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(Topic ID: 6186)

What's your experience with Varathane Clear Coats?

By herbertbsharp

9 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 27 posts
  • 18 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 months ago by desiArnez
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders


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    #1 9 years ago

    I'm going to be clear coating my High Seed after some touch-ups. I have never done this before and I am leaning toward using Spray Can Varathane instead of investing in a compressor and spray gun etc. How does it turn out? Can you achieve that super glossy diamond plate-like finish? Any tips?

    #2 9 years ago

    If it is not water based, it yellows. I have a friend in my city that is an expert at cc'ing PF's, so that is one thing I'll likely never do, but anything not water based yellows from what I have been told.

    #3 9 years ago

    When done right it can work well. A friend of mine has mastered varathane, and his playfields look amazing. Most people would think his were professionaly done. I have had success with it as well.

    #4 9 years ago

    I used Varathane on my recent Apollo restoration and I think it came out very nice. I used my HVLP gun to apply it. I have also used the spray method as well but prefer the HVLP gun to lay a more level coat.

    #5 9 years ago

    I rattle canned my first playfield recently. I honestly only had the guts to do it because the playfield sucked big time already, and you can't screw up something that's already that f'd.

    After the fact, I'm glad I did it. It does look significantly better.

    However, it is way, way, way far from perfect. Somebody with an experienced eye could pick up tons of things quickly.

    That's probably the way yours will turn out for the first time. So I guess it really boils down to your tolerance for living with those small imperfections in the years to come. If it's your holy grail machine with an almost perfect playfield, I wouldn't rattle can it, but that's just me.

    Most finish coats in anything turn out about as well as the amout of effort you put into the prep work. So that's my best advice. And the amout of sheen you get will be equal to the amount of effort you put in the rubout/polishing phase.

    #6 9 years ago

    here's just one of my restos
    I use Varathane exclusively although I do plan to experiment with another type of urethane eventually. I wrote an article on how to Varathane a playfield in Pingame Journal #128 in which I go through the restoration of my Judge Dredd playfield.

    #7 9 years ago

    On the advice of JPop we used a Wagner Power Painter to clear coat the Lost machine using Minwax Polycrylic (water-based) Polyurethane and it worked great!

    We were going to go with the rattle can approach, but when The Duke speaks we listen.

    #8 9 years ago

    Good topic always wanted to try varathane on one or two EMs of mine

    #9 9 years ago

    I had good experiance with Varathane cans and not so good experience with Minwax cans. Might have been my application, prep or both, but I did pretty much the same thing with the Varathane and got very good results. The playfield on the left is with Minwax, you can see the cloudy look never cleared up. The right is of the old playfield. Had a ton of insert damage. That is what drove me to try it. Sanded and peeled the Minwax off and used Varathane. The blacks are very nice now. I tried the Varathane on the playfield too, but with mixed results. I had some big inserts with damage to fill and they came out a little milky. This was probably due to my application of clear in those areas. Will try to post a pic of the new mini and regular playfield soon. The mini playfield came out so nice, I just left it. No sanding or anything. Did not use the instructions on the can and went with the "Cliffy" method. Spray wait around 30 mins and spray again. I had a lot of touch ups and the Jackpot inserts were wrecked, so I think that is were my problems came from on the regular playfield. I would recommend Varathane, but not sure about Minwax.


    #10 9 years ago

    Everybody always makes it sound so easy

    #11 9 years ago

    I was thinking of just spraying my ball shooter lane. Its down to bare wood in areas. Input appreciated.

    #12 9 years ago

    I cleared my FH cab with the Minwax polycrylic but never on a PF. Ive used Varathane a few times with good luck. Do not use it in direct sunlight though. Makes it to fast and you will have to sand that coat off. Leaves it a little rough. But if donoe right, no problems. I took the long way about it and put on a coat every day for 5 days on my attempts. Have been happy with them though.

    #13 9 years ago

    Some rules of thumb when working with clear coats (any kind).

    Like others said, you get out of it what you put into it.

    Practice on a cereal box 1st. If you can lay down a wet coat with out sags/runs you got it.

    1. Clean, your area to be cleared must be clean AND dry. Invest in "tac rags" low tac is all you will need for this.
    2. Working conditions, the working area surrounding should be clean as well obstacles removed from the work area.
    3. Climate, work between 55F and 85F and below 85% humidity if you can.
    4. Spray control, keep your spray can/spray gun a even distance from the surface and steady speed with every pass. A good fan with a furnace filter taped to it to draw and catch the after spray is a good idea. Place the filter on the back side of the fan to catch particles before they go through the fan.
    5. Flash times, after you apply the 1st coat it will need approx 10 to 15 minutes to dry in between coats. I spray 3 to 4 coats on anything I do. The 1st and 2nd coats may look like it has dimples on it, it does. After more coats are applied the dimples will level out. If you are using a spray can allow a weeks time to cure. Use a good hard wax to protect the clear coat.

    These steps should leave you with a smooth, clean shine.

    Post edited by jrrdw : Added text.

