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Clear coating brushed steel furniture

Some clearcoating solutions (adv.) pointer   

An ongoing discussion from 2003 through 2016 . . .


Q. I make metal furniture. I am looking for a durable, clear, satin coating that adheres well to bare brushed steel. Any ideas?

James Lapp
- Bow, Washington


A. I use DAU75, with DXR80 hardener. It is an acrylic urethane made by PPG. It seems to be working really well on my furniture. I use mild steel tubing.
I've been using Acetone [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to prep the surface, but am looking for something that doesn't leave a residue that I have to buff off with a dry cloth before spraying. This stuff is a little expensive.

I've been paying about $120 for a gallon of the DAU75 alone, then you have to purchase the DXR80 hardener as well.
It works well and leaves a beautiful finish with no wet sanding or follow up at all.

Trent Mitchell
custom steel furniture - Tempe, Arizona


! That is really too bad you are paying $120 for a gallon of acrylic urethane.


Jake Koch
G. J. Nikolas & Co., Inc.

Bellwood, Illinois

Por-15 Glisten Clearcoat


A. I have a bit of experience in clear coating bare steel too. Someone else uses DAU acrylic urethane, not a bad choice. We were introduced to a product POR-15 Glisten [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] =>

It is a coating for custom wheels. It even sticks to polished metals! I don't know if this is a selling point, but it also gets stronger as a finish when exposed to moisture. It is killer stuff. You can buy it in Quarts and it doesn't seem to be too expensive. Good luck!

Kim Burris
custom paint - Farmington, Utah

Ed. note: Thanks Trent; thanks Kim.
But we ask future readers to try to restrict their recommendations to application hints and types of product: acrylic, lacquer, epoxy, powder-coat, polyurethane, silicates, etc., rather than recommending specific brands. This is a free forum for camaraderie and technical discussion, made possible by supporting advertisers; it isn't fair to ask them to pay for maintaining testimonials to their competitors; plus, as soon as commercial benefit is available from postings, we get spammed to death and it is difficult to tell the actual satisfied customers from the swarms of shills who start posting with fictitious names, posing as satisfied customers :-(

November 4, 2011 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hi there,

I have been building furniture incorporating cold rolled steel in my designs for some time now. My clients like the look of the steel unpainted so I have been using a spray polyurethane (Minwax) to seal the steel to prevent from rusting. I always clean the steel with methyl hydrate before clearcoating. I have tried to clean up any rust spots with CLR first but it doesn't seem to take the rust out very well at all. I am finding over time that the steel is rusting underneath the clear coat and it is a problem for my clients.
So my question is two-fold:
1. What would you recommend to clean up the rust before clear coating?
2. What would you recommend I use to seal the steel once it is cleaned up?
Thanks for your help.

Brad Farinacci
furniture designer and builder - St. Catharines, ON, Canada


A. I've been building Custom Steel Furniture for 10+ years. My work is on the web.

There are 3 key points--
1) prep the steel by sandblasting clean first.
2) polish or Patina the steel, wiping off polishing residue w/ mineral spirits [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] -- keep yer oily, greasy "mits" off-a-da piece!
3) Use an HVLP sprayer on a non-humid day, quickly after polishing or patinating/neutralizing.

Randy Kramer
studio - Chicago, Illinois

March 11, 2009

Q. This has nothing to do with furniture but do you think this will work to protect a polished steel motorcycle tank? It's not stainless and I'm terrified of rust. thanks

Asher Coombs
- Pensacola, Florida


Metalwork for Craftsmen

March 14, 2009

A. Hi, Asher. Unfortunately your concern about rust is not misplaced. A clearcoat is just not enough to protect raw steel from corrosion in outdoor exposure. So after clear coating, make sure no road salt gets on it; dry it whenever practical when it gets wet; and avoid leaving the bike out in the elements to the extent that you can.

Think of what automakers do to try to avoid corrosion: first they dip the steel in molten zinc (galvanizing); then they phosphatize it to minimize galvanic hotspots, prevent undercutting, and provide 'tooth' for the paint; then they electrocoat it with primer to make sure all crevices are covered; then they provide at least one layer of colored spray paint -- at least 4 separate processes before the clearcoat. Skipping those four steps and just doing a clearcoat is far short of enough.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 6, 2012

Q. This is just a pondering...because I really don't understand the technical chemistry of paint.

But, what I'm curious about is:

If primer and paint do a good job of protecting steel from rust. Then why wouldn't a clear finish of the same sort do just as well....a clear primer followed with a clear finish.

