Can You Clear Coat Over Enamel Paint?

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With the various formulas for the clear coat products on the market becoming more refined and offering better and better performance as time goes on, we have noticed more and more people starting to use clear coat in a number of situations. This has resulted in more people reaching out to get clarification on the various situations that they are able to use clear coat in to try and get the best possible performance with great end results.

Although many of the questions that we see about clear coat are based around arts and crafts or home decoration, we have noticed a few people asking about using it for vehicle work too. One of the questions that we see asked that can be used in all situations is if you can use clear coat over enamel paint so we wanted to dedicated todays article to this topic.

Although some enamel paint formulas can be used in home design or arts and crafts in some very niche use cases, the majority of our readers using enamel paint will be using it with vehicles. Due to this, we will be focusing on using clear coat over enamel paint for vehicle painting but the basic principals can transfer to home decor and arts and crafts too.

Can You Clear Coat Over Enamel Paint?

You can use clear coat over most enamel paint formulas and get excellent results with minimal preparation being required for the enamel. Simply make sure that the enamel paint is dry and clean prior to applying your clear coat and you should get excellent results.

The main problems that we see time and time again, especially from beginners who are using clear coat with enamel paint is that they don’t let the enamel paint dry correctly or the paint has grease, oil or dirt on it when they try to apply their clear coat. As you can probably imagine, this causes no end of issues and will always result in problems and give you a poor end result.

A less common problem that we see is that people will use a cheap enamel paint or clear coat formula that uses low quality ingredients and will never deliver a good result. Thankfully, most modern enamel paint formulas are excellent for their prices but there are some low quality clear coat formulas out there so always go with a decent clear coat for the best possible results.

Should You Clear Coat Over Enamel Paint?

Many people use clear coat over enamel paint to offer a better finish to the paint then they would otherwise get. On top of this, most clear coat formulas offer the paint additional protection too helping the painted surface look its best for longer.

Although there are a number of clear coat alternatives available on the market that you can use if you wish, we feel that clear coat is an excellent option for the majority of people and should be used. Not only is clear coat cheap for the level of performance that it offers, it is also very quick and easy to use making it very beginner friendly.

Some of the clear coat alternatives that people use tend to underperform when compared to clear coat while also being over priced. That said though, if you are working at a professional level, there are some professional level alternatives to clear coat that can be considered.

How Do You Clear Coat Over Enamel Paint?

To apply your clear coat over enamel paint, simply ensure the enamel paint is dry and clean and then apply your clear coat as directed on the label. Most clear coat formulas are spray based and should be held around six inches from the surface during application.

One thing to remember is to try and ensure that you get a nice even coat of clear coat onto the whole surface that has enamel paint on it. This is another very common mistake that we see people make but if you are focusing on the job at hand it tends to be very easy to do.

The majority of the better clear coat formulas are easy to see on enamel paint prior to them drying anyway so you can see areas you have missed completely as well as gauge their thickness. This makes it much easier to get a nice and even coat of clear coat on your enamel paint during the application process.

What Is The Best Type Of Clear Coat?

The term clear coat usually refers to a type of product rather than a specific brands formula. Due to this, there are a number of great clear coat options out there that have excellent reputations amongst the community due to their low price and great performance.

Depending on your location and budget you will be using different products than other people but we would highly recommend that you avoid anything under the $5 mark. They are usually designed for arts and crafts rather than home decor or vehicle painting and offer poor performance.

You should be looking to spend a minimum of $10 on a decent clear coat but $20-$30 per canister is probably the price point most of our readers should be aiming for. Although there are products at higher price points, they are usually for niche use cases rather than offering better performance. For example, some of the more expensive clear coat formulas retail at their price due to you being able to use them in colder temperatures and their end result will be the same as a $20-$30 product.

Can You Use Other Types Of Polyurethane On Enamel Paint?

There are a few other polyurethane formulas on the market that you can also use on enamel paint if needed with them usually offering similar results to some of the cheaper clear coat formulas. A large chunk of the community actually refer to many of these products as “clear coat” by default although their formulas are technically different.

Due to the confusion around the naming of the products and there similar formulas, many people actually use one of the other types of polyurethane spray thinking it is clear coat anyway. In our opinion, the majority of the better products with a cleaner end result are clear coat though.

If you are on a tight budget though and only need the results to last for a year or so, some of the alternative polyurethane products can definitely be worth looking into due to their lower price tags. Just be aware that some of them are not designed for long term use and they clearly state this on their label.


That brings our article going over if you can use clear coat over enamel paint to an end. Clear coat is an excellent option for use over enamel paint in many cases due to it’s excellent performance, low price tag, and ease of use making it the default option for many people.