How To Clear Coat Over Patina? (Explained)

Car owners struggle all their lives trying to keep rust at bay. The same car owners also appreciate the stunning look of rusted surfaces, popularly referred to as patina.

If you have stumbled across an old car that you would like to retain its rusted finish and prevent the corrosion from spreading, you may consider adding a layer of clear coat on top of it.

Will a clear coat prevent further rusting and enhance the finish of the patina? Keep on reading to find out.

how to clear coat over patina

What is Patina?

Most people use patina and rust interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference between the two. The dictionary defines patina as the brown or green film that forms on bronze or copper due to oxidation.

On the other hand, rust refers to oxidized iron that forms on steel. Even though both are caused by oxidation, there is a difference in which surface each refers to.

Be as it may, patina and rust are used interchangeably in the auto world. This was a brief description to help you figure out the difference between these two.

Can I Clear Coat Over Patina?

Rust isn’t usually a surface that is easy to paint over, let alone clear coat. This is why in any restoration job, rusted surfaces are sandblasted so that the metal can be left rust-free. However, in this case, your goal is to prevent the patina and not get rid of it.

You can clear coat over rust, but this project will need a lot of work and expertise. That’s because, as mentioned above, rust isn’t a paint-friendly surface.

Many car owners have in the past succeeded in clear coating over patina. That means you, too, have a high chance of retaining the rusted finish on your vehicle with the help of a clear coat.

Before you embark on a project of clear coating over the patina, you must know clear coat won’t adhere to flaky or dusty surfaces.

As much as you may be interested in keeping the patina as it is, you will have to clean and slightly prepare the rusted surface for clear coat adhesion.

How to Paint Clear Coat Over Patina?

Now that you are aware of the possibility of painting a clear coat over the patina, it’s time we shared the guide on how to do it.

Please note that this process will be demanding, but it’s not difficult. With our guide, you should be able to spray a clear coat over the patina successfully.

Step 1 – Clean Up the Surface

The first and most crucial step in clear coating patina is cleaning the rusted surface. Because of the need to preserve the rust finish, many of you may want to skip this step.

But doing so will result in a mediocre paint job that won’t last. Grab some water, a cloth, and a brush and get to scrubbing.

Remember, for a surface to accumulate such an enormous amount of rust. It must be dirty. Contaminants are a clear coat’s worst enemy.

If you don’t clean it, the clear coat won’t last. Since the surface may be very dirty, you can add a paint thinner to your cleaning water. When you mix that with the help of a brush, you should be able to prepare the surface adequately.

Step 2 – Let It Dry

After cleaning the surface, it can be tempting to jump straight into clear coating patina. But since the goal is to prevent further rusting, you should avoid locking in moisture with a clear coat. Give it enough time to dry.

Step 3 – Spray Clear Coat

When the surface has dried up, what should follow are several layers of clear coat. Spray as much clear coat as you want. Several layers will ensure the clear coat lasts longer.

Once you are done, the clear-coated patina should be given enough time to cure. About two days should be enough. Remember, it isn’t recommended for a clear coat to be sprayed directly on top of the rust.

Therefore, this is an experimental project. It may not work out perfectly the first time. You will have to keep trying till you perfect it.

Also, depending on how rusty the surface is, the clear coat may not hold on for very long. This means that you will either have to forget about the patina or keep on adding a clear coat every once in a while.

Why Do People Clear Coat Patina?

There are many reasons why people clear coat patina. The most common reason is to preserve the rusted finish of the car.

Rusty cars have become a popular ornament these days. When clear coated, the patina finish is enhanced with some gloss which improves the vehicle’s aesthetic.

The other reason people clear coat patina is to halt the spread of rust. Corrosion on cars spreads very fast. If you don’t stop it, the entire vehicle can be damaged beyond repair.

A clear coat prevents moisture from oxidizing metal. It also keeps oxygen and road salt which are vital ingredients of rust, away from metal. When you clear coat patina, you retain that stunning finish and prevent further spreading of rust.

Through clear coating patina, you prolong the lifespan of the affected vehicle. Rust is a menace to most cars. And if not dealt with, it can turn the entire vehicle into a worthless piece of metal. When you clear coat patina, you add more life to your car.

What Type of Clear Coat Should I Use on Patina?

Patina isn’t choosy when it comes to clear coats. You can use a regular clear coat or whatever type you have in your garage.

The good thing about all clear coats is that they add gloss and protect the patina beneath. Therefore, you are assured of a decent finish, whichever option you go with.

Will Clear Coat Preserve Patina on a Vintage?

Out of the different ways to retain a patina finish on a vintage, using a clear coat is the best method. A clear coat will prevent patina on a vintage in the following ways.

First, it will seal the patina, which would have otherwise faded when the entire car becomes corroded. Secondly, it prevents the patina finish from further rusting.

Both clear coat features ensure that the rusty finish stays that way for as long as the clear coat remains on the surface.

The problem usually arises when the clear coat begins coming off. Unlike a clear coat on a painted surface, a clear coat on the patina isn’t very stable. We can’t say for sure how long it will last. You have to spray it on and hope for the best.

How Many Layers of Clear Coat Should I Use on Patina?

When discussing our guide on how to clear coat patina, we mentioned that you should spray several layers of clear coat. We didn’t specify how many because the number of layers needed will depend on the extent of the rust.

Being a DIY project, it’s up to you to calculate how many layers of clear coat your patina will need. There are car owners who have sprayed up to seven coats of clear coat to create a smooth surface.

We are not saying that you will need to spray seven coats. But hopefully, you can understand that patina will need several layers of clear coat, especially if the surface is heavily rusted.

Should You Sand Patina Before Spraying Clear Coat?

Another challenge that arises when clear coating patina is the issue of sanding the surface. Sanding is an excellent method of ensuring paint can stick to the car’s surface. So, should you wet sand the patina?

Sanding has its advantages and disadvantages. Sanded patina will bond better to clear coat. However, when you sand the patina, you remove the rusty finish.

As you sand, you will remove oxidation on the surface, ruining the patina finish you were trying to preserve.

This is often the biggest dilemma you will face when clear coating patina. The best solution is to forego the sanding and spray the clear coat directly.

However, you can expect it not to last for very long. There is also the option of using ultra-fine sandpaper. The idea here is that fine sandpaper will not get rid of the oxidation on the surface so that it won’t ruin the patina.

And at the same time, it will scuff up the surface and promote better adhesion of paint. To make sure this works, you can try it on an inconspicuous part.

Will Clear Coat Last on Patina?

Unfortunately, it won’t. This is one of those things that you have to either take or leave it. Not unless you are a magician, you won’t be able to get the clear coat to last on a rusted surface.

A clear coat can last for at most a year or two when painted over the patina. If you love the patina so much, you can dedicate your time and resources to clear coating the rusted surfaces every few months.

Or, you can sandblast the rust and get a decent paint job done over the car. That should stop the spread of rust entirely and extend the vehicle’s life. Too bad this option doesn’t entail preserving the patina.