How to Fix Sticky Wood Stain? (2 Methods)

The last thing you want after staining wood is for the wood stain to become sticky or tacky. So how do you fix tacky wood stain?

To fix sticky wood stain, you need to remove the excess wood stain that is not drying. To do this, you can apply mineral spirits to the stain. The mineral spirits will dissolve the wood stain making it easier to wipe off the excess stain that is tacky.

The mineral spirits will also restart the drying process of the wood stain. This time, since there will be no excess wood stain on the wood, it would dry properly within a few hours.

But, that’s not the only thing you should know. Check down below all the methods and information you need about the sticky wood stain.

3 Reasons Why Stains Get Tacky

Here are the top 3 common reasons that wood stain gets sticky.

1. The Excess Stain Wasn’t Wiped Off

The main reason that wood stains remain sticky or tacky is that the excess wood stain wasn’t wiped off after applying the stain. Wood stain by design doesn’t sit on wood. Instead, wood stain penetrates the wood grain. This is why the stain is known to dye or change the color of the wood entirely.

If you apply too much wood stain on wood, the excess wood stain will not penetrate the wood grain. Instead, it will stay on the top layer of the wood and since the stain isn’t designed to sit on the wood, it won’t dry properly regardless of how long you wait.

So, if you apply wood stain, always ensure to wipe off the excess so there isn’t any stain on the wood. If there isn’t excess stain on the wood, the wood stain will not become sticky.

2. High Humidity

The next reason that causes wood stain to remain sticky is a high level of humidity. Normally, wood stain should be applied in a room or environment where the humidity is not more than 50%.

If you apply wood stain in a room where the moisture content in the atmosphere is more than 50%, the stain will not dry.

This is because the atmosphere will be too cold and wet for the paint to dry properly. The high moisture content in the atmosphere will settle on the stain coating as it starts to dry making the paint wet.

3. High Temperature

If you apply wood stain in a room with high temperature or temperature levels that is more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the wood stain will dry too quickly. If the weather temperature is hot enough, the wood stain will dry almost immediately after you applied it.

This will make it difficult to wipe off the excess wood stain since the stain would dry almost instantly. In such cases, you wouldn’t be able to wipe off the excess wood stain before it turns sticky.

Another thing to know is if sticky paint will eventually get dry. Will it? Let’s find out.

Will Tacky Stain Eventually Dry?

Will Tacky Stain Eventually Dry?

Sticky or tacky wood stain will not dry eventually. Regardless of how long you wait or what method you apply to dry the sticky stain, it will not dry. At best, the wood stain will turn gooey.

This means it will have a soft and gel-like texture. The reason for this is that the wood stain is not designed with a binder additive. The formula for wood stain is solvent (oil or water), paint pigments, and or colorants.

Since the wood stain doesn’t contain a binder additive, it becomes difficult for the wood stain to stick to wood. This is why wood stain soaks into the wood rather than staying on the wood.

After the wood stain soaks into the wood, the solvent in the stain coating will be evaporated and the paint pigments or colorants will be left behind to alter or change the color of the wood.

So when the stain doesn’t penetrate the wood, it becomes sticky because the solvent when evaporated will leave behind paint pigments or colorants.

The paint pigments left behind will have nothing to penetrate or tint. So what you’ll have is paint pigments on the wood and the paint pigments will never dry completely regardless of how long you wait.

However, you should know that sticky or tacky wood stains can become dry if exposed to enough heat. For instance, hairdryers can be used to increase the heat around the stain coating so it can dry.

But even then, the sticky wood stain wouldn’t dry properly. It might become unclear, cloudy, or muddled up after it dries. But how long will it take for a sticky stain to dry? Let’s take a closer look.

How Long Does It Take For Tacky Stain To Dry?

In most cases, sticky stain will not get dry. However, if exposed to enough heat the stain might get dry enough to not be sticky. But the time this will take will depend on the level of heat that the wood stain is exposed to.

Usually, wood stain should be applied in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the stain remains sticky at this temperature and you use a hairdryer to increase the heat around the stain to 150 degrees.

The wood stain can become dry in less than 2 hours if that level of heat is maintained. But if you increased the heat to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the sticky wood stain might not dry for about 6 hours.

However, you should know that if you fix the sticky wood stain correctly, the stain coating can get fully dry in less than 2 hours. So how do you fix sticky wood stain! Let’s find out.

