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Clear coat over automotive paint and decals???

6 replies
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  • Member since
    November 2019
Clear coat over automotive paint and decals???
Posted by 2zwudz on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 12:30 PM

What would you recommend for a clear coat over automotive paint and water slide decals. It must remain clear and not discolor over time!! 
Thanks Mark

  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Sunday, December 1, 2019 4:21 PM

Probably the safest (easy on decals), and also excellent for resistance to discolouration would be Tamiya acrylic clear.

A more popular choice would be Tamiya lacquer clear, especially since some don't like using acrylics. I have heard reports of the clear lacquer causing some types of decals to wrinkle, but these are likely rare occurances. If in doubt, test on scrap decals before committing to the project. 

"It would be unusual, if the unusual didn't occur."

- Steamboat Gariepy


  • Member since
    December 2012
Posted by Geno on Sunday, December 1, 2019 7:10 PM

Mark, I use Testors Wet Look Clear and never had a single issue and I love the deep glossy shine it gives. 

  • Member since
    March 2006
Posted by RAMBENNA on Monday, December 2, 2019 4:39 PM
I use Tamiya Clear TS-13 also works great, a little spendy about 8.00 a can. does between 8-10 cars for me
  • Member since
    May 2015
Posted by Goofy62 on Monday, December 2, 2019 8:45 PM

One of the Testors clear lacquers.

You definitely cannot use an automotive clear lacquer over decals.





  • Member since
    September 2019
Posted by ThomasF on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 5:27 AM

Thats: "...cannot use an automotive clear lacquer over decals..."


isnt right ... for more than 10 years  i ve used Holts clear coat over all different decals and a can is enough for more than 8 cars ... the only exception is not using Holts for white acrylic painted cars

I don´t build premium models like yours - i ve built for fun only


  • Member since
    January 2017
Posted by 195X on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 12:35 PM

I am of the ilk that, properly applied decals do not need a clear coat for protection. They may have a need for clear coat for other reasons such as changing sheen from flat to gloss and so on.

All the paints mentioned above are great except for the Testor's. Unless they've changed the formula in recent years, it's been my experience that it's yellowing in a can. 

Thing is, if you don't have a spare decal you'd want to test on you're always in doubt. To remove all doubt use futureshine floor care. I know guys I KNOW. Futureshine is NOT a cure all. However it does have interesting properties. It's self leveling, does not affect ANY decals I have found in 20 to 25 years using it. It will not react poorly to any paint except it just doesn't do well over flats! Flat paints eat futureshine and ask for more.

So, since it's self leveling and designed to be walked on, you'll get a smooth, rock hard  gloss with no ill effects to your paint or decal.

BONUS! You can brush paint it on if you don't have an air brush. You won't have any brush marks.

ONE COAT. I cannot stress that enough. Futureshine does it's thing in one coat. If you find you missed a spot or it does need a second coat because the decals didn't quite shine up, wait a minimum 48 hours before a second coat. Then you're safe.

As for clear coat over auto paint, I typically use Duplicolor. Cures almost as hard and although I've seen photos of problems with decals, I have yet to experience it.

Crazing and wrinkling usually happen to decals that had bubbles left in them or the edges weren't burnished down proper, or both. The paint get's under the edges or over a tiny air bubble and the chemicals in the paint do their worst!

Here's a helpful page on Futureshine. 



My favorite color is clear. I am also ambidexterous, I can screw up equally well with either hand. I am 53 years old and been building for most of that time. :)

On the bench... somewhere. Pink Panther show car, 1978 Dodge Magnum Charger Daytona Midnight edition SE 300. Mongrel T.


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