I recently painted a dresser. I originally painted it a darker gray than I wanted so after putting the initial two coats on I took the paint back to Home Depot and had them lighten the rest of the gallon for me. The paint was not tacky at this point in the process. After applying the additional two coats the finish product is tacky. I'm pretty sure my mistake was too thick of an application on the last two coats. I thought the sheen was better with thicker coats...

Now that it is tacky I'm considering applying a water based polyurethane to help with the tackiness and give additional protection.

I'm just concerned with the polyurethane affecting the color of the dresser. What experience have you had with water based polyurethane over paint?

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. I'm no pro, but I'd be worried about adhesion. And, big props for taking our tour before posting; most people don't... Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 2:58
  • Painter here. I'm confused by what you mean by "polyurethane". It seems like you left off an essential word, like "paint", "stain" or "varnish". You can edit your post to clarify it. Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 5:59
  • Never put a coat of paint or poly on top of anything that is not cured. Even if latex ant water based poly don’t do it. If the first coat was not fully dry when you put the second one give it a couple of weeks or plan to strip it all off if it doesn’t cure. Bubbles in the paint can also be caused from not waiting long enough.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


You should give those last two coats of paint a good long while to see if it will get less tacky and "cure".

If it stays tacky I would not try to fix it by trying to plaster an incompatible product like polyurethane on top of the latex paint. This would be an especially big issue if the base paint was not fully cured and dried. In this case the best order of business is probably to buy a gallon or two of paint stripper and remove all the paint on that item and start over with the color that you want.

Note: Also be aware that when you had the paint store remix your paint color it is possible that the amount of colorant that was added exceeded the manufacturer recommended amount of colorant volume per gallon and that changed the characteristics of your paint.

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