How To Fix Sticky Wood Stain (Made Easy)?

You can fix sticky wood stains by:

Method 1: Add Paint Thinner To The Sticky Wood Stain Coating

Add Paint Thinner To The Sticky Wood Stain Coating

As explained earlier, the main reason that wood stain gets sticky is that the excess wood stain wasn’t wiped off and the solvent in the excess stain coating has been evaporated leaving behind paint pigments that will not dry. So to make the sticky stain dry, you need to add solvent or paint thinner to the sticky wood stain.

The paint thinner will dissolve the excess stain coating making the stain turn liquid. In its liquid state, the excess stain can then be easily wiped off the wood leaving behind only enough wood stain to penetrate the wood and dry properly. To do this, you’ll need:

  • A paint thinner (preferably mineral spirits)
  • A pair of gloves
  • Clean rags
  • An angled paintbrush.

Here are the steps for this method:

Apply Mineral Spirits On The Sticky Wood Stain

You can apply the mineral spirits using a clean rag or a paintbrush. But, an angled paintbrush will enable you to reach all corners and nooks of the wood where you have a sticky wood stain. This will be difficult to achieve with a rag.

You don’t need to douse the sticky wood stain with mineral spirits. Just apply enough to dissolve the sticky wood statin. Usually, 1/2 cup of mineral spirits is enough. Then wait for 10 minutes this gives the mineral spirits enough time to dissolve the sticky stain.

Wipe Off The Excess Sticky Stain

With the sticky wood stain dissolved, it becomes easier to wipe off the excess stain with a rag. After you have wiped off the excess, the wood stain will now dry properly. This will eliminate the sticky stain.

Let’s check out another method to fix sticky wood stains.

Method 2: Apply More Stain

Apply More Stain

This may seem risky but it’s another good way to get rid of wood stain. Since the excess wood stain has turned sticky, another coat of wood stain will dissolve the sticky wood stain making it also easy to wipe off the excess. To use this method, you’ll need:

  • A paintbrush
  • The same wood stain that was applied
  • Clean rags
  • Wood stain thinner (optional)

Here is how to use this method:

Open The Wood Stain

Open the wood stain container. Remember to use only the same wood stain that you applied earlier. If you don’t have the same stain anymore, use the mineral spirits method.

Thin The Wood Stain (Optional)

The next step is to thin the wood stain. You should only do this if you thinned the first stain coating that you applied. If the wood stain has a thick flow, you can thin it so it’s easier to apply.

Apply The Wood Stain On The Sticky Wood Stain

The next step is to apply the wood stain on the existing stain that didn’t dry. Then leave the surface for about 5 minutes so the new stain coating can dissolve the existing wood stain.

Wipe Off The Excess

When you spot that the stain coating has been dissolved, wipe off the excess. Usually, this should take about 5 minutes. Ensure not to leave existing stain coating on the wood.

Leave The Stain To Dry

After wiping off the excess, leave the stain coating to dry. This will take less than 2 hours. When the stain gets dry and hard, you have successfully fixed the sticky wood stain.

What Happens If You Apply A Second Coat Of Stain Too Soon?

If you apply a second coat of wood stain too soon, the existing or first coat will not dry properly. Also, there will be moisture or solvent trapped inside the first stain coating. The moisture will later bleed through the second stain coating making the entire stain wet and sticky.

Not just that, the whole stain coating will appear blotted and there will be varying color patches on the wood. Overall, the wood stain finish will appear dirty, wet, and sticky. Oil-based stains will also continue to smell for days.

What Happens If you Don’t Wipe Off Wood Stain?

If you don’t wipe off wood stain after applying the stain, there will be excess wood stain on the wood surface. When the solvent in the excess wood stain is evaporated, only paint pigments will be left behind.

The paint pigments will not penetrate the wood grain or dry properly. This will make the excess wood stain turn sticky or tacky.

Also, the excess wood stain will continue to smell. Oil-based wood stains especially will produce a strong offensive odor if you don’t wipe off the excess after staining wood.

Final Words

Overall, a sticky wood stain is a tough mistake to fix. So to prevent this, always ensure to wipe off the excess wood stain after staining wood. If you leave the excess on the wood, it will turn sticky, and then you’ll have to fix it.

As a last resort, if you can’t seem to fix the sticky wood stain, your best bet is to remove the entire stain coating and start the application from scratch.

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