I thought most paint bases were clear to begin with. So, why is clear finish any different than pigmented finish?


Eric Butler
- St. Louis, Missouri, USA

July 6, 2012

A. Hi Eric.

Sorry for the confusion. It's not that a clear finish per se is less corrosion resistant than a pigmented finish. It's that a clear finish, through which Asher wanted to see shiny bare metal, implies that there are no pretreatment layers like galvanneal, phosphatization, and e-coating. And these layers are very useful, especially in highly corrosive situations like motorcycle tanks.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 19, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have a wrought iron table that I have removed most of the 5 layers of paint on and was planning to paint it and give as a gift to my sister. She saw it in its raw metal state and loves the look and does not want me to paint it. Is there any clear finish that I can put on it that will keep it from rusting?

Jill Duell
hobbyist - Rochester, New York, USA

May 22, 2013

A. Hi Jill. Part of the reason your sister liked it was probably that it is quite unusual. And the reason it is unusual is the limited corrosion resistance of clear coat on bare steel. If you can have it sandblasted, and otherwise follow Randy Kramer's advice (above, on the thread we appended your question to), I suppose you have a shot at sufficient corrosion resistance. Best of luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 29, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have some stools and a table made from mild steel (square tube) that I want to have finished with a clear finish to protect and prevent rust. I've see a lot of discussions about the various options and the relative rusting risks with a clear finish, all seem to state that the only way to get a good finish is with an appropriate pretreatment. I want to know what possible preparation processes there are and how they would change the color of the steel. I've been told that an iron phosphate treatment would leave the metal a blue/purple color. I'd rather a grey, silver or blackened color to the metal. The surface has all been brushed.

The furniture is for indoor residential use. I would like to get the best finish practical.

Paul Hortiatis
Hobbyist - New York, New York

June 2, 2013

A. Hi Paul. Letter 9400, and some other threads on the site, discuss the colors available from phosphatization. But the thing is, these coatings do not put a translucent tinting on your shiny metal, they change the whole look of it to a matte gray or black, and they will probably widely miss the look you are going for. Since this table and chairs will be used indoors, careful reading of this thread, including Randy Kramer's advice, should get you by. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 28, 2015

Q. We have a customer looking for a brushed brass finish on her kitchen counter rail. Unable to find a brushed brass in all the components we need to create the rail, we have opted to try using steel wool to brush polished brass. Over the life of the kitchen, dirty hands are bound to ruin the finish of the brass and I am wondering if the above products would be recommended to protect brushed brass or if there is another method we should look in to. I do not think we would want something that is high gloss and would need the satin/matte finish. Thanks in advance.

Brian Kutz
- basking ridge new jersey us.

Brass Lacquer

A. Hi Brian. Brass lacquer is perhaps the best coating for brass because it is made for the purpose, and it is relatively easily removable (with lacquer thinner or acetone). You could speak with a specialist like G.J. Nikolas [a supporting advertiser].


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 11, 2015

Q. Hi. I think that you have said that clear coating interior metal is possible, however, I am not exactly sure what product you is best. I have metal door frames in a 1939 apartment and want to clear coat them to protect them, but should I use polyurethane, varnish, shellac, lacquer, or something else. I want to brush it on and not spray it on since I cannot do it outside. I thought polyurethane would work best, but the labels always say to be used on wood and does not mention metal. The only product I have found to mention metal is Rustoleum and that only comes in a spray. Your professional input is most appreciated. Thank you.

Vivian B. Frazier
NYC pre-war apartment owner - New York

A. Hi Vivian. Door frames are probably steel. Polyurethane is probably fine, but make sure the steel is spotlessly clean. Everbrite [a supporting advertiser] offers single-component clear coats you can brush on. Two-component clear coats like automotive clearcoat are usually sprayed on, but there is probably no reason you can't brush them on. They are mixed like epoxy, and harden in a few minutes to a few hours -- so use disposable mixing cups and brushes. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 28, 2016

Q. I make lamps out of car parts and was wondering the best way to put a clear coat on the finished product? I want to make sure the parts do not rust or corrode.

Chris Holter
- Rochester, Minnesota UsA

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