Asked on Jul 05, 2013

Wood Stain - need help please

by KrysFL
I built a desk and attempted to stain it today.

I used Rustoleum's Ultimate Wood Stain in Dark Walnut.
I applied it about 4 hours ago and moved it inside about 1 hour ago because its super humid out today.... its still tacky. The dry time listed on the can is 1 hour.

Looking online, I think I may have applied it too thick. The can said wipe off any "excess" but I think we (me and the can) may have different definitions of what "excess" is. :)

So I just rubbed, rubbed, rubbed and got off as much as I could. My question is, if it is still tacky in the morning, can I polyurethane over it and it dry? Its not like runny or anything, just tacky.
If not, what are my options?

Also, why can't I ever get the color on my project that displays on the can? I swear its false advertising! :) Every time I have ever tried to stain anything, it comes out super light.

Anyone have any suggestions/techniques or recommend any youtube/websites?

Thanks in advance!
  18 answers
  • KrysFL KrysFL on Jul 05, 2013
    @KMS Woodworks help a girl out :)
  • Apply thin coats. If it is not dry by am the stain can will have the proper chemicals needed to clean remove it. Wipe it off using whatever chemicals they suggest. Lacquer thinner comes to mind. Also stains are applied then wiped off. Did you do that or just leave it on to dry?
  • KrysFL KrysFL on Jul 05, 2013
    I left it on for about 30 minutes and then "lightly" wiped off... but I'm thinking I should have wiped more.
  • That is correct. You need to wipe it off. The longer it stays on the darker it will be. You should be able to wipe it off and it should dry in short order. If not, you need to remove using the proper chemicals that the can says to use to remove the product.
  • I see you are in Florida. It's been hot and very rainy. Stains and top coats do best within a moderate range of temps and humidity. Do wipe off excess stain and make sure the surface is dry before application of the poly. If possible, it would be best to complete the project inside with the A/C running. You will likely see extended dry times for the poly if you work in the heat and humidity as well.
  • Spheramid Enterprises Spheramid Enterprises on Jul 06, 2013
    wipe ( scrub) it down with paint thinner (mineral spirits) or naptha. Let it dry , proceed with finish. It's the solids and binders that you are feeling being tacky.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Jul 06, 2013
    @KrysFL I did a stain on one of my bookshelves in the winter. My basement was cool and a bit damp, it took three days for it to completely dry. I wouldn't recommend applying the polyurethane until it is dry, you will just add more moisture and take forever to dry. As for colour, the pic on the can usually displays it on a specific type of wood and the colour varies depending on the type of wood. In most home supply stores they have different wood samples showing the colour that stain will have on that type of wood.
  • Pam Perkins Zirbel Pam Perkins Zirbel on Jul 06, 2013
    I also have had trouble staining. My problems were that I sanded uneven and didnt use a cloth/cheese cloth to put it on and didnt wipe off fast enough. Also, I love dark stains but it depends on the type of wood it is. I just love painting furniture, then sanding parts and then staining lightly all over and the 'sanded' parts pick up the stain and then it looks antiqueyish!!! I personally would sand it off instead of killing myself trying to wipe the excess stain off. Then, start over and remember what NOT to do next time! LOL...I am in upstate NY and it has been stupid humid here and some of the stuff I can do inside with the air conditioners, but yea, it IS great to be outdoors...just some times it has to be inside with tons of paper down and cardboard!! Good luck but...HAVE FUN...that's what it's all about!!!!
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 06, 2013
    get a clean cotton t-shirt type rag and dampen it with some thinner...(not the new "green" stuff but good old fashioned mineral spirits, odorless is fine) and give the tacky areas a good rub down. You may need to replace the rag a few times. This will require some elbow grease. The rags will get brown from the stain being lifted but the piece should not loose too much color. I prefer to use minwax stains as I am familiar with all of their colors and how they behave on wood. Some woods like pine and cherry require a conditioner or thinner treatment to keep the color consistent. I allow about 5 min max before I wipe excess...If i need it to be darker I will add a second coat the next day or use a darker stain. Lucky for me our Humidity here in Colorado is often less than 30% so things tend to dry well. After you get them "untacky" let the piece dry for another day before adding the top poly ( here I recommend minwax wiping poly.)
  • Shari Shari on Jul 06, 2013
