How To Fix Sticky Painted Cabinets? [Give Your Cabinets The Perfect Look]




Basically, I am a professional. But once I was busy, so, I decided to get my kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets painted by hiring experts. You won’t believe it! The transformation I got was really horrible!

Sticky painted cabinets! So frustrating! I was mad! Just because I already knew how to fix sticky painted cabinets, I could fix the issue.

Fix Sticky Painted Cabinets

But yes, I must say, the result I brought out was genuinely impressive. Oh hey! Do you wanna know how I did that? Well, the process is kind of big but let me tell you short first!

I went like this-

To fix the sticky painted cabinets, first, I cleaned the cabinets and cabinet doors with mild, soapy water and lightly sanded them. Then I applied primer on the entire cabinets as it helps to set the paint properly, I applied coats of paint and let the cabinets dry properly before start using them.

Sounds easy, right? But wait, don’t you want to know about it in detail? Let’s read ahead and learn the process in detail!

An overview of the project-

Estimated CostEstimated DurationSkill Level
$10024 hoursBeginner

Some main facts-

  • All kinds of paints are not suitable for cabinets.
  • Imbalance or extreme humidity levels can cause sticky painted cabinets.
  • One can use a sealant like polyurethane to make cabinets non-sticky.

Why Do Painted Cabinets Feel Sticky?

Did you ever wonder, why are my newly painted cabinets sticky? Well, people with the problem of sticky painted cabinets often think about it!

Actually, there are a few reasons behind it. After seeing my sticky painted cabinets, I observed my cabinets really well and found out all the possible reasons for this issue. Such as;

Why Do Painted Cabinets Feel Sticky

Carelessness About The Drying Process

Probably, the paint was not perfectly cured. Actually, if you apply a thick coat of paint and don’t let it dry properly before applying more coats of paint and start using them, it will bring you a sticky surface. Therefore, giving importance to the drying process is really crucial. This may also cause chipped melamine cabinets. 

Not Using  A Primer

Actually, it is a good practice and wise decision to apply primer on the wooden pieces to get a smooth finish. Besides, primer helps the paint to adhere to the surface really well.

So, if you apply primer before applying the paint and give it enough time to set, you are about to get a smooth surface and a better outcome so far.

Avoiding Cleaning The Cabinets

Did you ever know that cleaning the cabinets before you start the process of painting is necessary?

However, the truth is, it is necessary! When one sands the cabinets to remove the old finish, they get really messy, and dust and debris take place on the surface.

In such a situation, without cleaning the cabinets and removing the dust and debris, if you apply paint, you are definitely getting sticky painted cabinets.

So, why is my paint sticky after drying? Probably, this is the reason behind it.

Imbalanced Humidity Level

Actually, this is really important to maintain the humidity level of the cabinet room. Why is that so? Just like it can cause twisted cabinet doors,

It can cause sticky paint, too. An imbalanced humidity level and exposure to humid environments can easily cause the paint to absorb moisture and become sticky.

Using Wrong Types Of Paints Or Low-Quality Paints

You won’t believe that an appropriate layer of paint and the right paint job can change the entire game.

Basically, to gain the best result and smooth finish look you definitely need to use the right type of paint and avoid cheap paints.

If you are wondering why that is, you definitely need to know that your wooden piece needs the right type of paint to glow in the right way. 

Besides, cheap paints contain really low-quality ingredients and inappropriate drying agents and it can cause poor adhesion and take a longer dry time. As a result, you may get a sticky finish.

It can also cause paint chips on cabinets and this is really important to fix paint chips on cabinets for the betterment.

How Do You Clean Sticky Painted Cabinets?

Actually, when you are about to fix the sticky painted cabinets, the first thing that you need to do is to clean the cabinets really perfectly.

So the question that is coming out is, how to clean sticky painted cabients? Right? You might be thinking about it.

Remember one thing, cleaning the cabinets is really important to gain a smooth finish look.

Well, you can go like this and clean the cabinets!

Prepare A Cleaning Solution
Get a mild soap such as dish soap and mix it with warm water really well. Tada! Your cleaning solution is absolutely ready to rock.
Make The Cabinets Empty
Remove all the items or objects from the cabinets. Put out the items from the cabinet storage. Also, remove all the items from the drawers as well. However, this step is crucial when fixing metal file cabinet drawers.
Wipe Down The Cabinets
Now, take a soft cloth or sponge, dip it into the cleaning solution, and clean the sticky painted area gently. Make sure you are cleaning all the sticky spots really well but don’t think of being aggressive 
Rinse With Clean Water
Now, take another soft cloth, dip it into the clean water, and wipe off the cleaning solution. After cleaning, check with your hand if the solution has totally rinsed off or not.
Clean With Dry Cloth
In order to make the cabinets dry, with a clean dry cloth, clean the cabinets and remove the wetness of the surface.
Allow For Air-Drying
Now, leave the cabinets in the open-aired area so that they can get dried naturally completely. After the cabinets dry completely, you can put back the items on the cabinets again.

Look at the transformation of the sticky paint after cleaning the cabinets! Impressive! Isn’t it?

Well, yes! Now you know how to clean sticky painted kitchen cabinets and gain the  best outcome for your cabinets.

How To Fix Sticky Painted Cabinets? [The Proper Guidelines]

Now, it is time to unravel the most awaited step, how to fix sticky paint on wood. I know you might really be impatient to learn the process. Aren’t you? No worries, let’s unravel the entire process. Let’s go!

How To Fix Sticky Painted Cabinets

Sand The Cabinets Lightly

Actually, after cleaning the sticky painted cabinet, the very next step is to sand the cabinets. So, with fine-grit sandpaper, sand the problematic areas very lightly.

