood floors is by using a sprayer.

Roll That Stain!

The roller and brush technique is one of the best methods to stain your deck. It’s not only practical but valuable as well.

Apart from this, it will embellish your wood while protecting it for many years.

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