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Wood Stain won't dry

Hi, I am making a small table. I sanded the wooden surface very thoroughly with 120 paper. But when I applied the mini-wax stain - one coat only - I failed to wipe off any excess stain. Now, about 48 hours later (dry, cool conditions), the wood is still not completely dry. The fumes are still fairly strong and there is a slight stickiness to the touch. When I touch the table, my fingers smell like stain afterwards.
I read the threads about using a solvent to wipe it down, sand and start from scratch again. But I am wondering if I can let time do the work. Will it eventually dry completely? Can I sand it a bit and see what happens? Or will this never be solved unless I go back to stage 0?
The top has a distressed look, so the stain does not need to look perfect; and I was not planning on using clear polyurethane coat afterwards...should I?

I would appreciate any advice.


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Posted 2015-12-21T14:36:09+0000  by Danielw Danielw
Hi Daniel,

The wood stains are formulated differently than regular paint, they are designed it penetrate the wood and leave behind pigments that create the color in the wood. As a result the excess stain must be wiped off to promote the drying process. Your stain will never completely dry if left as is. It will just become a sticky mess.

Use a solvent to wipe off the excess, sand and start over, your project is not lost, you can save it.

Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

Posted 2015-12-21T17:52:54+0000  by Mike_HD_OC
Mike is exactly right Danielw,

The solvents you might choose would be mineral spirits, acetone, or alcohol.

The first, mineral spirits, is the least likely to cause damage since it is the recommended product to "Clean Up" MinWax stain.

Lightly dampen a soft terry towel and do not press down too firmly.

Wiping will allow the excess stain on the surface to re-wet and come off on the terry towel.

As you go, flip to a fresh side and keep the working surface of your towel lightly damp.

This may take thirty-minutes to slowly remove the excess stain, so use light pressure and don't get in a hurry.

Your goal is to remove the excess that puddled on the surface without discoloring the stain embedded in the wood ... just enough to begin seeing the wood grain.

Should you decide to skip forward quickly and start over, consider acetone or alcohol instead of mineral spirits.

These solvents evaporate completely at room temperature, so you can wipe aggressively to remove excess and any solvent that remains on the surface will evaporate completely from the surface.

At that point, begin sanding to expose fresh wood.

Remove sanding dust with a dry terry towel (no solvents) and you're ready to re-stain.

This time, allow the stain to absorb for ten-minutes and completely wipe the surface with a dry terry towel.

If the color needs to be darker, apply a five-minute coat of stain and wipe excess.

Polyurethane is excellent for protecting your table.

Allow the last coat of stain to dry six-hours after last wipe off and apply poly using long, flowing strokes (not back and forth) with a natural bristle brush.

Each coat of poly should dry in six-hours and you should buff sand with 220-grit then remove sanding dust with a dry terry before adding the next coat of poly.

Typically, three coats of poly are considered a long-lasting protective coating.

Do not apply wax to poly coatings ... wax will embed into the coating and make it turn yellow.

When done, please take time to come back and share your handiwork with The Community.
Posted 2015-12-22T15:32:16+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

This is common to all oil based stains, whether interior or exterior: They are penetrating oils and have NO chemical driers in them, as do oil paints. Any excess left on the surface must be wiped off within a few minutes.

Mike and Pat have given good advice: wipe off with an appropriate solvent. I would try the least aggressive first, starting with mineral spirits. If not effective, progress to lacquer thinner or even acetone. Don't use alcohol on an oil based stain. Alcohol based stains are usually dye stains, which Home Depot does not even sell in the stores.

There is actually such a thing as a "brushing stain". These are more the consistency of a gell stain and are intended to be brushed on with a very fine bristled brush, such as a Purdy Oxhair, and then left to dry on the surface. Brushing stains do have driers in them.
Posted 2015-12-22T19:17:29+0000  by ordjen
We can always count on Ordjen to add pertinent dialogue ... after all what is a Forum other than a discussion.

Thanks Ordjen!

Frequently, when customers have this problem with stain failing to dry, Paint Associates are asked for ways to encourage the stain to dry.

The only product we offer that promotes rapid drying of oil-based paints and polyurethanes is Japan Drier.

This IS NOT, however, a product suitable for speeding the dry time of stain.

In cooler weather or high humidity, Japan Drier is suitable for addition to oil-based top coats like paint or polyurethane.

According to their Technical Support person, Japan Drier is:

1) Suitable for many home improvement coatings (paint, enamel, polyurethane, and varnish), but never with stains or automotive paints;

2) Should be power-mixed to ensure thorough blending at a rate of two- to four-ounces per gallon;

3) Will cut dry-time by approximately one-third at two-ounces per gallon (his recommended initial mix rate); and

4) Will appear purple when poured, but will not change the color of your coating.

Unfortunately, this means that the stain removal methods mentioned in this thread are the prescribed ways to repair excess stain left on the surface of a project.

The easiest cure is actually prevention ... simply wiping of the excess within 5-to-10 minutes.
Posted 2015-12-22T19:54:11+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
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