What clear coat do you use on your painted outdoor projects?

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I painted these pots with acrylic craft paint to stack out front to add some color to my front porch. Ive been looking for a polyurethane I can brush on to protect them from the elements. I thought Spar urethane but all of them dry a slight yellow (not good on white) so I am looking for something that is truly clear and having issues locating something. Any thoughts? I thought about doing a water based polyurethane but they all say indoor only.
q what clear coat do you use on your painted outdoor projects , crafts, outdoor living
  27 answers
  • Carol T Carol T on Jun 06, 2016
    Hi, not sure if you have this product available to you, but Yacht Varnish is excellent for outdoor work. It is used on boats so should work for this.

  • Mary Coakley Mary Coakley on Jun 06, 2016
    I find Ronseal clear varnish not sure if its available in your area,I live in Ireland

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jun 06, 2016
    You can use a clear spray paint. Try Rustoleums 2X which is available in assorted finishes and will give you the added protection you are trying to achieve.

  • Linda Lester Linda Lester on Jun 06, 2016
    If they're terra cotta, don't seal them, I learned the hard way they need to be porous, otherwise all your decoration will chip and peel. I had to start all over again!

  • Sierra Sierra on Jun 06, 2016
    Linda, do you mean not to seal if using for plants or what was the issues sealing them? Thx.

  • Kelly Kolstad Kelly Kolstad on Jun 06, 2016
    Terra Cotta pots need to be sealed inside and outside to stop any water from absorbing into the clay and ruining one sided finish.

  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Jun 07, 2016
    yes have to seal inside and out otherwise stuff does peel off. I've been doing some kind of decorating clay pots since back in the early 70's. I use Triple glaze spray myself . I love the very glossyfinish.

  • Linda Lester Linda Lester on Jun 07, 2016
    Ah ha! That must've been my problem! I only sealed the outside, thinking about it now, that wasn't my smartest move, lol! Live and learn.

  • Linda kelley Linda kelley on Jun 10, 2016
    I use Rustoleoum Clear Coat Spray...its for outdoors, Seals, Protects, and revitalizes. I use it on all my projects...great stuff.

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jun 11, 2016
    Varathane. It is a poly based 'marine varnish' used on boats, will hold up under all weather. Dries crystal clear.

    • Bruce Yungkans Bruce Yungkans on Sep 03, 2018

      Sounds like a solution for me. I have a painted wood deck - exposed to the elements. Will it adhere to the paint.

  • Teri Brewer Maue Teri Brewer Maue on Jun 16, 2016
    I just use a clear spray sealer. Put in an enclosed area in the winter or on a porch covered and it will last quite long. Renew the spray as needed.

  • Sug29333499 Sug29333499 on May 12, 2018
    Thank you to everyone leaving comments on this question! I just spent two days spraying big plastic pots with Rustoleum American Accents 2x in high gloss white, and I wanted to spray a clear coat to protect them from rust stains from the sprinkler getting on them at the edge of the patio. Going to put small foxtail palm trees in them. I bought the Rustoleum clear coat 2x and going to spray them today!

  • Abbey Abbey on May 12, 2018
    I use the clear coat spray paint by Krylon.

  • Dianne Davis Dianne Davis on Nov 27, 2018

    Is there a brush on varnish for painted stoneware. For outside

  • Margie Nendza Margie Nendza on Feb 03, 2020

    I want to protect ceramics that I painted for the garden. What kind of finishing paint should I use.

    • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on May 14, 2021

      Hi Margie, look for an exterior, water-based polyurethane. You should be able to find it in spray cans or tins that you can paint on with a roller. Water-based polyurethane won't yellow over time and the clean-up is easier.

  • Chris Chris on Sep 14, 2020

    I am painting plastic playhouses with rustoleum 2x having issues with the paint peeling when taping off and want to be able to seal to keep from chipping

    • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on May 14, 2021

      Hi Chris, when painting plastic, it's really important to clean and sand the item before you paint it, otherwise, the paint may not adhere properly. I would also highly recommend that you use a primer before spray painting.

  • Black Hills Rosie Black Hills Rosie on Sep 14, 2020

    Peel the tape at 45 degree angle, gently. Don't leave it on more than a day. I left tape on my steel siding for a week thinking no problem. Ha! That was a bad mistake.

  • Joan Grant Joan Grant on Oct 20, 2020

    I paint wooden whisky barrels and I am looking for a outdoor varnish that wont turn white paint yellow

    • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on May 14, 2021

      Hi Joan, avoid oil-based exterior varnish. They all tend to yellow over time. Look for an exterior, water-based polyurethane, and don't worry if it looks milky in the can, it will dry into a crystal-clear coat. Because it's water-based, you may need to apply more coats than an oil-based polyurethane, but thankfully it dries quickly, and clean up is easier too.

  • Alison Alison on Oct 20, 2020

    I've been using this on all of my outdoor painted projects, like pots and lawn/garden statues: Rust-Oleum 250141H Ultimate Spar Urethane Water Based, Quart, Semi Gloss Finish. It works really well.

    • Lex Lab Lex Lab on Mar 29, 2021

      This looks like a good solution and was a search result when I looked for outdoor clear coats. I had projects ruined before by not coating inside as well and is rather devastating when you put a lot of time in. Ntm sometimes there are inner cavities you just can’t reach with spray. Want to preserve my donkey planter! A couple days ago he was still yellow from 30 year old paint now he’s a new donkey.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 13, 2021

    Depending on the element exposure, you might want to use marine varnish. It is tough.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on May 15, 2021

    I have used this stuff to clean all my outdoor lights https://amzn.to/3ht5YZF

  • We have made wooden kayaks and the marine varnish is strong, but it certainly works and protects like nothing else. Wear a mask though, it's strong...

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Jun 16, 2021

    Plaid brand clay pot sealer should work perfectly for you.

  • Libbie B Libbie B on Jun 23, 2021

    I like using a spray version of poly. The coats are nice and thin.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Aug 16, 2021

    Rusteluem has a clear coat

  • MARIA MARIA on Sep 16, 2021

    Has anybody decorated an old toilet bowl to use as a planter for the garden? And if you did what would you recommend to paint over the paint to seal it from the weather? Needs to be able to stick to shiny china.