Thompsons Water sealer disaster

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Since we just had our deck pressure-washed, we decided to apply Thompson's Water Sealer to help preserve it. Big mistake. It seems to have a permanent stickiness. Any advice for the easiest way to remove it?


  41 answers
  • Cheryl Cheryl on Jul 09, 2015
    I'd call Thompsons first and ask them - this number is from their site: 1-800-367-6297 Main reason I'd call is that I googled the question and found totally different answers, so the "horse's mouth" should bring accurate results. It also appears that this could be a common problem with Thompson's - I got a lot of hits with the word "sticky". Thank you for this question - I'm building a deck and now I know to do some research and use something else. 2 different answers (there are probably more!): https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080524115808AAeIedJ http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/2533820/how-to-remove-thompsons-waterseal-on-a-deck

  • ScrappyGeek.com ScrappyGeek.com on Jul 10, 2015
    It's likely caused by high humidity or wet wood. Did you wait for the wood to completely dry (a week or so) after pressure washing it? It sounds like just extended dry time for your deck - wait a few days and the stickiness should go away. If you're overly concerned and don't want to wait - call the manufacturer. They'll probably tell you to wait a week and if it's not resolved send a representative out to help you.

  • Chloe Chloe on Jul 10, 2015
    I did this one time on some trim in our cabin. It is a high humidity area. I finally gave up any hope that it would ever dry. I came back home from the lake , dreading a horrible mess to go back to. Guess what? It was totally dry. Just took it a long, long time. Chloe

  • LAURENSTHOMAS LAURENSTHOMAS on Jul 10, 2015
    We have a new deck and were told to wait for a week or more to spray Thompson's Water Sealer on it.

    • See 1 previous
    • Nancy lebon Nancy lebon on Jun 10, 2018
      We waited a year for new wood to cure. Used Johnson's water sealer on it. Well disaster. It started pedaling this spring and having hard tome getting it off

  • John Wilder John Wilder on Jul 10, 2015
    I am an award winning decking contractor. THOMPSONS WATER SEAL IS A HUGE CON. It is simply paraffin wax dissolved in mineral spirits. It does not even last for 6 months on average. You can remove it by mixing ammonia and water at a 1 to 1 dilution ration. You can also remove it with mineral spirits and scrubbing. I recommend a rosewood oil based deck sealer. This lasts on average of 3 years. Be sure to seal the ends of the deck boards because this is where the deck boards dry out and split and crack without end sealing

    • See 19 previous
    • Terri C Terri C on Aug 05, 2020

      Used Thompson water seal on cedar wood picnic table and pergola. Let the wood dry for a few weeks. Sealed it and now we are getting mildew spots! And the wood smells like chemicals! What can we do?

  • Doreen Doreen on Jul 10, 2015
    I learned 20 years ago after applying Thompson's to our decking on our new house to NEVER use any Thompson's product. I don't know why they are still in business. Good luck, live and learn I guess.

  • Pauliegirl1 Pauliegirl1 on Jul 10, 2015
    To John Wilder.....have you ever heard of a product called "FLOOD"?? I understand it is also very good???

  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on Jul 10, 2015
    Thompson's is still business because of their advertising just like the drug companies they get you scared so you think there way.

  • Kathy Kathy on Jul 10, 2015
    On our deck it was so slippery especially in the snow and rain, terrible stuff.

  • Elaine McGee Elaine McGee on Jul 10, 2015
    We use Olympic oil based sealer from Lowes. Works great. The wood just soaks it up. And it lasts for several years.

  • Janepher McBride Janepher McBride on Jul 10, 2015
    paint remover might work, try it, what have you got to lose. Thanks for posting, I'm just waiting for a couple of dry days to do my new deck. Best luck.

