How to make latex paint less sticky?
January 18, 2007 6:37 AM   Subscribe

I painted my workbench using acrylic latex paint. It's smooth to the touch (been dry for a week), but anything that comes into contact with the benchtop for more than a couple minutes adheres to it. Removal of the object in contact results in tearing off of paint. Is there anything I can do to make the paint less sticky, or is the stickiness something that will wear off over time?
posted by Ziggy Zaga to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What temperature is the room where the workbench is at? Those paints need time to cure, preferably over 75 degrees.
posted by matty at 6:51 AM on January 18, 2007

Best answer: When I've had this problem in the past, I solved it by covering it with a layer of clear varnish.
posted by drezdn at 7:13 AM on January 18, 2007

This doesn't sound like the problem is the paint being too sticky, it sounds like the problem is that the paint isn't sticking to the surface it was painted on, which in turn is a problem of inadequate preparation of the surface.

Was the workbench wood or something slick like melamine? Did you prep it? Prime it?
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:16 AM on January 18, 2007

Latex paints dry sooooo slowly. You don't notice it so much on a wall, but I have had bookcases (properly primed) take months to really harden.
posted by LarryC at 7:30 AM on January 18, 2007

The behaviour you are describing is called "blocking" and is a known issue with latex paints. For years, that is why windows and doors were painted with oil-based paints but now there are latex paints with good blocking resistance on the market. Sherwin-Williams has a page on the problem here. This page suggests talcum powder.
posted by TedW at 8:14 AM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: matty - celsius or fahrenheit? it's been sitting at room temperature the whole time.

drezdn - thanks for the tip. i will try that on a piece of scrap and see if it makes a difference in my case.

randlepatrickmcmurphy - it's pine plywood; it was sanded twice and primed with two layers of interior-grade latex primer. then two coats of interior-grade latex paint were applied.

larryc - that's what i was thinking; thanks.

tedw - thanks for the nomenclature and potential solution. unfortunately i plan to have a computer sitting on the benchtop and i fear the powder would make a mess of things :\
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:11 AM on January 18, 2007

Best answer: The four layers there could be contributing to the slow drying. I would agree that a layer of clear varnish or poly should fix it, if a glossy look is OK.
posted by beagle at 9:24 AM on January 18, 2007

Best answer: Latex paint is the wrong type of paint to use on workbenches. Even once it dries, it won't stand up that well.

I did my workbench with 2 coats of varathane. If I wanted a colour, I'd opt for an opaque deck stain, or an enamel.

You may have luck with some sort of top-coat, but I suspect that with so many "soft" layers already, you will still see the surface degrade and chip quickly.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:17 AM on January 18, 2007

Go back to the paint store. Tell them you want to paint some bookshelves with latex. There's an additive they put in the paint to make it dry faster/better for that application. Put on one more coat using that special mix they give you.
posted by jdfan at 12:51 PM on January 18, 2007

Consumer reports recently addressed paint in one of their articles. One of the criteria was the tackiness (har, har) of the paint. I would suggest looking at that article for paints that are less sticky.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:57 PM on January 18, 2007

Best answer: Let me first say that most of my experience with paint is as an art material.

Do not varnish until the paint has time to completely dry. This can take several weeks for acrylic paint. Varnishing early will be a short term solution but can trap the last remnants of moisture in the paint in spite of it appearing dry. This will lower the longevity of the painted surface. Second acrylic and latex paints never loose all of their tackyness. In particular a painted surface in contact with another painted surface will tend to stick. Once a good month has passed a coat of varnish will resolve this problem.
posted by subtle_squid at 2:15 PM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: i wish i had read subtle_squid's advice before i went ahead and slapped a coat of varnish on it. oh well.

varnish made the finish look absolutely stunning, and it did solve the problem of it being sticky. i suppose if the paint job starts deteriorating i'll bust out the power sander and try things in s_s's methodical way.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:54 PM on January 18, 2007

U need to let the Latex paint cure completely, this could take several weeks, even with additional additives.

If U put a coat of clear varnish over it, make sure you use a latex one as they are clear (goes on like milk and dries clear). Test any latex varnishes or polyurethanes on a discrete area and let it dry as sometimes there may be a reaction (yellow blotches) between the paint & the varnish.

Don't use an oil based varnish as it will look yellowish and cause the paint to yellow.
posted by zaphod at 7:26 PM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: Well Artful Codger was right; the soft paint has started to come off in clumps on some of the higher-use areas of the bench.

Lessons learned...
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 4:59 PM on November 2, 2007

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