Smoothen out the rough and sticky areas by sanding gently. Don’t be aggressive during this step. Otherwise, it will ruin the cabinets and make them rough.

Also, look for any other damage like splits, and fix split wood cabinets by sanding them down for a better result.

Well, here is a piece of advice for you, always sand the cabinets in the same way as the wood grain for the best outcome.

Apply Primer

Do you know, what helps the paint to set or to adhere to the surface really well? It is a primer.

I always say that using a primer on the wood before applying paint is a wise decision. And trust me when I say this!

Therefore, with the help of a paint brush apply a coat of primer on the cabinets evenly. Let the primer dry completely before you move forward to the next step.

In this chance, you can make some changes if needed, such as if any hardware like knobs is missing, you can install cabinet knobs.

Apply Paint

Now, time to finish the process with a simple step. Painting! But do not forget to use matching and appropriate paint to paint your cabinets.

With the help of a paint brush or foam roller, apply a coat of paint on the cabinets. You can apply more coats of paint if needed. But make sure each coat is drying before applying another. Otherwise, you are definitely going to get sticky painted cabinets again.

Now what? Nothing. You are done with fixing the sticky painted cabinets! The result is amazing, right?

But if you are somehow wondering how to fix sticky paint on plastic let me tell you the entire process is actually the same.

However, do you know that you can actually refinish the old wood cabinets the same way? Honestly, you really can!

The Paint On My Brand New Kitchen Cabinets Is CHIPPING! (Q&A)

What Do You Put Over Paint To Make It Not Sticky?

Why do my cabinets feel sticky after painting them? Actually, you can put a coat of sealant to avoid the stickiness after painting it in a completely right way.

Basically, when you are done with painting, let the cabinets dry completely. It may take a long time, but don’t be impatient during this procedure. Otherwise, you can ruin your hard work in a second just because of a silly mistake.

What Do You Put Over Paint To Make It Not Sticky

When you are so sure that your cabinets have dried completely, apply a thin coat of sealant like polyurethane with a paint brush.

Actually, polyurethane will provide you with a protective layer on your cabinets. It is a really durable, shiny, and smooth finish. It seals the paint in place and reduces the risk of stickiness.

However, polyurethane can protect your cabinets from water damage, moisture, and more.

What Are The Best Types Of Paints For Cabinets To Avoid Stickiness?

Actually, all types of paints are not worthy to be used on cabinets. A wrong type of paint that is not made to be used on cabinets can easily bring you a sticky surface.

So what is the solution?

Basically, using the right paints is the solution. For example;

Types Of PaintsReasons
Acrylic paintDries really quickly, and provides a durable and non-sticky finish.
Alkyd paintsAdhese to the surface really nicely and provides a smooth finish.
Latex paintDries very quickly, is easy to apply, has low odor, and provides a durable, smooth, and non-sticky finish.
Oil-based paintsOil paints are durable, provide a smooth finish, and have a lower risk of stickiness.
Water-based paintDries really quickly, is easy to apply, protects the surface from water and moisture, and reduces the risk of stickiness.

However, here is a piece of advice for you, after using any oil-based paints your paint brushes or other tools may look hard to clean. In such a situation, you can use paint thinners, sleaze oil-based paints, brushes, and other tools.

Specific Products That Can Be Applied To Eliminate Stickiness On Painted Cabinets

Did you know, that there are more products available that can eliminate stickiness on painted cabinets?

For real, there are! Such as;

Polyurethane topcoatSeals the paint, prevents stickiness, and can protect the cabinets from damage.
Shellac sealerProvides a protective layer on the cabinets, reduces the risk of stickiness, and gives a smooth finish look.
Non-yellowing varnishEspecially designed to be used on cabinets and prevent stickiness.
Water-based clear coatSeals the paint, is water and moisture-resistant, and prevents stickiness.

Tips To Prevent Stickiness On Painted Cabinets

Do you know how to make painted cabinets not sticky? Well, many tips can prevent stickiness on painted cabinets.

Sounds really good right?Actually, according to me, if giving a try to some amazing tips can make and keep your cabinets smooth, then why not give them a try?

Tips To Prevent Stickiness On Painted Cabinets
  • Make sure that the cabinets are properly sanded before you apply paint to avoid getting tacky paint for your cabinets.
  • Always use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the cabinets’ sticky painted areas.
  • Do not forget to clean the dust and debris after sanding the cabinets and before applying primer or paint.
  • Always let the cabinets dry completely after applying primer and coats or paints.
  • Actually, for drying the cabinets perfectly, you can follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions for a better result.
  • Always use high-quality paint and paints that are specially designed to be used on cabinets.
  • Control the humidity level of the kitchen or bathroom to avoid getting sticky cabinet surfaces.
  • Try to apply paint on the cabinet evenly to get a smooth finish and avoid getting any brush marks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What Causes Sticky Residue On Kitchen Cabinets?

Actually, sticky residue on kitchen cabinets can be caused by a buildup of grease, cooking oils, residues from cleaning products, and not maintaining an appropriate paint job process.

What Is The Best Cleaner For Sticky Wood Cabinets?

Basically, the best cleaner for sticky wood cabinets is a solution made of a mixture of vinegar and water.

Can Environmental Factors Contribute To The Stickiness Of Painted Cabinets?

Of course, environmental factors like high and imbalanced humidity can contribute to the stickiness of painted cabinets.


How to fix sticky painted cabinets? Easy peasy, right? To be honest, the process is absolutely easy. Besides, with the right techniques and following the proper guidelines you can easily fix your sticky painted cabinets.

Trust me, this process is really tested and honestly gonna work really well.

So, are you ready to gain the best shiny and smooth finishes for your cabinets? Give it a try and enjoy the amazing outcome so far!

Good luck!

If you are interested in more topics like this, stay with- Restore Journey.

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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