How Many Coats of Clear Coat Paint For a Car?

Are you considering how many coats of clear coats does a car need?

Normally, I will apply three to four coats of clear coat – for UV protection, longevity and sanding or buffing for good shine and show-car finish.

In this article I will share some information about clear coats and how to apply them on your car.

What Does a Clear Coat Do?

A clear coat is a resin without pigments applied as a finish to give your car a shiny look. Since it does not have a resin, it does add any color to your vehicle. Your vehicle retains its original color.

What happens without it? Well, applying a clear coat to your car has many benefits other than just adding a glamorous look. For instance, a clear coat also plays a protective role. It keeps your car safe from the damage that ultraviolet rays and acidic rains cause. They often cause spotting and other defects. 

In addition to protection, it is worth noting that a clear coat also plays another vital role. It makes the maintenance and repair of your car easier than when you do not apply it. You won’t repaint it often. Most importantly, your vehicle becomes hard and resistant to corrosion. 

Do You Buff Before Clear Coat?

If you are an inexperienced DIY, you don’t need to buff before clear coat because you may damage the paint.

If you are an experienced DIY, buff before clear coat is good to remove any imperfections in the paint and give you a smooth finish.

How Long To Wait In Between Coats Of Paint?

You should wait about 15-20 minutes between each coat. If it’s too cold or humid, you may need to wait longer.

How Long Does a Clear Coat Take To Dry?

A clear coat takes 12-24 hours to dry and up to 30 days to cure and harden. That said, you can drive your car in 24 hours after applying a clear coat. However, you should not wash your car in 30 days. The soap can interfere with the curing and hardening process of the clear coat. 

How Many Coats Of Clear Before Wet Sanding?

How Much Clear Coat Do You Need to Paint a Car ?

The amount of clear coat to paint your car depends on the size of your car. Also, the amounts can be less or more depending on how you apply it. If you apply it yourself, you are likely to use more than what a professional would apply.

If you want to paint a small to a medium-sized car, you will require: 

  • Basecoat – 1 gallon
  • Topcoat – 3 gallons
  • Clearcoat – 2-3 gallons

For a large vehicle, the amount required is: 

  • Basecoat – 1 ½ gallon
  • Topcoat – 4 gallons
  • Clearcoat – 3-4 gallons  

After getting the correct amounts, what happens next? Well, you need to know how to apply them. Most importantly, you should prepare your vehicle first before you even start painting it. Preparation simply involves removing the older coat. 

So, sand the whole surface to remove the older coat. For excellent results, use your hand as it makes access to crevices and corners easy. Work on the entire surface smoothly and evenly as much as possible. When you are through, use a paint thinner or a rag to remove all the dust. 

How To Apply Clear Coat?

First, ensure that the base coat is applied, and it has dried well. Apply about 2-3 coats, keeping time of about ten minutes in between them. Keep the spray gun parallel to the surface during the process. Please, do not touch the surface to test if it is dry. 

The best way to apply the paint is by starting with the roof downwards. Also, you should apply thin coats. Ensure the application is even, and about 2-3 coats will be sufficient to cover the panels well. Apply thicker and fuller paints to corners and the base area. 

Now, what happens if you apply less or more clear coat? Well, using little of it will cause issues within just a few weeks or months. The clear coat will wear out quite fast, and you will have to reapply it. That, of course, means incurring further costs you would have avoided.

Similarly, if you apply too much of it, you will experience matting much faster. Note that a matte clear coat scatters light instead of producing a lustrous reflection or shine. The problem might even be worse than that if you apply excess, and the drying temperature is also higher than the recommended level.

To avoid running into the problem of too much or little:

  1. Seek the help of a professional.
  2. If you opt to do it yourself, make sure you stick to the recommended amounts.
  3. Just be careful not to mess up.

