Protecting your outdoor surfaces from harsh weather elements and water damage can prolong their service life. While at it, using the right product can go a long way in helping boost your home’s curb appeal.

Thompson water seal is one of the products many homeowners use to waterproof and protect their outdoor surfaces from sun exposure. Unfortunately, the protective coat sometimes takes too long to dry.

Read along to learn why you might see Thompson Water Seal oily residue and how to fix the problem.

Why Thompson Water Seal Does not Dry

High humidity or rain can cause the Thompson water seal not to dry in many cases. The sealant may also take longer to dry if you apply it in excess or if the surface already has a previous one coat of sealant on it. You may also notice tackiness on the sealed surface.

The tackiness is likely to be caused if you do not give sufficient drying time or if the weather is too cold to facilitate the drying process.

Common Causes for Thompson Water Seal not Drying

Various reasons can cause Thompson water seal waterproofing stain to remain tacky for longer than expected. This section examines the common culprits to keep an eye out for. 

High humidity levels

High humidity means there is a lot of moisture suspended in the atmosphere. This kind of situation impedes drying by making it difficult for the solvent particles in your sealant to escape into the air.

Notice that drying involves losing the particles of a solvent, such as water, into the air or surrounding environment.

For this change to happen, there must be a significant difference in concentrations of the solvent particles between the two points involved.

In the case of your freshly stained surface, the surrounding air should have a lower concentration of water particles than the wet wood surface for it to dry properly.

However, high moisture means a higher concentration of water particles in the surrounding air, hindering drying.

As a result, you will see your freshly stained surface remain tacky even after a full 24 hours of drying time or longer. 

Read: Can you put Thompson water seal over stain?

Thankfully, the extended drying time will not affect the strength of your sealant. The sealed surface is likely to dry eventually, after two to three days.

However, sometimes it might have sticky residue for an entire week if the humidity is significantly high.

Insufficient drying time 

Manufacturers often indicate the drying time of Thompson’s water seal to be 24 hours. It is important to understand that this length of time is an approximated figure.

Your sealed surface could require more time to dry completely. So, ensure the surface has had sufficient time to dry thoroughly before assuming that something is wrong with the sealant. 

Some users also panic much sooner before the 24 hours actually elapse. This reaction is common among those who skip reading the manufacturer’s instructions on the product container. 

Not all water sealants are created equal. Some will dry sooner than others, depending on the ingredients of the respective products.

Therefore, assuming that one sealant will behave similarly to another could negatively influence your reaction and is not recommended. 

Always read the instructions on each product label to manage your expectations more accurately. Also, ensure you have waited for the maximum possible time before judging the product.

Sealing an already sealed surface 

Like most stains, Thompson’s water seal cures by seeping into the substrate you are sealing. So, to dry thoroughly, some of it will enter the pores on the wood or concrete surface you are sealing.

Unfortunately, an already sealed deck will not have such pores for the Thompson sealer to enter. As a result, it will remain on the surface on top of the previous coat of sealant, and this can cause it to remain tacky.

Sometimes you may not realize that a deck already has a sealant coat if the product is colorless. But such a surface will not take another coat very well.

So if your deck or pavement fails to dry, consider the likelihood that it is already treated with a water sealant.

How to tell if a surface is already sealed 

If you suspect double-coating to be the reason causing the sealant to feel sticky, you can test it to be sure. Drop some little water on a part that you have not treated. 

Observe the water for any bubbles. The material is already treated if you see water bubbles on the deck surface. However, the new sealer coat may never completely dry. Therefore, consider wiping off the tacky sealant and removing any remains with soap and water.

Applying excess sealant 

Too much of the sealant would create a thick layer that does not dry very well. When applying a sealer, you want to keep the coats as thin as possible.

It is better to use multiple thin coats than to use a few thick layers. A thick coat will bubble, often take much longer to dry, and may not provide the desired results. 

If your Thompson water seal layer is still sticky after one full day of waiting, the excess product could be one possible reason for the delay.

If you are unsure whether this might be the cause of your sealant’s delayed drying, consider inspecting your project for puddles of the sealant.

If the stained deck has any such puddles, the chances are that you were a little heavy-handed while applying the product.

