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Why Is My Deck Sticky And Tacky?

Applying a protective coating over your outdoor deck is a common DIY project that a lot of homeowners do. The problem, though, is that simple mistakes can happen for a rookie, leading to a terrible outcome. So, we asked professionals why a deck becomes sticky and tacky, and here's the answer.

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According to professional deck painters, the common mistake that many homeowners make is not wiping the deck after applying the wood stain or decking oil. This leads to sticky patches all over the deck after drying. To avoid this, remember to wipe off the excess with a lint-free cloth.

Of course, that's not the only reason your deck is sticky and tacky. In this article, we will further explain other reasons that lead to this problem. So, keep reading to find out more.

Large wood deck with forest in luxury home, Why Is My Deck Sticky And Tacky?

The Problem Of Sticky And Tacky Decks

A worker in orange coverall is thumb up action and holding white safety helmet with factory workshop as blurred background.

As mentioned, applying a wood stain or decking oil over the deck is a common household project. Many homeowners see this as an opportunity to save money by doing the work themselves.

However, the finished product doesn't always end up the way most homeowners want it to. Usually, it's either due to inexperience or a lack of understanding of the project itself. But don't worry; we're here to provide you with the information you need.

So, if the deck ends up sticky and tacky after working on it, don't fret. First, you need to understand why that happened. And the most obvious mistake that many homeowners make is applying too much wood stain or decking oil and not wiping off the excess afterward.

Of course, that's not the only reason. It could be that the current weather may have contributed to the mess. Or, in some cases, the deck itself is the problem.

Reasons Why The Deck Is Sticky And Tacky

We will further discuss the reasons why your deck ended up sticky and tacky after a house project. Remember that these are just some of the more common reasons. If none of them fits what you're experiencing, you may need to call in a professional deck staining service.

Wood Stain/Decking Oil Not Wiped Off Properly

Not wiping off the excess stain or oil from the deck would lead to sticky patches. That's because the deck is unable to absorb too much of the stain or oil.

Manufacturers recommend wiping off the excess as well. That's because their products can leave a sticky residue if it starts drying without proper application and care. The culprit for that is the pigments.

Once all the liquid inside the product has evaporated, it can leave behind the pigments of the product. And these pigments don't evaporate the same way as the liquid inside the product. And no matter how much time passed, these pigments won't dry out properly, resulting in a sticky and tacky deck.

To avoid this, wipe off the excess after around a minute of application. If the coating dried too quickly before you had the chance to do so, apply mineral spirits to the affected area before scrubbing vigorously.

Wood Stain/Decking Oil Dries Too Quickly

Brush tin and decking oil for a timber deck.

Generally, warm weather is the best time to apply wood stain or decking oil onto your deck. That's because high humidity can affect the drying process, leading to a longer finishing time.

However, weather that's too hot is detrimental to the whole process. That's because the coating you applied on the deck would dry faster than you have time to wipe the excess off. And as we talked about earlier, not wiping the excess off can lead to sticky patches on the surface of the deck.

Exotic Woods

Sometimes, it's not entirely your fault. If you properly applied the wood stain or decking oil during the perfect weather and it still produced a sticky and tacky mess, then the problem lies with the deck or the coating product itself.

Exotic woods such as teak, redwood, tigerwood, and rosewood are just some examples of woods that are difficult to stain or oil.

That's because these woods already have heavy amounts of oil within them. What ends up happening is that the coating will just sit on top of it.

Professionals recommend that you use a water-based coating instead. By doing so, the wood won't react negatively to it.

How To Remove Tacky Deck Stains

Spacious walkout deck

Now that we know the common reasons for having a sticky and tacky deck, we will discuss the different methods to remove the stains that come with it.

Knowing how to remove tacky deck stains is imperative since you can't simply apply another coating to hide the previous result. 

Use Mineral Spirits

The best way to remove excess stain or any stickiness from the deck is by using a mineral spirit. Simply soak a piece of cloth or a rag into mineral spirits before applying it to the affected areas. Make sure to only scrub down the areas that are sticky and darker than the rest.

Do this procedure gently to avoid removing too much of the stain. Then, let it dry. Also, don't coat or stain these areas once again, as the wood has already absorbed as much as it could. Wait for a few months before reapplying the stain to the spots.

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Use Sanding Paper

Hand sanding wooden pallet with sandpaper.

If you plan on using sandpaper to remove the sticky areas, start with 60-grit sandpaper. This ensures an easier time in removing the majority of the stain.

Then, go up to 240-grit sandpaper to finish the deck. This will help smoothen the affected areas. Afterward, lightly scrub the area with a cloth dipped in mineral spirits to achieve a clean look before coating it.

How To Avoid Having A Sticky And Tacky Deck

We will discuss the ways to avoid a sticky and tacky deck. As such, these preparations are a must no matter what. By doing so before staining your deck, you can ensure that your project will succeed.

Oiling the deck

Smoothen The Deck

Before applying any coating, make sure that the deck itself is free and clean from any dirt and debris. As such, the deck must be free from paint that's flaking off, stains caused by dirt, and moss that's growing in various places, among others.

The best way to clean your deck from these elements is by using a power washer. Afterward, give ample time to let the deck dry off completely. Around six hours should be enough.

Check The Weather

Hot weather can cause your deck to become sticky and tacky after applying a coating of wood stain or decking oil. As such, it's important to check the weather before attempting a deck project at home.

Remember, weather that's too cold will make it hard for the coating to dry. On the contrary, weather that's too hot could immediately dry the coating, leaving behind sticky patches.

The best way is by applying the wood stain or decking oil under the shade. Professionals recommend an outside temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Always Use A Primer

One of the things that a lot of beginner homeowners overlook is using a primer. By applying a primer, you improve the overall adhesion of the coating with the deck surface. In short, it produces a less sticky and tacky deck.

Of course, any kind of primer won't do. It's best to use a high-quality one to achieve the desired results.

In Closing

A sticky and tacky deck arises from not wiping off the excess wood stain or decking oil after application. It could also be due to the hot weather causing the wood stain or decking oil to dry up far too quickly.

And in some cases, exotic woods that make up the deck may not be compatible with the wood stain or decking oil you tried to apply.

If you found this article helpful, check the links below. They provide more related information. So, if you wish to know more about decks, give these a read:

How Long Does It Take To Refinish A Deck?

How To Repair And Smooth A Splintered Wood Deck