  • Bill Bill on Jul 10, 2015
    I used thompson's about 5 years ago, BIG, BIG mistake. My front porch stayed tacky for two years. I then took my pressure washer and washed it just short of cutting into the wood. I went to Lowes and got some Olympic oil based sealer and had then mixed it with some paint . I wanted something about the color of a new pine board. Mine is still looking good. Our dog tracks mud on it and I get me a damp mop and go over his tracks and it comes right off. This may not work for you, but my wife and I like it.

  • Darci Weber Salinas Darci Weber Salinas on Jul 10, 2015
    Wow, we have used Thompson's water seal on our deck for years with no problems. We power wash the deck at least two to three weeks before. We always use the clear kind (haven't tried the tinted stuff) and make sure there is nothing but hot sun in the forecast for at least 3 days both before and after applying. I'm very happy with it's performance. We apply it every other year. We live in Ohio and it's a good thing this is an off year, because we haven't had more than two days in a row without rain all summer.

  • Dee Beckham Dee Beckham on Jul 10, 2015
    Mine is fine also. no problems with thompsons water seal. No sticky no slick. Down a year and a half and looks great.

  • Sissy Sissy on Jul 10, 2015
    Contact the company for advice.

  • Sherri Taylor Sherri Taylor on Jul 10, 2015
    Pressure wash it again. Thompson's wears off really fast. Then make sure your deck is dry and use Olympic or Cabot. Both are very good deck treatments.

  • Denise Eaton Denise Eaton on Jul 11, 2015
    My husband is a paint contractor and knows the products he uses. He WILL NOT use Thompsons Water Seal. Power wash your deck again, Let it dry for at least a week. Then use a quality product like Sikkens from Spectrum Paint or Super Deck from Sherwin Williams. These products will last several years. + the paint store can tell you the best way to apply the product for the longest wear.

  • Shirley Adams Shirley Adams on Jul 11, 2015
    Thompsons isn't recommended by the product review people either.

  • Nancy Nancy on Jul 16, 2015
    We used it also with the same results and they told us to wash it with simple green. We did and it removed it.

  • RonH RonH on Jul 29, 2015
    I had the same issue with Thompson's water seal. Simple green and Zep degreaser would not remove it. I ended up using a belt sander with 50 grit paper to get all the Thompson's water seal off!

  • John Wilder John Wilder on Jul 30, 2015
    Hey Ron A 4-1 dilution of water and ammonia will remove it

  • Lynn @ Riggstown Road Lynn @ Riggstown Road on Sep 01, 2015
    For those wondering, we didn't wait an entire week after pressure washing before using the product, just several very hot days. Maybe that was part of the problem, not sure. But it continued to stay sticky, so we ended up re-pressure washing, which took most of it off. Either way, I will never use it again! Thanks so much for all the advice. :)

  • Denise Boyce Denise Boyce on Oct 04, 2015
    I wonder what is going on with everyone's deck? I use Thompsons water seal about every 4 months here in Texas and have had NO sticky residue. Only nice glowing "wet look" deck that repeals water perfectly. hmmmm curious.....

    • See 2 previous
    • John Wilder John Wilder on May 18, 2020

      If you use an oil based sealer, it will last for a couple of years rather than 4 months. Thompsons is mineral spirits with paraffin wax in it and it is only a surface treatment and an expensive one at that.

  • Sherri Taylor Sherri Taylor on Oct 07, 2015
    But you shouldn't have to apply it "every 4 months". It should last longer than that.

  • Denise Boyce Denise Boyce on Oct 13, 2015
    It gets 115 degrees here....the heat wipes wood out. I like the glossy look so it's a maintenance thing like taking care of your wood floors in the house. And No it's always dry in a few hours. It really just kind of absorbs. I really love the stuff. What I'm wondering is maybe it's the difference in the wood? I did not use "treated" wood, maybe the preservative in treated wood gums up while drying out. Green wood also needs to dry out. Or maybe it was what had been previously applied? I used premium deck boards, let the pallet sit in my backyard for about 3 weeks, built the deck and applied Thompson's right after. It's been 6 years with nothing but Thompson's and the deck looks like it was built yesterday.