Fortunately, this issue is usually easy to resolve. Wipe down the deck surface with a lint-free rag to get rid of the unneeded extra stain sealant.

Unfavorable temperatures 

Temperature is a crucial factor for any drying process. If the weather is too cold, your Thompson water seal layer will just stay there and not dry as it should.

Ideally, the sealant will dry best in temperatures above 50°F. If the thermometer units dip below this level during or soon after application, the deck may stay sticky for longer than 24 hours. 

How Long Does Thompson Water Seal Take To Dry

Thompson Water Seal drying time is approximately 24 hours if the ambient temperatures, humidity, and substrate are optimal.

Ideally, you want a substrate that is dry for it to absorb the sealant better. You also need relatively high temperatures and low humidity to facilitate quicker drying. 

Once the wood surface appears dry, we recommend performing the splash test to determine if it will require an additional coat. To perform this test, pour a little water on the stained deck and observe.

If the deck absorbs the water and gets darker, you’ll know it does not have enough protection against water yet. The whole idea of coating your deck or pavement with Thompson’s water sealer is to make it waterproof.

So, if it still absorbs water, you will need to apply a second coat to ensure maximum waterproofing. 

Note: If you intend to apply latex paint over the layer of Thompson’s water seal, then ensure you do not do it for at least 45 days from the time of sealing.  

Can You Put Two Coats of Thompson’s Water Seal?

A single coat of Thompson’s WaterSeal products is typically all you require for a waterproofing project. However, you can add a second coat if you prefer a darker wood color for your outdoor space.

You could also apply two coats of Thompson’s WaterSeal if the wood still absorbs water after the first coat.

You can always determine if the project requires two coats by performing a splash test after the first coat has dried.

To apply two coats, be sure to allow the first coat to dry before adding the second coat. Typically, you will need to wait for approximately two hours between the coats. Ensure you add the second coat within four hours of applying the first.

How to Fix Thompson Water Seal Problems

Thompson’s waterseal products are reliable for the most part. But when the conditions are unideal, things can go awry.

With this in mind, you can either take precautions to prevent things from going wrong or deal with the situation once it presents itself. 

In any case, here are some of the steps you can take to deal with the problem of the Thompson water sealer not drying. 

Remove the excess product as soon as you notice it. 

One of the common causes of water sealer not drying among first-time DIYers is applying the product in excess. As a result, they end up with the thick sticky residue of the sealant that remains lodged on the deck instead of drying as it should. 

The best solution for this problem is to wipe out the sticky residue immediately after you notice it. Saturate a clean rag with soapy water and use it to wipe down the tacky deck. This action will allow the remaining sealant to dry normally. 

Give your project more drying time—up to a week.  

If the weather is cold or the substrate has moisture, the sealant may require several days to dry completely. 

Your best option in such a case is to be patient and wait up to a week for the topcoat to completely dry. 

Use a fan to speed up the sealant’s drying process.

Good ventilation can go a long way in accelerating drying. You can use a fan to improve ventilation by blowing the stained deck with it. 

The fan will speed up the drying by increasing air circulation, making it easy for the solvent particles to leave the wet coat of sealant into the air.

How to Avoid the Problem of Thompson Water Seal not Drying 

Instead of waiting to deal with the tacky deck surface after applying Thompson’s sealant, you can take measures to ensure the issue does not occur. Here are five tips for you. 

Read Thompson water seal instructions  

The manufacturer may specify the best way to apply the sealant to achieve the best results and avoid negative effects if any. For instance, they may specify the amount of time to wait between coats, the thickness of each coat, and whether to spray or apply with a brush.

These instructions are essential. Ignoring them can sometimes spell disaster for your sealing project. 

Keep the coats thin regardless of which Thompson’s product you have. 

Thompson’s water sealants work best when applied in thin coats. Having liberal amounts of the product on your deck or patio will only prolong the drying time.   

Use a sprayer to apply the sealant whenever you can 

When you spray, it gives you more control of your sealing project. It can help you achieve even coats that dry without a problem.  You can learn how to apply Thompson’s water seal with a sprayer to avoid any blunders.

Plan your sealing project during warm months of the year if possible

You cannot control the weather, but you can apply your water sealant in warm weather to facilitate quicker drying. 

