Can You Clear Coat over Single Stage Urethane? Our Thoughts

There are only a few paints in the automotive industry, and the varieties depend on complexity and price. Before getting into a painting job, an individual must know about paint and its suitability for various applications.

Mainly, painters use single-stage urethane in vehicles, among other metal surfaces. It saves time because it combines thicker resin and gloss to give quick coverage in one stage. Though using a clear coat is optional, this article will help to discover the importance of using it for single-stage urethane.

There are a few things worth noting that we will touch on:

  • The various types of coats
  • The mistakes people make when painting
  • The different layering stages
  • The sanding process and maintenance
  • The importance of using a clear coat on top of single stage

Types of Coats

1) Single Coat

A single stage comprises a group of urethanes and enamels, whereby a can of paint contains a mixture of base color and shiny topcoat. When using single-stage paint, one will need to use the first half-coat, lighter and thinner, followed by several proper coats without adding any clear coat.

Two-stage involves the application of base and top coats, which requires a person to first apply a base coat based on the preferred shade and then finish it up with a polished clear coat. Single-stage urethane is a preferable option to use on outdoor surfaces. Its durability causes it to be a favorite in the automobile industry as it is chip resistant when well maintained. It consists of a catalyst structure, which does not get chalky on exposure to sunlight.

A coat of urethane outlasts many acrylic paints. Single-stage paints consist of all the elements required to finish the painting procedure in one application without the need to apply a clear coat on top. Each time one rubs scratches away from the surfaces, it eliminates layers of UV protection irrespective of the expensive cost of the clear coat.

In case of single-stage paint scratches, it is easier to buff it without repainting.

2) Clear Coat

A clear coat demands extra buffing and sanding to become too thin. A clear coat must be thick, at least 2.5 mils, to achieve at least one or two layers of UV protection. However, if an individual applies more of the clear coat, it does not make the surface extra glossier. For a clear coat to be durable, it must be too thick, which also comes with risks.

After sunlight, buffing, salt, and acid rain, the clear coat begins to break down, making it thinner over time. It results in swirls, which are scrapes in the paint and are removable by rubbing a little color from the surface. Excess layering should be avoided when using the clear coat as a layer on the single stage because the clear coat will not harden.

After months, it will still appear soft, which does not give the surface a decent finishing touch. Thus, allowing the clear coat to set before applying other layers is essential. With this, it will be easy to buff when there is a need for repair without causing any damage and spreading another touch on the repaired part.

Using a high-quality clear coat as a touch-up to the single stage helps to achieve a better look than using 2-stage paint.

Mistakes Made When Painting

The clear coat gives a surface its shine but not the beneath pigment. People only buff surfaces to eliminate scratches, which should never be done because it translates to extra damage. One can only buff an automobile if single-stage urethane is used during painting.

It is easy to rub off old paint when the only shade used is single-stage. It is essential to clear the entire surface to achieve an even gloss when using a clear coat. The single-coat oxidizes simultaneously, making it easy to sand it consistently, bringing back the shine. A clear coat has more front than single-stage paint.

Adding a clear coat to a single stage gives added durability; however, it requires more maintenance because it is necessary to preserve the gloss. The single-stage oxidizes quicker than the clear coat.

Layering Stages

Most urethane paints demand that one paints the surface in stages by applying various coats, which must dry before adding the other layer of paint. Irrespective of the steps followed, it is necessary to incorporate wet sanding in different stages. A process that takes at least four coats needs one to sand twice.

When applying urethane in layers, the last step involves applying a clear coat, which acts as a layer of protection to make the paint shinier and prevent damage. It is necessary to incorporate the sanding process when using the clear coat because it will have to be done on the clear coat when skipped.

A single-stage paint constituting a chemical hardener will require a person to wait at least a day before sanding. Sanding is effective in the earlier stages because the hardener enables the tint to dry sharply and faster, thus providing the necessary support to the applied layers.

Sanding Process and Maintenance

It is necessary to sand the urethane coat to eliminate problem areas, for instance, ridges and scratches that have formed in the paint during the process. Wet sanding requires a combination of sandpaper and damp grip to level the flaws creating a smooth surface.

Also, one can incorporate an electric buffer or sander, which enables a better finish and reduces the probability of damaging the coat. The clear coat on top of a single stage allows a surface that can be polished without altering the shade.

Importance of Using Clear Coat on Top of Single Urethane Stage

1) Durability

When used alone, the single stage gets direct exposure to weathering and sunlight, increasing its ability to get dull within a short period. Thus, spraying a clear coat helps to extend the time the surface will maintain its initial shine.

The clear coat consists of additional components, which make the single-stage paint increase in durability by protecting it from scratches. However, if a person is concerned with the look and extra sheen, one can top the single stage with a clear coat.

It is necessary to properly prepare the surface to ensure grip before completing with a clear coat. Single-stage urethane oxidizes quickly, a topical problem affecting the upper part of the paint. You fix oxidation by abrading the surface to expose a fresh base.

2) Cost

Using the single stage alone is less expensive than combined with the clear coat. However, using the clear coat helps with maintenance and cuts the costs incurred compared to using single-stage on its own. It helps curb expenses when using the clear coat as a measure to avoid the damages that would come up when using the single stage alone.

3) Time

Painting a single stage alone takes less time and work than topping it with a clear coat. When in a hurry, it would be preferable to use single-stage alone because of the speedy application using less paint.

When using urethane, it should be left to cure for a while before applying a clear coat. On the contrary, a person can apply the paint in stages. Take some time after using the single-stage urethane, and then top it with the clear coat later.

4) Repairs

Many specialized body shops incorporate a 2-stage system that involves a clear coat and base coat while maintaining single-stage finishes. The single-stage paints are kept for repainting the whole surface but not for repairs.

Most body shops incorporate a 2-stage system since it makes it easy to have a uniform look and enhances effect pigments similar to that of newer surfaces. Creators developed clear coat systems to protect dyes from exposure to harsh conditions, such as grime and cleansing agents that would react with the pigment. Aluminum metal flakes turn to a white tint when they get wet.

Final words

Single-stage urethane is very good on anything industrial, even when used alone. The clear coat is inferior in appearance and durability as it ages, so it cannot be used alone. It is easier to spray clear coat and does not fade quickly, thus requiring little maintenance, which makes it inexpensive.

However, to preserve an automobile for decades without any scratches or fog, a paint enthusiast should go for single-stage urethane and then top it up with a clear coat to give a layer of protection. Since a clear coat is the lustrous shielding layer used during the paint job, it increases the longevity and durability of the painting.

Also, it brings about the paint effect making the metallic flakes noticeable, and colors change based on the various angles of light. Since a clear coat has UV protection, it preserves tint by making it vibrant for longer. Clear-coat is like a laminate that protects the single-stage urethane layer when left in a harsh environment.

Also, a clear coat enables the surface’s shade to match. It gives the metallic a shine even after repair, causing the repaired part to blend with the rest of the body. Since no one wants a surface to look dull after a spot repair, it is good to consider using a clear coat as a touch-up to the single-stage urethane.