Why Do My End Tables Still Feel Kind of Sticky After I Have Repainted Them?

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Incorrectly painting furniture can result in sticky surfaces.
Incorrectly painting furniture can result in sticky surfaces. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A fresh coat of paint can bring new life to an old, tired piece of furniture. Although large pieces might take a while to complete, painting end tables is a relatively quick and simple job. But if your painted end tables still feel sticky and tacky well after you’ve finished, it’s a clear sign that something went wrong during the painting process.

Drying Time

Inadequate drying time between coats might result in a tacky or sticky texture of your final product. When you are applying multiple coats of paint to your furniture, it’s important to let each layer dry completely before moving onto the next coat. Refer to the specific directions on your paint can for the drying time. If you applied a primer, you’ll also need to let that dry completely before beginning the paint job. Temperature and moisture might affect the paint’s drying time. If the paint, environment or furniture surface is too cold, drying time could be significantly longer. Excessive moisture in the air can also drastically slow the drying time.

Type of Paint

Latex paints are widely known for their tendency to remain tacky because they usually have anti-blocking agents added to them. Normally, anti-blocking agents are beneficial to the overall paint job. But when the paint layers are too thick or an unusual reaction occurs between the paint and primer, these anti-blocking agents leave a perpetual tackiness on the surface of the furniture. You might even find that objects stick to the painted surface. When you pull the objects away, you might also pull away some paint. When painting surfaces that frequently come into contact with objects -- such as end tables -- consider using an oil or alkyd paint instead of latex.

Fixing the Problem

If your end tables remain sticky long after the paint job, a few steps can help eliminate the tackiness. Although you can apply alkyd paint directly over latex paint, prepping the surface first is ideal. If possible, lightly sand the surface with a fine sandpaper and then apply an exterior grade primer. Once the primer has completely dried, apply your alkyd paint. As always, allow adequate drying time between coats of paint.

Other Ideas

If you aren’t yet ready to re-paint the end tables, you can try a temporary solution. Covering the surface of the tables with a light layer of automobile wax or talcum powder temporarily eliminates the stickiness. However, you will likely have to re-apply the powder or wax regularly.

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