    #14 9 years ago
    Quoted from Av8:

    I was thinking of just spraying my ball shooter lane. Its down to bare wood in areas. Input appreciated.

    I've done this a few times with Varathane. I sand and clean the shooter lane, then clear coat it. I haven't owned the games I've done this to for longer than 6 months, so I can't comment on long term performance, but they have held up from what I saw.

    #15 9 years ago

    I'd love to do this but seems a tad scary!

    #16 9 years ago

    Wow, thanks for all the info everybody, I'm sure this will help many people (and certainly me) with such a daunting task! As far as touch-ups go, is it ok to use flat acrylics on a glossy playfield and then clear coat? I mean to say, will the final clear coat even out the difference of the two finishes underneath it?

    #17 9 years ago
    Quoted from herbertbsharp:

    will the final clear coat even out the difference of the two finishes underneath it?

    No, it will make it stand out like it's got a magnifing glass on it. You have to match your paint.

    #18 9 years ago
    Quoted from herbertbsharp:

    even out the difference of the two finishes underneath it?

    My experience it relates to flat, matte, semi-gloss, gloss, etc. - it doesn't matter. Your final clearcoat will blend it all together.

    As it relates to color match - I agree on the magnifying glass part. Clear coat will exacerbate any differences in color shade, especially in solid color areas.

    Do the "naptha trick" to test your shades....after your touch up is dried, swipe a bit of naptha over it and the surrounding area. While the naptha is evaporating - but while it's still wet - you'll get the same kind of shine that you'll get after you apply the clear. You'll also get the same "color changing" effect on your touch-ups. My experience again is everything looks darker under clear, so I always need to remember to keep it a shade lighter than I think is necessary. So always color test your repairs this way before your final clear coat.

    #19 9 years ago
    Quoted from examiner:

    Do the "naptha trick" to test your shades....

    Great suggestion, thank you!

    #20 9 years ago

    and use an extender, otherwise the acrylics will be THICK and won't lay down flat, giving a bumpy feel to the pf.. the extender won't change the color, it'll just thin it out a bit so it will lay down better.

    before (or after) you do the touchups though you're probably going to fine sand all the gloss away from the existing pf anyway. It shouldn't be shiny before you spray it.

    As far as dry times in between coats, when I used Varathane spray I waited a full 24 hours between coats and light sanded between each one (except the first), more sanding on the 2nd/3rd coat than the last 4. You're sanding out the imperfections so the next coat lays down better.. and better.. and better.. until the last coat (4th? 5th? 6th?) you need barely any sanding.

    #21 9 years ago

    This is the cloudy playfield as posted earlier, but sanded back down to paint and sprayed with Varathane rattle cans. It looked so good that I didn't even bother to sand the final coat. Have other pics of playfield, but having trouble posting them. Will try again later. DSC00045_1.jpg

    #22 9 years ago

    Looks great MES

    #23 9 years ago

    Lookin goooood! Thanks MES, I was lookin for Varathane last night and I couldn't find it, I almost buckled and bought Minwax - then I remembered your post!

    #24 9 years ago

    Some people have good luck with Minwax, but I have tried it several times and got the cloudy look. Maybe I just had a bad batch to start with? For the Varathane rattle cans You will probably need to order it on line. I got mine from True Value. Maybe $8 a can? Don't remember. I would get one or two more cans than you need. I read somewhere that you should switch to a new can before you get to the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the can. The one thing I noticed with the cans is you will not get that auto clear deep shine. You can get a good coat on the playfield, but that thick glass like surface probably wont happen.

    #25 9 years ago
    Quoted from MES:

    You can get a good coat on the playfield, but that thick glass like surface probably wont happen.

    +1 Auto clear seems to be the only way to achieve the deep clear look. It is pretty expensive though.

    #26 9 years ago
    Quoted from shock_me:

    It is pretty expensive though

    I paid 40 dollars + shipping for my quart kit, yes it is costly.

    8 years later
    #27 7 months ago

    Well, I’m working on two playfields for the same machine. By nature of Gottlieb’s System 3 manufacturing process they both suffered from massive checking, impact related paint damage hidden under Mylar (long story) and flaking Clear + paint under the posts (Amplified when removed).

    I brushed most of the coats on. Globbed mounds of Varathane inarticulately over imperfections. Wet sanded it between coats. Just slathered it thick.

    And the final coat was me pissed off and applied so thick the sucker looked like it was covered in white sauce.

    Let that cure a week, gave it a light rub down.

    Let that cure two weeks and gave it a 400 (in parts) -> 600 -> 1000 wet sand. Naphtha wipe downs. Magic eraser lubed with Naphta somewhere in there. Got a $15 3” orbital foam pad polishing kit for my right angle drill. Four grits of polish. Went to town.

    Other than all the damage and funky touch up frozen under all that ice, it looks killer.

    My say is that as long as you’re mindful of bubbles and fisheyes on your last coat, it’s really going to come down to curing and cutting. Smooth as heck and hard.

    My regret is that I didn’t remove all the old clear.


    Now the next one (the good one) I’ll be a bit more careful with.

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