Automotive Clear Coats: The Ultimate Buyer's Guide

29 August 2023 Automotive

Applying a clear coat to a freshly painted colour coat serves several functions: it increases the gloss and depth of the paintwork to give that ‘showroom shine’, shields it from the destructive UV rays of sunlight and protects it against acid rain, road tar, road salt and even bird droppings.

But which is the best clear coat for your project? 1K or 2K? High solids or very high solids (VHS)? Fast or extra fast? In this blog post, we unpack all the various types of clear coat and the terms used for them.

View Our Clear Coat Range

Should I Use A 1K Or 2K Clear Coat?

1K and 2K are how the automotive industry refers to single- and two-component paints and lacquers. Most aerosol clear coats will be a 1K formula as these only need to be shaken well in the can before spraying. They are fast and easy to use for small areas and spot repairs and need no special application equipment. 1K clear coats rely on the evaporation of solvents in the lacquer for it to dry and harden.

The second component on a 2K clear coat acts as a catalyst, generating a chemical reaction that will harden and cure the clear coat. This results in a far tougher, more chemically resistant coating that will maintain its shine and protect the paintwork for longer.

2K clear coats are most commonly supplied in separate cans for the clear coat and hardener, to be mixed immediately before spraying. However, Pro2K Clear Lacquer Aerosol from ProXL combines the durability of a 2K clear coat with all the convenience of an aerosol tin. The components of the lacquer are held in two compartments of the can, separated by a seal. This seal is broken immediately before the clear coat is to be applied and the components are mixed by shaking the can in the same way as a conventional aerosol.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of High Solids Clear Coats?

High solids clear coats give greater protection against UV damage. They also increase the depth of the colour coat and help to level out metallic finishes, decals, signwriting and coachlining. These advantages can be further enhanced by using a very high solids (VHS) clear coat.

However, clearcoats with a higher percentage of solids are trickier to apply and don’t flow so easily.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Fast And Extra-Fast Clear Coats?

In a busy automotive paint shop, using a fast or extra fast clear coat can maximise productivity by quickly releasing the paint booth for the next job. Faster-drying clear coats are also particularly useful when carrying out refinishing on smaller areas as they can be ready for polishing and finishing much sooner.

The disadvantage of fast-drying clear coats is that they don’t allow so much working time, which is often needed when painting larger areas such as complete vehicle resprays.

Are All Clear Coats Gloss?

While there has been a traditional preference for high-gloss automotive paintwork, the availability of special-effects paints and demand for customisation has led to matt and satin finishes becoming more popular.

Clear Coat Matt can be used instead of a conventional high-gloss clear coat to give an even, flat finish or combined with a gloss clear coat in any ratio to create a range of semi-matt, satin and semi-gloss finishes.

We hope this has clarified the differences between the many types of automotive clear coat, but if you would like more information, advice or details on stockists of ProXL automotive refinishing products, call 01634 823900 or contact us via our online contact form.