Best Clear Coat For Acrylic Paint

Best Clear Coat For Acrylic Paint

I don’t know about you, but I adore my paintings so much that applying a top coat is a no-brainer! And for three primary reasons:

You’ve come to the right place if you want a tough and durable finish for your acrylic painting.

Acrylic is an incredibly versatile medium that you can use to create stunning works of art with various finishes.

But how do you ensure your art’s maximum longevity? Well, the answer lies in applying a protective coat.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the best clear coat for acrylic paint to help you apply attractive and durable finishes.

I’ll also discuss each product’s pros and features– plus tips on how to apply it correctly so your artwork looks its best. Let’s set the ball rolling!

Best Clear Coat For Acrylic Paint

  1. Liquitex Professional Gloss VarnishBest for adding a glossy finish
  2. GRANOTONE Acrylic Artist’s VarnishBest varnish for both fine art and crafts
  3. Krylon K01305 Gallery Series & Clear Coatings AerosolBest for sealing artwork
  4. Dupli-Color BCL0125 Exact-Match Automotive Best clear gloss for acrylics
  5. Angelus 610 High Gloss Acrylic FinisherBest Varnish for Acrylic Paint on Wood
  6. Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss FinishBest spray gloss finish
  7. Creative Inspirations Acrylic Medium Polymer and VarnishBest for creating glazes
  8. Rust-Oleum 285093-6PK Stops Rust Spray PaintBest clear coat to protect artworks
  9. Sargent Art 22-8808 16-Ounce Acrylic Gloss and VarnishBest protective coat
  10. TAMIYA Acrylic X22 GlossClearBest coat for smooth surfaces

What’s a Clear Coat and Why Use One on Acrylic?

Best Clear Coat For Acrylic Paint

A clear coat is essential for keeping acrylic paint in tip-top condition.

It’s essentially a protective layer of lacquer that you apply over the top of the paint to seal it against the elements, and it comes with a whole host of benefits.

  • Firstly, applying a clear coat prevents colors from fading over time. 
  • By using a matte, semi-gloss, or high-gloss finish, you can protect each shade from UV damage
  • A top coat also protects your acrylic painting from dirt and debris that could otherwise potentially damage the paint. 
  • Moreover, it protects from water, oil, or solvent spots that could ruin your acrylic painting.
  • And if you’re working on outdoor projects where the painting is exposed to the elements, adding a clear coat will protect it from cracking, weathering, or peeling.
  • Lastly, it allows you to make glossier finishes for projects where gloss would otherwise be unobtainable. 

In short—a clear coat is an invaluable asset for protecting any acrylic paint project.

Best Clear Coat for Acrylic Paint: 10 Products to Finish Your Artwork

Getting the right clear acrylic varnish is essential to protect and personalize your acrylic artwork.

There are many options, so choosing which will best serve your projects can be difficult.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of twelve of the best clear coat products for acrylic art.

From brushes and spray cans to ready-mixed solutions, these products have some fantastic features:

  • Brush-on acrylic paint sealer: If you’re looking for a solution that will allow you to apply a light, smooth finish to protect delicate spray paint jobs, look no further than brush-on sealers. Brush-on acrylic paint sealer does not require any extra airbrushing or additional cleanup beyond what is typical of normal brush-staining tasks. It also offers excellent protection against UV rays and chemicals.
  • Spray-on sealer: Spray cans provide an even finish in less time than traditional painting methods. I recommend water-based formulations to avoid harmful toxins or fumes from VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Plus, many brands make specifically designed aerosol spray cans with adjustable nozzles for more precise application and variable pressure settings for more efficient use.
  • Ready-Mixed Solutions: Ready-mixed solutions offer the convenience of being able to apply protective layers without having to mix or prepare anything yourself. Many formulas also contain additives that provide excellent resistance against weathering and other environmental effects like humidity and UV light.

