Commonly used surfaces, especially ones that spend a lot of time outdoors such as metal, always require a finish of some kind. A clear coat usually does the trick, and it will protect your metal from rust, weather damage, and aging.
So, what is the best clear coat for metal? The best clear coat for metal is transparent, has the right finish for your metal, gives your metal all-weather durability, is easy to use, and has a quick dry time.
In this article, we’ll give you a full guide to how to choose the best clear coat for metal, plus provide a list of the best products you can use.
When To Use Clear Coat For Metal
Metal is a great durable material to use to make heavy-duty items you don’t want to break easily. It stands up against drop or bump damage, only suffering minor dents if anything.
However, metal is still susceptible to damage. When exposed to moisture over time, it will begin to rust. The rust will break down the metal if left long enough and begin to erode the surface, causing holes and disintegration.
To avoid this happening to your metal, it’s best to use a clear coat. The right clear coat can protect your metal from moisture, UV rays, temperature fluctuations, and scratch damage.
Clear coats are commonly used on metallic structures such as cars, outdoor patio furniture, and outdoor metal décor such as garden art or bird feeders.
A common interior design style in bathrooms is to use a copper basin that rests on top of the counter as a sink. To protect the basin from rusting over time with the constant water, it should be finished with a clear coat.
Other indoor metal pieces can also be protected with a clear coat. Even though metal won’t be as exposed to damaging elements indoors, using a clear coat can still protect it from scratches and moisture.
How To Choose The Best Clear Coat For Metal
The sections below include the top qualities to consider when looking for a clear coat specifically designed to work well with metal:
Although it should go without saying that a clear coat would be transparent, this isn’t always the case.
Some brands will tint their clear coating to try and color match the item you’re going to apply it to. They may also have issues with their formula that cause their clear coat to appear cloudy instead of clear.
Metal is going to be very unforgiving with a clear coat that is not fully transparent. If your clear coat is cloudy or tinted with color, it will be obvious once applied to a metallic surface.
To prevent your metal from being ruined by a clear coat that isn’t mixed correctly, be sure to find one that is truly transparent.
Read the product description before purchasing to ensure that it is a fully clear coat and hasn’t been tinted with any other color.
Before choosing your clear coat, you also need to ensure that it has the right finish to match your project. Whether your metal is bare or painted, the finish can change the look completely.
There are clear coats available in gloss, satin, and matte. Gloss will provide a high level of shine, satin will be shiny but a little less so than gloss, and matte will be flat without any shine.
Gloss or satin clear coats look best with bare metal. This is due to metal’s natural shine and light reflective nature. The gloss or satin clear coat will maintain that shine without looking unnatural.
Matte isn’t typically used for metal, but can be depending on the project. For example, a metal outdoor bench that’s been painted will probably look better with matte than gloss or satin.
The important thing is finding a type of finish that works well with your project.
Whether you plan to keep your metal project outside or inside, it should still be finished with a clear coat that has all-weather durability. All-weather durability means that it will protect your metal against moisture, temperature fluctuations, and UV rays.
Metal that’s kept outside will absolutely need this high level of protection if you want it to last. Moisture will cause rust, UV rays will wear down the metal, and temperature fluctuations can cause it to warp.
Even indoors, metal needs protection against these elements. What happens if your air conditioning goes out in the middle of summer and your house suddenly goes from 74-100ºF?
Or what if your dog spill water all over a metal sculpture in your home while you’re gone? Regardless of where you plan to store your metal, it will need a clear coat that can protect it from any type of weather.
Ease Of Use
A good clear coat should be easy to use. It shouldn’t require any prior sanding, any primer, or any other added step. It should be ready to right out of the can.
Some clear coats come in a large can, similar in look to a paint can, that you can apply using a brush. Other clear coats come in spray bottles that you can spray to apply.
Both of these are great options, and it will be up to you which you prefer. Brushing on the clear coat may cause you to see brush strokes, but you’ll get a much more even coverage.
Spraying on the clear coat may cause you to have areas that are thicker or thinner than others, but you’ll be able to apply it easier.
If you’re used to painting or adding clear coats to your projects with a brush, then these types of clear coats will often be better. You’ll ensure better coverage when working with a brush.
However, if this is your first time using a clear coat and you want something quick and easy to use, then a spray can will work just fine. It will get the job done without as much labor on your part.
The dry time of your clear coat will also be important. You’ll have to apply 2-3 layers of your clear coat to achieve effective coverage, so the dry time will determine how long you’re working.
Some clear coats can take hours to dry, while others take just 20 minutes. Read the product description to figure out how long your clear coat will take to dry.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use one that takes a long time to dry. Sometimes the best quality product will need a little extra dry time.
What you have to consider is how long you have to wait. If you’re trying to get a quick weekend project done, you may need to get a quick-dry clear coat so you can get the project done before Monday morning rolls around.
If you have time and space to let your metal sit for a few hours while it dries in between coats, then there’s no problem with using a clear coat that takes a little longer to fully cure.
