Asked on Dec 17, 2015

Stain is still tacky after 12 hours, how can I fix it?

Melanie Saunders ScottLauren Claire HigdonMichael Gorman


I stained some pine planks with Miramax penetrating stain last night and they are still tacky. I was layering two coats. I had my desired look so I didn't wipe off any excess. I tried wiping it this morning but it is still tacky and will not wipe off. Anyone know what I can do in a hurry? I need to install them today.
Tacky stain
40 answers
  • Pam
    on Dec 17, 2015

    Not Miramax ...Minwax penetrating stain, wiped on with a rag.

  • Amy Ogden-Paparone
    on Dec 17, 2015

    You can start using a blow dryer on a warm setting, just don't hold it to close to the wood. Or a fan even in a warm dry space, will work just as well and you don't have to stand there holding it :)

  • Lagree Wyndham
    on Dec 17, 2015

    you can reapply stain let sit a few and will loosen excess stain, if I understand what you are asking.

  • Pam
    on Dec 17, 2015

    Maybe I can do both of these and it will all work out. Thanks to all.

    • Mo
      on Aug 3, 2018

      What did you do? Did it work? I have same problem right now on a bathroom cabinet.

  • Wanda sinnema
    on Dec 17, 2015

    Your problem may be 2 coats.. Outdoor stains are recommended with 1 COAT,, Our neighbors had the same issue the time they tried to do two on their deck..gummy mess.. I'm not sure if the same issue here. They did theirs as directed, few days later another summer redo,, every bit of dirt and dust and footprint attracted stuff.. Not sure if this will help..good luck

  • mineral spirits or lacquer thinner on a rag and wipe. Should take off excess. Wanda is right, stains only need 1 coat. If you want darker, use darker stain. Wood can only absorb so much. The second coat is not absorbed, but merely sits on top of the 1st coat. That's why it's not drying.

  • Steve Boccalatte
    on Dec 18, 2015

    The key word is penetrating. Two coats over saturate the timber and will need extra time to be absorbed. You risk ruining your work if you do anyting more until it dries naturally.

  • EmDirr @
    on Dec 18, 2015

    I had this happen with my dresser project. I tried the stain reapplication/wipe off and it did help, but the light rub with mineral spirit rag is what finally did the trick. Good luck!

  • Int2363025
    on Dec 18, 2015

    If the min wax stain was oil based, mineral spirits or paint thinner (same thing)..on a rag...wipe off the excess that didn't soak in. Then your problem solved.....

    • Ben34205532
      on Oct 9, 2018

      Gel stain might be better, depending on your project.

      Gel stain is what i should have used. I heard that you can apply varnish on top of stain that is stiil tacky . Havent tried.

  • Hope Williams
    on Dec 18, 2015

    Hi Pam. All the above answers, mineral spirits etc., are correct. Good luck!

  • Dick
    on Dec 18, 2015

    The surface will be sticky if you didn't wipe it down enough 15 minutes after application. Take a dry rag after 24 hours and wipe down the surface. The remaining stain will come off. Don't rush the process. The surface will shine after wiping.

  • Sherry
    on Dec 18, 2015

    Try heat lamp to warm the wood

  • Nancy
    on Dec 18, 2015

    No heat lamp! Fire hazard. Try reapplying a small amount of stain over the tacky stain and immediately wipe it off. Your color should deepen very much, if at all.

  • Professor Gizmo
    on Dec 18, 2015

    If just tacky, not wet, try Pledge or similar - I've done this with painted surfaces and shellac/poly surfaces, and it lets me handle them without sticking or damage :-)

    • Helen
      on May 12, 2019

      I have that problem now. I used a gel stain first, color wasn't dark enough, so used stain by Rust-oleum drys 3x faster in 30 min, but AFTER 10 hrs. still tacky...I read if lemon oil is wiped on will solve problems but haven't seen more than 1 recommendation on that idea! Got any imput on that idea?

  • Donna Jenkins
    on Dec 18, 2015

    maybe a blow dryer

  • Liz Straughn
    on Dec 18, 2015

    Usually needs 24 hours to cure. You could try putting a fan blowing on them.

  • Mary McNeill
    on Dec 18, 2015

    Is it damp there? If so it will take a little longer to dry. Be patient. I wouldn't use a heat lamp could bubble your piece.

  • Anglc Sprt
    on Dec 18, 2015

    To help dry the stain, turn on a fan to remove moisture out of the air. More humid the room, the longer it takes to dry. I've also used Fast Drying Polyurethane Varnish to seal the stain and help it to dry quickly. The varnish can be applied over the tacky stain. And will dry clear. I did 2 coats on a banister within an hour.

  • Wanda sinnema
    on Dec 18, 2015

    I could also be to the temperature,,,, cool temps and high humidity or dampness create problems for drying on some stains and paints.... garage and basements sometimes have issues especially at certain times of the year..

  • Mary Rose
    on Dec 18, 2015

    I had this problem and my son suggested putting polyurethane on top of it. It worked! It's completely dry and looks beautiful.

  • Pamela
    on Dec 18, 2015

    A fan may help -- but really you just have to be more patient.