1. Liquitex Professional Gloss Varnish

Liquitex Professional Gloss Varnish, 237ml (8-oz)
  • Archival; Permanent; Non-Removable; Gloss finish
  • Lightweight, non-toxic; Dries to a non-tacky, hard, flexible surface; Non-yellowing and water-resistant when dry
  • Includes 8-oz / 237ml bottle of medium

I bumped into Liquitex Professional Gloss Varnish while looking for the best clear coat for an acrylic painting that I made.

Liquitex is a permanent light gloss finish that leaves a hard, non-removable thin coat. 

I also loved that it’s non-toxic—manufactured according to ASTM D4236 standards, so it’s safe for kids.

The final dry coat is water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about water/humidity damaging your artwork.

On top of that, you can mix it with Liquitex Professional Acrylic Paints and Mediums for different effects.

What I liked about it:

  • It’s lightweight and easy to apply.
  • Non-toxic– manufactured according to ASTM D4236 standards
  • It can be mixed with Liquitex Professional Acrylic Paint and Mediums.

Possible downsides:

  • Takes longer to dry than other brands

2. GRANOTONE Acrylic Artist’s Varnish

GRANOTONE Acrylic Artist’s Varnish | Non-Yellowing | Non-Toxic | Anti-Crazing | High Gloss Finish | Suitable for Pro Artists, Hobby Painters & Kids | Made in India | 100 ML
  • Top-Tier Performance: Achieve an unparalleled high gloss finish with this artist-grade varnish. Designed for premium protection and a crystal clear sheen, it ensures your artworks are showcased in their true brilliance and shielded from the elements.
  • Versatile and Durable: Crafted for both pro artists and hobbyists alike, this varnish is ideal for sealing a wide range of artwork. Whether you’re working with gold acrylic paint, Duraclear finishes, or even krylon triple thick clear glaze spray, this varnish ensures a lasting crystal clear finish that resists yellowing.
  • Enhance and Protect: Perfect for elevating the look of your gold craft paint or acrylic gold artwork. Not just a clear varnish, but a protective shield that prevents crazing, ensuring your acrylic spray paint or decoart pieces remain stunning.

I recently discovered a clear coat for acrylics called GRANOTONE Acrylic Artist’s Varnish, and I’m impressed.

This was number two on my list because it’s affordable and offers a fast-drying, high-gloss finish.

Plus, it’s resistant to elements such as UV light and scratches. It creates a resilient coat that protects the piece from chipping or cracking.

I was also impressed because its coat stays brand new for a relatively long time–retaining color vibrancy-which means a lot to me.

Plus, it’s the go-to finish if you need a low-odor varnish that’s safe for your kids and pets since it’s non-toxic.

What I liked

  • It is an affordable product with great results
  • Has a short drying time
  • I also loved its coats durability
  • Anyone can use it– it works for pro artists, DIY painters & kids (ages 6+). 

Possible downside

  • The only possible downside is that it’s a semi-gloss finish–it doesn’t give a very good gloss and may not impress those looking for a shiny piece.

3. Krylon K01305 Gallery Series Artist and Clear Coatings Aerosol

Krylon K01305 Gallery Series Artist and Clear Coatings Aerosol, 11-Ounce, UV-Resistant Clear Gloss
  • The item is not returnable
  • Protects against harmful UV light rays
  • Non-yellowing, permanent coating

If you’re looking for a clear coat for acrylic that will protect your work from dangerous UV light, Krylon K01305 Gallery Series Artist and Clear Coatings Aerosol is the way to go.

It creates a permanent coat that won’t yellow over time and is water-resistant and fast-drying.

With 11 ounces of product in each can, this spray-on varnish is perfect for art projects.

It’s best for protecting against UV damage, e.g., in wall hangings or outdoor sculptures.

And because it’s an aerosol spray, you’ll get even coverage with minimal effort.

Whether creating an outdoor masterpiece or completing indoor projects with valuable materials, Krylon K01305 Gallery Series offers the protection your work needs to stand the test of time.

