I constantly get asked if I put a clear coat on my painted furniture. People are always concerned that without a clear coat of some sort the paint job won’t hold up. When asked this question my answer is always no. One of the main reasons why is because all clear coats eventually alter the color of the painted furniture. Every polyurethane or varnish I have ever seen makes claims on the can that it will not yellow. I’ve yet to use one that hasn’t. This dresser below is a perfect example of what will happen to your painted furniture if you apply a clear coat to it.




The clear coat was added after the hardware was put on, so it is really easy to see just how much the varnish yellowed the finish. (I did not paint this piece of furniture. I was asked to strip and re-paint it after someone else had failed at painting it.)

Why a clear coat is not necessary: If you choose a high quality paint with a gloss finish it will be incredibly durable. This type of paint is intended to be dirt resistant, but is also made to be scrubbed and washed, so it will hold up well over time and with lots of use.

I personally like to use Sherwin Williams paints, but many other brands like Dunn Edwards, Benjamin Moore and Vista Paint also create high quality, durable paints.

How to get a really good quality finish that doesn’t need extra protection: What is more important than applying a protective clear finish is getting a great quality paint job from the start. Prep work is absolutely crucial. Thoroughly scrubbing and cleaning the piece so it is free from all dirt, grease, and grim is super important. If the piece is not clean the paint will not stick.

Sanding the piece well with 220 grit sandpaper will dull the surface, if it has a shiny or gloss finish on it already. Roughing up the piece a bit will also allow the paint to better adhere.

Using a high quality primer before painting is another great way to insure your paint job will last for years to come.

Let it cure: Be patient! Paint can take up to a month to cure. If you start using your painted furniture too soon it will be more likely to chip, peal, dent, ding… ect. When allowed proper time to fully cure your painted finish will dry nice and hard and be more durable.


4 Responses to Clear coat?? Should you use a clear coat to protect the finish?

  1. Suzanne says:

    Fantastic post! There are so many that have never actually painted in a good latex – actually, any latex. Prep is so necessary and no need for topcoat.

  2. Deana says:

    Thanks Suzanne!

  3. Vicki says:

    so do you use oil or latex?

  4. Deana says:

    Latex. I occasionally use an oil based primmer, depending on the condition of the furniture and if it has stains on it, such as nicotine or Crayola stains.

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