I coated a bare wood acacia table for a computer desk with Minwax polycrylic about 4 months ago and made sure it was dried the recommended 24 hours before regular use. 4 months later, I noticed the edge where I rest my arms was getting sticky and peeling off. I thought it was just grime from my hands or something, then I realized it was a rubbery substance. I scraped it a bit and I could see the bare wood beneath. It was all sticky and rubbing off, and becoming a lint trap. Is this normal that Minwax polycrylic does not tolerate regular human body contact? I would not expect regular body temperature to be "high heat". Or did I do something wrong? Is the deterioration caused by heat or oil? Also, would the stickyness disappear and the finish solidify again if I stop using it?

I am intending to sand off the rubbery section and re-finishing the area. Is it okay to put the new layers of finish over some thin layer of residue? Will it bind? Also buying a desk mat to protect the surface.

  • 3
    24 hours is really the absolute minimum 'drying' time for a finish like this. Ideally you'd want to wait about a week and maybe two before subjecting it to normal use, especially if consistent use is the norm. "Is this normal that Minwax polycrylic does not tolerate regular human body contact?" Unfortunately the finish type isn't really known for being great in this regard, but additionally Minwax products are often noted for being the worst performers on the market from the 'big names'. As a broad recommendation you'll do better going with something from General Finishes.
    – Graphus
    Jul 10, 2020 at 12:22
  • If nobody else provides a good, comprehensive, Answer for you in the next day or so I'll add one that touches on all your points.
    – Graphus
    Jul 10, 2020 at 12:23
  • @Graphus I guess it could be I didn't let it cure for 21 days like I read on general finishes website. I am going to re-apply after sanding off completely the edge, let it dry for one or two days, then cover it with a desk mat, it should still dry properly right? Although probably slower.
    – Dobob
    Jul 10, 2020 at 19:51
  • 1
    You probably won't be able to do a spot-refinish that you'll be happy with using a product such as this. The edges are nearly impossible to get looking right, even if you feather them by sanding and then carefully apply the new finish. In general when there is finish loss like this you want to strip and refinish from scratch.
    – Graphus
    Jul 11, 2020 at 9:54
  • 1
    "let it dry for one or two days, then cover it with a desk mat, it should still dry properly right?" It will very likely stick to the finish underneath. It should be dry enough after 2 days to be considered dry, but dry and cured are very different states. Basically the finish can't be considered as hardened, not sticky/sensitive to cling, until full cure has been achieved, which takes a good two weeks at minimum.
    – Graphus
    Jul 11, 2020 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


I have used Minwax's polycrylic on many bookcases and small desks. Never had any problem. About 8 years ago I refinished a maple dining table. It has gotten progressively more, and more sticky in that time. Now, even paper napkins and newspaper stick to it, ripping apart if you pick them up. At some locations, the stuff has totally been rubbed off and bare wood is exposed.

A woman that does a lot of furniture refurbishing told me she has seen "bad batches" of polycrylic that won't harden. I am about to strip it and try again; I am not sure I want to risk using the same product again.

  • I share your concern about using this again. A general point I want to mention, Minwax is literally considered bottom of barrel in finishing circles, despite how well it sells. It's made for, marketed to and positioned for homeowner use and it's widely held that if you want better products, with greater reliability of consistency, you should look elsewhere. If you're in the US or Canada you're lucky, since there are at least 3 or 4 competitors of much higher note whose products won't break the bank.
    – Graphus
    Jun 24, 2021 at 19:07

For oily woods like maple, apply a good coat of shellac and let it dry for a week. Then apply the polyurathane or polyacrylic over the shellac. The reason: the PU/PA finishes bond with the oils of the wood and form a substance that never dries. The shellac doesn't bond with the wood oils, just forms a dry seal coat over the wood/oil surface. You'll end with a beautiful durable hard coat surface on you butcher block. If you apply PA or PU directly to maple butcher block, you get a permanent sticky mess.

  • 1
    Maple, oily? The OP's question isn't about maple anyway, nor is it about the Polycrilic drying sticky, as they clearly describe it became sticky with use in the areas they touched the most.
    – Graphus
    Aug 3, 2023 at 1:04

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