Why Use a Separate Gun for Clear Coat?

Is there a benefit to using a separate gun for automotive clear coat? 

Is it true?  You have to buy multiple spray guns for applying different types of paint? 

Once you read below about the benefits of having a dedicated spray gun for clear coat, you’ll jump on the bandwagon…or not! 

Let’s check it out… 

why use a separate gun for clear coat
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Automotive Clear Coat and Dedicated Spray Guns 

Painters are in two camps.  In the first camp, they use one car spray gun with different nozzles to paint all their base, clears, enamels etc. Etc. cleaning out the gun after each use. 

In the second camp, painters are buying multiple guns.  One for base, one for clear and one for paints.  This mitigates the time and effort required to clean out the gun perfectly after each use.  

Why Use a Separate Gun for Clear Coat?

The ideal scenario is to have 3 spray guns, if it fits your budget. 

You should at least consider having a separate gun for automotive clear coat and one for base/solids/paints.  This prevents paint/solids from getting into your clear coat and either messing up your paint job or clogging your sprayer.

Benefits of a Dedicated Spray Gun for Automotive Clear Coats 

Using a spray gun for clear coat only means that your gun never sees any metallics, colored paints etc.  It’s easier to clean and keep clean. 

Imagine spraying a nice metallic and then cleaning your gun thoroughly (or so you thought), then loading it up with clear.  You start spraying and randomly, some metallic that was somehow hiding in your gun comes out onto the clear.   

Like blue onto a white hood.  YIKES!  Now you’re back to square one wasting your time and effort to get your paint job back to beautiful.   

If you’ve got a dedicated gun for clear coats and a separate one for paints/solids, this never would have happened!   

With two guns you save yourself a ton of downtime between coats cleaning your gun: that’s just too time consuming for most pros. 

Drawbacks of Multiple Spray Guns 

Captain obvious says it’s the cost.  Instead of buying one gun for all coatings with multiple nozzles, your spending 2-3 times the cash on many guns. 

Folks that buy 1 gun will clean/rinse their gun out with thinner before moving onto laying down a clear coat.  Thoroughly cleaning does take more time and effort. 

Speaking from a more academic standpoint, some paints and clears just don’t mix.  A small amount of paint left in the gun by accident, if combined with clear, will make the paint coagulate (basically turn into a blob) and either clog your sprayer, or land right smack dab in the middle of your panel.  Not cool. 

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Spray Guns for Clear Coat 

Each person and professional has their own personal recommendation for their favorite spray gun for clear coat. 

Every gun you can think of from the DeVilbiss GTI to the SataJet 5000.  Whatever gets you your desired results is the best gun for clear. 

What is the Best Clear Coat Gun for Us? 

When looking to buy an automotive clear coat gun, there are certain things that you should absolutely have. Awesome results depend on not only your skill, but the quality of your gun and nozzles.  

You can always improve your skills, but your gun is your gun and cheap guns will give cheap looking results. 

Features to Look for in a Clear Coat Gun

  • Lightweight
  • Feels nice in your hand: ergonomic
  • Easy to adjust knobs
  • Can dial in for perfect spray
  • Great atomization
  • Various nozzle sizes available

For us, the results are, well…clear!  We recommend the Iwata LPH400 spray gun for clear with a 1.4 nozzle.  

Iwata LPH400

paint sprayers for cars
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  • Atomizing PSI: 16.0
  • Air Cap Model: LV4
  • Requires CFM: 9.5

This LVLP spray gun from Iwata is top of the line.  If you want those premium results, you invest in this unit. 

Comes with a 1.4mm tip which is perfect for laying down a killer layer of base, clearcoat or enamel.   But, this unit really SHINES when laying down clear. No pun intended!

The fluid and fan control setting knobs are easily accessed on the back of the gun.  

We couldn’t believe how quiet this unit sprays, it’s like the sound of a whisper.  Only con is you need a good compressor to run this unit as the HVLP LV4 air caps chew up air pretty good.  But the results are totally worth it.

This workhorse not only works hard for you, it has lasted some Owner’s up to 12 years.  Weighing it at around 0.86 of a lb, it’s one of the lightest on the market.  You’ll never suffer from wrist fatigue.   

When we tested it, we loved how ergonomically it fit in our hand.

You will have to purchase the 1 quart cup separately.

We’ve got nothing bad to report about this Iwata LVLP in our full review.

Soft Spray
Quality Build
Whisper Quiet

Chews up Air
Large Investment


Well there you have it.  Now, you have a choice to make.  Invest in 2-3 dedicated guns: one for automotive clear coat, one for base coat and one for paints. 

Or just grab one workhorse gun with 3 nozzles and clean like a maniac.  The choice is yours.