Best Clear Coats For Metal
If you’re looking for the best clear coat to protect your metal, then look no further. We’ve put together a list of the best clear coats for metal.
|1.||KBS Coatings DiamondFinish Clear Coat||Durable, gloss, brush or spray, UV protection|
|2.||Everbrite Protective Coating For Metal||UV protection, durable, brush onto painted metal|
|3.||ProtectaClear Aerosol Protective Coating||Spray on, self-leveling, quick dry, rust protection|
|4.||Eastwood Diamond Clear Gloss Finish||UV protection, brush or spray, heat resistance|
|5.||Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint||Spray on, versatile, gloss finish, quick dry|
|6.||Krylon Rust Protector And Preventative Enamels||Quick dry, spray on, rust protection, multiple finishes|
|7.||Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Clear Topcoat Spray||Quick dry, matte finish, spray on, rust protection|
1. KBS Coatings DiamondFinish Clear Coat
The best clear coat on the market is KBS DiamondFinish Clear Coat. It’s been used by thousands of customers who rave that it provides the best level of protection while making their metal work shine.
Having the option to brush on or spray on is perfect for those who don’t know which will be easiest. Try buying one of each and using each of them on two separate projects.
This clear coat provides durable UV protection, keeping your metal safe from any weather and outdoor damage.
It has a high gloss shine to have your metal shining like it’s brand new for years to come.
2. Everbrite Protective Coating for Metal
A solid runner-up is the Everbrite Protective Coating for Metal. This clear coat isn’t just good on new metal pieces, but can breathe new life into old metal by restoring some of the previously lost luster.
It works best for painted metal, so consider using it on metal projects you’ve painted rather than on bare metal. It provides great UV protection, so it works well for metal that’s going to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Everbrite Protective Coating is durable and tough. It will give your metal a solid layer of protection against scratches, weather damage, and rust.
It comes in a small can and should be brushed onto the metal.
3. ProtectaClear Aerosol Protective Coating
For those looking for another spray can option, ProtectaClear is a perfect choice. This clear coat, also from Everbrite, comes in the form of a spray can to make applying it easier than ever.
ProtectaClear is self-leveling, so even if you spray it on unevenly, it will even itself out to give you a smooth, clear finish.
It provides a durable layer of protection against rust, corrosion, scratches, tarnish, and more. It even has a quick dry time!
There’s no sanding or priming required, so you can go ahead and spray it on whatever metal surface you’re working on – even if it has a naturally high shine.
This spray clear coat works great on cars, specifically on the aluminum and steel parts under the hood.
4. Eastwood Diamond Clear Gloss Finish
Although Eastwood Diamond Clear coat doesn’t have any customer reviews, we wanted to include it because it’s another great brush-on option.
The best part is that even though it comes in a can to be brushed on, you can also load it into a spray gun and spray it on, if you have a spray gun on hand.
Eastwood Diamond Clear provides a great, durable layer of protection for a variety of metals.
It works great in cars, especially due to its high heat resistance of 300ºF. You can use it on automobile parts under the hood, confident that it will hold up and provide great protection. (Do not use this product on exhaust components).
It also protects against UV rays, so it works great on outdoor patio furniture or garden décor – especially if you live in a hot southern state with lots of sun and heat.
5. Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint
Krylon is a reputable and trusted brand when it comes to spray paints and coatings. We’ve included two products from Krylon that we recommend, and this first one is the Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint.
Although the name of the product is paint, this version of it is the gloss clear coating. One of the great things about this Krylon Fusion clear coat is that it can be used on a variety of surfaces.
It’s versatile in application, meaning that it won’t be wasted if you only need a clear coat for one metal project. You can also use it on plastic and tile.
No sanding or priming is required. It can be sprayed directly on your metal and provide a high level of protection.
Its glossy shine also has a quick dry time. After just 20 minutes, you’ll be able to apply your next layer.
6. Krylon Rust Protector and Preventative Enamels
Our other Krylon product is the Rust Protector.
The Rust Protector comes in multiple finishes: gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and flat (or matte).
You can spray it directly onto your metal and rest assured that it will provide a high level of rust protection and durable coating.
Right on the can you see the dry time front and center – Krylon Rust Protector dries in just 8 minutes! This will have you finishing your project in no time.
7. Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Topcoat Spray
Our final options is the perfect choice for those looking to use a matte, or “Dead Flat” as Rust-Oleum calls it, clear coat.
The Rust-Oleum Universal Clear Topcoat comes in a convenient spray can that can be used at different angles. It even works spraying it upside down, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to cover the entire metal surface.
It’s versatile, so you can also use it on your wood, plastic, or masonry projects.
It provides great rust and corrosion protection, so you can rest assured that your metal will hold up over time through the elements – especially if you live in a rainy area.
It dries quickly in just 30 minutes, so you’ll be able to apply your 2-3 layers in just a couple hours.