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Clear urethane

Q: I’ve noticed that many models in Scale Auto have clear urethane applied as a finish coat. Is this an automotive product, or is it available for models? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Can it be applied over any paint? Will it cause any harm to decals? How is it applied, and can it be color-sanded?

I’m a new subscriber and enjoy it very much. I’ve been building kits since 1959.

– Francis Pivar
New Kensington, Pennsylvania

Ken: That’s quite a handful of questions, Francis. Entire books have been written about painting models, but we’ll try to give you a quick overview.

The paint quality of just about any model can be exponentially enhanced with a clear top coat. Clear can be applied to any compatible base coat, but the key word is “compatible.” Always use an enamel clear over enamel paint, and laquer on lacquer.

You can certainly use automotive clear, which can be sprayed from a can or decanted into a separate container and used in an airbrush. Several manufacturers offer spray cans and jars of clear made for model builders.

Clear coats won’t usually cause a problem with decals, but it’s always best to experiment with a scrap decal from the same sheet before applying clear to an entire decaled model.

Clear coats can be polished to a brilliant sheen by using one of several polishing kits found on the market.
This is merely a short introduction to the subject of painting models. Check out your local hobby shop for books on the subject – and most of all, keep reading Scale Auto for more paint and modeling tips.


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