How to Use Urethane Clear Over Acrylic Enamal

by Sue Stepp
The reconstructed ancient car painted in two colors. image by Yuri Bizgaimer from

Painting a car makes it look new again. When a car is painted with acrylic enamel, a clear coat is applied over the paint. The clear coat of urethane supplies the acrylic enamel paint with a buffer between the paint and the elements. Weather, dirt and other damaging elements never touch the actual paint on the car. The clear urethane protects the car's paint while giving the car a beautiful, glossy coating. Restoring the paint job on a car isn't too complicated, but it is time consuming. Once the car's paint job is finished, the car looks fantastic.

Preparing the Car

Step 1

Remove all of the removable trim from the car. That means remove metal trim, mirrors, grills and bumpers.

Step 2

Wash the car using detergent and water. Rinse it well, and wash it a second time using a wax and grease remover.

Step 3

Tape over items you don't remove. Tape the window molding and door handles. Put newspaper over the glass areas, and tape it into place, so paint stays off of the glass.

Step 4

Put on the protective eye wear and face mask before sanding. Sand off as much of the paint as possible, using an electric sander with fine grit sandpaper. Sand rough or rusted areas with coarse grit sandpaper first, and then switch to fine grit.

Step 5

Clean the car thoroughly with soap and water. Wipe off any excess moisture before painting.

Step 6

Prepare yourself for painting by putting on the protective eye wear and face mask before sanding. Spray on a thin coat of primer on the car. Cover all of the areas that need painting. Let the primer dry completely.

Step 7

Sand the car using wet/dry sandpaper wrapped around a sponge. Wipe off the car with a wet cloth when you finish sanding all of the painted areas.

Remove the tape and newspaper from the car if it is wet. Replace the tape or newspaper before painting the car. Let the car dry for 36 hours before painting.

Painting the Acrylic Enamel Coats of Paint

Step 1

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mixing the paint and putting it in the spray gun. Each paint manufacturer is slightly different, so always consult the instructions.

Step 2

Put on the protective eye wear and face mask before sanding. Spray the paint onto the car starting at the top of the car, and working your way down to the bottom. Keep the spray gun at least a foot away from the car as you spray the paint. Go back and forth with the paint overlapping previously painted areas, so the paint gets a smooth look. Remember, keep the paint thin, or it runs.

Let the paint dry once you have a solid coat on the car. Check the car for any rough spots or drips. If you find any, sand the area with damp sandpaper, and wipe it with a damp cloth. Dry the area thoroughly, and paint a second coat of paint on the car. Repeat this procedure one more time for a good, solid coat of paint. Let the car dry for 36 hours.

Applying Urethane Clear Over Acrylic Enamel

Step 1

Wait for a good dry day before using the urethane clear on the car. If it is damp the spray gun picks up dirt, dust and moisture, and blends it into the paint ruining the paint job.

Step 2

Prepare the urethane clear according to the manufacturer's instructions. Follow the mixing instructions, and remember, only mix the amount you need. Extra mixed urethane sets up in the container before the next morning, so throw away any leftover mixed urethane.

Step 3

Spray a thin coat of urethane clear onto the car starting at the top and working your way down. Once the whole car is covered, let it dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. It usually takes about 15 minutes for drying between layers.

Step 4

Check the car for any drips or rough areas. Sand drips or rough areas with a damp piece of wet/dry sandpaper. Wipe the area with a damp cloth, and dry thoroughly.

Step 5

Add two more coats of clear urethane the same way. Let the urethane dry completely between layers.

Let the urethane clear dry for at least 90 minutes before removing the tape and paper. The car is finished.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver, wrenches and basic tools
  • Detergent
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Cloths
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Painter's tape
  • Newspaper
  • Electric sander with fine and coarse grit sandpaper
  • Wet/dry sandpaper
  • Face mask and protective eye wear
  • Several spray cans of primer paint
  • Paint sprayer
  • Acrylic enamel paint
  • Urethane clear coat

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