The Best Clear Coat over Latex Paint [Reviews & Buyer’s Guide in 2021]

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Imagine your favorite latex-painted coffee table fading colors day by day. You are just looking at it every morning and can’t do anything about it. It’s horrible, right? Do you want to know why this happens and how to stop it?

It’s simple, latex paints fade away with time. No worries, it’s very common. To save your wooden table from getting a weird look, all you need is the best clear coat over latex paint to protect its finish. But there are tons of clear coats in the market. Which one to choose?

best clear coat over latex paint
Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Again, no worries; leave it to us. We made this review list and picked some of the top-quality clear coats over latex paints for you to make things easier. We will talk about various clear coats from the best selection for outdoor use. So, let’s dive into the depths of the reviews to find out the best clear coats for you.

Our Top Picks

Things to Consider when Buying Clear Coats over Latex Paint

Before clicking the “Add to Cart” button and waiting for the doorbell, you should consider some factors so that it’s a win-win situation for both you and your workpiece. Here are the things that you should consider before buying clear coats.

Chemical Contents or Toxicity: Most paints contain some chemicals that can create health issues if you get in contact with them directly, especially by breathing.

That’s why you should carefully check the chemical list at the packaging label of the clear coat. Make sure that the polyurethanes you choose don’t contain Toluene Diisocyanate, Hydrogen Cyanide, Methylene Chloride, or the likes.

Drying Time: It is important to consider the drying time. If you are a painter, the time you take will represent your expertise but if you are using it just for DIY projects it’s still necessary.

Clear coats with low drying time will make your work easier because high drying time requires more time to dry between coats and ultimately you will finish your work late.

Odor: Always select the ones that contain less odor to no odor at all. High odor can be dangerous for your health. Always choose an area with well-ventilation for applying the clear coat.

Durability: Always check if your selected product can withstand your woodcrafts or not. A durable product will save you from painting over the latex paint now and then.

Process of Application: Make sure the product you buy comes with an easy-to-apply feature. A clear coat that comes with a tricky application will ruin the comfort of working and it can even impact the result of your finished workpiece.

Color: Last but not least, you should consider the color of the product. But this one is totally up to your preference. You can choose matte, glossy, semi-glossy or satin depending on your work.

8 Best Clear Coat over Latex Paint Reviews

Okay, now you know which things to consider before buying clear coats. You can judge these 8 top clear coats and choose the one that suits your work best. Take a look.

1. Minwax 630510444 Water Based Helmsman Spar Urethane – Our Best Overall Choice

Looking for a clear coat over latex paint for outdoor use? This amazing water-based Helmsman spar urethane is just the thing you are looking for. It comes with UV blockers that give protection against fading and graying effects caused by the sun.

Also, it creates a protective resistance against moisture and rain. It contains special oils to help the finish adapt to the change of temperature and season. These features make it an ideal choice for both interiors and exteriors, from kitchen countertops to outdoor furniture.

Another thing worth mentioning is that it dries quickly and cleaning is very easy, just warm water does the job. And this Helmsman spar urethane is water-based which means it’s less toxic and safer to use.

Its crystal clear finish makes it a great choice for stains and woods with light colors by ensuring even and consistent results. Overall, this clear protective finish is ideal for sunlight exposed interior or exterior woods.

What We Like:

  • Gives protection against moisture and rain.
  • Comes with UV blockers; reduces fading and graying effects.
  • Contains special oils to adapt to changes in temperatures.
  • Easy and trouble-free application.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Quite thinner, one coat can’t be sufficient for the best result.

2. Minwax 211114444 Polycrylic Protective Wood Finish – Best for Any Woodwork

The Minwax Polycrylic 211114444 is perfect over wooden interiors. Its crystal clear finish adds stunning beauty to woodworks, from furniture to cabinets. This clear varnish also adds a flat sheen to make the wood look more natural and trendy while maintaining a good, sleek finish.

As it is water-based, non-ambering, and non-yellowing, it’s a great choice for a long-lasting clear finish over your furniture. It also works as a protective barrier against spills, dirt, scratches, and more. Plus, this water-based clear coat is very easy to clean. Before thinking you made a huge mess, just use soap and water, it’s that easy! So, no worries, you can cover up even large spills.

