Clear Coats For Paint Jobs


Clear coatings


You have painted a work of art, a piece of furniture, or a ceramic vase and you used water based acrylic paints. The color varieties of these paints seems endless yet , even when fully cured, they do not offer the hardness and durability exhibited by traditional enamel paints. This where a clear protective coating comes in. Clear coats come in many formulations depending on the application of the finished good and the surface the clear is to be applied to. Also, these finished can be either sprayed, brushed on, or the object dipped into a vat of the clear.

Krylon Clear

Copper and nailsOne of the most widely available and cost effective clears I have used is Krylon clear. It comes in gloss, semi gloss, satin, and flat. It is best used for indoor use. Although the can states it has outdoor capability, there is no mention of UV inhibiters so it should be regarded as not fit for exposure to direct sunlight. Krylon does make a clear with UV inhibiters which cost more.The quality of the finish is astounding and it dries truly crystal clear. If three or more coats are applied you will get a “wet” look. It adds great hardness and scratch resistance to water based acrylic finishes allowing you to use these paints on primed metal. One finsihing aspect of Krylon Clear is to apply it directly to bare metal that has been cleaned of corrosion and wire brushed. A good example is featured on the photo as well this Etsy listing. It is brazed nails with a copper accent. Not only does this bring out the contrast between steel and bronze brazed joints, but offers protection from further corrosion.


A word on oil based finishes


Would like to mention that alkyd or oil based finishes still out perform acrylics hand down, especially for outdoor use. The way the oil based finishes work is they are based on drying oils. These are vegetable or seed oils that harden by polymerizing and oxidizing in the air. They may dry to the touch in hours but can take up to 8 weeks to fully cure! 


Rustoleum Clear Enamel Spray

Rustoleum clearAnother option to consider is Rustoleum enamel clear spray.
It is an oil based clear. In my experience, it is quite durable but it is not as clear as krylon as it is enamel. The reason is that Rustoleum has UV inhibers to protect the pigments from fading in sunlight. For this, I recommend it for outdoor garden sculptures as a finish over oil based paint.

UPDATE: At this point when I use spray paint, I have been using Rustoleum products almost exclusively as the spray consistency is much better and the covering power is superior. The difference in quality between Rustoleum and Krylon is most noticable in the primer. The Krylon can jusy spits and sputters like a third of the time while the Rustoleum sprays smooth and covers quick.


Smart Coat clear coat

Smart clearHere is product offered by Sculpt Nouveau is called Smart Coat. Sculpt nouveau distributes two versions of smart coat. One is 1K and it is a water based urethane/ resin based finish. The other is Smart Coat 2K which is a two part urethane coating which is more for outdoor use. Both have UV and corrosion inhibiters. The one I will discuss here is the 1K 1 part water based polymer coating.

 As you can see, there are several options when choosing clear coats to protect your prized finish.

5 thoughts on “Clear Coats For Paint Jobs

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  5. Nice and interesting information
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