Clearing Once vs. 'Flow Coat'

Here is a question that comes up quite a bit.  Should all the clear coat be sprayed at one time; or should it be sanded and clear coated for a second time...a ‘flow coat’ as some people say.  I like spraying all the clear at one time, and here are some reasons why:

  • Material build.  No matter what method is used, the top layer of clear coat cannot be wet sanded or buffed through, even if there is more clear under it.  So the final clear coat needs to have enough material build to be able to wet sand starting with 600 grit.  The previous layer of clear had to be sanded, so if you break through to it, there will be a dull edge, just like a blend edge that has been buffed back too far.  
  • Texture/flatness.  It is difficult to get clear coat really flat.  It's even harder to do it twice.  If the first layer of clear isn't flat enough, the second layer will just be built on top of that, making it even more difficult to get the final clear coat flat.
  • It's impossible to tell the difference.  I have ended up having to do a couple jobs that were sanded and re cleared.  There is absolutely no difference in the end result.  I would even argue the re cleared jobs end up looking a little worse down the road.
  • This isn't the important part.  When clearing a car, there are far more important things to be concerned about that have much larger impact, like flash times.  Flash times between coats of clear are very crucial.  That's what can break a paint job.
  • Time & Money.  It's a lot of extra work to sand an entire car an additional time, and mask it again.  Put that time somewhere else if you have the time.
  • Exceptions.  Art work is usually the exception.  It might be necessary to clear a car, and sand it, and then do art work over the top of it, and then clear coat it again.

The above car was body worked & painted at The Refinery by Adam Krause



  • Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

  • What is the best way to do stripes and have them buried in clear so you can’t feel them? I’ve never been confident enough to tape and stripe directly over base. I’ve had concerns about tapIng over fresh base (marks, contamination, adhesion etc) also, can I get it all masked and sprayed and still be in the recoat window for base. Because of this I usually base- clear- colorsand- stripe- clear over everything and then colorsand. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

    Brent Bryner
  • Yes, it seems that its not a matter of flow coat, or stop, sand, and reclear, as much as we should consider the product: is your clear really durable, high solids?

    Steve Thom

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