Choosing the Best Clear Coat Finish

Applying a clear coat can be the best way to protect any finished paint project.

There are several types available for your project but we will recommend specific ones for the finish you desire.

First, what am I talking about?

When we say clear coat, we are talking about painting a clear varnish on top of the faux finish. This adds not only protection from damage or wear but it also makes the finish deeper and richer looking.

The best type of this varnish to use is an acrylic or water based clear varnish. The reason we recommend acrylic (water based) varnishes is because they stay clear and do not yellow. You could use polyurethane varnishes but they will yellow or amber your finish and thus change the color you worked hard to match.

The acrylic varnishes come in various sheen levels. Most of the time you will want to go with a satin or low lustre sheen. However, since the depth of shine is a matter of personal taste you might prefer a higher gloss. A dead flat varnish is also available in case you don't want any shine.

A caution here is 'choose wisely'. Whatever sheen you choose, that will be the sheen result of your faux finish.

Here I'd like to recommend some specific products:

Benjamin Moore Paints makes an excellent product called 'Stays Clear'. This is available in High Gloss and Low Lustre. This product is actually made for use on wood floors, so you know for sure that it will do an excellent job protecting your walls.

Modern Masters also makes a very nice varnish for finishing off your decorative paint project. This one is available in the Dead Flat Sheen as well as other gloss levels.

You might be thinking, 'when would I want a dead flat finish'? Well in some cases it can make a faux finish look older or aged. For example in this picture you see this flat finish because they wanted this wood graining to look very old in this auditorium.

wood grain clear coat

You can see instead of this being a high gloss and looking brand new, it looks just enough antiqued by using the flat finish.

Perhaps the only time we do not recommend a this final step is when doing Venetian Plaster. The burnishing and waxing of this product is enough to protect it. So no additional gloss is needed.

Other than that, a clear coat can provide excellent protection for your hard work.

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