  • Jlb2270634
    on Dec 18, 2015

    Hold a hair dryer on it for a while or place the wood in a small room and use space heaters to get the temp up enough to dry the wood faster and de-humidify the air

  • Duv310660
    on Dec 19, 2015

    Heat + Time = Ready

  • Wrenzo Thompson
    on Dec 20, 2015

    You can apply a universal dewaxed sealer made by Zinnser or Parks over the top of the stain. It will seal and dry quickly. You can then apply your polyurethane. Keep in mind that although appearing dry, the underlying stain is still not cured. That will take up to 30 days to do so underneath the seal coat and poly coatings. So, light traffic and no heavy items should be placed on the flooring.

  • Pam
    on Dec 21, 2015

    Actually had to wait 2 days but it did finally dry. Set up a heater in garage. Wow, two coats took a very long time to dry. Thanks for all the tips.

  • Javier
    on Jun 23, 2017

    I get the same problem when i touch up scratches. I use a soft cloth and spray Bona hardwood floor cleaner on the cloth or wood, and wipe gently, this with get rid of the stickiness right away.
  • Linda Anderson
    on Dec 1, 2017

    Do I put the fast drying sealer on with the cheesecloth?
  • Str15489452
    on Aug 10, 2018

    i applied minwax wood stain white wash pickling to my wicker couch . Did not wipe off because seemed like wicker was absorbing stain. Well it’s been 7 days and it’s still tacky. What can I do.

  • Kmdreamer
    on Oct 9, 2018

    Lightly sand and give another coat if it’s humid it will stay tacky

  • Rhonda Bollinger Hull
    on May 8, 2019

    I used a 220 grit sand block and lightly went over areas that were tacky. So far has worked. Is there a certain polyurethane that should be used on a front door?

  • M
    on May 8, 2019

    Have you tried to run a fan and or a dehumidifier? It’s possible the first cost wasn’t dry enough before you applied the second coat. Give it another 24 hrs with fans. If it’s still tacky you may need to start over . I sure hope not but if you do be sure to apply thin and allow to dry completely before adding additional coats.

  • Helen
    on May 12, 2019

    My problem is solved! I decided to try the suggestion of quickly wiping them down with more stain being sure to wipe off all the excess, then to wait overnight to see if they would dry...the next day b4 I did anything else to my lower kitchen cabinets I checked them, & thank goodness they are dry! I'm so lucky considering I had previously applied 2 coats of GF gel stain with 1 coat of GF poly on cabinets! I didn't sand b4 applying the Rust-olem Wood Stain ontop, I just wiped over them quickly with a course dish sponge! The GF gel stain Java was too light...that's why I decided to chance it & try the Rust-oleun Wood Stain(Epony)as the final coat, but after that scare of them not drying in the same time given on the can was worth the overnight wait! They are now dry and the color is now darker matching my new cabinets(Espresso) perfectly! I'm not sure if I will attempt the upper cabinets...the way the light hits the room you can't tell that they are slightly lighter, but it did on the lower ones b4 applying the final stain...I'm just glad it worked out!

    • Sharon
      on Aug 21, 2019

      I believe your problem was caused by mixing oil-based Minwax penetrating stain and then using a water-based GF poly on top..... this can lead to sticky messes when you mix oil and water.... it remains sticky. You would be better to use the Minwax top coat which is oil-based.

      This is also true when painting, if you use a water-based paint over an oil-based one you can get a sticky mess.... use a primer like Bulls Eye before putting latex over an old oil paint.

  • Helen
    on Jul 2, 2019

    My cabinets dried only after applying another coat of stain then wiping all the excess off the cabinets as I went b4 they could become tacky again...the next morning they were dry with no flaws! So you'll have to stain them again & don't forget to wipe off the excess as you go b4 they become tacky! I hope that helps you!

  • Casey Ortega
    on Oct 18, 2019

    You didn't mix it enough (correctly)

  • Rachel Moore- Buskey
    on Oct 31, 2019

    I didn’t sand mine enough to begin with so the stain wasn’t able to absorb into the wood. It just sat on the surface and stayed tacky. I ended up spraying furniture wax on it and using a rag, wiped off the stain very easily. Now I’m back to square one... better than sticky.

  • Michael Gorman
    on Nov 27, 2019

    After seeing I didn't have anything on my shelves recommended in the answers except Murphy's wood soap. I applied the soap and to my astonishment, the sticky layer disappeared and a smooth surface emerged to the touch. You have to try it!

  • Michael Gorman
    on Nov 27, 2019

    Of course I worked the soap in with a lightly damp rag that removed any excess stain and wiped treated areas dry. The immediate end result was a beautifully stained surface completely dry and smooth to the touch. If your rag becomes saturated with stain, discard and continue with a fresh one.

    • Kay Adams
      on Dec 22, 2019

      I know it’s been a month since you posted but I’m about to try what you did and was wondering after working the Murphy’s soap lightly onto the wood did wipe away excess with dry or damp cloth? Seeing it’s soap and all wasn’t sure if residual would be left behind...

  • Lauren Claire Higdon
    on Jan 1, 2020

    mineral spirits!

  • Melanie Saunders Scott
    on Feb 7, 2020

    I had the same problem after my cabinets had a week to dry. They were still sticky. I couldn't leave and didn't have Murphy's oil soap or mineral spirits. I had great success spraying them lightly with olive oil cooking spray and wiping off. They are nice and shiny with no sticky residue.

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