Sticky Wood Table

About three years ago we moved across the country settling in the good, ole corn fed Midwest.  In our move our kitchen table, that I adore, got pretty jacked in transit leaving it looking like this…

So eventually I got around to refinishing it.  I stripped it down to bare wood, used a pre-wood conditioner, and then restained it with Minwax Stain in an English Chestnut color.  Then I used Minwax’s Water-Based Polycrylic.

BAD CHOICE!  For any furniture that gets as much use and abuse as a kitchen table an oil-based poly is a much better choice.  Although both give you a nice hard coat, the water-based polys are more susceptible of reacting with water (i.e. water stains).  So this is much better for this type of project.

Another crucial mistake I made is using any old cleaner to clean my refinished table.  409, wood polish, Lysol, anti-bacterial wipes…they have all seen this surface.  NEVER, EVER, NEVEREVER USE a wax-based product with a piece of furniture you have refinished with a poly.  Because of my inattention and lack of research in regards to the cleaner I used my table got a sticky and tacky residue on it.  It was so embarrassing when guests would come to my house and stick to my table.  As much as I cleaned it nothing would work once it had that wax build up.  The only option was to recoat it.

I called the nice people at Minwax. if you ever have a stain/poly question don’t hesitate to call them at 800-523-9299. I talked to a representative named Ily who was super helpful walking me through the steps to make my table beautiful again.  If you have a sticky problem here is what you need to do.

1.  Wipe your table down with 100% mineral spirits (do not get the odorless kind). 

2.  Then sand your table down.  I did 150 grit first, then 180 and finished with 220.  You just want to rough it up to give the top coat a little adhesion.  There was no need to go down to bare wood since the table was in good condition.  I just wanted to remove a little of the residued (yes, I made up my own word) top coat.

3.  I removed all the dust and then applied a thin coat of Fast Drying Oil Based Polyurethane by Minwax with a quality Purdy brush.  I gave it three coats sanding with 220 grit in between (after proper dry time).  Ily told me to tell you all “THIN IS IN WITH POLY.”  Thicker is not better.  The durability is in applying it thin.  She also said to use no more than three coats.

Now remember…although it will be dry and ready to use in 24 hours it takes a full 21 days to cure.  So be careful with very hot or cold items and standing water.

To clean the proper way once refinished:

Ily said just to use a teeny tiny bit of dish soap (like Dawn) and a wet rag to clean it,  then wipe it with a dry cloth.  Every couple of months use a hard wood cleaner.  She said it was light enough to use daily but soap works just as well too.

So here she is drying…she feels so smooth again…like a baby’s butt! 

 Minwax did not pay me for this post nor give me any product, this is solely my opinion on my experience with.  I just like to talk about products and companies that I can stand behind.

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Awesome tips Beckie, definitely one to bookmark ! Those peeps over at Minwax are just so nice !


My table is in such awful shape. My husband says he wants to refinish it but I almost just want a new one since I've had it for over 12 years. I'm tired of it & ready for a new one. If you lived closer I'd leave it out on garbage day for you so you could work your magic on it! LOL! :-)

Thank you for your tips today. Good to know that someone does their research. Dish soap, use it on my floors and my tables.

Ah the sticky mystery is solved. I have the same problem. So if I want to go back to the wood. Just sand more? Then restain/refinish?

BLESS YOU! This post was as a Gosh send! I am in the process of refinishing my kitchen table. It is the exact same table that you have–no kidding! I just finished sanding down my table top and and chair tops to the bare wood. (My kids have thrashed them and I want to change the stain color). Now I now exactly how to finish my project and take care of it after! I can't thank you, Min Wax, and that nice lady from Minwax that you talked to enough!

I have the same table and mine has mod podge all over it from my projects. I'll be refinishing mine very soon. Thanks for the tips!

Thank you for posting this! My kitchen table is just over 2 years old and has the same problem. Like you, I just did it myself by cleaning it with the wrong things. I am totally saving this post for when we refinish the table this Fall (when it's cooler outside).