Can You Clear Coat Polished Aluminum? (Explained)

Even though polished aluminum lasts for a while before it corrodes, it still needs to be protected. And one of the ways you can do that is by applying a clear coat on the surface.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding whether one can or can’t clear coat polished aluminum. And this article is here to address that.

You can clear coat over polished aluminum. However, the surface needs to be clean, or you will end up with a terribly-looking finish.

The other thing is that the prep work is also essential as it will determine whether the clear holds onto the polished aluminum.

When clear coating polished aluminum, you have to be very mindful about the clear product you will be using. There are clear paint sprays that have been made explicitly for polished aluminum.

A good example is the ProtectaClear. You can use these to clear polished aluminum and prevent it from oxidation and tarnishing.

Clear-coating polished aluminum has many advantages. It ensures the metal lasts for longer. It also contributes to enhancing the aesthetics of aluminum. Plus, it protects the surface from oxidation and UV damage.

Despite having several advantages, we do not recommend clear-coating polished aluminum parts that are exposed to a lot of abuse or harsh chemicals.

This is because the clear coat won’t last for very long. If you want to clear-coat polished aluminum on such parts, we will give you a better solution later in this article.

can you clear coat polished aluminum

Clear Coating vs. Polishing Aluminum

If you ask around about clear coating polished aluminum, some people might advise you to frequently polish the aluminum parts and forget about the clear coat.

Both these methods are ways of protecting polished aluminum and making them look better. But there is one that is better than the other, and that is a clear coat.

Polishing aluminum is a form of maintenance that is done on parts that have aluminum. It is the same way we wax car surfaces to protect the paint and make the finish look better. Clear coating, on the other hand, is a protective measure that protects it from oxidation.

When you clear coat polished aluminum, you will enjoy more extended protection than polishing it.

Clear-coating a surface entails a lot of work. This is why most people prefer polishing. But, we can’t overlook the long-term benefits of applying clear. The purpose of clear coating polished aluminum is to keep down the maintenance.

Clear Coat vs. Clear Powder Coating Polished Aluminum

Even though a clear coat is better than polishing aluminum, it is no match for powder coating. The latter is more durable and can withstand abuse as well as harsh chemicals such as gasoline.

A clear powder coat is more capable of resisting discoloration than its counterpart clear coat.

Therefore, if you are interested in protecting your polished aluminum from oxidation and want it to look shinier for longer, you should consider a clear powder coat. It offers lasting results.

Earlier, we talked about how clear coats shouldn’t be used on parts exposed to chemicals and abuse and that there was another alternative. We were referring to clear powder coating.

Are All Aluminum Metals Optimized for Clear Coating?

For those of you familiar with metals, you know that there are several grades of aluminum. Not all of them are optimized for clear coating.

Before spraying clear, you must familiarize yourself with which grade of aluminum you are dealing with. Aluminum used in cars can always be clear-coated.

You can know whether a clear coat will hold by confirming if the part was clear anodized or initially clear coated.

However, if the paint was stripped from the aluminum, then there is a good chance that it is an alloy and isn’t intended to be clear coated. Spraying clear on it may not last for very long.

What is the Best Clear Coat for Polished Aluminum?

While comparing the grade of aluminum used on your car, you need to look through the different clear coats for aluminum.

As we have discussed earlier, there are clear coats specially formulated for metals such as aluminum. A quick Google search should reveal the best clear coats you can use on a polished aluminum surface.

Some clear coats are quite popular amongst detailers when it comes to polished aluminum. They include ProtectaClear, POR-15 Glisten, Everbrite, and VHT Clear Coat.

You can also use a ceramic sealer such as Zoopseal. This is a top-rated product that is used to seal aluminum by bonding to its pores.

There are many other options to choose from. Research is vital as it will help you identify the ideal clear coats that will hold onto polished aluminum.

How to Clear Coat Polished Aluminum?

The process of clear coating polished aluminum is easy. It’s surprising how most people shy away from clear-coating polished aluminum just because they think it is tedious.

The first thing when clear coating polished aluminum is to find the correct clear coat. There are two options. You can use the usual clear that is used in paint systems.

Or you can decide to be a little bit more specific and go with a clear coat meant for aluminum or metals in general.

You can achieve great-looking and long-lasting results with either option. You have to decide which option you are most comfortable with.

After choosing your ideal clear coat, the next step is to polish the aluminum. You can use regular car paint polish or a specific polish such as Mothers 05101.

Buff the polish thoroughly on the aluminum. Before applying the clear, there is one crucial step that heavily determines the outcome you will get. It involves cleaning and degreasing the polished aluminum.

Using a wax remover, clean the aluminum. If you make the mistake of directly spraying clear on dirty polished aluminum, the results will be catastrophic.

You might even lose the shine on your aluminum. Once the surface is clean, spray the clear and let it cure. Your polished aluminum will be adequately protected.

When spraying a clear coat on polished aluminum, it is important that you strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

It is also essential to adhere to recommended spraying techniques. For instance, the clear should be sprayed in consistent straight lines.

What Finish Can I Expect from Clear Coated Polished Aluminum?

The outcome heavily depends on the type of clear coat used and the amount of prep work done. If you do not clean or polish the aluminum first, the finish will look cloudy or milky.

At times, you can get an uneven finish. Secondly, low-quality clear will dull the aluminum. The surface must be well-prepped for a clear coat. You should also invest in a quality clear coat.

Will Clear-Coat Last on Polished Aluminum?

On parts that don’t experience a lot of abuse, the clear coat can last for a significantly longer period. However, harsh chemicals, debris, UV rays, and other elements can cause it to wear out faster.

If the clear coat is being applied on a surface that may face abuse, you can achieve more lasting results with options such as clear lacquer. This is harder and doesn’t flake easily.

You can also give a clear powder coat a try. It is stronger and more durable.

Does Clear Coat on Polished Aluminum Discolour?

You have probably heard that a clear coat turns yellowish after a while. This is true. A clear coat on polished aluminum does discolor after a while.

When this happens, you will have to sand it down, polish and then reapply it. These are some of the things that we have no control over.

If you don’t want to deal with clear coat discoloration, we would recommend opting to polish the aluminum frequently.

Through polishing, you avoid discoloration, but it is more demanding since it has to be done regularly.

Can an Adhesion Promoter Help Clear Coat Hold on to Aluminum?

Adhesion promoters make it possible for the paint to hold onto the bare metal. Therefore, if you have in the past experienced flaking of a clear coat on aluminum simply because it can’t hold, you might benefit from using an adhesion promoter.

Various brands make and sell adhesion promoters. You can get one from your local auto body store or dealer. The only downside of adhesion promoters is that they may affect the polish or shine of aluminum.

Can Clear Coat Conceal Scratches on Aluminum?

The role of a clear coat is to protect and not to conceal scratches. If the aluminum is already scratched, you will have to sand and polish it.

Directly spraying a clear coat will not hide the blemishes. It will affect the final finish. If you follow our guide on how to clear coat aluminum during the polishing and buffing stage, you will deal with the scratches.

How Many Coats of Clear Should I Spray on the Aluminum?

Three layers of clear coat are always enough to protect the aluminum from the elements. It’s also enough not to affect the shininess of aluminum.

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