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Stain Won't Dry

I've read the other threads on this topic so I see what advice others were give.  My situation is slightly different so I'm posting this question.

There was a round discolored spot on the headboard of the bed - probably where I've rested my head while reading in bed for the past 28 years.  I decided to fix it.

I sanded the spot (and a bit more around it), stained it, and wiped off the stain after a few minutes.  The red mahogany stain only slightly stained the area.  So I did it again, and again, and again, but the color in the area didn't seem to be getting darker, only the first coat made a dramatic difference.

I then decided to stain it and not wipe the stain off.  I was able to apply stain the the spot such that it looked great - cloth, brush, touch up - a masterpiece, but it won't dry and reading after the fact indicates that it probably won't dry and starting over might be my only option (and I do notice that applying more stain does dissolve the old stain).

So first, are there any other options?

And if I do start over, how do I get the stained "spot" to get darker?

Do I have to sand the entire headboard?  I'm only working with a flat section so I guess that's possible but it would be a real pain.

This morning, I put a heater fan on the headboard and some small sections seem to be drying but most is tacky to the touch but less tacky than yesterday.  Will the "masterpiece" eventually dry?  It's no longer a masterpiece because small dots (like drips of stain) have formed on the surface in the stained area, but if they dried as is, I could live with the "dots".

Any advise would be appreciated.

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Posted 2018-07-25T19:40:45+0000  by PCW PCW

True penetrating stains can only be applied to bare wood, otherwise they merely sit on the surface and will readily be wiped off. Further, excess stain will not dry because there are no chemical driers in stain, as are in oil paints.
To do a top notch job, you must remove the old finish so that the stain can penetrate the wood, either by sanding, or by chemical paint removers. I prefer the chemical strippers. Sanding usually opens up the grain unevenly and results in a splotchy finish when the new stain is applied.
After the stain is satisfactorily applied and allowed to dry, it must be top coated with a clear varnish. Urethanes are the most common type of varnish now-a-days.
Posted 2018-07-26T05:00:21+0000  by ordjen
Thank you for your comment.

I'd like to update my situation and get suggestions on how I should proceed to salvage the project.

Based on my reading on how stain works (after staining) and the comment above, I realize that stain doesn't dry!

I put another coat of stain on this morning just to dissolve the old 3 day old tacky stain and it worked.  All of the tacky stain residue came off with ease. 

I then wiped all of the stain off to reveal that the well sanded portion in the center of my round basketball-sized "spot" was nicely stained but that a lighter ring existed around it.  I realized that when trying to stain just a portion of previously finished wood, that invariably you can't get off all of the old stain and finish at the transition between old and new, hence the ring. (One of those life lessons, obvious now, learned the hard way.)

So I know for the future that the right way to go is to sand, stain and poly the entire surface.

But I can't do that now, and I just need to salvage the project - (A) to either go forward with a finish and live with the transitional ring OR (B) try something else.

I need advice on whether it makes sense to carefully feather a POLY+STAIN product on the transitional ring only to reduce that obvious lighter section and then subsequent coats of POLY only (without stain) on the remainder of the headboard?  

My thinking is that this result will look better than the transitional ring.

Posted 2018-07-26T14:32:45+0000  by PCW
I doubt that a Poly Shades type product will help much, but it is worth a try. In any event, it will not preclude doing a full strip job at a later time.
Posted 2018-07-27T03:26:21+0000  by ordjen
Spot repairing wood finishes is something really best left to the experts.  While it will be a lot more work, stripping the entire headboard and refinishing will really give you the best results.

I doubt that PolyShades will fix your problem (or any other).
Posted 2018-07-27T23:31:48+0000  by Adam444
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