How to Repair a Tacky Finish on Wood


If you finish a wood surface on a rainy or humid day, the finish will not dry properly and will become tacky. Some finishes simply break down and become sticky over time. No matter why your wood finish is tacky, you need to strip the finish from the wood and start with a clean, dry surface. Check the weather reports and plan to start this project during a stretch of warm, dry weather so the new finish doesn't become tacky.

Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Clean rags or cloths
  • Turpentine
  • Paint thinner
  • Mineral spirits
  • Sponge
  • Remove all dust and other debris from the surface of the wood. If the surface is a floor, sweep and mop it and open all of the windows in the room. Use a damp cloth to remove dust from wooden walls or furniture.

  • Pour turpentine or paint thinner into a bucket. Spread the solvent onto a small, workable area with a paintbrush or a clean rag. If you are repairing the finish on a floor, work in four-by-four foot squares, so that the solvent does not dry onto the wood. Allow the solvent to sit on the surface for five to ten minutes. Spread a small amount of solvent onto the area if you notice it drying before the time is up.

  • Wipe up the solvent with a damp cloth. Pour a small amount of solvent onto the cloth and use it to wipe the area until no more finish comes off of the floor. Repeat the process until you have covered the entire floor.

  • Fill a bucket with enough mineral spirits to coat the wood surface. Apply the mineral spirits to the wood surface with a clean mop or a sponge. Allow the surface to dry completely before refinishing.

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