Painting Interior Woodwork & Metal

Tacky Satinwood

Hi, I painted some interior doors well over a month ago now with Dulux Quick Dry Satinwood and all the doors along the edges close to door handle are slightly tacky.

The edges aren’t tacky further up or on the rest of the doors so I’m baffled as to why they are like this and what I do to correct the problem?

Can you also recommend a better satinwood, I don’t reckon much to this one.


It is normal for areas around door handles to accumulate a lot of oil and grease which contaminates the surface. This should be removed prior to painting but often isn’t, hence the problems you’re experiencing.

Water based paints, such as the one you’ve used, are OK but only if the surface has been thoroughly prepared beforehand.

Oil-based paints take longer to dry and are less pleasant to use but you can sometimes ‘get-away’ without doing so much preparation since they are less likely to react with minor contamination such as oil and grease around door handles.

You’ll need to remove the affected paint (pure alcohol or ammonia tends to work best on water-based paints), then rub down and start again – making sure any surface contamination has been removed.

A quick wipe with white spirit followed by a wash-down with a sugar soap solution and then a rinse with warm, clean water should do the trick. Don’t use washing up liquid or household cleaner because they’ll leave a residue which only causes more problems.


Susan – Hello I have stair handrail that’s light oak stained & varnished but I want to paint it with white gloss, so do I have to sand & undercoat it first? I’m not sure if you can paint stained wood, I would be grateful for your advice thank you. READ MORE…

The process for painting a stained handrail is quite labour intensive since they are often varnished and need thorough cleaning before any paint is applied. Preparation is, therefore, essential – otherwise you are best not bothering since the paint will scratch and peel-off over time.

  • Ideally, remove the varnish coating with a chemical paint stripper, wash down and rub-down to bare smooth wood. Then prime and paint as normal.
  • Not ideally, wash down the surface with a sugar soap solution, rinse off and sand down the surface so most of the shine is removed.
  • Apply one or two coats of adhesive/stain blocking primer such as Zinsser Bulls-Eye 123.
  • Most stains are spirit based and this will stop the colour bleeding through but some times a water-based stain is used and you may still see a bit of discolouration. In which case an oil-based undercoat will stop this.
  • Paint as normal with undercoat and gloss or at least two coats of your chosen alternative.
  • If you use a water-based finish it can take weeks for the surface to fully harden – so you should avoid any abrasion for as long as possible.

Sandra – I am repairing an interior window sill which due to window condensation has water dripping down onto it in the corners which then cracks. I have scraped and sanded all the cracks, treated with Zinsser Peel Stop, filled them and will sand again then prime with Zinsser 123. I need my top coat to be moisture resistant and to not crack so thinking gloss? Oil or water based and best one to buy as I hope this will last years as the prep is taking ages. READ MORE…

Water-based finishes tend to be more flexible but, as always, your top coat is only as good as what is underneath it. Based on what you say, I’m not sure it’s going to make much difference either way?

Solve the condensation problem, which I know is easier said than done, or accept that regular maintenance is the only way you’re going to keep on top of this problem.

Susan – I would just like to know when repainting a gloss door after rubbing down with sandpaper do I have to apply under coat before painting gloss again? READ MORE…

With a traditional oil/solvent-based gloss, yes, because there is very little pigment and you’ll find it difficult to cover and to get a decent finish.

With water-based (quick-drying) paints there is generally a higher pigment content and you may be able to get a decent result. You may have to give it two coats though but you’re not risking anything by trying. Obviously, if you’re changing colours, you’ll always need an undercoat regardless.

Stephen – I gloss painted my interior doors a week ago & when we open & shut the doors they stick, also I painted fire surround with the same paint and when my wife picks up ornaments they feel like they stick a bit. Does this mean the new tin of paint I used was no good? READ MORE…

Not necessarily, paint can take a few weeks to fully harden. Manufacturers should make this more clear, I will concede.

Mike – I have a room painted in egg shell and want to repaint with emulsion. I’m concerned the emulsion won’t absorb and will sit on the egg shell. What’s the solution? Sand down? or is there a primer or initial coat of something I can apply before the emulsion? READ MORE…

Yes Mike, lightly sand down the surface and use an adhesive primer such water-based (labelled as quick-drying) acrylic prime/undercoat. A specialist primer such as Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 would be ideal but may be costly if it’s a big area?

