Can You Paint Over Clear Coat?

Clear coats are used to protect your paint job and to make it shine. Clear coats can be used on any color paint job and are especially important on metallic paints.

You can paint over a clear coat, but you have to be careful. If you don’t use the right kind of paint or don’t put on enough paint, the new paint won’t stick and chip off. It’s usually best to remove an old clear coat before repainting.

There are products available that’ll help you remove the old clear coat, so it’s worth taking the time to do it properly. In this article, we’ll look at the best way to paint over a clear coat and the products you need to do it properly.

Painting over clear coat.

How Do I Paint Over a Clear Coat?

Before you start painting over a clear coat, be sure to clean the surface thoroughly. Remove all dirt, dust, and grease with a cloth that has been dampened with a solvent. You can also use an oil-based paint cleaner, but be sure to let it sit before wiping it off.

When painting over a clear coat, you need to use enamel paint. Enamel paints are designed to stick to surfaces that have been coated with a clear coat. They also have a high gloss finish, which will make your paint job look shiny and new.

You can buy enamel paints at any hardware store or home improvement center. Be sure to get the right kind of paint for the surface you are painting. If you’re not sure, ask the salesperson for help.

Clean the Surface of Your Object

For paint to stick to a surface correctly, both surfaces need to have similar surface tension. A new clear coat will have a different level of surface tension than regular paint and will cause the top layer of paint on your car’s surface not to stick properly.

You can solve this problem by scuffing up the existing clear coat, which means scratching the entire surface of your car with sandpaper until it becomes dull and slightly foggy.

This will roughen up the surface and create an uneven texture that the new clear coat will adhere to. After you’ve scuffed up the surface, make sure to clean it again and dry it off completely before applying the fresh coat of paint.

When you’re done cleaning the surface, make sure it’s dry and completely free from any contamination or residue of the old clear coat. Now, you can start painting over your new clear coat.

Use an Enamel Paint to Paint Over a Clear Coat

Enamel paint consists of a mix of both enamel and lacquer. This will allow it to adhere to the existing clear coat better and create an even surface for the new paint job. Professional body shops usually use this type of paint instead of one that only contains lacquer because it provides the best results when used after a clear coat finish has been applied.

It’s also vital that you consider what color you want your object to be painted before making any final decisions about which kind of paint to use.

Enamel paints come in pretty much every shade imaginable, so if you want your item to look like something completely different than its current color, this would probably be your safest bet whether or not the original topcoat was applied with a clear coat finish.

In some cases, you may be able to get away with using lacquer paints over a clear coat finish, but it’s always best to test an inconspicuous area of the object before painting the entire surface.

To test a small area of your object, follow the steps below:

  1. Clean the surface area to be painted with soap and water, rinse, and allow to dry completely before applying paint.
  2. Apply a small amount of lacquer or enamel paint to an inconspicuous spot on your object (i.e., bottom edge) where it won’t be visible if the paint doesn’t adhere properly.
  3. Let your test patch dry for 24 hours, then inspect it for any cracking or peeling. This would indicate that the clear coat finish was applied correctly, and you should use caution when painting.
  4. If no damage is apparent after 24 hours, proceed with painting the entire item, again being cautious of peeling around previously painted sections.

Should I Remove a Clear Coat Before Repainting?

When painting over a clear coat, its purpose isn’t to provide rust protection for bare metal surfaces; rather, it provides UV protection.

For items that are kept indoors (i.e., anything less than outside elements), there’s no need to remove a clear coat before repainting. If you’d like to remove the finish, this can be done with a paint stripper or by sanding down the item’s surface.

Using a Paint Stripper To Remove a Clear Coat

Paint Strippers are available at most hardware and automotive stores. They vary in their aggressiveness, and which product you should use will depend on the age of the clear coat that’s on your surface.

It’s also important to note that paint strippers can be dangerous and should only be used if proper safety precautions are followed (such as wearing protective eyewear, gloves, etc.). If using a spray paint stripper, make sure adequate ventilation exists.

You’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any type of paint stripper; this includes whether or not it’s safe to apply onto surfaces other than metal (wood, plastic, glass, etc.).

Sanding a Clear Coat Before Repainting

It’s important to know which type of paint you’re dealing with because each works differently in terms of removal and application. Latex paints are water-based, whereas oil paints must be thinned using mineral spirits before usage.

If you desire/or need to remove the old paint and the clear coat before repainting, you’ll need to sand the surface. This can be done by hand with medium-grit sandpaper or by using an electric sander. Be sure to wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in any of the particles created from sanding.

Once the surface has been adequately prepped, it’s time for the new paint! Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, including drying time.

Whether or not you can paint over a clear coat will depend on the age of the clear coat that’s on your surface. If it’s a newer coat, then there’s a good chance that you can simply apply new paint over top of it without any problems.

Use a Primer After Stripping Paint or Sanding

If you’ve decided to remove a clear coat using either a paint stripper or sanding method, you’ll need to use a primer before applying new paint. This is because the old finish will be removed down to the bare surface, and without a primer, the new paint could peel or chip off.

There are many different types of primers on the market, so be sure to select the right one for your project. If you’re unsure which primer to choose, ask your local hardware store associate for help.


Whether you’re repainting an existing surface or painting something new, if the surface has a clear coat in good condition, you can paint over it with confidence. Just be sure to follow the prep instructions closely and allow enough time for the new paint to cure before using the surface for any kind of activity.

You may also decide to remove a clear coat before repainting if it’s in poor condition. In this case, be sure to use a primer specifically designed to adhere to bare metal or wood surfaces.

Related post: Can You Clear-Coat Over Rust?

Leave a Comment