Asked on Jan 31, 2015

Polycrylic finish becoming tacky

Cynthia FullerB. EnneAnn|The  Apple Street Cottage


I refinished a table about a year and a half ago and used polycrylic to seal the top. Everyone was talking about it and I thought I'd give it a try. Well....the edges of the table are now tacky right where people rest their arms. I'm not happy!
Has anyone else had this problem? It's almost as if the finish has worn away. When Spring gets here, I think I'll sand the top again, stain it, and seal with polyurethane - like I always did before.
Any wisdom?
No pics because there's nothing to see. You just feel it!
8 answers
  • Cynthia Fuller
    Cynthia Fuller
    on Feb 1, 2015

    I had the exact same problem on two occasions, with a chair back and on a table. Both became tacky (attracting and sticking dirt) or wore away. I've come to the conclusion that polyacrylic does not handle heat well or abrasion well and have also returned to using urethane, despite its tendency to yellow. I've also been using shellac as a colorless coat and, so far so good.

  • Myrna Engle
    Myrna Engle
    on Feb 1, 2015

    The stripper causes this. I had it happen to kitchen cabinets. Right where I changed brands of stripper I had a dull sticky mess. After re-reading the instructions, it called for a much more through rinsing after stripping. I had to do it over. Learned my lesson. Always read carefully and follow stripper directions.

  • Marion Nesbitt
    Marion Nesbitt
    on Feb 8, 2015

    Very peculiar and annoying. Always use poly but was thinking of switching to the polyacrylic because it doesn't yellow. Thanks for your post. Will be sticking with tried and true!

  • SK on Elderberry
    SK on Elderberry
    on Feb 11, 2015

    Hi everyone. I had this issue and found causes in my situation was the undercoat of paint. Polycrylic will be tacky if you have used an oil base paint in some cases. But more important: the temperature of the room or outdoors when it is coated is a sure bet it will stay tacky and never dry if it's under sixty degrees and high humidity. I live in Western Oregon, always damp. You can sand it to get rid of the icky sticky and then coat in a heated and dryer space. Good luck. sk

  • Sarah McGillem Stargell
    Sarah McGillem Stargell
    on Jun 21, 2018

    Ann, what did you end up doing to correct this? I'm having the exact same issue, and not very happy about it at all! I re-did the kitchen table (stained top, chalk paint base) and same with the chairs, and all of them are becoming tacky in areas of a lot of use. It's awful, and killing me to think that I will have to re-strip/re-do.
  • Hi Sarah! I ended up sanding off the old finish and refinishing the entire tabletop. This time, I used polyurethane, not polycrylic. It was more work than I wanted to do, but it HAD to be done. I feel your pain...Here's my post about it:
  • Cynthia Fuller
    Cynthia Fuller
    on Jun 21, 2018

    Sarah, the furniture in question is now gone, but I have been using indoor/outdoor spar urethane on other applications as a substitute. So far, so good. I've stayed away from the polyacrylic. I liked the idea of using shellac, and did use it on another table, until one of my cats peed on the table and the pee ate the shellac away (bet that's not on the label). As for correcting a piece already done in polyacrylic, I would suggest sanding it off and using something else better suited to use of the piece and whether or not you have peeing cats.
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