Fixing sticky latex paint
September 29, 2008 9:59 PM   Subscribe

A latex-painted dresser's drawers are sticking closed. Is there any hope?

I received an old dresser and I wanted to paint its ratty face red. Under advice from a local paint retailer, and against my better judgement, I painted it with latex paint. Now the gummy surfaces of the drawers and frame are sticking together so violently that pieces of wood are actually coming off! The drawer-faces are made to sit inside of the frame so it is doubly bad. Taking all of the paint off is not an option. The frame is in such bad shape that, without the paint, it looks like hell. I have no designated workspace, so any really nasty chemicals are out. Is there anything that I can do to salvage this dresser?
posted by Foam Pants to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Try using some adhesive felt dots on the corners of the drawers. This should make it close nicely and not stick.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:09 PM on September 29, 2008

Sand the surfaces down, repaint with non latex red paint and coat with graphite.
posted by fshgrl at 10:17 PM on September 29, 2008

Rubbing the sticking areas with a candle or a bar of soap to lubricate it may help, I have done this on sticking drawers but not on painted ones.
posted by tomble at 10:45 PM on September 29, 2008

I have a slightly similar situation with my wood-frame windows when I try to open and close them. I picked up some spray-on silicone lubricant which has helped. It smells workshoppy for a little bit after you spray it, but it goes away pretty quick.

Rubbing a thin layer of wax like tomble suggested should also help, and you're more likely to have candles around than silicone lubricant. I haven't tried this, but from what I've read beeswax is supposed to work better than paraffin.
posted by truex at 11:05 PM on September 29, 2008

You really shouldn't have painted the surfaces that need to slide or butt up to each other. Especially since the drawers close flush with the trim. These are surfaces that would be considered "inside" and left unfinished in many cases.

Best bet is to sand these touching and/or sliding surfaces.

It actually sounds like you may have painted it in place and never allowed these pieces proper drying and curing time. The reason the paint is binding better to the other paint is because it isn't really dry yet.
posted by dhartung at 11:21 PM on September 29, 2008

Fixing sticky drawers

Ugh. Tried opening this comment but got caught two short.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:55 PM on September 29, 2008

Response by poster: The drawers and the frame were painted separately over a month ago. I am afraid any added lubricant like wax or silicone will get on my clothes. Nooooo! Not my preshus clothz! I am pretty sure I will have to sand the drawer sides clean but I don't have that option on the frame. If I sand the inside of the frame clean, you will be able to see it. Also, all of this sanding is taking place in the bedroom so I can't do too much of it. I think I may be screwed. Oh well, at least something's getting some action in the bedroom.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:22 AM on September 30, 2008

You might want to look at this AskMe for more suggestions.
posted by TedW at 4:38 AM on September 30, 2008

Wax won't bother your clothes. Silicone lubricants are a bad idea for this (and even worse for windows) because they are very difficult to completely remove and will make future repaintings a nightmare.

I agree with dhartung that surfaces that slide against each other should not be painted. If you painted the sides of the drawers, that was a bad move. I'm not sure what you mean when you say "If I sand the inside of the frame clean, you will be able to see it" How can you see it if it's inside the dresser and the drawers are closed?
posted by jon1270 at 5:01 AM on September 30, 2008

A layer of UHMW tape on the wear surfaces would both prevent sticking and reduce wear on the wood. You could set the tape back from the edge when installing on the frames so that it wouldn't be visible. Alternately, if there is room, you could use the tape on the drawers and glides on the frames.
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 AM on September 30, 2008

It's not dry yet. Depending upon the paint, some take up to two+ months to fully cure.
posted by unixrat at 8:39 AM on September 30, 2008

Try rubbing a thin dusting of cornstarch or baby powder into the sticky paint- it may "eat up" the stickiness. Even if it fails, neither substance will wreck your clothes.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:54 AM on September 30, 2008

It's not dry yet. Depending upon the paint, some take up to two+ months to fully cure.

Nope. I had this problem, and after about it year it was getting worse and worse. I found that the best solution was to carefully dismantle the dresser and place it in a large dumpster.
posted by Dr. Send at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2008

Response by poster: The drawers float pretty freely inside of the frame. Unless you have the drawers slightly unclosed, the inside of the frame is visible. So, you either have to paint the sides of the drawers or the inside of the frame. I chose the wrong option.

I think I am going to attack this tonight. I also think I might put a clear topcoat on, as suggested in the other AskMe. I am a bit worried that any more coating will start to squeeze the drawers but I suppose the sanding will take some material off.

The lesson I have learned (again) is never use latex paint on furniture. This reminds me of all the bad perms I had in the 90's. It took me about four times to come to the conclusion that all perms were bad, not just the last one I had.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:42 AM on September 30, 2008

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