Spraying Topcoat: 7 Things You Need to Know and Use

Using a topcoat can allow your paint last longer and protect surfaces from wear. The top coat is the last layer of varnish or paint applied to a surface. A topcoat allows for better colors and smoother finishes. One way to apply the topcoat is by spraying it. Spraying the topcoat might just be the best choice for a smooth and even finish. In addition, spraying the topcoat on whatever surface is usually faster, easier, safer, and less costly than using a brush. Furthermore, spray painting the surface can help leave your surface free of streaks, brush strokes, and marks.

Nevertheless, as with most home improvement projects, there are many things to consider when spray painting your topcoat. This article lists seven things you need to know and use when spraying a topcoat.

Seven Things to Consider When Spraying Topcoat

Below are things we think you should know when applying a topcoat. They include tips for coat application and the tools needed.

1) Choosing The Topcoat

There are various types of topcoats you can apply to a surface, especially wooden surfaces. Your topcoat’s finish will depend on the kind of coat you intend to use. Your choice of topcoat may affect how or if you can spray it. Also, consider if you need to topcoat a surface or not. Purely decorative items may not need a topcoat.

You can use a clear topcoat, wax, or glazes. Clear topcoats are pretty thin and work very well with paint sprayers. Glazes are great if you want to deepen the color of the paint or give more appeal to the surface. Glazes are thinner than paint and are relatively easy to apply. Waxes are yet another good topcoat that you can use for your furniture. However, because waxes are not liquid, it is not sprayable. So, wax cannot be an option if you intend to spray the topcoat.

Basically, the best type of topcoats for spraying are water- or oil-based. A water-based topcoat will give you a lower sheen finish that lasts long. In comparison, an oil-based topcoat can achieve a higher sheen though it dulls faster.

2) Ready The Surface

Before you spray the topcoat, you must carry out some preparations to prime the surface for the procedure. Get rid of moisture, abrasions, holes, dust, dirt, and rough spots from the surface. You can sand the exterior in case of uneven surfaces so the topcoat can adhere to it. Also, wipe off dust and dirt from the surface before applying the topcoat to get a clean finish. Lastly, ensure the paint or previous coating dries before applying the topcoat. Preparing the surface is essential if you want to avoid a bumpy surface.

Please note that preparation for different surfaces may differ.

3) Getting A Smooth Finish

It would be best to use the correct techniques to get a smooth finish for your topcoat. While spraying a topcoat is easy, you should not just haphazardly spray the surface. Some techniques that can help your project include:

  • Keep the spray nozzle 6 to 10 inches away from the surface as you apply the topcoat
  • Use steady and even passes when spraying the topcoat. Spraying in a random pattern can cause uneven finishes
  • Spray horizontally, moving from left to right and subsequently right to left
  • Do not idle on a single spot to avoid drips
  • Conserve the coat by spraying in short bursts as against a long continuous stream
  • Do not be in haste as you work
  • Maintain a firm grip on the spray gun or can
  • Move your whole body and not just your arms
  • Do not spray too close to the surface or beyond its edges

4) Safety

When spraying the topcoat, be mindful of the following to keep yourself safe:

  • Please read the manual or guide for safety precautions and operating instructions that come with the topcoat or spray equipment and apply them. Some equipment comes with specific instructions for the particular product.
  • Getting a well-ventilated area to work when spraying is vital to protect yourself from the fumes. When working indoors, ensure your workspace is cross ventilated, and all the windows are open. Work outdoors if you can. This will limit the effects of fumes the most. If you work outdoors, pay attention to the weather because a breeze or wind can bring in dirt and mess up your finish. When spraying a topcoat, an open garage can also serve as a solid working area.
  • Spraying can cause aerosols from the substance to enter your eyes, nose, and respiratory system. So, use goggles to protect your eyes. Use a respirator or dust mask to prevent the substance from entering your nostrils and mouth. You can wear gloves, spray socks, and a hat to protect your body.

Do not be too casual or flippant regarding your safety and health. Protecting yourself is cheaper than a hospital visit.

5) Protect Surrounding Area

Cover areas where you do not intend to topcoat to prevent the substance from getting on top of them. Remember that sprays can spread further and are less controlled than a brush or roller. Hence, keeping the areas outside the intended target well covered would be best. To protect the surrounding area, you can use newspapers, cardboard, and drop cloths. Also, cover and tape openings on items you intend to spray. You can also hang plastic tarps or bags to protect the walls and ceilings.

If the item you want to paint is movable, consider taking it outside or to a location where the stains will not have any consequences.

6) Spray Gun Selection

You may need a spray gun to spray the topcoat for coats that don’t come in a canister. Spray guns are typically used to apply even liquid coats on large surface areas. There are some things to remember to ensure you get the right spray gun for your needs.

  • Get A High-Quality Gun

While generally more expensive, high-quality spray guns work well for different use cases. You will likely have more choices of nozzles and air caps and can reuse the gun for other purposes, thus making it more cost-efficient in the long run. The cheaper low-quality guns tend to be limited in their uses.

  • Select The Right Nozzle

There are different types of nozzles. The kind you choose would depend on the project. Three of the most common nozzles are full cones, hollow cones, and flat streams. A larger area will benefit from a full cone nozzle. A flat stream nozzle will work well for smaller coverage areas. Also, a fine finish will need a nozzle between 1.4 and 1.8 millimeters (MM). Larger setups may require somewhere between 1.8 and 2.8 MM.

  • The viscosity of the Coating

Check the technical information of the spray gun to ensure it’s compatible with the viscosity of the coat you intend to use. Some spray guns are better with liquids with heavy thickness and vice versa.

7) Practice On a Smaller Area first

If this is your first time spraying a topcoat or on a surface you have not previously, it might be helpful to practice on a small immaterial surface first. For first-timers spraying on a scrap material can help you get accustomed to the feel of using a spray gun or canister. You can minimize mistakes and get a smoother finish on the real deal with practice.

For those with experience spray painting but are doing it on a different surface for the first time, practicing will help you see the effects of the coat as you spray, so you know how to adjust your technique.

We have mentioned it before, but for every topcoat or spraying tool you will be using, read the instructions clearly before applying it. Do this even before you practice.

These are the seven things we believe you need to know for spraying a topcoat, and if you follow them and practice first, you will achieve a good and durable finish for your surface. You should know many more things, but you can start with these.


Spraying a topcoat is an effective way to achieve a smooth, even, and long-lasting finish that can protect surfaces from wear. Nevertheless, there are some factors it would be helpful for you to consider when spraying a topcoat. In this article, we have identified seven of them. First, choosing a suitable topcoat is necessary for an even finish. Second, properly prepping your surface is essential to avoid bumpy coats. Third, the correct technique can help you achieve a smooth and consistent finish.

Furthermore, select the right spray gun for your project. Also, do not forget to protect surrounding areas. Additionally, practice personal safety and protect the surrounding areas. Lastly, read instructions carefully and practice on a small surface if this is your first time. If you note these seven things and put them into practice, you can get a professional-looking, smooth topcoat that will protect your surface for years to come.