I decided to restain my deck last week since it was looking pretty worn after a New England winter. The deck is only 1 year old since we bought new construction. I contacted the builder and purchased a can of the same stain they used: Cabot's Mahogany Flame oil based stain. The week before had been sunny and dry. For prep I powerwashed the deck and then waited 24 hours to apply the stain. It's been a week, with warm and dry weather and parts of the deck still look wet and are tacky and sticky to the touch. How can I fix this? Also, what is the proper way to prep a deck before staining?

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    I would contact the manufacturer of the stain to get their opinion. The stain may have reacted with something that was on the deck, or may just have been old. Commented Jun 11, 2011 at 15:00
  • I don't think it's brand related, because I'm reading this because I put down Behring stain and it's over a week later and it's still not dry. I power washed and sanded the deck before staining, so I believe the surface was ready for the stain.
    – user56759
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 11:33

6 Answers 6


When ever I prep a deck for restaining, I clean it with a mixture of TSP, bleach and water. I apply the mixture, scrub it with a stiff broom and rinse it well with water or a power washer. Let it dry well, then apply stain. The cleaning solution helps remove the dirt, grime, spills, etc. Pretty basic stuff, I admit.

As far as why your stain doesn't want to dry. There may be several reasons for this. First thing that comes to mind is that the stain may have not been mixed well before application. The solvents and drying agents can separate from the oils and pigments in stain. The oil tends to stay at the top of the can, and the oil won't dry well without the solvents mixed in.

Another reason may be other sealers, grease or spills that have sealed the skin of the wood, not allowing the stain to penetrate.

Sometimes, one can get a little carried away and apply way too much product. This will saturate the wood and the access will sit on the top of the surface.

If after a couple weeks of good drying weather, you still have sticky or tacky spots, I'd be tempted to remove this excess with a cloth wetted with mineral spirits. This should thin the sticky stain, remove some and distribute it to help it dry.


I have had some experience with coatings and solvents over the years, and two weeks ago during a 90F June heat spell I recoated my small redwood entry deck with one coat of "deck finish" from the local hardware store. I had replaced the steps with new redwood and they dried well with the one coat, so I added a second - not heavy, and it dried well, also. The main parts of the deck had been oiled many years before and after pressure washing I felt that it would take a light coat of the "deck oil." It looked great and I wiped up the excess, just like the directions said to do. Stayed tacky/sticky for a week. No joy. Figured that I needed to scatter a solvent over it, so I used a pint of 91% isopropyl and then broomed it around good. It softened up the surface in 15 minutes, so I hosed it and scattered TSP lightly over the whole deck, and waited another 15 min. and then hosed that. Deck was dry the next morning and looked like it could use a VERY light dab of oil, which I will apply with a damp rag, after it is thinned with lacquer thinner. Lots of joy, now. Northern CA location, up in Sierras. Hot and dry summers, and 4ft of rain in winter. Wood needs care here.


It soundless like the previous layer of stain was not ready for re-stain. That is why the new stain is not drying.

It will eventually dry (maybe a month) but you will be unable to use deck in meantime. oops.

Next time try a water-test to see if stain is actually absorbing or repelling water. If water beads-up on it still you cannot stain yet.


I have used Behr Oil based stain for the first 5 years on a flight of stairs outside and 3 decks and an entry area on my home. It always dried within 4 hours. 6th year I thought I'd try another brand and two weeks later still sticky. They tried to tell me I was suppose to strip my decks every year. Whatever defective product. I purchased another gallon of Behr went over the other product and it dried in 4 hours. now in year 10 Behr has discontinued their oil base at home depot in the redwood. I was forced to buy yet another brand. It was suppose to dry in 24hrs. Well that was 5 days ago with the temps here in the 80's and dry. Still tacky better then the other brand that would not dry. I personally think it is the manufacturers. I stain my decks and stairs every year. We get a lot of rain here and I like to keep things I own in top shape. Behr brand is thicker and tends to go on more like a paint. I am very dissapointed that Behr decided not to continue this product. If you are listening Behr please bring it back. If this doesn't dry they do have a clear oil base stain that I will be forced to put over this last brand.

If your brand does not dry try the Behr brand. Put it right over the top. It will seal it and dry.


If you didn't wipe over stain/oil as you worked, there would undoubtedly be stickiness/tackiness. Directions when staining and oiling say to wipe dry with cloth after applying. You can start again by power washing. Lightly sand if needed. Wash deck with TSP/bleach solution. Let fully dry. Stain/oil again, wiping as you go. Shouldn't be sticky or tacky after 48 hours.


I am also used to oil based stains. The deck for the house we just purchased was overdue for staining. Sept 2017 I used one coat of Behr Transparent Waterproofing Wood Stain which was absorbed and one coat of Behr Waterproofing Stain and Sealer which stayed mostly on top and was left to dry; both applied with a foam brush. That was Monday. Wednesday could walk on it with my socks with nothing coming off, but my shoes left a print. Today is Saturday and I can walk on it with my shoes with no print left but, as the oil loving guy said, it was STILL tacky. (like someone spilled soda pop on it.) So BEING A WOMAN I took a soft tee shirt rag and, continually applying Pledge FURNITURE POLISH on the rag, wiped off my deck. I Waited 30 minutes and Presto! my deck is no longer tacky.

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