Besides being easy to clean, it is very fast drying too. It allows you to apply re-coats after just 2 hours. But make sure you use a good quality brush with synthetic bristle. And its low odor makes it safe and comfortable to work with. So, it ultimately allows you to finish the project smoothly.

Another thing worth mentioning is that this protective clear coat goes well over all Minwax water-based and oil-based colors and stains. Plus it’s suitable for all types of woods, even light woods like maple, birch, or ash. So, this Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish is an ideal choice for any type of your woodwork.

What We Like:

  • Water-based; easier to clean up spills.
  • Fast-drying; allows re-coats after 2 hours.
  • Durable finish; lasts for a long time.
  • Ideal for any type of wood, even the light ones.
  • Provides strong resistance against spills, scratches, and dirt.

What We Don’t Like:

  • May leave streaks; it would look like a bad paint job.

3. General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat – Best for Interiors Care

If you are focusing on the interiors only, this high-performance water-based topcoat is the ideal solution for you. Its UV stabilizer helps to give protection against sunlight. So, your furniture stays safe from harmful particles and doesn’t break down in sunlight. It also protects the stains to make them safe from fading or discoloration.

An amazing fact is that most topcoats might not allow you to apply them on the floor. But this ‘General Finishes’ topcoat is different from others; the brand promises that their topcoat can even be applied to the floor. So, you get a pretty awesome feature from this topcoat.

It comes with some more excellent features like fast-drying, easy to apply, and easy to clean. It offers a dry time of 1 to 2 hours between coats. But depending on the temperature and season, it may vary. This topcoat made applying very easy and it can be easily cleaned as well; warm soapy water is enough.

This water-based topcoat is durable and hardens nicely but you need to be careful because it dries fast. Over and above everything, it doesn’t have any noticeable odor, so it saves you from holding your breath or wearing funky gas masks. Overall, this topcoat can be a great choice for your interiors.

What We Like:

  • No noticeable odor; ensures smooth working experience.
  • Comes with UV stabilizer; protects from fading and discoloration.
  • Water-based; easier to clean up spills with hot soapy water.
  • Dries quickly; allows re-coats after 1 to 2 hours.
  • Durable finish; lasts longer.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not suitable over white paints; can cause yellowing.
  • Contains some harmful chemicals which can cause health issues.

4. Minwax 63010444 Fast Drying Polyurethane – Best for Long-lasting Use

The Minwax 63010444 Clear Satin is an amazing oil-based formula. This clear coat gives a long-lasting finish that not only provides protection to all types of woods but also preserves their beauty for a long time. If you are looking for something to seal the paint of your favorite interiors for ages, this one is an ideal choice.

Confused whether it will work on unfinished wood or not? Surprisingly this Minwax fast-drying clear coat doesn’t care which surface you are working on; finished or unfinished. It just works fine on both of them. It works on floors too. So, you can apply it on doors and windows to floors and other woodworks.

It dries quickly. So, you won’t need to sit there and wait too long just watching the clear coat dry. It will take less time to dry and give you more time to relax. Plus, its application is so easy like it will be done in a breeze. So, if you are having a hard time applying coats on your coffee table try this one out.

Finally, with the combination of the oil-based Minwax Satin Polyurethane and your proper applying techniques, you will achieve a clean, super smooth finish that remains the same for a long time.

What We Like:

  • The clear coat application is easy.
  • It cleans easily; no worries about spoiling.
  • Dries fast; ensures faster re-coats on proper temperatures.
  • The odor is low; comfortable to work with.

What We Don’t Like:

  • The clear coat can turn yellow.

5. Varathane 200261H Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane – Best for the Money

Tired of waiting for hours just to be sure that the paint of your newly painted surface will not stick to the hand? Do you feel like you are waiting for ages to add the second coat? If yes, you can simply seal the lid of your polyurethane can and send it to Oscar the grouch as a souvenir!

