Asked on Dec 17, 2015

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

by Pam

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.

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Tacky stain
  49 answers
  • Pam Pam on Dec 17, 2015
    Not Miramax ...Minwax penetrating stain, wiped on with a rag.
  • Amy Ogden-Paparone 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 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.
    • See 5 previous
    • Grant Smith Grant Smith on Jun 19, 2020

      Stain won’t dry if it’s not wiped off. The solvents evaporate and you are left with sticky pigment. Lacquer thinner or mineral spirits or another coat will remove it. Always wipe off excess!

  • Pam Pam on Dec 17, 2015
    Maybe I can do both of these and it will all work out. Thanks to all.
    • See 1 previous
    • Faye Faye on Mar 12, 2020

      I applied some mini wax on kitchen cabinets, last night, still sticky not drying in wood, I varnish over, should I remove all varnish and start over fresh

  • Wanda sinnema 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 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.
  • 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 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.....
  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Dec 18, 2015
    Hi Pam. All the above answers, mineral spirits etc., are correct. Good luck!
  • Dick 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 Sherry on Dec 18, 2015
    Try heat lamp to warm the wood
  • Nancy 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 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 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 Donna Jenkins on Dec 18, 2015
    maybe a blow dryer
  • Liz Straughn Liz Straughn on Dec 18, 2015
    Usually needs 24 hours to cure. You could try putting a fan blowing on them.
  • Mary McNeill 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 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 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 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 Pamela on Dec 18, 2015
    A fan may help -- but really you just have to be more patient.
  • Jlb2270634 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 Duv310660 on Dec 18, 2015
    Heat + Time = Ready
  • Wrenzo Thompson 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 Pam on Dec 20, 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 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 Linda Anderson on Dec 01, 2017

    Do I put the fast drying sealer on with the cheesecloth?

  • Str15489452 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 Kmdreamer on Oct 08, 2018

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

  • Rhonda Bollinger Hull Rhonda Bollinger Hull on May 08, 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 M on May 08, 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 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!

    • See 2 previous
    • Sharon Sharon on Aug 20, 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 Helen on Jul 02, 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 Casey Ortega on Oct 18, 2019

    You didn't mix it enough (correctly)

  • Rachel Moore- Buskey 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 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 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 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 Lauren Claire Higdon on Jan 01, 2020

    mineral spirits!

  • Melanie Saunders Scott Melanie Saunders Scott on Feb 07, 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.

  • Mamajean Mamajean on Mar 10, 2020

    After two days my dining chairs were still sticky. I used old English furniture oil on an old oily rag that I use to

    polish my furniture . It immediately took off all the sticky coats of stain and my furniture looks great.

  • Mamajean Mamajean on Mar 10, 2020

    After 2 days my chairs were still sticky. I knew I had made a mistake. So I used old English furniture oil and an old oily rag that I used to oil my furniture. It removed the sticky coat and my furniture looks great.

  • Faye Faye on Mar 12, 2020

    I applied some mini wax varnish on kitchen cabinets last night, 1 coat, still sticky and wet. Like not drying in. Should I wait or try to take off

  • Marcy Marcy on Mar 12, 2020

    How do I remove grout that got on wood window frame

  • Dee Train Dee Train on May 04, 2020


    I sanded my desk and then stained it with vanthurane stain. The next day it was still tacky. I stained it incorrectly. However, I sanded it down again but not completely. Can I paint it now with interior paint?

    thanks in advance.

  • Gayle Papsin Greenley Gayle Papsin Greenley on May 27, 2020

    i put stain over already stained paneling and days later it was tacky/ oily. Everywhere I asked what to do it was strip, sand and reapplied! Hell No! There has to be a better answer. This morning I woke up and thought dish liquid ... so I made a wet soapy rag and lightly ran over the paneling , in sections, followed by drying with a paper towel. Guess what? It worked! Some stain came of on the rag, very minimally. But it isn’t tacky at all anymore.

  • Toren Sparks-LaPlaca Toren Sparks-LaPlaca on Jan 02, 2021

    I have a similar problem. The oak I am using is very uneven absorbing the stain from piece to piece. I put 3 coats of stain on, the last one very thick and I love the way it looks now. I know most of it is sitting on top of the wood like paint and it’s not formulated to do this. Any way possible to just let it dry and spray it with poly or shellac to seal it and lock the color in place? It’s a spice rack.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 05, 2021

    Hi there,

    Leave it longer. If not dry within the week, either leave it still longer.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jun 16, 2021

    Hi Pam, you can use automobile wax to help with tacky paint. Just apply it with a clean cloth and rub it in circular motions over the tacky surface. Wait about 10 minutes for the wax to dry and remove any excess wax with a buffing cloth to remove. Talcum powder will also work.