Diane – Hi, I’ve just painted a skirting board with Dulux Once Gloss Paint. It needed a second coat so I left it for 24 hours before applying the second coat (the tin said 16 hours between coats). While I was painting the second coat, there was one area where the underneath started wrinkling and it’s left a right mess in just a very small area. The first coat was obviously not quite dry. Is there any way that I can rectify this one area without having to repaint the whole lot? If not, how long do I leave it before I have to sand the whole lot off? Any hints and tips would be gratefully received. READ MORE…

Sounds like there was a bit of contamination on that area (a bit of grease, furniture polish, etc) which has impeded the drying process.

For a small area you should be able to lightly rub-down the affected area and touch up but for a large are you may well have to re-do the entire length of skirting.

The problem with one-coat paints is that the film can be quite thick and will take a long time to fully harden (or cure) even though the surface appears dry.

I would leave it as long as possible to allow the affected area to cure ( a week at least) otherwise it could get a bit messy. If, however, the paint is still soft I would try and wipe off as much as you can with a cloth and a bit of *white spirit before attempting to re-paint. This should also remove any remaining grease or dirt that caused the issue to begin with.

*Assuming this was a solvent based paint. If it was water-based then substitute white spirit for warm water.

Sheila – Could you please recommend a good (but not too expensive, preferably) white paint for radiators? The radiators are only a few years old. There’s no rust I can see. They just look a wee bit dingy. To be honest they were never brilliant white in the first place but next to the newly painted woodwork, they now look kinda grotty. They have never been painted before. Any suggestions you may have would be great. READ MORE…

There are a few DIY products available which are called ‘radiator paint’ but the results are often quite disappointing.

You can use ordinary oil-based undercoat and gloss; the result should be acceptable although the finish will diminish over time so you’ll need to re-do whenever you redecorate.

Sheila – Thanks for that Darren. Would there be any particular brand of paint I should use to prevent yellowing too quickly, or any other tips to make a decent job of it please? Your advice would be very much appreciated. READ MORE…

Oil base paints of today tend to yellow more rapidly because of legislation regarding the ingredients they use in production. The only thing you can do is to use the best quality you can afford and/or instead of using a gloss opt for a satin or eggshell finish since they have a lower resin content and do not yellow so readily. Just make sure they are oil-based and not water based (often labelled as quick-drying).

Paul – I have a wall mounted laminated fireglow fireplace that has faded from white to a horrible cream over time. I’m looking for advice to paint this back to its former glory. READ MORE…

Oil and solvent based paints do tend to yellow over time and the usual remedy is to use a water-based paint instead. However, for a fireplace this may not be possible since you also need to use a heat-resistant coating and these are usually solvent based.

I would, therefore, suggest using the best quality heat-resistant enamel you can (in other words, usually the most expensive) because the quality of the resin and pigments will help ensure the yellowing process is less prevalent than with cheaper alternatives.

Linda – I have painted an undercoated new pine wooden steps with a green gloss oil based paint and after 3 days it is still tacky. I have used different colours from the same make and they have dried within 18 hrs. Can you tell me if the paint is ‘off’, as it has been in storage, but unopened for 2 years, as indeed had the other colours. READ MORE…

When paint is stored for a long time it will separate into its component parts and needs a very good stir (much more than you might imagine). It’s also possible the surface of the steps were not thoroughly cleaned beforehand. It could also be a combination of both?

It’s going to be a messy job but if you wipe the steps with a cloth dipped in white spirits you should be able to remove most of the affected paint, leave to dry and start again making sure the paint is thoroughly stirred first.

Lucy – Hi,I’m stripping my stairs but when I think I’ve lifted all the paint there’s a weird soft residue that’s really hard to get off? It goes all gooey and spreads. READ MORE…

It could be resin that’s seeping out from the wood or some other kind of contamination. Either way, you can usually remove it with white spirit. It will take a few attempts but perseverance is the key.

Stripping paint is often a very messy job, as you have found out.

Lucy – We had our woodwork repainted with crown satin wood and have been left with patches of tacky paint that over the years had started to peel. We assumed the problem was with the crown paint but now wondering if it’s due to the original oil based gloss not being rubbed down properly. Is this a hazard when using satinwood over previous gloss work? READ MORE…

Yes, it’s very likely the previous surface wasn’t properly prepared. The smallest amount of greasy residue will prevent any further coats of paint from drying and adhering properly.

