How to apply clear bodywork topcoat

How to apply clear bodywork topcoat
How to apply clear bodywork topcoat

Topcoat is a transparent paint that covers the base coat and protects it from damage and UV rays. It also provides a glossy finish which improves the quality of the base color and makes it easy to remove small scratches. Before applying it, be sure to choose quality equipment and cover the car body before sanding off the old damaged clear coat. Spray thin coats of wet clear polish on the car and allow them to dry between applications. To keep the new polish looking like new, be sure to clean and polish the car regularly.


Part 1 of 3: choosing materials for painting

Apply Clear Coat Step 1

Step 1. Purchase an activator and a solvent

Typically, these products are formulated for application in specific weather conditions. Take into account the size and area of ​​the repair, as well as the current temperature and humidity when purchasing. Some products are formulated for higher temperatures and increased humidity. So be sure to check their labels. Remember that you should also try to paint in optimal conditions.

Apply Clear Coat Step 2

Step 2. Paint on a day when the temperature is 25 ° C

Do not paint your car if the ambient temperature is above 30 ° C or below 15 ° C. Also, do this at night, early in the morning, or in the shade to avoid direct exposure to sunlight.

Apply Clear Coat Step 3

Step 3. Use quality car painting supplies

For this job, you will probably need to spend some additional money to acquire better quality tools. Rent or buy an air hose, oil or air separator, respiratory protection mask, compressor and paint gun.

  • Varnish is best applied using a paint gun because it acts as a solvent. If you try to apply it with pressure, instead of using a spray tool, you risk removing the base coat that is underneath.
  • You also have the option of applying the clear topcoat with a spray can, but a gun will give it a smoother, more professional finish.
Apply Clear Coat Step 4

Step 4. Sand the entire existing layer of clear varnish with water

Do this if it is damaged. Check for any loosening, delamination, or crumbling on the old coat of varnish. If you find any imperfections, use 400-600 grit sandpaper and an orbital sander to wet sand down all of the existing clear coat. It is important to start over with a basecoat so that the new urethane will adhere properly.

  • For wet sanding, spray water on the sandpaper, which will prevent it from producing deep scratches on the surface of the car.
  • Clean the surface with a sticky cloth after sanding to remove dust.
Apply Clear Coat Step 5

Step 5. Test the varnish on a piece of smooth scrap metal

Before applying it to the car body, test the materials and practice your spray technique on a smooth metal surface. Go through all of the steps from start to finish, taking note of any issues or imperfections that you need to adjust for the final job.

If you plan to use a clear varnish spray can, be sure to shake the bottle well before applying the product

Part 2 of 3: apply varnish to the car body

Apply Clear Coat Step 6

Step 1. Hold the gun 6 to 8 inches from the surface

If you drive over a section of the car that is tilted, also tilt the gun so that it is parallel to the surface. This way you are sure to get the thinnest and most even coats of varnish possible.

Apply Clear Coat Step 7

Step 2. Apply the product correctly

Do this in even, constant, overlapping motions by 50%. Cover half of the previous coat each time, which will allow you to obtain an even application and avoid the effect of tiger stripes. Be sure to spray the product in evenly straight and even lines across the surface of the car.

Apply Clear Coat Step 8

Step 3. Apply a coat of varnish to the car

Spray a light coat of the paint all over the body. Keep it thin and damp to achieve even application and reduce drying time.

If the coat is too thick, you might have issues such as a very light finish or a hazy, diffused effect

Apply Clear Coat Step 9

Step 4. Let the polish dry for at least ten minutes

Thanks to the thin layers of the paint, the drying time will be very short between applications. Waiting a full ten minutes between applications will allow the varnish to adhere before it is covered with another coat.

Apply Clear Coat Step 10

Step 5. Apply a second coat of varnish all over the car

After the first coat has dried, apply a second. This can be a little thicker, as it will have more time to dry well. Be sure to apply the paint slowly and carefully to avoid blemishes and drips.

Apply Clear Coat Step 11

Step 6. Wait an hour for the diapers to dry completely

Do not touch the clear polish while it is drying. Leave it alone so that it dries and adheres properly. This will ensure the durability and quality of the clear varnish.

Part 3 of 3: maintain the clear varnish

Apply Clear Coat Step 12

Step 1. Wash your car by hand every 1 to 4 weeks

Use a quality sponge, two buckets of water (for washing and rinsing), soap for washing cars, and microfiber towels for washing the vehicle regularly. Be very careful not to damage the clear varnish and remove any accumulation of dirt that can cause scratches. It is best to wash the car as soon as possible in order to remove dust and dirt that can damage the varnish.

Apply Clear Coat Step 13

Step 2. Wait 30-45 days before buffing, polishing, or going to a car wash

After applying the polish, you should wait for it to harden before applying too much pressure. If you live in an area with a hot climate, a waiting period of one month should be sufficient. Nonetheless, in cooler climates you should wait 45 days, as low temperatures can slow down the drying process.

Apply Clear Coat Step 14

Step 3. Tell the car wash workers to watch out for the varnish

Clear varnish can easily be scratched when you go to a car wash with old equipment. If washing the car involves hand rubbing, tell the car wash staff to apply clean, soft towels to the polish.

Usually modern car washes are more careful and be careful not to scratch the clear topcoat

Apply Clear Coat Step 15

Step 4. Thoroughly buff the car every 2-3 months

Excessive polishing and rubbing can damage the varnish. So be sure to use a non-abrasive formula and polish carefully. Regular buffing protects paint jobs and improves the quality of the coating from an aesthetic point of view.

Usually, car wax only lasts two to three months, but this time may vary depending on the weather and the condition of the vehicle's paintwork


After applying a base coat, always spray the varnish within 24 hours. Check the minimum base coat drying time for more information


  • Be sure to paint in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling hazardous paint fumes.
  • Auto paint is extremely dangerous. Be sure to keep it out of the reach of children.
  • Always read the warnings and instructions on the product labels.
  • Always wear protective equipment when painting, such as rubber gloves, chemical respirator, and eye protection.

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