What I liked about it

  • Its nozzle offers even coverage with minimal effort
  • Excellent for both outdoor and indoor projects
  • Has a short drying time
  • It preserves the color quality
  • Best for protecting acrylic paint on wood
  • It is a waterproof acrylic sealer 

Possible downsides

  • Its nozzle has a narrow spray area hence unsuitable for large pieces

4. Dupli-Color BCL0125 Clear Exact-Match Automotive Top Coat

Dupli-Color BCL0125 Clear Exact-Match Automotive Top Coat, 8. Fluid_Ounces
  • Ideal for large touch ups, vehicle accessories, motorcycles, etc.
  • Apply over any factory applied finish or Duplicolor Perfect Match Premium Automotive Paint

I tried sampling several products and bumped into the Dupli-Color BCL0125 Clear Exact-Match Automotive Top Coat.

It’s an aerosol varnish perfect for large projects like car accessories, motorbikes, and other large pieces.

I particularly love its adjustable 360-degree nozzle with a wide spray area.

This is great for achieving an even, thin coat over whatever piece you’re working on.

It’s also chip-resistant, meaning your finished piece will look great for a long time.

To get the best finish with this product, follow the maker’s instructions and apply it in thin layers, and you’ll be happy with the result.

What I liked

  • It has a wide spray area and can cover the entire surface, hence better accuracy for beginners
  • Best for large surfaces where you need to cover the entire painting
  • You can also use it to seal acrylic paint on wood or metal surfaces

Possible downsides

  • I realized I needed more cans to complete my project. It works just fine, but you’ll need more cans if you’re tackling a large piece.

5. Angelus 610 High Gloss Acrylic Finisher (Best Varnish for Acrylic Paint on Wood)

Angelus 610 High Gloss Acrylic Finisher, Clear
  • Angelus original Leather finishers come with an assortment of different sheens. From Matte to High Gloss. These are used to protect your paint from scratches and scrapes. 600 is a normal shine. 605 is a satin shine. 610 is a high gloss shine, and 620 is a matte finish. They come in both 1oz and 4oz.
  • Our finisher is a great top finish for all smooth leathers. Not only does it protect, but it helps your leather last longer, and can give the factory finish look to your project, whether that be a shiny, or matte finish. These are excellent for both hand-crafted work and high speed production.
  • Simply apply with a sponge, rag, wool, spray gun, or a brush and let dry. No buffing needed. This is water based, so it cleans up with so and water

My next favorite clear coat for acrylic is Angelus 610 High Gloss Acrylic Finisher. I love it because it is so versatile.

You can purchase it in multiple sheens and apply it effortlessly with a soft brush, sponge, spray gun or even a rag. 

It’s also a water-based polyurethane and can be washed away with detergent and water.

But once it’s dry, the topcoat won’t peel or rub away—it’ll stay put for a long time without cracking.

I’ve been using Angelus 610 for several years now, and I have to say that applying a uniform topcoat has become much easier since I started using it. 

I typically use a brush for small projects and a sponge or spray gun for larger surfaces.

Whichever method works best for you, you get a consistent finish every time with this great product from Angelus!

What I liked

  • Comes in multiple sheens
  • It can be used in shoes, handbags, plastics, and art pieces
  • Its coat doesn’t crack
  • It’s the most affordable product on this list
  • It’s best for sealing painted wood or finishing your wood surface.

Possible downsides

  • The only problem is that its coat is not so opaque. So you’ll need to apply a few layers if you’re painting on top of a darker color.

6. Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss Finish

Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss Finish, 6 Oz Acrylic Sealer, Original Version
  • Acrylic sealer spray provide a protective, clear finish
  • Give a glossy luster to virtually any indoor or outdoor project
  • A durable protective finish

Another clear coat I’ve tried is Aleene’s 26412 Spray Gloss Finish– it won the battle for “the fastest-drying top coat” in my tests, and the result was a wonderful gloss.

This spray-on acrylic paint sealer dries faster, forming a resilient coat, perfect for indoor and outdoor art projects. 

I also liked its non-yellowing properties and enjoyed excellent color vibrancy in most of the projects where I used it.

It has an eye-catching finish and all-purpose protection to keep the paint looking great longer. 

