How to Add a Clear Coat to a Painted Surface

by Michael A. Anderson
Clear Coat to a Painted Surface

Clearcoat Paint, as the name suggests, is essentially a paint with no pigment. Thus it is clear. It can apply the transparent coat layer over one or two coats of colored paint. Besides offering a shine to surfaces such as car bodies, the clear coat can act as a protective barrier between the elements and the colored paint itself. For wood surfaces, use a wood stain clear coat and for metal surfaces use a metallic, clear coat such as auto body clear coating.

Ensure that the temperature where you will apply clear coat is around 75 F. Anything lower than 55 F or hotter than 90 F may cause issues with the transparent coat application process.

Cover any sections you don’t want to be coated with the painter’s tape.


coating a car

Take the piece of practice material (wood if you’ll be painting on wood, metal for surfaces such as cars) and place it on a flat surface. Grasp the can and push down the nozzle while moving the can slowly back and forth in front of the practice material.

Watch how the flow comes out and adjust your movements until the coat is being applied evenly. As you move back and forth, allow the spray to overlap already sprayed sections to avoid paint lines from appearing on the surface. If you are applying a clear coat with a brush to wood, skip the next two steps.

Stand with the can 6 to 8 inches away from the surface to be coated. Verify that the paint already on the surface is thoroughly dry.

Press down the nozzle and begin moving the can back and forth slowly, allowing the clear coat to spray on the surface evenly. Make small adjustments in the distance from the nozzle to the cover and speed of your movement if spots on the surface are being missed. Remember to move the spray flow so it overlaps already coated sections to prevent paint lines from being visible.

Open the can of clear coat and dip the brush into it. Move the brush across the surface in long and even strokes allowing the brush to overlap already coated sections. Re-dip the brush as needed until it covers the entire surface.

  • If your practice coating does not turn on evenly, flip the practice material over and try again remembering to overlap sections with the spray flow to get the method right.
  • If the flow seems uneven, gently shake the can to get the flow back to normal.
  • Do not apply a clear coat in high humidity environments and use it out of direct sunlight.
  • Do not apply in inclement weather.

Work in an area with good airflow to minimize the inhalation of the spray fumes. We recommend goggles and respirator masks.

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