    I haven't done much with stains (I'm more of the painting type), but in my limited experience, it must be applied in a thin coat and whatever doesn't soak into the wood within the specified time on the can (5-10 minutes?) is wiped off. I think stain is much more finicky than paint (that's why I'm a paint girl!) and you can't rush it. The excessive amount of rain we have had and the humidity isn't making it any easier either. Regarding the color: if the first coat of stain isn't dark enough for you, you can always stain again to deepen the color once your first coat is dry (but the more layers of stain you add, the less you tend to see of the wood grain).
  • KrysFL KrysFL on Jul 06, 2013
    Lucky me!!! After bringing it in the A/C overnight, it was dry this morning. Thanks for all the help!!!
  • Gail lichtsinn Gail lichtsinn on Jul 09, 2013
    The reason the stain colors dont match like the swatch on the can are for many reasons..If you put cherry stain on walnut then on pine then on maple it will all be different because the base wood color you put it on is different..If its staying too tacky your waiting too long to wipe it off...Sometimes its better to do it in layers and let each one dry...For me i would take what solvent it calls for and wipe it down..If you dont the areas where it built up will be darker and sometimes streaked..
  • Christy Necole Christy Necole on Jul 12, 2013
    What colour was it supposed to be? Too humid for it to dry perhaps. I did a table recently with black. First it came out looking almost the colour of that you have and I was thinking well this is nice BUT I wanted black and bought what the heck is going on??? Here's something that may help you. You might want to try it on a smaller piece of furniture first just to see what happens. Steel wool!! Low grade 000 steel wool. Really cheap!! The interesting thing was that the metal in the steel wool seemed to actually bring out the colour of the stain better then the fine sandpaper. So it went from looking almost cherry wood to a greyish on the first coat. This took so LONG! But for the most part it was because mine was also coated with polyurethane in the stain mixture. Polyshades by minwax. You are actually supposed to peel away some of the top coat to get a better finish. I did a basic sanding and still wasn't liking the way the colour was coming out...I thought to myself this is never going to just turn black on it's I sanded a bit more with the steel wool and what a difference, it doesn't take the colour out it almost refines the way the colour looks. So.....test this out for yourself on something a little picture frame or something and see if it works for you. I am incredibly happy with my results after 5 coats of this stuff. I will never use polyshades on a large item again but for sure on smaller items. For the record I really like the colour of your desk and the design! Would really really like to see the finished product!!
  • G. Abrams G. Abrams on Sep 02, 2014
    Thanks for this question and for the answers, you saved our life. That Rustoleum stain is verrrry tricky, color seems good but be careful to put it on super light, we ended up using a rag and even then had to go back and wipe off after a couple of minutes. Don't work in high humidity or it won't dry - our a/c is blasting as we speak.
  • Woodman Woodman on Oct 20, 2014
    I tried the Rustoleum for the first time last week. On a small area or project it is fine, but on a large piece such as a cabinet skin it is a real pain as it dries so quickly! It has a much thicker consistency than say, Minwax or Zar oil based stains. I tried a lot of different techniques such as doing small areas at a time (didn't work because the overlaps didn't blend well), and wiping it down with mineral spirits to even out the finish (messy and not the quality I would sell a customer). Finally out of frustration I went back to my go-to stain, Min-wax which here in So. Calif. gives me a much longer work time. I don't think I will use the rustoleum again at least in our hot climate. It just dries too fast. If you do use it, follow the tips from others here and make sure to wipe it off before it begins to set. Good luck with your project!
  • Joanna Mendoza Solis Joanna Mendoza Solis on Oct 30, 2014
    Okay I need help .... I bought this table and chairs and wanted to stain them a dark brown stain.. But in the middle of the chair on the back there is a round plastic design ... I don't know if the stain will work on it...
  • Tana Tana on Jan 10, 2015
    Is there anyway to thin out rustoleum oil based stain
  • Rockbiter Rockbiter on Apr 11, 2015
    I didn't read the replies, so my apologies if this is repeat of another. I just had the same issue happen. The wood was beautiful and I know I would do this again and again, as much as it is not what you are suppose to do. Just a lot of elbow grease into arm exhaustion will happen. I still had some tackiness but I polished it with my favorite go to for wood finish, wax. I did it on all four boards I was making and they turned out beautiful.