Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Paint Polishing vs. Clear-Coating

3 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • From: Saskatchewan Canada
Paint Polishing vs. Clear-Coating
Posted by RichfromSask on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 8:28 PM

After a years long hiatus from model building,  I’ve caught the bug again as I finally have some free time.  When I built autos (modern sports cars are my thing) before,  I would always polish the finished paint with a sanding kit using 3200-12000 grit sheets.  I have never clear-coated (gloss) a model.  

While I was ‘generally’ satisfied with my finishes,  I was never exceptionally pleased.  I could‘nt quite achieve that mirror finish that everyone strives for. So now I’m thinking of clear-coating my finished paint.  What I’d like to know is:

1.  Is it necessary to polish out the final color coat BEFORE clear-coating? If not,  will the color coat still show imperfections under the clear coat?  

2. If the answer to question 1 is NO,  then is it necessary to polish out the clear? I would imagine the best finish would be achieved from polishing BOTH.  It just seems like that would be a huge amount of work.

3.  Do people generally experience yellowing of the clear in time?  Would this be noticeable in darker colors  as well as white?

Thanks in advance for any replies!

  • Member since
    November, 2003
  • From: State of Mississippi. State motto: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
Posted by mississippivol on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 10:01 PM

This is just my opinion, but it comes from a little experience :

1. More than likely, yes, but just enough to smooth out any orange peel or dust. You shouldn't need to go through every grit.

2. You'll probably want to here as well, unless you're satisfied with the finish already. 

3. I've only had issues with white, both clearcoated, and not.

Hope to see your builds soon!

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 9:29 AM

I think the subject may determine whether you want to clear coat or not.

If the model has to have a flat finish, and you applied gloss for decals to sit on, then you need to clearcoat, and often the finish of flat paint doesn't look too bad, so you may not need to polish.

For a final gloss finish, if you can put down a flawless gloss coat (a real challenge) you may not need to polish.  Then, too, with some of the super-fine sandpaper readily available (2000, 3000 grit), sanding becomes an option instead of polishing.  Clear gloss goes over a surface sanded with those grits fine.

If I do achieve a good gloss paint job, whether I clearcoat or not again depends on the subject.  A heavy clearcoat of gloss gives a really wet look that is out of place on some subjects.  Great for show rods, and new cars- out of place on civil aircraft (except maybe racing planes and airshow planes), and on older racing cars and new street machines made before eighties or so.  On the models that shouldn't have the wet look I try very hard to achieve a good gloss paint to start with.  That also usually gives a surface that the decals stick well to without sealing.


Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • From: Saskatchewan Canada
Posted by RichfromSask on Friday, November 17, 2017 12:16 PM


Thanks for the replies,  and the good advice!  As you can see,  I have some serious orange peel going on here.  I’ve started sanding with 2400 and it still doesn’t flatten the paint.  Really don’t want to go any coarser as I‘m sure I will sand throught the color coat at some point.  

I’m very tempted to try polishing it.  I use AutoGlym Super Resin polish on my vehicles,  but I’m wondering if I would have issues spraying clear over the polished body. 


Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.