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Old 04-10-2004, 03:52 PM
Alison Alison is offline
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Question What is a good clear steel coating?

I welded together some mild steel frames for a friend of mine, and am wondering what are some good ideas to clear coat the steel with? I have used a product supposedly for use on steel if inside (ZIM), but it is water based and creates small rust "blooms" just by being applied. I've used cheap spray on clear coats, but they seem to only help so much. I can't afford fancy and expensive powder coats, and I am looking for something fairly accessible and direct.

Any ideas?
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Old 04-10-2004, 04:40 PM
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Araich Araich is offline
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

Hi Alison, try a product called Penetrol. It is a clear oil based paint additive that has extremely high penetrating qualitites - pushing out the air and moisture from the pores in the steel which seed rust. You'll need to give the work several coats, the more the merrier, and ultimately rust will find a way under... Just the same as powder coating.
That said, in my experience it is the best coating of them all, and it is cheap.
If it is a complex shape, with hidden seams and pockets, I recommend using a diluted mixture (with turps) and drowning the work as the first coat.
Also, cleaning off the work first with thinners or meths seems to help.

You can buy the stuff (or similar) at any-old hardware store. Best of luck.
'some australian sculpture...'
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Old 06-09-2004, 09:46 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

Hi, As far as clearcoating goes, I use a wire cup brush on my grinder and get off as much of the loose rust scale that I can. Then I clearcoat with automotive clearcoat using a spray gun. It's not cheap but seems to hold up pretty well. The environment will wreck havoc over time with ANY finish but auto paint products last a long time. I have since gone over to stainless steel and cor-ten steel and although expensive they don't need anything else done to them, as far as I know.
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Old 06-14-2004, 05:08 PM
steponmebbbboom steponmebbbboom is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

VHT Urethane clear is good. It's available at auto paint stores. Clearcoating bare steel is tough if you want to retain the look of bare metal with no patina. It will require maintenance if the work is installed outdoors. You can use a matting agent if you don't want any shine.
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Old 04-26-2008, 03:53 PM
bradjam bradjam is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

I know some pros using Penetrol but there work is considered indoors only. It does create a very nice finish though.

As stated by others wire brushing and a solvent to clean prior to coating is always good. There are also some metal conditioning products that nuetralize the metal prior to coating but can have there own look by altering the natural steel appearance.

I've been using a product called "Permalac" which can be bought in a spray can or in a paintable liquid. It's quite toxic so protect yourself but then most of these products are high in solvents when oil base.

I've tried quite a few products both watrer base and oil and find Permalac to be very durable even outdoors. The only pitfall is it is Satin /Gloss.

You can buy it here

Good Luck!
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Old 04-26-2008, 04:37 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

Penetrol is very good; better than urethanes, epoxies, laquers and acrylics, especially over rusted steel. I have pieces outside that have retained their rubbery gloss for a few years and going. I do anticipate, as with ANY clear coat, a restoration down the road. But its quick and easy. Keep your steel thick, your coating clear and use the rust as aggregate...nothing looks better.
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:36 AM
JamesONeil JamesONeil is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

I have also used Permalac. As mentioned it uses some nasty solvents, just get plenty of fresh air while spraying. also sells it, or just go direct to the Permalac site.

The Permalac website offers some testimony to 10 year durability, etc. and ArtChemicals also offers some testimony to durability.

I have also used the Krylon/RustOleum clear coats and they appear to work well also. I couldn't get Permalac in time for a project.
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Old 10-21-2008, 03:34 PM
nep75 nep75 is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

I also agree with Permalac as it has UV protectors in it. A good way to prep the surface of the steel is to clean it as well as possible. After you get your patina (if you are applying a patina) on and where you want it, brush or spray acetone (definately wear appropriate safety gear, a resperator and gloves outside) on the whole piece. When this evaporates, it will insure that there is no moisture on the steel to get stuck between the coating and the surface. It's not cheap but works well if applied correctly.
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Old 11-04-2008, 12:03 AM
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Mr. Malloy Mr. Malloy is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

I like the thread, About the acetone? I thought it was cheap? I have not used it though. Do you just need to coat the piece? if so, can I brush it on? I wonder. and that can work right on top of the "rusty" finnish?
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Old 06-08-2014, 01:17 AM
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Dazzlin Dave Dazzlin Dave is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

This is great info! Thanks for sharing!
I've used many different methods over the years for my work, from wire brush shined bare steel that I tried to keep with polyurethane (which worked much better than other coatings I've tried) sandblasting with poly, some pieces I've sandblased have been kicking around my house for nearly a decade and only have a couple of small rust spots and they had no coating at all. I've tried mineral spirits mixed with linseed oil ~10:1 on well rusted steel pieces, which takes many coats (my first try mixed 50/50 was WAY too thick and took 9mos to cure!). Some I've painted liberally with a brush, some sprayed it on with a cleaning type spray bottle (which lasted surprisingly long considering I was using solvents in it... AND had plenty of ventilation! You don't want to breathe this stuff in a mist!), have also soaked a rag and wiped it on then buffed it with the rag as it dried. Each application method is a matter of preference I guess. Some pieces call for different touches, do what seems best.
Thanks very much for the Acetone reccomendation! I'll have to try that with the Polyurethane treatments from now on. They seem to start creeping rust after 5-10yrs depending on whether in direct sun and weather or under an overhang. I'm sure that would definitely extend that quite a few years.
I found this thread watching "Outrageous Acts of Science" on Science channel, looking up nano coatings, which I didn't find and wound up here. There seems to be some type of nano particle silica coating out there that madly repels water. Interesting stuff...
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Old 06-08-2014, 05:14 PM
raspero raspero is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

You are the first poster in this thread in six years. Those guys have all gone to Facebook, or somewhere.

Thanks for the information.

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Old 08-23-2014, 08:49 PM
Jerry Jerry is offline
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Re: What is a good clear steel coating?

The best clear-coating material I have used is VAL OIL. It is a product made by the Valspar Corporation and can be purchased at LOWES. However, it is not sold in several States most notably New York. Val Oil dries in 8 hours and gives a totally clear coat with some gloss to the finish, however, I constantly use it for outdoor works over a painted carbon steel surface. I have also used it over clear, very clean raw steel but usually for interior pieces.
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