Clear Coating


Clear Coating

Some top coats available in enamel and lacquer 

Types – As mentioned in previous sections, I prefer to use mostly House of Kolor urethane clear coat. Urethane has no “yellowing” effect and is very durable when completely dry. Another great choice is this one suggested by David Elliott which was reprinted from his former web site: 

For clear coat, I use PPG DCU2010 Urethane clear coat. This is a 3-part system (clear, hardener, reducer) that I mix at 2.5:1:1 (they recommend 4:1:1, but I’ve found that my ratio works better for airbrushing on small models). At this ratio, I can do the whole job in one good coat instead of having to use many coats. Once again, people may be impressed by “12 coats of clear”, but my cars look fantastic with just a single coat of this clear. DCU2010 is not cheap to get into – it will cost you around $80 to get started – but the cost per car is no higher than other clear coats. The key issue is the hardener – this stuff goes bad after it is opened (the other chemicals last much longer, and aren’t a problem). In my experience, a can of hardener lasts around 2 months before it starts to cloud, and it costs $25 per 8 oz. can. As a result, I tend to paint a lot of cars and save them up for a big clear coating session.

For an easy and inexpensive urethane clear coat, you might try Min-wax gloss polyurethane as suggested by John Muthard from Zinc City Customs. This product is available at Wal-Mart, usually near the lacquer thinner, and runs about 5 or 6 bucks per (I believe) 12-ounce spray can or 1/2-pint can for airbrush use. This stuff works exceptionally well sprayed over enamel paint[s]. It will also work well over lacquer, but multiple coats may be necessary due to lacquer’s inherent roughness. Wet-sanding the first coat of first will help.

Other options include enamel clears (of which I heartily endorse Testor’s High Gloss Enamel), water-based acrylic clears (of which I have little experience), and lacquer clears (which are nearly useless for achieving super high gloss finishes). But you don’t necessarily need to heed our advice, sometimes personal experimentation will yield great results for one person where the same solution would not work for another. But, generally speaking, a professional quality urethane clear coat is hard to beat.


Future Floor Wax is a great clear coat – it goes on fairly thick and is designed to dry smooth and clear.  Because it is has an acrylic base it can be used over acrylic and enamel paints.  It has been said that it does not work well over Lacquer or Automotive types. It can be applied over waterslide decals without problem. Basically it is painted on with a soft brush or fired through your airbrush like normal clear and allowed to dry over night.  It is self smoothing and usually brings out a deep shine with little further work although buffing the wax will add depth to the shine.  Remember this is designed to shine your floors.  Fingers prints and smudges can be easily buffed off with a soft rag and scratches can be easily touched up.  There is no need for fine sanding.  

 Application – Whatever type of clear coat you decide upon, the application is equally important. A good paint booth, room air-cleaner, and/or dust-free environment are critical to avoid airborne foreign objects from becoming a part of your car’s top coat. With that consideration taken care of, you will want to apply the clear in medium wet coats, that is, heavy enough to ensure complete coverage and smoothness, but not so heavy as to provoke runs, sags, or build-up in the finish. It’s a fine line, and it’s what often separates the truly great finish from the just so-so one. When in doubt begin with one or two light coats, wet-sand, and then finish with a solid medium coat.

You’ll see claims of enormous layers of clear coating (usually on eBay). But experience has shown that one or two good coats of urethane is all that’s needed to achieve that awesome “wet” look associated with fine customs. The key is selecting a good clear coat that you are comfortable using.


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