If you live in a location that experiences all four seasons of the year, you can plan your work during summer or immediately before or after it. The warm weather should help you avoid problems.

Test the wood or concrete before sealing it

You want to make sure that the substrate you are sealing is not wet or sealed already. Both factors can delay drying. 

Check to ensure that there is no prior coat of sealant on the deck. Any such coat can prevent the Thompson water sealer from penetrating the wood or concrete and drying.

Benefits of Using Thompson Water Seal

Thompson’s water seal can offer the desired results if used correctly. Here are some of the reasons you may want to consider using the product on your patio or decking boards. 

  • The sealant is available in various appealing colors that could enhance your home’s curb appeal. 
  • The product has no strong odor. 
  • It offers protection against the sun’s damaging UV rays and molds. 
  • The water sealant creates a durable topcoat if applied correctly.
  • Thompson’s waterseal works on pressure-treated wood – in fact, it’s one of the best sealant for pressure treated wood deck in the market.

Can You Recoat Thompson’s Water Seal?

Yes, you can recoat over Thompson’s water Seal layer once you have cleaned it to remove loose dirt and stain. This means you do not necessarily have to remove Thompson’s sealant topcoat with paint thinner or mineral spirits to stain the surface again.

What is the Best Way to Apply Thompson’s Water Sealer?

The best way to apply the sealant is to use a roller or plastic sprayer. These options will give you more control over the layers, helping you keep the coats light and even.

When applying, ensure you mix the product well before pouring it into a spray can, tray, or bucket.

If you use a sprayer, remember to run mineral spirits through it, followed by water after completing your deck sealing project.

Read also: Deck sealer for redwood.


Is Thompson’s Water Seal any good for concrete? 

Thompson’s WaterSeal is a multipurpose product formulated for use on wood, concrete, and brick surface. The formula has remained the same for years, meaning you can get the same results each time. 

Thompsons water seal still tacky on concrete 

Wait a week before cleaning the concrete if any sticky residue remains. Wipe it down with a wet cloth soaked in soapy water. Don’t be scared to wait a week before applying your sealant. I’m aware that the instructions say it’ll dry in 24 hours, but on certain materials, it might take up to a week for the sealant to cure.

How long before you can walk on Thompson Water Seal? 

Surfaces coated with Thompson’s water seal should be dry in about 24 hours. That is all the time you need to wait before you can walk on the sealed surface if you followed the application instructions correctly.

Related Read: How Long After You Stain a Deck Can You Walk On It?

What happens if it rains after applying Thompson’s water seal?

A light shower will not significantly affect a deck with Thompson’s waterseal, but a heavy downpour will likely cause the product to dry cloudy on the surface. In any case, the sealant will still work despite the rain.

Recommended read: Acrylic sealer for particle board.

What is the difference between Olympic Waterguard and Thompson water seal?

The key distinction of Olympic Waterguard Vs Thompson Water Seal lies in the brand and the range of formulations they offer. Both products excel in waterproofing and offer some UV protection, making the choice between them a matter of specific project needs and personal preference.

Thompson’s Water Seal Still Tacky

The secret to getting the most out of your Thompson’s water seal is applying it under optimal conditions and following the instructions correctly.

We hope the tips in this guide help you reap the best value out of your sealant. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

5 thoughts on “Why Thompson Water Seal Does Not Dry and What to Do”

  1. My husband put on a new coat without reading! therefore it’s sticky! now he is trying soap and scrubbing! it’s not working either! help!! we have sold our house and need a solution fast!!

  2. Thompson’s Waterseal does smell, does track into your house and has poisonous components for people and animals just pressure-treated lumber a highly recommended deck contractor used. I admit I trusted a man and didn’t do enough homework. Both are garbage and now I have $23,000.00 of it.

    Hopefully, I can remove the Thompsons or perhaps won’t bother IF the smell goes away (it’s been 8 hot weeks) and then everything has to be covered for the safety of any human or pet. I’m thinking artificial grass or shingles, probably shingles.
    The biggest mistake I’ve ever made — well, maybe or close to buying a Hyundai Tonka Toy, the Kona comes close!

  3. As a female senior citizen DIY’er with artificial shoulder and arthritis making multiple applications a non starter, Thompson’s Tinted Sealet and this article are the bombs!!


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