I sanded and painted a dresser with several coats of 100% acrylic paint, namely, these paints:

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The paint job turned out good, with one issue. After 4-6 weeks of drying, the paint is still slightly tacky. That is a problem, because when I put a significantly weighted object on top of the dresser and leave it on for a while, it 'peels' off. If I leave it for long enough, I am sure the paint will completely peel off along with the object.

The reason for the tackiness could be for a variety of reasons (I probably didn't allow enough time to dry between coats, and I probably put the coats on too thick) but I am more concerned about how to fix it so that the top of the dresser is not sticky anymore. Short of restripping it and starting over, what are my options?

3 Answers 3


It's called "blocking" and often happens w/latex paints - especially if the 1st coat wasn't allowed to dry fully before the second coat was applied. It's not much of an issue on walls, but horizontal surfaces are a different story.

The ultimate solution is time - possibly a few months. The inner coat's moisture is blocked from evaporating by to outer coat. It will slowly wick through the surface over several weeks.

You might be able to reduce the stickiness by spreading some fine talcum powder on the surface, then lightly vacuuming it off - but TEST in an unobtrusive area, first, because if it's too sticky, you could end up with permanent, visible, dust built into your paint job.

You may be able to speed the process by blowing warm (not hot) air across the surface for several days (hot air can cause the paint to peel). This can open the pores in the paint to allow slightly more rapid evaporation, but a lot depends on what paint you used, how much moisture is trapped in the undercoat, etc.

  • 1
    I had exactly this problem and fixed it immediately and permanently with a single, light application of baby powder. It only smelled like baby ass for a couple of days. Luckily my paint job was white so I didn't have to worry about the powder showing up. Nov 6, 2012 at 1:27
  • What about lightly sanding the top coat to accelerate the drying process? Nov 6, 2012 at 18:28
  • 2
    Its been a little over 9 months from the time I painted, and the furniture has definitely dried (become less sticky) over time. Mine is still slightly sticky (if you leave something on for a couple days it still peels off a tiny bit) but I think mine is the extreme case (I had MANY coats of paint, painted on too quickly over the other). While it was at its stickiest state, I just put a cloth over the surface top and put my things on that which kept things from sticking (and risk paint peeling off). I tried heat and talc powder, which didnt seem to help. Ultimately time was the solution.
    – n00b
    Jul 9, 2013 at 16:51

I have dealt with this by adding a layer of polyurethane.

This will add durability as well as eliminating the tack.

However, if you ever want to re-paint it you'll need to scuff the urethane.

  • 1
    Thanks, but I haven't had the best of luck with polyurethane. I did a coat of polyurethane on painted furniture before and the polyurethane did not dry completely clear (it had a bit of a purple hue to it, though its possible that I didn't let the paint completely dry before applying it). In addition, the polyurethane left a high gloss finish to the furniture (even though the can said it was a "clear gloss"). Maybe thats a misunderstanding on my part on what "clear gloss" means though.
    – n00b
    Nov 7, 2012 at 4:19

I use polyurethane (water based) in satin and it comes out perfect!


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