Behold the Varathane Water-Based Ultimate Polyurethane; polyurethane that allows you to touch the paint just after 30 minutes and add a recoat only after 2 hours. Its fast-drying satin finish brings a nice natural and classic look to your paint surfaces.

It comes with a durable formula to provide excellent resistance against scratches. It ensures the protection of your indoor woodworks like windows, furniture, cabinets, and so on. And with amazing area coverage of up to 31.25 square feet, this formula will be a great choice for your interior projects.

The polyurethane formula contains a low odor, so you get a comfortable working experience. Plus, this fast-drying formula is water-based, so it is easier to work with and easier to clean. Only soap water is enough for clean-up. Less rubble, less trouble!

What We Like:

  • Easy to apply; comfortable work experience.
  • Fast-drying; requires a short time for applying recoat.
  • Easy to clean; soap water does it all.
  • Durable; excellent scratch and stain resistance.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Possibility of turning white surface to yellow and not crystal clear.
  • The can size might turn to be smaller than expected.

6. Minwax 710330000 Water Based Oil-Modified Polyurethane – Best for Scratch and Stain Resistance

Using polyurethane that contains a high odor is pretty much like an everyday stinking nightmare. To save you from that problem, we present the Minwax Oil-Modified Polyurethane that comes with a lower odor compared to that polyurethane with a solvent base.

It not only protects your wooden surfaces but also adds a touch of beauty to your interiors and woodworks. With excellent durability and warmth, this brings the look of traditional polyurethanes. Besides giving amazing service to your interiors, this clear satin is even great for your floors too.

This oil-modified polyurethane is fast drying. Working is easier with this water-based poly. Plus, being water-based it’s very easy to clean. You don’t need to worry about stains and mess; you can easily clean up surfaces with soap and water only. So, keeping all those amazing features in mind you can go with this one for your interiors or other woodworks.

What We Like:

  • Durable; excellent scratch and stain resistance.
  • Easy to clean; soap and water are enough.
  • Low odor; comfortable work experience.
  • Ultra-fast drying; re-coats can be applied after 2 hours.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Can cause a little bit of eye and skin irritation.

7. KILZ Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer and Sealer – Best for Stain and Odor Blocking

Ever heard of a water-based primer that works like an oil-based material? This KILZ Restoration Maximum Interior Latex Sealer works like other oil-based products though it’s a water-based sealer. It works on woodworks, plasters, painted metals, ceramic tiles, and bricks. And it even works on most glossy surfaces like glass.

This primer works like a stain blocker and creates resistance against smoke, ink, water damage, pet stains, nicotine, and more. It blocks odors and makes your paint applications smoother. On porous surfaces, it works like a sealer. You can even use it as a topcoat with oil-based paints or latex.

While maintaining resistance against odor and stains, it gives wide area coverage too. Only one gallon is enough to cover almost 300 to 400 sq ft area. And it dries pretty fast too. It takes only 30 minutes to dry to the touch, plus the brand promises that you can apply a re-coat just after 1 hour.

It dries nice and hard, you can sand it easily too. It provides amazing adhesion, so, you can easily use it on different surfaces from wood to painted metal and you can even use it as an enamel undercoat. So, if you are looking for a sub-coat for floors to hide pet urine odors you can count on this one.

What We Like:

  • Provides superior protection against odor and stain.
  • Dries fast: promises re-coats after 1 hour only.
  • Dries hard and can be used for enamel undercoating.
  • Easy to apply; gives better working experience.
  • Strong adhesion; works on even most glossy surfaces.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Smells bad; may take time to disappear the odor.
  • It may not cover the wood tannins.

8. Rust-Oleum 260165 Ultimate Polyurethane – Best for Soft and Smooth Finish

Tired of smudges, fingertips, and scratches on your favorite furniture? Try out this Rust-Oleum 260165. Its matte finish provides good protection against fingertips, scratches, smudges, and more and makes your furniture look smooth and evenly finished. Plus, the durable finish ensures a long-lasting result.

This amazing water-based polyurethane is ideal for interiors, trim, doors, and furniture. It adds a smooth texture to wooden projects while maintaining long-time protection against scratches and scuffs. Also, the brand promises a unique feature: when you touch it, this durable acrylic formula will feel softer to your hand than traditional polyurethanes.

