How to Use a Clear Coat After a Touch-Up


Applying clear coat to a touch-up job provides a protective layer over flat base auto paint. It blocks UV light from the sun, which can cause fading, while creating a barrier against scratches and supplying a deep glossy finish. The job is time-consuming because it is accomplished through several stages, however doing it properly will ensure years of protection and a great looking finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-wax cleaner
  • Base paint
  • Clear coat
  • Several fine tip brushes for delicate work (optional)
  • Spray bottle of soapy water
  • 2,000-grit sandpaper
  • Clean lint-free cloth
  • Rubbing compound
  • Wash the affected area and remove any wax from the paint. Apply a single coating of base paint using the brush provided with the touch-up paint bottle, or a fine tip brush for delicate work. Let dry for two hours, and then apply a second coat of base paint. Let the second coat dry for two hours. If using a fine tip brush, be sure to use a clean brush with each new coat.

  • Spray soapy water over the touch up spot and slowly wet sand the area with 2,000-grit sandpaper, a very fine-grain abrasive, using just a small square. Sand the area with a circular motion until it is smooth to the touch. Test with your fingers. Be sure to sand off any excess paint that might have gotten on the original paint. Keep the area wet and change to a fresh square of sandpaper often to keep it clean. Dry the area with a clean cloth and then apply two more coats of touch up followed by wet sanding each time.

  • Apply a coating of clear coat over the base paint using the brush supplied with the clear coat, or a fine brush for delicate work. This time, however, over-painting the original paintwork with a little clear coat is okay because it needs to be filled in and smoothed over anyway. Let the clear coat dry for 10 minutes and then wet sand with 2,000-grit sandpaper until the area is smooth to the touch.

  • Apply a small amount of rubbing compound to the pad applicator supplied with the compound and rub the area evenly with small circular strokes. The rubbing compound is an abrasive, designed to remove very fine scratches. Feel the touch up area and when it is smooth and shiny, clean off the rubbing compound with a pre-wax cleaner.

  • Let the paint job dry overnight. Wait 30 days for the paint to cure before taking the car through a car-wash, or performing any buffing or waxing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try practicing on a hidden area, such as the panel inside the doorjamb, if you have never done touch-up work before.
  • Perform paint touch-ups when the outside temperature is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit for best results. Avoid doing it on hot, sunny days and avoid direct sunlight.

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  • Photo Credit a row of used paint brushes image by Gleb Semenjuk from
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