How To Apply Clearcoat


What’s the hardest coat to apply, primer, basecoat, or clearcoat?

If you guessed clearcoat, you would be right! Most people think it’s very easy, but if you don’t apply it correctly you can expect early peeling or even orange peel! Let us show you how to apply clearcoat properly!

How To Apply Clearcoat

First of all, why do you need clearcoat?

Maintaining the exterior of your vehicle is extremely important to extend the life of your cars paint. Without this extra layer of protection you’re opening up your basecoat to all the elements that can peel the paint away or wear it down. This can lead to rust and other damage you really don’t want to see on your car!

Clearcoat also helps create that shiny look you want on your car! Without clearcoat the paint rarely matches up perfectly when doing touch up paint, if the rest of your car has clearcoat how could you expect your touch up paint to match without it?

Assess the area and the basecoat

If you’re using clearcoat you’re either redoing the clearcoat and hopefully the basecoat looks fine. If not, the basecoat is probably in really bad shape. Make sure to redo the primer, basecoat and clearcoat at the same time. If you don’t your touch up is going to look poor in the end result.

If you’re redoing the clearcoat a lone, never go over the existing clearcoat and expect a good result. To quickly remove the old clearcoat you’ll want to take very fine sandpaper around 2000 grit. Soak the 2000 grit sandpaper in water for an hour. This will be considered a wet sanding. Lightly but firmly sand the damaged clearcoat until the peeling clearcoat is gone, be careful to not damage the base coat. Make sure to wash the area so no bits get stuck onto the car when you reapply clearcoat.

Special Note: Make sure the can of clearcoat is the right temperature! We recommend getting the can to a temperature of 80 degrees. Doing this prevents orange peel months down the road. Take the can of clearcoat and submerge it in water around 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 20 minutes before spraying!


Touch up paint/clearcoat is all about preparation. Part of that is practicing applying the clearcoat! We send a test card with each order, if you’d like to practice more use a large piece of cardboard to practice on! Get a feel for how it sprays and comes out of the aerosol can!

Cover the area around the peeling clearcoat

Use masking tape, newspaper, or another item to cover the surrounding area. This is fairly straight forward, but we’ve heard some stories…. so please make sure you do this!


You’ll need to plan for several coats. If you’re spraying a large area, you may need multiple cans of clearcoat. When doing a regular touch up repair you always use more clearcoat than basecoat or primer. You’ll usually want to plan for 2-3 coats.

Apply the first coat lightly, this will help prevent cracks in the clearcoat. The next 2 coats should be full coats and look wet to the eye!

Keep your distance! But not too far! Keep the can of paint 6-8 inches from the surface. Like spraying anything, if you’re to close it’ll cause drips. If you’re too far it won’t lay on evenly.

Avoid windy, hot, or days with a lot of moisture. Do not paint on an overly foggy day, or a rainy day. Do not spray on a hot day! 72 degrees Fahrenheit is the premium temperature. Don’t spray in direct sunlight. Even if it’s 68 degrees outside, the sun will heat your car panels up much higher than that!

Use our spray can trigger in our kit! It barely costs a thing and isn’t there just to increase price! It really does help, it helps control the spray and the trigger. They’re also reusable so you can keep it around and use it on other projects!

You’ve done it!

Great job! Your final coat should look like a shiny polished finished! But remember, you need to wax your car 30 days after to really bring out the shine and color!

Did you mess up?

Hey, sometimes we mess up. That’s okay, let us tell you how you can fix these common mistakes!

  • Your paint looks dull or lacking shine. This is most likely because you did not wax, polish or buff your car! Doing one of these will surely help and we always recommend a good wax 30 days after finishing your project.
  • If the finish looks coarse or has lines through it, we recommend wet sanding the area as we mentioned above. Also if you have drips in the clearcoat. Use 1000-2000 grit sandpaper, we always recommend 2000 grit when wet sanding. Soak the sandpaper in water for 30 minutes and keep adding water as you go. Lightly sand the area. Remember, the goal is to only get rid of the clearcoat, not to damage the basecoat! Becareful and have patience. Once the clearcoat is off, reapply!


Quick Steps to How To Apply Clearcoat:

  1. Assess the area, remove existing clearcoat with wet 2000 grit sandpaper making sure to only remove the clearcoat. Taking special care to not damage the basecoat.
  2. Make sure the can is close to a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Practice and prep, clean the area after wet sanding. Practice spraying clearcoat on cardboard to get used to spraying.
  4. Use masking tape and something like newspaper to cover the surrounding area.
  5. Add 2-3 layer of clearcoat. First layer lightly, the next two add heavy so it looks wet!
  6. Keep the can 6-8 inches away from the panel you’re spraying
  7. Environment: Avoid windy, hot, or high moisture days.
  8. Use a spray can trigger.

Still not sure how to apply clearcoat or have general questions? Call us, or email us and we’d be happy to help you out!

Watch our How To Guides on YouTube!

What’s the Best Touch Up Paint?

When it comes to touch up paint, you’re probably looking for the best, that’s also affordable. Like many, you’re probably typing into google “best touch up paint”. In fact that’s why we labeled this article in hopes that you’ll find it and read what we have to say.

Touch Up Paint Manufacturers:

There are a lot of misconceptions on what the “best touch up paint” is. In fact, most companies order from 3 different manufacturers which are PPG, Sherwin Williams, and BASF. With each manufacturer there are 3 tiers of automotive touch up paint from which car touch up companies can buy from. You have low quality, medium, and high. From there each touch up company will have to choose which tier to use in their touch up paint.