I found it an easy solution to get that glossy look without any fuss or mess.

The spray applicator makes this one of the easiest products—shake and spray away. 

And because it’s resistant to moisture, UV rays, and fading, you can be sure your artwork will stay looking amazing.

What I liked

  • This glossy varnish leaves a clear, non-yellowing top coat
  • It has a relatively short drying time
  • The spray-on design makes it easy to apply
  • This finish adds vibrancy to acrylic colors
  • It’s also resistant to water, ultraviolet light, and fading

Possible downsides

  • It’s an expensive purchase, but it’s worth the price. Also, some users have reported nozzle failure, which can ruin your painting.

7. Creative Inspirations Acrylic Medium Polymer and Varnish

Creative Inspirations Acrylic Medium Polymer and Varnish – Versatile Acrylic Mediums and Varnish for Artists – Gloss 250mL
  • ENHANCES translucency and increases film integrity for Paintings or Paint related art projects and provides an even uniform finish
  • Perfect For: Artists, TEachers and students, Classrooms and workshops, Art party businesses, Higher Quality medium at an amazing price, Maintaining the integrity of your acrylics, Creating glazes, enhancing Colors, Extending translucency of Colors, and a Better Painting experience
  • Available in either 1.8 liter or 250 ml Size jugs; The 1.8L jug accepts a Standard pump dispenser for easy Application

As an artist, you might want a clear coat that can be used in different ways—one that creates vibrant colors on art pieces and glazes while still boosting color translucency in them.

Creative Inspirations Acrylic Polymer Varnish is a great choice if these sound like the qualities you’re looking for.

This acrylic polymer-varnish combination made it to this list because of its versatility– as a sealant and finish.

It creates a thin, uniform coat that makes the colors of your artwork look bright, vibrant, and alive.

This medium also acts like glue to hold your piece together as a fabric medium or spray sealant.

Another great thing about this product is that it’s resilient to the elements, so you don’t have to worry about water or fading colors.

What I liked

  • It acts as a sealant and finisher
  • Leaves an ultra-thin clear coating over the painted surface
  • It can be used to create glazes and achieve a smoother finish.
  • Its spray-on design makes it easy to apply.

Possible downsides 

  • Applying too much of it may leave a sticky film over your painting.

8. Rust-Oleum 285093-6PK Stops Rust Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum 285093 Stops Rust Spray Paint, 12 Oz, Matte Clear
  • Weather and corrosion resistant coating protects exterior/interior surfaces like wood, metal, concrete, masonry and more
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with excellent rust prevention
  • Dries to touch in 2 to 4 hours and covers up to 15 sq. ft.

My next recommendation is the Rust-Oleum 285093-6PK Stops Rust Spray Paint. 

If you’re looking for a reliable clear coat for your acrylic project, this oil-based polyurethane finish creates a resilient coat to safeguard your piece from rust.

Plus, it offers resistance to scratches, fading, and cracking.

You also get a clear, non-yellowing finish and increased color detail for your art projects.

What I liked 

  • It has a reasonable drying time of 2-4 hours (depending on temperature and humidity), which allows enough time for you to work on your project without worrying about making a mess. 
  • I also applaud its super-thin film, which reduces surface flaws while providing superior protection and durability.

Possible downsides

  • The possible downside is that this product is slightly more expensive than other brands, but with such great performance, I think it’s worth every penny.

9. Sargent Art 22-8808 16-Ounce Acrylic Gloss and Varnish

Sargent Art 22-8808 16-Ounce Acrylic Gloss and Varnish, Other, White, 1-(Pack)
  • AP certified; non-toxic and safe
  • Dries to a permanent, waterproof, protective finish
  • Mix with acrylic paint or use as a clear coat

Sargent Art’s Acrylic Gloss and Varnish is another personal favorite for my art projects.

I love its versatility; you can mix it with acrylic paint or apply it as a clear coat.

However, let the paint dry if you’re using it as a top coat, or it may cause a color change in the completed artwork.

It’s also AP-certified and safe for use, so you don’t have to worry about toxicity.

