To Urethane or not to Urethane:

It's the first thing you see and a paint job's last line of defense. In the kustom painting field, there's probably nothing as under-appreciated, yet as important, as the clearcoat.

Today, kustom paint clearcoating is not just a good idea-it's a necessity. Considering that 99 percent of all showquality graphic jobs out there are 2-stagers (2-stage basecoat urethanes, that is), it's a safe bet that, after the graphics have been completed, the final piece of artistry to apply is the clearcoat. Although some people may not consider the spraying of clear to be an art form, I guarantee that their outlook will change completely after trying to clear something themselves.

There's a common paint industry phrase that states, "Behind every good clearcoater, there's a better buffer." It may be true in some circles, but clearcoating remains an easily attempted, rarely mastered, art form. While many airbrushers refer the clearcoating of their masterpieces to an outside party or in-house professional, it is still important that every airbrusher understands, at the very least, the basics of the clearcoat.



Although there are a variety of synthetic enamel, lacquer-based, water-borne and even water-based urethane clears floating around, the "big boys" on the automotive paint industry block are the solvent-based polymers known as acrylic urethanes and urethane enamels. While all automotive paints share the same technological roots, modern day urethanes take advantage of the most current innovations in polymer technology.

Now, I'm definitely no chemist in this field-let's just say that, as far as clearcoating goes, I'm a good airbrusher. Keeping that in mind, I generally leave clearcoating up to my partners in crime at Kal Koncepts, Dion and K-Daddy. And, since the basics are the only things that remain constant in this field, I'll try not to toss around too many five dollar words. (Mainly 'cause, like most of us painters out there, the lab-coat techietalk leaves me feeling like a combination of Rainman, Forest Gump, and Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade ...get my drift?)


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