A QUICK NOTE: The best touch up paint will be the paint that is mixed when you order and then shipped to your house. The best touch up paint can go bad within 6 months! When you see it sitting on shelves in stores, you’re getting very low quality with a lot of additives/preservatives that aren’t meant to be in car paint. You also can’t get a perfect color match, there are hundreds of thousands of colors and only 15 on the shelf. How could ever expect an even remotely close match? That’s why the best option is to buy touch up paint online.

What Touch Up Paint Businesses Buy To Create Their Paint:

The issue is that businesses, even ours, can buy any tier and call it whatever they want. So, you never know what the quality is until you get it home and put it on your car. The general rule of thumb in almost all cases of commerce is that you pay for what you get. Just because a product is high priced doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best touch up paint either. Luckily for our day-in-age we have something called reviews. Always check the price, if it’s less than 10 dollars most likely it’s too good to be true. If it’s extremely high compared to others, then you’ll want to check the reviews in more than one place or check YouTube to see the product in use.

Application Is Just As Important As The Paint You Buy:

What also needs to be understood about touch up paint is that companies can create very high-quality paint for you. But if it’s not applied correctly, or you skip over clear coat or even primer, then the results can vary. I’ve seen great car paint companies get horrible reviews because the user did not follow the instructions and blames the paint. It’s also extremely important to make sure you got the right color and understand that if your paint is badly faded, you will never get a good match. Even if the car touch up company you ordered from gets the EXACT PERFECT match to your car paint color from OEM specifications it will NOT match. And you can’t blame the company for that.

What do we strive for?

At ERA Paints, we are never the type of business to talk bad about others. There are a lot of great car paint companies out there, some that call themselves the best (almost all), and why would you not? If you don’t believe in your own product how can others believe in it?

The best option is to do what you were probably already doing, look at prices, check reviews and make your best educated guess. What we have said in articles before is something we learned from our fathers before us. There’s a story behind it.

“Dad, why are you spending a $100 (that was a lot for boots back then) dollars on your boots when we can barely afford rent?”
“Son, sometimes you have to buy nice, so you don’t buy twice”

You probably brushed it off and didn’t think too much of it. I was sad he couldn’t get me some more video games to play with. I didn’t realize the importance of what he said until 10 years later when I had a very rough blue-collar job. In 5 years at the job I went through 2 pairs of boots. I was trying to save money and buy cheaper boots for around $60. I ended up spending more money than he did 10 years later.

Of course, I want to go tell my dad about this and enjoy the story together. When I get to my parents’ house, I go to the back to find my dad clearing blackberry bushes. I look down at his boots and start smiling. My father still had his boots he bought 10 years ago. I tell him what my experience was, and he laughs at me and now were both smiling. I should have listened to him. Whether you’re looking for the best touch up paint or some other product, remember that it’s not always about price, but it can show the quality behind the product.

Why buy high quality paint?

Buy a high-quality touch up paint so you don’t have to keep retouching the same area multiple times and end up spending more money in the long run. Take the 10 minutes to learn how to properly apply the paint or you will have to keep retouching every year.

In the end, at ERA Paints we may have competitors that offer the same premium quality we offer. But we also separate ourselves through our customer service and no shipping costs with exact paint color matches. We offer help and guides to get the best results. We truly believe we have the best overall experience for the customer and were still getting better every day.

We’re small enough to care about each customer, but large enough to care of you in any aspect.

Some interesting Trends in the Auto Industry – SEMA 2018

Hey we just returned from the 2018 annual SEMA show (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas, Oct 30-Nov 2 2018. If you are looking to customize your new Ford F100, Jeep Wrangler or want to throw $100K at a restomod project with aftermarket/specialty stuff, this is the place to come to find what’s latest & greatest. Believe it or not 150K people attend this weeklong spectacle, second only to the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) @ 250K people… HUGE doesn’t really describe it. Take a look at their website here. “The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place, the Las Vegas Convention Center”. Sema is all about add-on accessories for your ride.
And if that’s not enough, there’s a sister show called AAPEX  – Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo – which occurs at the same time a mile or two away at the Sands Convention Center. Here you’ll find every vendor known to man who makes aftermarket parts like replacement alternators and LED headlamps.
So we attended a SEMA ‘future trends’ seminar, hosted the SEMA Director of Market Research. Here are some industry stats:
The Specialty aftermarket market segment is worth $44Billion (healthy growth at 4% annually) in the US. How do people buy parts? 38% of these sales are done online, while 62% are purchased instore (these numbers are not changing). Pickup upgrades are the largest sector of the specialty-equipment industry (29% of total). Following behind are SUVs & CUVs (crossovers) at 22%, and mid range cars (15%). The Jeep Wrangler is the most popular accessorized vehicle.
Some Trends:
-We will continue to see more & more smaller turbo-ized engines (4 cyl, lower dispacement engines, & <3 liters), as this is a good equation for better fuel economy & performance for smaller cars. -Speaking of smaller cars, the Crossover market (smaller 4wd vehicles build on car platforms) is a very popular, ever-growing segment. Most crossover ads are about getting outdoors and being active. -It’s true that teenagers aren’t getting driver’s licenses at the same rate as 10 or 15 years ago (it’s costly for teenage drivers – I KNOW ALL ABOUT IT!@!!$%@), but by their 20’s this population is buying cars as they need transportation for jobs & families. A third of 16-24 year old segment is personalizing their ride. Probably the two most talked-about industry developments are: -Electric: by 2025 18% of vehicles will be electric. Impediments to market penetration are charging station availability and consumer habits (people don’t like having to wait for an hour or more to charge the battery). -Autonomous (self-driving) cars: way over hyped, too many manufacturers, very low consumer adoption for now. $80 billion has been invested in R&D in this space to date! Auto ownership is a big human hurdle to mass adoption of autonomous autos (interestingly currently only .5% of all trips are made via Lyft n Uber). You can download the entire market research report from the sema website: