Clear coat / Sealant?

Hi, I have been priming and painting my signs with rustoleum primer as well as the 2x stuff, and behr paint from home depot. What do you guys use for clear coating? A flat / matte coat if possible, not a fan of gloss. What’s the best for outside placement?

Thanks - Wade.

skipping paint all together and powdered coating is a far better for exterior duty.

When I use clear coat over patina I use beautitone stain clear.


Oil based Urethanes all have a yellowish effect and the only urethane that is recommended for outside usually has the term “spar” included with it. The spar, I was told, means that the coating is more likely to expand and contract with the heat and cold and resist cracking.

I have no experience with this product, but I know of people that routinely do painted rocks and then coat with this Krylon coating. It is available in gloss, satin and flat. They claim good results.

This is my favorite line of spray paints in a can but have not used this clear coating. I would probably give this a try:

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I use rustoleum paint and the few times I tried using clear it wrinkles the paint. Be careful is my suggestion. I have signs on my pole barn I painted over a year ago and they look perfect still. The really nice thing about powder coating is you can touch it after it comes out of the oven. Paint takes a day


The clear wrinkles your paint because you have to let the color paint fully cure. I know it is weird…

As wet paint goes my go to was high temp auto paint. A little pricey but worth it.

Most paints will specify if a clear is need. For the o.p.


I dont clear anything unless it requires it. As far as paint, I have had great luck with Rustoleum, even outdoors. Nothing I am painting is nice enough to use primer.
I typically only paint things that I cant P/C.
Worst thing about Rustoleum is the very long dry times and overspray


Keep in mind re-coat times. We were using Rustoleum 2x clears over Rustoleum flat recently, and I seem to recall a re-coat window.

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I made a dresser/room divider out of birch and alder. Three coats of clear satin urethane finish (dry and sanded between coats). I left it in the garage for three weeks because of the odor. Temps in the garage were in the high 50’s to low 60’s. It seemed that the odor was gone. Brought it into the house. In the 70 temps it came “alive” and smelled like it was freshly finished, for another 3 weeks.

I now have what I call a finishing room and several HVLP spray systems. Probably by most, considered unsafe. It is a 10X10 room with a wood stove. I have lots of ventilation when spraying and the stove is on low heat. (Note: I never spray lacquer as it is far too volatile.) An hour after spraying, I crank the heat up into the 90’s.

I try to keep it above 80 degrees for a full 24 hours. That really “flashes” off the solvents in the finishes. They are dry in an hour but you can still leave a depression in the finish if you touch lightly with a fingernail. After two days, of remaining above 70 degrees and the humidity around 20%, that finish is bone hard and you can tell it has shrunk to the body of the cabinet. You can’t leave an impression with light to moderate touch.

Totally agree with Phillip and Knick: It is all in the curing of the initial layer of paint. Dry to touch is not cured. If there is still solvent left in the paint, it will wreck the next layer of finish. Most finish recommends recoat in less than an hour or after full cure (several days). If you get the coat on in the first hour, I would imagine it fuses as one thick layer and the solvent can move thru that layer to the surface.

Hint: If you can still smell the paint, it is not fully cured. You may need to warm to room temperature to get a good read on whether it “smells” or not.

Also agree with Don:

Some of the new paints with primer and paint in the same product are really phenomenal.

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I waited 3 full days after painting and the sign was sitting in 70-80 degrees about 2 months ago in my attached garage. I sprayed a test panel because I learned my lesson only waiting 2 days after a different sign got messed up. If clear is needed use an auto paint but maybe you’ll have better luck. I’m not Michigan fan. This was for a friends retirement.

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I have had to wait a week with that rustoleum 2x in Utah in the summer. It can be finicky for sure. Even after a week it still hadn’t fully hardened. It baffled me… then I looked into it and it is common for the 2x to take longer to cure… especially if you do heavy coats.

I haven’t ever had a reason to use the clear either.

I painted one of my classic broncos in the winter one time and didn’t wait long enough and got the cracks and fish eyes… had to start over


Your pic is what happened after waiting 2 days?

This makes a huge difference. Spray a light to medium coat and walk away for 15-30 mins and come back and do the same till covered. Heavy coats will really slow down dry times. Its hard to do light coats for me as I always want to getter-done!


First time I did clear I waited 2days bad same thing happened so I waited 3 days on this one and same thing. Like @72Pony said I needed to wait longer but it’s guessing game and I like to make things and be done. Not too worried about it. Just sharing my experience.

Ya me too.
Hmmmm do I see a Powder Coating set up coming to Dons house in the near future?? :joy:
X-mas is coming soon!

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I looked at them 6 months ago and was leaning towards doing propane one. If I was doing it to make money I would definitely invest but I do it for fun and friends. With that being said in my first year I had 599 .nc cut files when I did clean up on my computer few months ago. Fun hobby but money said is not fun for me.


This is my experience as well. I really like 2X and have found that a very light ‘dusting’, followed 2 hours later with a coverage coat always works well. I’ve had yard art on the ground for 3 years without any sign of rust or paint degradation.


I use my thumbnail to test the hardness in an inconspicuous location… It’s not very scientific… and I am not sure it’s even right.

Most of what I know I learned from my uncle (moms’ brother) from MN who was a backyard autobody guy at best. After a nasty divorce he came to live with us for a while to recover. He turned my parent’s garage into a part time autobody shop with my dad paying him to paint our cars and some neighbor’s cars. Not sure how my parents did it… we had 8 kids in a small house… but always seemed to have at least one extra mouth to feed who needed a place to stay a while.


I am right there with you… painting is my least favorite thing to do. It’s hard for me to do it slow. I have been looking at powder coating. Mostly because it’s hard to keep “my” (in-laws) uninsulated shop warm enough for the paint to cure… and winter is when I try to spend the most time out there. I am going to try and put in some insultation before it gets to cold. Some of you know… My father in law was a HS shop and ag teacher. He passed away unexpectedly the day after easter. He had been letting me use his personal shop for my plasma table. I was planning to build my own shop in our back yard this past spring… but not long after my FIL passed, the field behind them was offered to us for sale. We just closed on it a couple of weeks back and are going to build in the spring. My MIL is excited to have some help a little closer… I mean we are only 10 min away, but their place is allot to take care of. Their place is multiple parcels, and we are going to also buy the parcel with the shop, so I have spent the summer cleaning it out and re-organizing it. My MIL keeps offering to pay to have it insulated but it doesn’t seem right for her to spend all that money on it in my behalf.

Sorry… long winded way of saying I would like to get into powder… but like @DonP its allot of expense for a hobby. I have thought of finding a cheap used kitchen oven but most of the stuff I have made wouldn’t fit… so I would need to build or buy a larger one which can get expensive.


Insulation would be first on my list as I can stand working in the cold. Is it a post frame building? if so they are pretty easy to insulate.
Sounds like you are going to be very busy in the very near future!
Congrats on getting your own shop!

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Depending on how big the pieces are you’d usually do, you might find a propane or electric smoker would work. This is a good time to find one cheap in fact - the big box stores are clearing them out because the season is over. I did that and pulled out the racks, added a swivel hook in the top so I could hang stuff and added insulation batts to the exterior so that it would stay at 400F in an unheated and uninsulated garage.