Plus, when fully cured, it forms a permanent, water-resistant coat, protecting your piece from the elements. 

Another thing I noted is Sargent Art’s ability to seal acrylic paint and strengthen artwork while giving it a glossier finish than many other products I’ve tried.

The final varnish is super glossy, so this may not be your product if you prefer a matte or satin varnish.

You’ll also love how easy to spread this varnish is– I used a rag, and the finished piece was still a masterpiece. 

What I liked 

  • It dries super fast 
  • It can be used for sealing surfaces.
  • Safe for home use 
  • Acid-free and non-toxic
  • You can mix it with acrylic paint or add it as a top coat

Possible downsides

  • Its fast-drying ability can be a problem if you’re a slow painter.

10. TAMIYA Acrylic X22 GlossClear 

TAMIYA Acrylic X22 GlossClear is another go-to product for a nice, easy-to-apply varnish.

I recommend this brush-on finish because it dries glossy and hard, leaving no scuffing or cracks.

This ensures a durable and flawless top coat which matters for most artists.

However, you’ll need to be cautious when applying TAMIYA Acrylic X22; use a little varnish– do not dip your brush because too much of this can create a thick coat and ruin your painting.

I also realized better results (a glossier finish) when I thinned it a bit–the colors appeared darker and way more attractive, especially after letting the piece dry overnight.

What I liked

  • Gives a super glossy finish after a few brush strokes
  • Perfect for indoor and outdoor pieces
  • It paints on easily and can help seal acrylics.
  • Creates a long-lasting top coat on the painted surface

Possible downsides

  • It has a slightly strong chemical odor but works just fine. 
  • Plus, it works best if you apply a thin layer; too much varnish may ruin your piece

Best Clear Coat For Acrylic Paint Comparison Table

Considerations When Shopping for Top Coat For Acrylic Paint

You’ll want to consider a few things when shopping for a top coat for your acrylic.

Ease of application

One consideration when choosing a top coat for acrylics is its easy application.

Many clear coats come in spray form, although some offer brush-on varnishes. Consider your needs before deciding which option is best for you.


Another thing to consider when shopping for a clear coat is how much protection you need.

Some clear coats offer extra UV protection and water resistance that might be necessary for certain conditions or environments.

Type of surface

Next, check what type of surface the product works on, whether plastic, wood, metal or something else.

This ensures that the topcoat will adhere properly and provide the desired results.

Long-lasting results

Finally, check the dry time and other specifications regarding how long it takes to dry and how long the finish will last.

This will help you determine if this product is right for your project and has long-lasting results that meet your needs.

The Benefits of Applying a Clear Varnish on Acrylic Paint

best clear coat for acrylic paint

Applying a clear top coat on your acrylic paintings can benefit you. 

Protect your piece from the elements

It’ll help keep your painting clean by creating a barrier against dirt and UV rays.

You won’t have to worry about dust, dirt, and other particles sticking to your painting.

Achieve a glossier finish

Moreover, it adds a glossy finish that makes the colors of your painting even brighter, allowing them to stand out better.

This can significantly affect your artwork’s overall look and feel.

Reduces fading and yellowing

Even more so, adding a clear top coat can protect the artwork from damage and reduce yellowing as well.

This is especially important if you plan on displaying your artwork outdoors, as exposure to the sun can cause yellowing and fading of the paint over time. 

Protection from scratching/weathering

Finally, some clear coats offer additional protection from scratching or weathering effects, which would normally damage a painting over time.

How To Protect Your Acrylic Painting

When it comes to protecting your acrylic painting, there are a few simple steps you can take.

Applying a clear coat and a protective surface will help preserve the vibrancy of the colors and ensure your work stands the test of time.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Apply a clear coat: Clear coats provide an extra layer of protection on top of your painting, giving it extra durability and helping prevent any fading or discoloration due to natural elements or sunlight.
  • Apply a protective varnish: Varnishes come in different varieties, so choose one that works best for your project. They are usually water-based and contain solvents that help protect against environmental factors like dirt and dust.
  • Keep your painting away from direct sunlight: Sunlight can greatly impact the color vibrancy of your work, so keeping it out of direct light is always a good idea.
  • Store it in a cool area: Storing acrylic paintings in warmer environments can cause them to age sooner than expected, so store them in cooler places — maybe even saving them for special occasions.
  • Apply an isolation coat: An isolation coat helps keep surfaces near the painted item from discoloring over time due to contact with oils or other substances.