Ideally, surfaces should be washed down with a sugar soap solution and rinsed with clean, warm water. Then, when dried, properly rubbed down with fine sandpaper to provide a key.

You may find that much of the paint surface remains intact and it only peels off where there was previous contamination of grease? Certainly remove as much as you can before re-painting.

Kevin – We have dark stained wooden beams from 1970s. I would like to paint them white but need advice on what to use and how to do it please. READ MORE…

It depends what kind of finish you want Karen. Normally, I would would use a primer which is the opposite of the finish I am using.

So, for example, if I was using an oil-based finish I would use a water based primer – or visa versa.

Julia – Hi, I’m looking for some advice about my banister, it had varnish on top and I used B&Q wood paint about 1 year ago but over time it peels off when scraped with a nail or something sharp, I’m looking to paint over it and was wondering if I need to strip the old paint or just sand it as I’m looking opt paint it a similar colour. READ MORE…

The reason the paint is peeling is likely a combination of surface condemnation and lack of preparation. Handrails, by their nature, have a lot of hand contact which transfers oil and grease to the surface. This needs to be thoroughly removed before any paint will adhere successfully to the surface.

Another problem is that varnish is notoriously difficult to paint over and needs much more rubbing down than would a conventional paint finish. Ideally, the varnish should be completely removed first.

However, you are where you are and nothing you do now, short of removing all the paint/varnish and starting from scratch, will rectify the problem. Any paint coating is only as good as the surface it is applied to.

Paint does harden over time though and you may have seen the worst of the problem, painting over it won’t make the situation any worse. It may mean you have to touch up now and again though.

Lucy – Thanks for your speedy reply Darren. Originally we thought it was a problem with the crown paint and even found a lot of complaints on the internet from various customers suffering the same problem but a neighbour suggested it may have been where our decorators hadn’t prepared the surface properly. Do we have any recourse? We paid a lot of money to have it done and can’t afford to pay again. When we originally reported the problem to the decorator they were baffled as to why it wasn’t happening other than suggesting that perhaps it was our children touching the paint with sticky/dirty hands! I pointed out that the problem areas were so random and not generally consistent with where the kids touch the woodwork most. Thanks again. READ MORE…

Lack of correct preparation is at the root of most such problems because the affects are often only apparent a long time after the work has been completed. The explanation your decorator has put forward is beyond ridiculous and merely demonstrates that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

In the first instance I would take photographs of the worst affected areas and write to your decorator (with copies) explaining you are not satisfied the work has been carried out properly. Set a time limit for him to reply and to either offer to put the work right or to compensate you so you can arrange for someone else to do it.

Kevin – Hi, I have a new flat which was decorated throughout and then new carpets fitted. Although I haven’t seen it yet I’m told there is a tide line caused by the new carpet on the stairs being lower than the old carpet. How can I remedy this without getting paint on the new carpet? READ MORE…

Use a good quality masking tape, 2-inch wide ideally. Press down as you apply and take time to ensure you get right to the edge.

Paint down to the level of the tape and although you can touch it with the paint, try not to as you want the least amount of paint gathering around the margins. The best way to do it is to imagine the masking tape isn’t there at all. You don’t have to paint the entire string, just enough to cover the line.

If the line is quite distinct you may need more than one coat to get a good result. For best results, use a quick-drying (water based) undercoat first.

Allow 48 hours to ensure the paint has fully dried and remove the tape. Be careful though and only remove small lengths at a time.

It takes a bit of confidence, more than anything, so try a small area first.

LIz – Hi I want to paint my stairs in multi colours – can you recommend the best way to do that? Use a non slip varnish over the colour?? Thanks for any help! READ MORE…

Darren – Just be aware that if you use a solvent based (oil-based) paint on the stairs it will take a while to fully harden so you’ll need to avoid walking on the stairs for a couple of weeks to avoid spoiling the finish. You’ll also need to take this into account when applying a protective coating and, also, the potential that it may not be compatible with the paint you’ve chosen. In which case, you are advised to do a small test area first just in case there is a problem.

Obviously, it may not be practical to avoid using the stairs at all for such a length of time but the more you can plan around this issue the better.