How to Apply Single Stage Paint Over Clear Coat


Single stage paint is a type of automotive paint that only requires one step. The paint mixture does not require a clear coat painted on top of the base coat for protection, because the base and clear coat are mixed together. Many vehicles have existing clear coats on top of base coats, but if you want to repaint your car with a single stage paint, you don't need to remove all of the existing paint. You can apply single stage paint over clear coat paint after following a few steps to ensure good coverage.

Things You'll Need

  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • 800-grit sandpaper
  • Water
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Microfiber towel
  • Masking tape and paper
  • Single stage paint
  • Sand the entire car with 400-grit sandpaper. Keep your hand flat against the car's surface and sand evenly. This removes the top of the clear coat layer and makes it easier for the single stage paint to adhere. The paint won't adhere well to a glossy clear coat that hasn't been sanded.

  • Use the 800-grit sandpaper to sand the car's surface again. Keep the sandpaper soaking wet while sanding. Hold a slow running water hose over the sandpaper while sanding, or continuously dunk the sandpaper into a bucket of water. This keeps the sanding dust from building up and putting deep scratches in the surface. The 800-grit sandpaper removes the deeper scratches put in the clear coat by the 400-grit paper. Rinse the car when you're finished sanding. Wait for the entire car to dry completely.

  • Place masking tape and paper over all areas that won't be painted. Cover the window glass, lights, trim, tires and wheels, key holes and mirrors. Wipe the car down with wax and grease remover and a microfiber towel. This removes any remaining wax particles from old cleaners or grease from your fingerprints. Fingerprints aren't visible on the sanded surface, but will show up as a smear underneath the dried single stage paint.

  • Spray three to four coats of the single stage paint onto the car's surface, holding the sprayer 6 to 8 inches from the surface. Use left to right strokes, not up and down. Keep the coats thin to avoid runs in the paint. Wait 10 minutes between each coat. Carefully remove the masking paper and tape before the paint dries so the paper doesn't become stuck to the surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never spray paint inside a building without proper ventilation.

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  • Photo Credit Luxury Car sportscar from my luxury car series image by alma_sacra from
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