Buy the best clear coat for cars below:

Dupli-Color BCL0125 Clear Exact-Match Automotive Top Coat

Dupli-Color BCL0125 Clear Coat Spray Paint For Cars

SHERWIN WILLIAMS Finish 1 Ultimate Overall Clearcoat

SHERWIN WILLIAMS Finish 1 Ultimate Overall Clearcoat

Rust-Oleum 253499 Automotive Premixed Auto Body Paint

Rust-Oleum 253499 Automotive Premixed Auto Body Paint


In a nutshell, the application of a clear coat has many benefits, including protection. It is easy to spot a car with a cleat coat and one without it. Provided the application is correct, you are sure that your vehicle will not only look glamorous, but the original paint will also last long.

To help you better understand how a clear coat works, we have answered all questions car owners often ask. We hope you get further facts on how to apply it correctly from these questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When Should We Apply Clear Coat?

The best time to apply a clear coat is almost immediately after applying a base coat. You can do it just after 30 minutes since allowing it more time to dry will make it a little bit hard for the clear coat to stick to the base coat.

2. Why Does Clear Coat Turn White?

A clear coat often turns white when you use a spray bomb. As you spray the clear coat and the reducer causes a chemical reaction that makes it look foggy or whitish until the spraying is complete and dry. However, you should note that while the coat often turns white while spraying, it will not interfere with the color of the base coat.

3. Will Clear-Coat Remove or Cover-Up Scratches and Scuffs?

Yes, provided the color base is not scratched deeply or through, applying a clear coat can help cover up the scratches. In addition to covering up the scratches and scuffs, a clear coat also helps level the surface and restore the gloss as well.

4. What Do You Do After Clear Coat?

After application, the next thing is to buff it out to make it shiny. However, note that you should allow it a day before you get a buffer. So do not rush to finish everything within a day. It might cause damage.

5. Can I Apply Just a New Layer of Clear Coat to My Car or Do I Have to Repaint It Entirely?

It is not a must that you repaint your car entirely before applying a clear coat. As long as the existing paint looks great, without damage, you can apply a clear coat without repainting. However, if the paint is damaged, it is good to repaint the car entirely first.

6. How to remove clear coat without damaging the paint?

You need to get the right materials and follow a simple safe removal procedure. The materials you need are 400 grit sandpaper, 800 grit sandpaper, 1000 grit sandpaper, 1200 grit sandpaper, 100% wool pad, spray detailer, water, washing hose, and an electric polisher. Here is the procedure to follow so you do not cause any damage:

  • Soak the 400 grit sandpaper in water for about 10 minutes
  • Wash the vehicle completely
  • Wet-sand all the clear coat material
  • Continue wet sanding using the higher grit sandpapers
  • Tape all delicate parts of the car
  • Wait for the car to dry, then go ahead to dry-sand it
  • Pour water on the car to remove fine particles
  • Apply polish to all the sanded areas of the car
  • Finish off by cleaning to make the parts look brighter

7. How Do I Make Clear Coat Shinny?

Sanding makes the clear coat shiny. So, get a grit wet and dry sandpaper, then sand it carefully while ensuring that you reach all parts. After sanding, get a rubbing/polishing compound to complete the process, and your car will look shiny.

8. Can You Put Primer Over Clear Coat?

Yes, you can put a primer over a clear coat. Putting it will help protect the surface and keep the shiny look. Since most cleat coats are urethanes, sanding it and placing paints, including primers, is a must as it provides a mechanical key/bond to the finish.

9. How Long After Clear Coat Can I Drive?

It takes about twelve hours or overnight after buffing and air drying it. To be sure that the clear coat is okay, leave the car in a constant ambient temperature for at least twelve hours before you hit the road once again.

10. How Much Does It Cost To Fix Clear Coat?

While there is no fixed cost of fixing a clear coat, a rough estimate would be between $400 and $1000 depending on the extent of the damage. If the whole car is peeling, the cost might be high. On the other hand, if it is just a few spots, you won’t spend a lot to fix the coat.

11. What Are Defects of Clear Coat?

Clear coats are highly sensitive to abrasive materials. Using rubbing compounds, waxing it, or taking it through a power car wash in less than a month before it dries up will damage it. The damaged clear coat ruins the original painting meaning and, of course, repainting is a bit expensive.

You may concern: How Many Cans of Spray Paint to Paint a Car?

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