Clear Coating



So I've just been using a spray can clear coat, and it's been working pretty good for me. I've been using that because I don't have an air gun. What's the best way to get a real smooth result.

Do you put a couple costs down, sand and then put another couple coats down.

Also, do you put a mid coat down at all? Would you use a matte clear coat for that?

I am referring to my Minnesota Vikings painting on a 1x2' aluminum sheet.

Hi Dylan, i did it a few times in my shed on some scuba tanks and a panel but didn't manage to get a nice and smooth result.

But i got a few pointers for you, wet the floor to minimize dust particle's get airborne, and make sure that your panel is nice and warm so that the clearcoat flows nicely over the panel. And you need to do a few more coats than a pro does with a gun to get the same results.

But imo if you have spend say 15 hours to make a nice panel like yours, you can screw it up beyond repair in secconds.

You can go to a local car painter and ask if they have a spray job and want to do your panel in the end, because they always have clearcoat left in the end which they normaly throw away, it maybe cost you a case of beer or you have to do a panel for them, this is how i do it and it works fine.
Ok, not an expert at this but here goes. If you can warm up the clear, and what you're spraying, and keep the temperature of where ever your spraying nice and warm, you will get a better result. Read the instructions carefully, and stick religiously to the time between each coat, too soon is as bad as too late, and can cause crazing or blooming (clear goes kinda milky). Make sure the clear is thouroughly mixed, and apply a very light dust coat. Overlap each pass by aroun two thirds. After the required time, usually around 15 mins. The first coat should be slightly tacky and ready to grip the next coat. This time apply a wet coat, again overlapping each pass. This doesn't sound like much, but will often be enough and you can stop right there. If you aren't happy then wait the required time and add another coat. Then just leave it to cure. Cutting and polishing will then really bring out the depth and shine, and is just as important for a smooth finish. I use G3 and G10. I'm sure people can pitch in with better info than that, but I hope this helps.
Which rattle can clear are you using? It can make a difference. I find UPOL's Clear #1 rattle can very good and it goes on much thicker than other rattle can clears. If you use the UPOL, 3 to 4 coats should do it, but if you use something else, you'll need 6 to 8 coats to build up a decent thickness of clear. The first coat I usually spray a light dust coat and subsequent coats a medium wet coat. Read the instructions on the can and follow the times between coats so you give each layer time to flash off. As stated above, warm up the can in some hot water for 10 minutes and that can help lay down smoother coats. If you want a glass like finish, wait 24 to 48 hours for the clear to get nice and hard, then wet sand with 1500 paper (use a sanding block) until the clear is a smooth dull finish. If you see any shiny spots, continue to wet sand. Now you will need a heavy duty rotary buffing machine to bring back the shine. If you don't have one, you can get one at Harbor Freight for about $40. Using either a wool pad or foam pad with 3M Perfect It, buff the panel until its shiny. Then use a different pad with 3M Machine Glaze and buff it again. This will really make it shine like crazy. There are other compounds besides the 3M stuff, but that's what I use. Hope this helps.
What's upol? I've been using rustoleum crystal clear. It actually works pretty well But I saw that they have a rustoleum auto clear coat enamel. Wasn't sure how it would react with my water based paints. Used auto air and spectra tex.

Being rattle cans are super super thin you almost have to use a full can to get the coverage that you would with a spray gun (with just a tack coat and a flow coat) It can be done and Upol is great next best thing in case you can not find upol is Krylon's double coat it goes on thicker and smoother.
Depending on how much orange peel you end up with is what you will have to do to smooth it , most times some 2000 grit or 4000 grit wet dry paper will work great. after you get a 100% smooth surface you than switch to your buffing compound and polish to get the super high gloss finish.
Drobbins12 rustoleum auto clear coat has the extra UV additive in it , It works great with both paints you are using, But it will also depend on the surface you are using it on.I have use SG100 (intercoat clear) over both to lock it down than cleared over it with no issues.