What is the Best Clear Coat for Wood? (2022)

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Wood wears out and loses its beauty over time because of its susceptibility to weather conditions. A good clear coat used for wood can enhance the wood’s appearance again, but a corrosive formula can be a detriment. So, our professional woodworkers share their tried and tested picks throughout the years to help you with your purchase.  

Premium Option
Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish
Editor’s Choice
Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer
Budget Option
Thompson's WaterSeal
Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish
Thompson's WaterSeal
• 1 quart
• Water-based formula
• Clear satin finish
• Fast-drying formula
• 3.79 liters
• Low VOC formula
• Water-based
• Nanotechnology
• 1.2 gallon
• VOC compliant
• UV inhibitors
• Waterproof
Premium Option
Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish
Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish
• 1 quart
• Water-based formula
• Clear satin finish
• Fast-drying formula
Editor’s Choice
Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer
• 3.79 liters
• Low VOC formula
• Water-based
• Nanotechnology
Budget Option
Thompson's WaterSeal
Thompson's WaterSeal
• 1.2 gallon
• VOC compliant
• UV inhibitors
• Waterproof

Reviews of the Top Clear Coats for Wood

1. Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer

Seal-Once is a reputable company and a leader in creating long-lasting clear coats. This manufacturer specializes in using nanotechnology to make durable and efficient formulas that will perform over an extended period.

The Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer penetrates the wood’s surface, coating the fibers to give it an extra layer of protection against water and UV rays. Thanks to its unique formula, the sealer forms a barrier against mold, mildew, and warping.

It’s water-based, eco-friendly, and convenient to apply, which easily makes it our woodworkers’ top choice for a clear coat for wood.

Pros

Cons

2. Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish

Another one of the best clear coats for wood in the market is the Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish. Minwax is renowned for providing the best and most durable finishes and this formula is no different from their other formulas produced over the years. 

This topcoat not only protects the wood from scratches and water spills but adds natural beauty to the furniture. In addition, it offers a long-lasting crystal clear satin finish that allows for easy cleanup with soap and water. It also doesn’t yellow and gives off an odor.

The clear coat dries pretty fast and you can recoat after two hours. This way, you can get the job done faster. 

Pros

Cons

3. Thompsons Waterseal

Thompsons Waterseal is a unique solution formulated to protect the wood from water damage and improve its appearance. This formula resists mold growth and maintains the wood’s grain.

The formula consistently provides a clear finish, and brings out the wood’s original color, ensuring that the wood stays polished for a long period. It also comes with UV inhibitors to minimize the effect of sun damages on the wood. 

This helps maximize the durability of the furniture, saving you a substantial cost for a replacement eventually. Above all, it’s VOC compliant which makes it usable in restricted areas. 

Pros

Cons

4. General Finishes Exterior Water-based Topcoat

General Finishes Exterior Water-Based Topcoat is formulated to control mildew and mold growth and prevent the wood from fading. It includes some chemical combinations that enhance the wood’s appearance. 

This topcoat has UV absorbers that protect the wood from sun damage and changing color. In addition, it provides a long-lasting satin finish and allows easy cleanup after application. Our woodworking team can also attest to its convenient application. You can brush, spray, or roll the content on your furniture with ease.

Not many topcoats can be applied in diverse ways, making this water-based an excellent option. 

Pros

Cons

Clear Coats for Wood Buyer's Guide

Type of Clear Coat

The best clear coats can be oil or water-based. Oil-based clear coats contain mineral solvents that leave a hard protective shell. It dries slowly and turns yellow. Water-based solutions don’t appear yellow over time, have no odor, and dry quicker than oil-based products. 

Formula/Composition

When buying a clear coat, our technical experts suggest you go for those with quick-drying abilities and UV inhibitors. This formula not only dries fast but also protects the wood from harsh UV rays [1]. They are great in protecting the natural wood around your home

Use

Some clear coats arrive as “ready to use,” while others require mixing before using them. Our team advises that you opt for ready-to-use formulas to avoid the technical process involved in preparing the solution. 

Related pages: 

Guide to getting the best hardwood lumber deals near you 

FAQ

How do I get a smooth clear coat finish on wood?

You can get a smooth clear coat finish on wood by sanding each coat while it’s wet using fine-grit sandpaper. The more you sand, the smoother the surface, but be careful not to remove the coat excessively. 

Our Top Pick for Clear Coat for Wood:
Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer

Our team of woodworkers landed on the Seal-Once Marine Wood Sealer as the best clear coat for wood due to the unique nanotechnology formula that maximizes the lifespan of the wood. Aside from that, it’s eco-friendly. It has a low VOC odor and doesn’t give off harmful fumes during use. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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