Why Is Your Deck Still Sticky After Painting?


Painting your deck can bring a lot of colour to your outdoor living space. Depending on the paint, it can also add traction to your otherwise slippery deck. However, after completing such a project, many people are left wondering, “why is my deck sticky after painting?”

There are a few reasons your deck is still sticky after painting. Most often, it is due to humidity, not using a primer, or not waiting long enough between coats. Luckily, there are multiple ways to prevent and fix sticky deck paint. 

When you choose to paint your deck is a key determining factor to avoiding sticky paint. If you already have a sticky deck, no worries. There are a few ways to speed up the drying process. Read on to find out the optimal time and method to paint your deck, as well as a few ways to get rid of that sticky feeling. 

How To Avoid Sticky Deck Paint

Even if you are painting your deck for traction, no one wants it to be sticky. This stickiness can last for what feels like forever if you do not paint in the optimal conditions. 

As a general rule, you should paint when the temperature outside is between 60° and 85°F with humidity in the range of 40% to 70% to avoid sticky deck paint. How you prepare the deck and the time you wait between coats will also affect the outcome. 

Be Sure to Smooth Your Deck Before Painting

You can’t just walk out to your deck and start painting. You need to thoroughly clean the deck to remove all:

  • Dirt
  • Flaky paint
  • Moss

If you use a power washer to do this, be sure to allow ample time for the deck to re-dry before painting. Usually, anywhere from 4-8 hours will suffice. 

The deck needs to be as clean and dry as possible to ensure a good bond between the paint and the deck. If that bond isn’t there, the paint will pool instead of bond and become sticky. 

Check The Weather to Avoid Sticky Paint

Most people know that you shouldn’t paint your deck when it is cold outside because you need heat to dry the paint. However, you also shouldn’t paint when it is too hot out because this will cause your paint to dry unevenly. Instead, wait for the optimal range we listed above to have a smooth, sticky-free finish. 

Humidity will also affect the drying time of your paint. The more humid the air, the less water it can absorb from the paint. As a result, it takes longer to dry. The longer paint takes to dry, the longer it will be sticky. 

Always Use a Primer When Painting Your Deck

Not only should you use a primer, but it should be a high-quality one. A primer’s job is to seal the deck surface and improve the adhesion of the paint. By using a low-quality primer or not using one at all, you are increasing your chances of having a sticky deck. This is because the paint is less likely to bond strongly to the deck. 

Allow Your Paint to Dry Between Coatings

Even with the perfect temperature and a correctly prepared surface, you can still end up with a sticky deck if you don’t wait long enough between coatings. By not allowing the first coat to dry completely, you are increasing the drying time of the second coat. The longer it takes the second coat to dry, the more difficult it becomes for the deck to become thoroughly dry. 

You should wait at least 4-8 hours between coats to avoid having a sticky deck. It is always good to error on the side of more hours rather than less. It is worth waiting a couple of extra hours between coats than dealing with a sticky deck after you finish. 

How Long Will Your Deck Be Sticky?

How long your deck will be sticky is an unknown variable. It can be anywhere from a couple of days to a few years because each deck is different. If the stickiness is due to humidity, it could dry once the weather breaks. If it is because you did not use a primer, the effects could last much longer. That is why it is key to ensure all aspects of your painting project are optimal for drying. 

How To Make Sticky Paint Dry Faster

If you have read this article too late and already have a sticky deck outside your door, no need to panic. There are a few things you can do to speed up the drying process of your deck. 

Talcum Powder Helps with Sticky Paint

A trick many painters use to get rid of sticky surfaces is talcum powder. Apply a small amount of talcum powder to the sticky surface and lightly rub it in with your hand. Once the paint no longer feels tacky, you are all set.

Be sure not to screw up your paint job though. Test out in a corner whether the talcum powder will work well for you before coating your whole deck with it. Better to have a small corner messed up rather than your entire deck. 

Use Auto Wax on Your Sticky Deck

Another common trick is to apply a thin layer of auto wax with a cloth over the sticky paint in a circular motion (like you would with your car). Make sure the wax is clear and evenly applied. Then wait for about 15 minutes before using a buffing cloth to remove the wax. 

Again, be sure to test this method in a corner to start before committing to your entire deck. 

Repaint Your Sticky Deck

If you have the time and money, you can always start over. Use a paint stripper and start removing the sticky paint. Once it is all removed, make sure you go through all the tips we listed above for optimal paint drying and begin again. For many, this is not optimal, but it is a way to ensure your deck does not stay sticky forever. 

Avoiding A Sticky Deck

Although there are a few ways to fix a sticky paint job, the easiest is to avoid the situation altogether. Take the time to ensure the weather is optimal and that you have thoroughly prepared your deck before starting your paint job. If you do that, you will never have to deal with a sticky deck again! 

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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