  • Mary jones Mary jones on Mar 03, 2017
    i put Thompson's water seal on my gourd bird houses after painting
    it wax 60 degrees. Temp dropped to 30 and gourds are sticky. Will they dry if I leave them out as temps are supposed to be 70 today??

  • Jacquelyn Fullin Jacquelyn Fullin on May 20, 2017
    Will the ammonia/water concentrated take off the new stain color I applied before the thompsons because I have the sticky problem too.

    • John Wilder John Wilder on May 18, 2020

      Depends on whether it is oil based or water based. The oil will be fine but the waterbased product will probably come off

  • Eileen Capotosto Eileen Capotosto on Jun 11, 2017
    Has anyone ever used Thompson's water seal on tile? We have old tile on the patio, and it is still sticky even after pressure washing it again.

  • Momma Jean Momma Jean on Jul 14, 2017
    I had the same issue due to using 2 applications instead of one which was recommended. I have found by wiping Goo-Gone on and off with a rag on the top of the sticky surface took away the stickiness. You may have to use 2 applications. The reason it might work is because they have the same polarity-like molecules. Also, Goo-Gone is a strong solvent. That is why power washing with water is not working. Through research, I decided to try GG and I had a pint sitting in my cabinet, what did I have to loose. Yeah, it worked!

    • John Wilder John Wilder on May 18, 2020

      It is actually distilled from waste orange rinds from the juice industry. It is completely non-toxic and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT for laundry as well

  • Lorenzo Parrillo Lorenzo Parrillo on Apr 17, 2018
    I never had a problem, step 1 washed, step 2 waited till it was permanently dry. Then sealed. If I were In a hurry I used isopropal alcohol to clean waited 30 minutes then sealed.

  • Igor Igor on Jun 08, 2019

    I have used many wood sealers and I can say that Tompson is one of the best on the market. Anyway, to remove it I recommend using Defy Cleaner. If you will need to reseal your wood after that again you can find many sealers here.

  • Jeff Rains Jeff Rains on Sep 05, 2019

    I used thompsons waterseal on our concrete walkway in the front of our house. Discolored, tacky and looks worse than before I power washed it. Pretty upset and my wife is also. How do i remove it to use a different product?

  • PJ PJ on May 28, 2020

    I'd contact the company and ask them. You could end up making the problem worse if you use the wrong product. Good luck

  • Joan Wallstein Joan Wallstein on Nov 29, 2020

    Different problem -- water beads up and never dries.

    Still beads after sweeping. Now with cold weather, it's sheet of ice. Anyone else with this problem? I guess solution is same as for stickiness. GET IT OFF!! -- jw

  • Dee Dee on Dec 13, 2020

    First call the company and find out why it failed. Then you can go from there. You could probably pressure wash off.

  • We've used it for years with no problem and our decks and fences look great. It does have to dry completely and humidity will impeded that. We do it in early spring, so it's still dry and cool. We always prep with Simple Green and a power washing first.

  • Annie Annie on Jun 16, 2021

    Was the wood wet when you applied it? It needs to be really dry. Your best bet would be to get in touch with the company and see what they suggest for a fix

  • I would contact the company for their advice.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Jun 16, 2021

    Power washing your deck should remove the Thompson's and leave you with a clean and non-sticky deck.

  • Maura White Maura White on Jun 17, 2021

    How many days out has it been since you applied it? It may need more time to dry - especially if you are in a humid environment. I'd call Thompsons directly. Worst case scenario would be to pressure wash again and find a different sealer with reviews that say it doesn't stay sticky.

  • Thompson's is unfortunately not the way to go. Call them up and ask how to remove their product from your deck. Please always always always avoid using a pressure washer on deck wood, it is so damaging.


    Use a deck cleaner/brightener after removing the Thompson's, let everything dry thoroughly, then use a product like Cabot. You can see my deck saga here: https://www.flippingtheflip.com/2018/08/the-deck-redux-part-i.html