Stain not drying

deedee-2008September 3, 2009

Everything was going smoothly in my project to repaint and restain our staircase to the second floor until I stained the rails and posts. I'm guessing that the wood is poplar; it definitely does not look like oak or maple (house built 1996). Everything in the staircase was just clear-coated with something, not painted or stained. I sanded down the rails and posts to remove the finish, applied a pre-conditioner, and applied one coat of Minwax's oil-based Provincial stain, wiping it down after 15 mins. The directions on the can say to wait overnight to apply poly. Well, after 24hrs of perfect/no humidity weather, excellent ventilation, and even use of a fan on it last night, the finish is still extremely tacky. I went over it a few times with rags and ended up wiping off a significant amount of stain that apparently never sunk in the wood, yet it's still tacky. I've refinished furniture before and never had this problem. What is my next step? Any advice is appreciated since those handrails get alot of use!

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OK, I went on Minwax's Q&A site. Apparently, I did not rub away the extra stain hard enough, which left the extra to become tacky. I used mineral spirits to wipe away the stain. Back to square one, I guess.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 10:03AM
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Did you sand off ALL the previous finish or just rought it with sandpaper? MinWax oil based stain will not stain over a finish, it has to be applied to bare wood.

Also, stain has a shelf life, if it is too old, it will not dry properly.

Try getting the stain from a Sherwin Williams paint store, their stock is usually fresher.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 10:08AM
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You know, I can't bet my life that I sanded whatever finish was on the railing. I thought I did, based on my previous work on a table and chairs, but apparently not so maybe. I just bought the stain from HD, so not sure how old it is. I'm still working on removing it with the mineral spirits. Just when I thought it's done, it still feels tacky afterwards. :(

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 12:15PM
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You clearly failed to remove all of the existing finish. Were you applying stain to bare poplar, it would have dried to the touch in 2 hours.
I would scrap the liquid stain altogether and use a gel stain. No pre-conditioner is needed.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 7:51PM
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Thanks everyone. Chalk this up to a learning experience.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 2:45PM
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