Can You Use Clear Coat Over Acrylic Paint?

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Clear coat is an excellent product that has some niche uses in arts and crafts as well as home decor but its main use case right now is with vehicles. As vehicle customisation becomes more and more popular, we have seen an increase in the number of people reaching out with questions about using clear coat the get the best possible results for their custom artwork on their vehicles.

In particular, we have noticed a spike in the number of people reaching out to ask if you can clear coat over acrylic paint so we wanted to publish a dedicated article going over this. Our goal is that this article will be able to help as many of our readers who are considering using clear coat over their acrylic paint as possible and help you get the best possible results.

Before we go any further, we just want to say that there are a wide range of both acrylic enamel paint options and clear coat paint options on the market. The cheaper ones offer a more questionable level of performance so we are presuming that you are using a decent quality acrylic paint and clear coat for your artwork.

Can You Use Clear Coat Over Acrylic Paint?

You can use clear coat over acrylic paint in most cases without having any problems on a wide range of surfaces. Ensure that your acrylic is both dry and clean prior to applying your clear coat for the best possible results.

We see a large number of beginners try to apply their clear coat formula to their acrylic prior to it actually drying and this causes a number of problems. The main problem is that your clear coat can bubble, peel, or flake as the acrylic struggles to dry under it. On top of this, similar issues can occur if there is dirt, grease or oil on your acrylic and you clear coat over the top of it.

These problems will persist even if you use a decent clear coat product and are so easy to avoid. Waiting for the acrylic to dry or giving it a quick wipe down to remove any dirt once it is dry prior to applying your clear coat really does make the world of difference in the longevity of the coating as well as the overall look of the finish.

Should You Clear Coat Over Acrylic Paint?

Most clear coat formulas tend to work very well when used over acrylic enamel correctly and can easily offer excellent results. Clear coat tends to offer better and cheaper results then most of the competing products on the market right now too making it a great option.

We know that there are more and more clear coat alternatives being released onto the market with each year that comes and in all honesty, most of them have a higher price tag and only offer similar levels of performance at best. Some of these alternatives to the various clear coat formulas can offer worse performance than the cheaper clear coat products too.

This is why we usually recommend clear coat to our readers as it can offer great results in a number of circumstances without you having to break the bank. In our opinion, it should be one of your primary considerations for use with acrylic paint for vehicles but always ensure that you use a decent clear coat product rather than the cheapest possible option.

How Do You Clear Coat Over Acrylic Paint?

To apply your clear coat over acrylic paint, ensure that your acrylic paint is both dry and clean and then spray your clear coat over the surface that is painted with the acrylic enamel. Different clear coat products do usually need to be held at different distances from the surface to work optimally but it is usually around the six inch mark.

There are a few clear coat products on the market that are applied via a brush but they tend not to be suitable for most beginners as it is harder to get a consistent coat over the surface. This is why we usually recommend that you try to go with a product that is applied via a spray system due to it being much easier to use correctly.

In addition to this, the more modern clear coat formulas also have a slight shine or tint to them when dry allowing you to easily see where you have already sprayed too. This makes it much easier to get a nice and consistent coat over the surface when spraying your clear coat over your acrylic.

What Is The Best Type Of Clear Coat For Acrylic Paint?

There are a number of great clear coat formulas on the market right now that work well with acrylic enamel. Depending on your region and specific location, the various brand names change though even if the specific formula is the exact same just in a different container.

There are plenty of decent clear coat formulas available though and the sales adviser in your local auto store or the online reviews on sites like Amazon will offer a great insight into their performance. Thankfully, on sites like Amazon, it is easy to see the low quality, cheap clear coat formulas due to them having plenty of negative reviews making it easy to avoid them.

When it comes to using clear coat with acrylic enamel, the quality of your acrylic also comes into play though. Be sure to get yourself a decent acrylic too rather than going for a low quality product as you can get the best clear coat in the world but still end up having problems due to a low quality acrylic.

Can You Use Other Types Of Polyurethane On Acrylic Paint?

As we touched on earlier in the article, the alternatives to clear coat tend to underperform for their cost in our opinion. Due to this, we usually recommend that our readers stick to the more established clear coat options on the market for the best possible results.

That said though, due to clear coat actually being a type of coat rather than a specific product from a single brand, it is common that people will refer to some of the polyurethane alternatives as “clear coat” even though they are technically different. We can see why this happens as it can be easy to confuse the various options on the market as there are so many right now making it a little confusing for people.

This adds to our earlier point of having to take additional steps to actually research the product that you are about to use though as there is a large amount misinformation out there as well as a ton of low quality product. Just because something has a higher price tag, does not mean that it can offer better results than some of the cheaper products out there.


That brings our article going over if you can clear coat over acrylic paint to an end. The majority of our readers who are looking to use clear coat over acrylic enamel will probably be doing so on a vehicle paint job but there are some niche cases in arts and crafts as well as home decor too where the points we raised in our article all apply.

Applying clear coat over acrylic can offer excellent results while being very beginner friendly in its application process while also being very budget friendly too. This is why the popularity of clear coat just keeps on increasing with each year that passes and although there are some alternatives on the market now, we doubt any will take the top spot away from clear coat.