Knowing When to Use Clear Coat Spray Paint

A decorative hanging rack that has been coated in clear spray paint.

Clearcoat spray paint is a good solution for projects that need to be sealed as a final step to preserve their finish, color, or surface. It comes in so many formulations that you should be able to find the perfect one for your project easily. Take a good look at the product label before buying to see what surfaces the spray is recommended for, and estimate how much product you will need by seeing the approximate area it covers. Finally, look at the clean up required and what the drying time is. Considering all of these factors should help you pick the perfect clear coat. However, you will still need to when and how to use what you’ve purchased.

Tip: Remember to properly vent and prepare the area. It is best to not spray this type of product inside.

Paper Crafts

Paper mache, collage, and decoupage need a protective coating. In these cases, look for a triple-thick clear spray. This spray gives a three-dimensional appearance and it won’t crack. It also works well on plaster, creating a porcelain-like glaze. Apply it in quick, continuous strokes across the surface for best results.


You can reduce the gloss and light reflection on photos or even murals by using a matte finish spray. It creates a soft satin finish instead a reflective sheen.

Art Projects

A clear acrylic coating is a good spray to use to permanently protect artwork and give it a bright gloss finish. Test the spray on similar materials to see what the effect will be on the finished piece before you apply it.

Records and Maps

Clear varnish spray can protect paper materials such as historical records, maps, and displays. It will provide a tough clear finish that won’t yellow with age. It can also keep your photographs from becoming bent or dog-eared, and it is water-resistant and dries quickly.

Painted Crafts

Use a gloss or matte spray over painted items. Either kind will keep the painted surface from being scratched or damaged. If you use a glossy spray, it will enhance the appearance of the paint.

Kid’s Stuff

Kids can be extra hard on their furniture. There are special non-toxic sprays that give you a durable, high-gloss finish and will stand up to repeated cleanings. You can also use it on their toys and bikes. It cleans up with water and dries in minutes. There are even sprays that contain glitter to add some fun.


Use varnish to protect the painted metal. If there is any rust, remove it first and then use a rust-resistant product. You can also use a spray lacquer on metal.


To protect the wood on doors or furniture use a lacquer. This will provide protection and luster to the wood. Before applying a new layer, be sure the previous layer is completely dry.

Wall Stripes

Paint your wall a solid color and create different colored stripes by measuring out sections of wall. Tape off every other stripe and spray every other column with spray paint. This will give you a sophisticated striped effect.

Dried or Silk Flowers

Preserve dried flowers by lightly spraying them with a clear coat. Don’t hold the nozzle too close, since dried flowers are fragile. Silk flowers can be porcelainized by using a triple-thick formula.

Enjoy all of your projects knowing you have given them the final touch that will see them preserved and protected for a long time.

Pam Estabrooke, the district manager of ProTect Painters, contributed to this article.