This fast-drying topcoat takes less time to dry; it takes only 1 hour to dry to the touch and 2 hours to prepare for a re-coat. Moreover, you can use just a quart to cover up to 150 square feet of area. It comes with another benefit that is worth mentioning: it cleans very easily. You can just use soap and water to clean it up.

What We Like:

  • Comes with a unique soft-touch feature.
  • Very easy to apply; No fuss, no steaks.
  • Only soap and water are required to clean.

What We Don’t Like:

  • It may not dry as expected; could turn cloudy or white.

What Can I Seal Latex Paint With?

To answer the question in a pretty straightforward way: choose a good Polycrylic protective finish. To be more specific, go with the water-based. Water-based Polycrylic sealers have various benefits over polyurethanes in many cases.

Water-based sealers have less odor compared to both types of polyurethane; water-based and oil-based. They dry quickly and as they are water-based, they are easy to work with and easy to clean. So, if you are thinking of sealing your latex paint, you should go with water-based Polycrylic sealers.

How to Seal Latex Paint? [Step by Step]

We discussed quite a lot of things about latex paint sealers. Why leave the procedure to seal the latex paint behind? Here is how you can seal latex paint step by step.

Step 1: You may also call this one a prep phase. First, remove everything that may cause difficulties while painting a surface such as dust, dirt, tape, etc. Sand the area using sandpaper with fine grit. Wipe the dust properly; you can use a damp cloth. Now you can use painter’s tape to seal the areas where you don’t want to apply the sealer. If you are working on walls you can put drop cloths on furniture to protect them from spills.

Step 2: Start applying thin coats of the sealant using a paintbrush. After applying, wait for a few hours; the waiting time may vary from brand to brand. So, make sure you check the drying time stated on the manufacturer’s manual.

Step 3: Before applying the second coat, sand the sealed surface again. Make sure you remove the dust and debris properly.

Step 4: For the second coat, the application process is the same. So, repeat steps 2 and 3. If it needs third or further coats apply them in the same manner.

Step 5: You can remove the painter’s tape now. Voila, your latex-painted surface is now ready to shine.

Can You Put Polyurethane Over Latex Paint?

Yes, you can use polyurethane over latex paint. Polyurethanes are of two types: oil-based and water-based. You can choose any of the variants to use over latex paint. But one thing to keep in mind is that oil-based polyurethane dries slowly but it may turn yellow over time.

And slow drying means you will get more time to work but it also means you have to wait for comparatively longer than the water-based ones. On the other hand, water-based polyurethane dries fast and remains transparent over time. So, you can choose any of the variants of polyurethane depending on your project.

How Long Should Latex Paint Dry before Applying Polyurethane?

Generally speaking, you should give your newly painted workpiece at least somewhere between 24 to 72 hours for proper drying. It’s better if you can give it even more time. The more time you give the less complication you face and the better results you will see.

Still, the time of waiting varies and depends on various conditions like weather, wood type or paint type, etc. Now, after the surface is completely dried, you can apply polyurethane over the latex paint.

How Do I Get a Smooth Finish with Latex Paint?

This one depends on your preparation. If you are thinking of painting surfaces like walls or something like that, preparation is the vital thing for achieving a smooth finish.

First, take a cleanser; choose the all-purpose ones and mix it with water. Now, sponge the surface with the solution. Don’t forget to clean the dents, small holes, and gouges and you should use spackling compounds to fill in those trim and then sand them to make the surface smoother.

Make sure the surface is dust-free because you don’t want the dust to stick to your wet paintbrush and make things complicated. So, long story short, make sure you have good preparation to achieve a smooth finish with latex paint.

Final Verdict

When it comes to painting wood surfaces, latex is a great choice. From your floors to furniture, it suits them all. But to seal the beauty of the latex painted surface, you need a good quality clear coat to put over it.

We have gone through 8 good quality clear coats that you can apply over your latex painted surface. The choice will vary depending on your project. But to select one as the winner of our list, it would be the Minwax 630510444 water-based helmsman spar urethane.

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