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My Best Tips for applying clear coats

Here are my top tips for using applying clear coats. Clear coats add to the durabilityof paint applications, so using it is highly desirable, but can come with challenges. If you are struggling with clear coat, here are several ideas that can help achieve a flawless, streak free finish!

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1. Stir well with a stir stick, don’t just shake.

clear coats can have particles that settle to the bottom, especially new containers or those that haven’t been used in a while. Use a stir stick and scrape the bottom, make sure it is integrated into the product

2. Tint your clear coat with a bit of paint to darken it.

It doesn’t take much, a few drops of paint, stirred in well will help camouflage streaking.

3. Apply several very thin coats with light sanding in between.

Don’t try to apply your coats too thick at once. They will get streaky and uneven. More, thinner coats will yield better results.

4. If it is streaky going on, it will be streaky when dry, evenness is key.

Let your clear coat catch the light going on. Does it look streaky when wet? If so, that will NOT disappear as it dries. Use looongg, even strokes, in a continuous line all the way across your piece with an even hand to get consistent coverage.

5. Use a foam roller.

If you choose the application sponge, dampen before use, wring out any excess water, this will keep your sponge from absorbing as much gator hide and help reduce friction. I tend to use a damp brush because I can control the pressure of my brush better. But, if a soft hand isn’t your thing, try a foam roller to get even coverage.

6. Resist any urge to brush over imperfections. Clear coat can start setting up quickly. As with any self leveling product, any marks you put in once set up has begun are less likely to level out. If you see imperfections in your coat, let them dry, lightly sand out, and add a new coat over top. They will virtually disappear.

7. Mist your surface with water before brushing on clear coat

I’m talking VERY little water, a fine mist, just enough to help your brush glide. The clear coat I use are water based so it is friendly to using minimal water in application.

8. If you are using over a transfer, be sure to burnish your transfer.

I use clear coat over transfers all the time with no issue. The key is to burnish your transfer, I use a Dixie Belle finishing pad, rub over ALL areas to make sure there are no air bubbles, etc. The clear coat getting in underneath the transfer through air bubbles is what can cause lifting

9. If you are experiencing yellowing, clear coat is likely not your issue.

I see so often, people searching for clear coat that doesn’t yellow. If you are using a water based clear coat, and still experiencing yellowing, it is generally caused by 2 things. Either 1. Exposure to UV light or 2. Tannins bleeding through from under your paint.If you see yellowing, ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. Did I use a stain blocking primer like Zinsser BIN, or Shellac under my paint?

  2. Is my piece kept under a window or in direct sunlight?

One of these is likely the reason for yellowing. ALWAYS use a stain blocking under your whites and light paint colors!

10. Temperature and humidity do matter!

Is it warm and muggy where you are? Your products can feel it too. You can move to a climate controlled space, wait until a cooler time of day, or use a bit of water to help. The same goes for the cold. Viscosity is reduced in cold weather. You can place your container in a bowl of warm water to help it return to its normal consistency.

11. Use another option to seal your paint before applying final coat

If you are still struggling to get streak free, try sealing your paint with another clear coat like satin clear. Raw paint tends to absorb clear coat quicker. This, combined with the fast set up can make it tough to get even coats. Sealing the paint with an easier clear coat, then going over top with the tough protection might be the answer for you.

12. If you have a sprayer available, spray your clear coats!

Ckear coats spray BEAUTIFULLY! We don’t even dilute in our sprayer and this is a fool proof method to a streak free finish

Clear coat is tough! It seals really well. You can find A variety of clear coats and more HERE!

I hope these tips help you achieve a smooth top finish.


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