Clear Coat over Single Stage – Why Is This a Risky Try?

There are two main paint systems: the single stage paint system and the 2K paint system. However, some paint technicians are usually in the habit of mixing both anointing systems, and one of such instances is the application of clear coats over single-stage paint.

While this has worked for some projects, countless other projects have been ruined by the application of clear coats over single-stage paints. This is a risk that has hindered many from getting the best out of clearing over single-stage paint. But why is it a risky try?

This article discusses why this is a risky try and many other tips that can help you get the best out of clear coats over single-stage paints.

Understanding Single Stage Paint Systems

When you want to paint, basically, there are two different types of paint systems. There is the single stage system and the base-coat-clear-coat system.

The essential difference between each of the two is that with a single system, your color, paint strength, and gloss are all built into a direct gloss system.

This happens in one application.

But a base coat-clear coat system uses a color coat and a clear coat. The color coat is just color only; there is no thickness or strength in it. It is only color. Therefore, it depends on the clear coat for protection from the elements, UV strength, and a rich glossy look.

A single stage is usually great for traditional restoration. This is because it is all done in one session, as it is a direct gloss. Another thing to remember about the single-stage system is that there is less refraction and less light bouncing around in it. The result is more of a muted original appearance.

However, although the single stage can work alone, some may want to clear coat over the single coat. This can be risky if some tips are not adhered to. But why is it risky?

Why Is This a Risky Try?

Single-stage paint differs fundamentally from the normal clear coat over base coat application. The single-stage paint system is designed to work alone. But some reasons may make paint technicians want to cover it with a clear coat.

However, what are the risks involved?

The main risk is the incompatibility of the paint products. There are many single-stage paint products on the market. If you use acrylic paint, you want to stick to only acrylic all the way.

Clearing with acrylic over a urethane single-stage paint will result in a mess. You will end up with a poor paint job because the urethane will react with the clear coat. This will result in a blotchy mess as you will experience cracks on the whole paint patch.

How Can You Avoid the Risk of a Blotchy Paint Job While Clearing Over a Single Stage?

The first thing you want to do is ensure that all the products you are using are compatible. Using acrylic clear coat paint with urethane single-stage paint would not be wise. That will make the paint job result in a mess.

If you use an acrylic single-stage paint, you want to stick to an acrylic clear coat. If you are using a urethane-based single-stage paint, it would be best to stick to a urethane clear coat.

Although the single-stage paint system is designed to work alone, many paint technicians add a clear coat over the single-stage paint for many reasons. Some of the main reasons include the need to form more gloss and the ability to color, sand, and buff the paint aggressively.

If you are working with a single-stage paint system and want to add a clear coat over it, it would be best to do so within the 18-hour window from the time of applying the single-stage coat. It is important to keep this in mind when you choose which system to shoot your project with.

Another tip for added gloss is to mix the activated clear into the final 1-2 coats of paint.

Bottom Line

It is not necessary to apply clear coats over single-stage paint. But you can apply a clear coat over a single-stage paint if you want to more stellar gloss that can withstand aggressive buffing.

However, applying a clear coat over single-stage paint can be risky, especially if you fail to stick to the same kind of paint for compatibility. If the paint products you are using are not compatible, you will end up with a messy job. You are likely to have orange peels on your final work.

If you are using urethane clear coat over urethane single paint, you want to clear coat within the 18-hour window. If you fail to clear coat the single stage with the clear coat within the 18-hour window, you will likely end up with a mess.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Still Need to Clear Coat a Single Stage Paint?

No, you do not have to apply a clear coat over a single-stage paint. Single-stage paints usually come with a lot of gloss. They are also ultra-violet stabilized, which makes them a great top coat. This means there is no other need for another top coat.

When some paint technicians apply clear coats over single-stage paint, they increase the paint’s ability to withstand aggressive coloring and sanding and add more gloss to the paint job.

How Long Does It Take Single Stage Urethane to Cure?

This usually depends on the brand. But if you are using the single-stage urethane from Eastwood, after a 10 minutes flash, you can force dry it at 140°f for 40 minutes.

It is very important that you allow the work surface to cool down after the bake cycle. It would be best to allow sufficient time for this.

However, drying times may depend on several factors, such as humidity, airflow, and temperature. But it is important that you recoat not more than 18 hours after the first coat.

How Can I Achieve a Deep Single Stage Paint with a Clear Coat over It?

You can use a few tricks to achieve excellent and durable coverage when clearing your single-stage paint. First, you want to spray your single-stage paint over the work surface. Ensure you get an even coat.

After that, mix your color and clear together. But before mixing, you want to activate 50% of your color and 50% of your clear separately. Mix and apply them to make another coat on the work area.

You can then add another coat of about 25% color and 75% clear over the previous coat. You can then finish it off with a 100% clear coat as the final coat.

The procedure may seem cumbersome, but it has immense benefits if you want to achieve a rich gloss. With this procedure, when the light penetrates the paint job, it will refract so that you get super deep and high-grade gloss.

This method is also guaranteed to give you stellar paint to buff without the fear of ruining your finished paint job.

Will Buffing Damage My Clear Coat?

Although clearing the single stage will add more gloss and a stellar finish, buffing the car the wrong way can ruin your paint job. If this is your first-time buffing, it would be best to practice with a hood or any other car part from the junkyard to get a feel of how the buffer works.

Normally, when you set the buffer to a high speed and you stay too long on a spot, you will end up ruining the top coat and, in some cases, the entire paint job.

Also, if you are inexperienced, it would be best to use an orbital buffer because the rotary buffer may be too much for you to handle.

You also want to seek some advice about the right polish for buffing. If you use the wrong polish, you will end up with a lot more damage to the paint job.

Must The Clear Coat be Compatible with the Single Stage?

Yes, the clear coat paint and the single stage must be compatible. You cannot use a urethane clear coat over an acrylic or lacquer single-stage paint. That would result in a messy paint job.

Also, urethane is a clear coat, so if you use a urethane single-stage paint, you can clear with a urethane clear coat without letting the single stage cure and sand down first before application.

If you like, you can mix the urethane clear with the single stage to achieve that extra rich gloss.