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Install & Replace


Stain is tacky and will not dry

I am staining my kitchen cabinets. The first set of doors I stained came out beautiful.  I am now having a problem with some of the other doors.  First the wood is raised in some spots even after sanding.  Second I have spots where it looks gummy or something got in the stain. (I keep can covered)  Each time I started a new door I used a fresh cloth.  I rubbed away the excess stain and waited for each coat to dry.  But  on the third coat I get bubbles, gummy spots, and rough spots. It will not dry completely (been 12hrs).  I am using miniwax oil base stain and it says not to sand.  Why will it not dry, what can I do to fix it?

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Posted 2012-06-21T03:40:15+0000  by Br0klyn Br0klyn

Hello Br0klyn!


I love the fact that your first set of cabinet doors came out beautiful.


Let's see if we can figure out what happened on the other set and how to proceed.


The first two additions to your thread, by Ordjen, identify two of the most common problems that prevent oil-based stain from drying ... 1) high humidity, and 2) over application of stain, a penetrating product, after the wood is already full.


I usually obtain full saturation with two coats ... the common exception is when I add a flash coat (30-seconds and wipe off) to add just a touch of color like red or dark brown.


I'd like to focus on two of your comments from your original statement is, "First the wood is raised in some spots even after sanding. Second I have spots where it looks gummy or something got in the stain."


The "raised spots" on the wood surface "even after sanding," suggests to me that there may have been a clear coat that was not completely removed. Penetrating sealers must penetrate into the wood for the color to saturate and it is very common that the solvent (mineral spirits) in oil-based stain will re-wet old clear coats turning them gummy.


If those "raised" spots are clear coat, you'll need to completely remove the tacky stain using a clean rag dampened with fresh mineral spirits.


After you aggressively wipe and remove the gummy spots, you should notice that the stain never fully penetrated the surface of the wood under these spots ... what you'll see are odd shaped spots where the wood looks like the original color and never absorbed stain (or absorbed less than the surrounding areas). Surrounding these spots, where the clear coat was removed, you should see wood fully saturated with your color.


YOUR SOLUTION: Whether you notice these spots or not, repairing your surface will require removing the tacky stain from the entire surface with several fresh rags saturated with mineral spirits.


Once the tacky surface is removed and the surface dries, you'll need to evaluate whether the surface can be saved. Most likely your color will appear irregular, and you'll have to sand off the entire surface and start again.


I have customers who try to save their work at this point, but most often come back frustrated because they spent considerable extra time trying to save their work and still had to sand the finish off down to the wood.


Before you begin your next application of stain, you might shine a light across the surface to expose any areas that may require additional attention.


Even though you are in Louisiana, where humidity can run very high, your AC unit should dehumidify your work area to prevent moisture from being a problem.


SIDE NOTE: One of my customers had a problem with dust particles in his work area ... it turned out that his fans were pulling dust across his work area and contaminating the surface. You might take a look at this aspect of your set-up before re-starting stain application.


Follow up and let us know how you chose to proceed.


Best Answer

Posted 2012-06-21T13:24:20+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL


Is the non-drying stained piece being stored in a warm, non-humid environment? Cool and damp dramatically slows down dry time. Unheated garages make poor drying rooms. Evenings are too cool and the relative humidity goes sky high. Humid areas of the country present problems for stain drying.


High humidity can also cause problems with the finish coat of varnish. A condition called "blushing" can result when too much humidity is trapped in the varnish. This is especially true when working with shellac, as the alcohol in shellac actually attracts moisture. This is why alcohol is used in automobile gas-line anti-freeze products. Water attaches to the alcohol molecule and is drawn out of the gas line.

Posted 2012-06-21T05:02:56+0000  by ordjen




Having just re-read your post, I question why you are giving multiple coats of stain? Normally, one coat of stain, or one coat of pre-stain sealer and one coat of wiped stain should suffice. I have the feeling you are using too much stain and re-applying stain before the previous coat is truly dry.

Posted 2012-06-21T05:10:21+0000  by ordjen

Yes it is somewhat cool in my kitchen with the A/C and I live in Louisiana so it is hot and humid.

Posted 2012-06-21T12:17:00+0000  by Br0klyn

I am added 2 extra coats to get the darker color I like. The drying time is usually a day or 12 hrs because I apply the stain in the evenings when the weather is not so hot outside or when I come home from work.

Posted 2012-06-21T12:22:58+0000  by Br0klyn
Thank u, I am not looking forward to starting over but in the back of my mind I suspected that something like that might be were I went wrong. mutli-tasking I might have missed a few doors that were not sanded completely after stripping. I am sometimes feeling over whelmed. "Kitchen Renos are hard."
Posted 2012-06-21T18:31:10+0000  by Br0klyn

Hey Br0klyn!


Thanks for the Approved Solution!!!


Yes, I know, it is difficult to devote time and resources to a project and then have to back up one full step.


We all do it from time to time!


Hopefully, most of our time is spent taking those proverbial "two steps forward."


At least you have the satisfaction in knowing that when complete, your current set of cabinets will look just as beautiful as the first set you completed.


Thanks again for the Approved Solution!

Posted 2012-06-26T13:58:38+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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