Protective Finish Vs Varnish: What’s the Difference

When protecting your acrylic artwork, there’s a difference between using a protective finish like a spray and a varnish. What’s the difference?

Protective finish

A protective varnish is usually used after painting with acrylic paint and is sprayed on to keep the color from fading or yellowing.

It’s also easy to apply—shake the can, give it a few sprays, and let it dry. The downside is that it has an uneven finish and can feel gummy.


Varnish isn’t just for wood—you can also use it for acrylic! Varnishing your artwork will protect it from environmental elements like dirt or humidity, but more importantly, it will make colors look more vibrant.

This makes it perfect for paintings where you want strong hues and bold colors. You can brush or spray varnish onto your painting, depending on the look you are going for.

All in all, varnishing gives an additional layer of protection that takes your work up another notch in terms of presentation quality.

It protects the paint from dust particles and UV light while adding depth and richness to your artwork.

Steps to Apply Clear Coat on Acrylic Paint

When applying a clear coat poly to an acrylic painting, it’s important to determine the best clear coat for the project.

Several finishes are available, but I typically recommend a high-gloss or satin acrylic varnish for a painting.

These clear coats seal the painting and protect it from water and ultraviolet (UV) light damage.

They also help prevent yellowing over time and enhance the overall colors of your artwork.

Here’s how to apply a clear coat:

  1. Make sure your acrylic painting is completely dry before you start. If moisture is in your artwork, the varnish won’t adhere properly.
  2. Place your canvas on a flat surface before coating it with varnish. This will ensure even coverage during application.
  3. Start spraying the varnish from one end of the painting in slow strokes. Make sure to keep the nozzle of the spray can at least 10 inches away from the canvas while applying varnish to avoid buildup in one area.
  4. Work across the entire canvas, covering each corner evenly, and spray with even pressure as you move along.
  5. Wait at least 24 hours for the painted surface to dry fully before adding another layer of varnish if needed for extra protection.

Acrylic Varnishes: What Are the Different Types

When choosing a clear coat for acrylic paint, you have several options.

From polymer and resin varnishes to permanent versus temporary, there are many factors to consider. 

Here’s a closer look at the different types of acrylic varnishes on the market and which might be best for your project.

Acrylic polymer varnish vs acrylic resin varnish

Acrylic polymer varnishes provide a tough level of protection that can last.

This type of varnish generally gives a high gloss finish and can be used indoors and outdoors. 

It also typically has minimal yellowing over time. However, the acrylic polymer is slightly more expensive than other types of varnishes, so if cost is an issue, you may want to consider other options.

Resin varnishes, on the other hand, offer great protection and durability but often give a slightly duller finish than their polymer counterparts.

They also tend to yellow more quickly when exposed to UV rays or sunlight over time. 

This type of varnish is usually best suited for indoor projects where protection from sunlight isn’t necessary.

Permanent varnish vs temporary varnish

Varnishes can also be classified by whether or not they are permanent or temporary — meaning whether they can be removed easily with solvents without damaging the underlying paint layer underneath them. 

Permanent acrylic varnishes provide more strength and staying power but cannot be easily taken off without damaging your artwork underneath them if needed later on down the road.

Temporary acrylic varnishes provide less protection and allow you to remove them without damaging your artwork if needed later on down the road.


Many great clear coat options exist for acrylic based spay paint projects, depending on the application and the desired look. 

Whether you want a glossy or matte varnish, a clear coat option will give you the perfect finish.

Follow the instructions, work in a well-ventilated area, and wear appropriate safety gear. With the right clear coat, your acrylic projects will look professional and last years.


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