Thinking of spraying clear-coat on doors, If so you'll need to insure that the doors are prepared properly before starting your project.

Using the recommended sprayers tools and materials for the job at hand is also essential to guarantee the best finished results. Below you will find how to instructions including information on equipment required along with the type of clear-coat one should apply.

If you prefer your raw unfinished wood doesn't need to be stained prior top coating.

For those who have refinished their doors keep in mind that old clear coat or stain needs to be striped away. Or in the very least the top coat (varnish etc.,) must be removed and the stain applied should be darker than the previous product that was put on.

If you do intend on staining your doors you might want to check out this door staining page page to assist you. After learning how to enhanced all those lovely wood grains come on back here to complete the spraying clear-coat on interior doors process.


There are a number of protective coatings to choose from when one is spraying clear-coat on doors. Not all finishes are hard enough or desirable for doors though so I discuss the three that are the most widely used on woodwork.

  • Catalysed Lacquer
  • Polyurethane or varnish
  • Waterborne Clear-coat

Pre-catalysed lacquer is my preference due to its distinctive look and speed in drying. Coatings that dry quickly are a huge advantage when one is applying three or four layers to 20 or 30 doors at a time. Waterborne finishes are my next best choice since they have a much lower odour than lacquers do. Waterbornes, like lacquers are also fast drying and non-yellowing.

I do not like any type of alkyd (oil) or urethane based products because they dry way to slow and tend to dis-color over time. Many people prefer alkyds or oil varnishes so you will need to decide what works best for your particular situation.

What ever product you do choose be sure to follow all label, tool and/or equipment instructions prior to spraying clear-coat on doors or other types of wood trim.


Coatings can be sprayed on in a number of ways including a $3.00 aerosol type can (spray bombs) or $20.000 air assist spraying machine. Since aerosol type sprays are a little slow for spraying clear-coat on doors and an air assists might be on the pricey side there are a couple other alternatives to select from.

  • Hand held power sprayer.
  • Cup gun & compressor (conventional system)
  • Airless
  • HVLP

Conventional systems work fine and are the cheapest alternative especially if you already own a compressor that's rated to spray paint all you would need to do is buy a hand held cup gun. Conventional sprayers do use a lot of product though and are sometimes difficult to fine tune.

Some Pros use an airless though for clear-coating because they are fast. With that said an airless can cause more runs and sags and you don't want to use an airless that has had paint sprayed through it. Also finding an airless paint sprayer that hasn't had paint in it would be almost impossible unless you bought it brand new.

Buying an airless is a good idea in most cases and you will more than likely use it for a number of projects. Just be sure to use the recommended or proper tip size for the job at hand.

Hand held power sprayer are not recommended because they tend to spit as oppose to atomizing your product.

My sprayer of choice would be an HVLP. You will need to decide on what sprayer to use for your particular project.

Once you have selected a sprayer and the product that your going to use practice using the machine prior to taking on your doors. Proper thinning of clear-coat, air pressure and amount of product along with the technique you use for spraying clear-coat on doors or trim are all important for acquiring the optimum finish.


Below is a list of tools and materials as every job is different you will need to decide on the items that are specific to your particular situation.

Paint spraying tools

  • Paint sprayer (HVLP, or airless etc.)
  • Gun & spraying tips (sizes 109, 209, 212, 312)
  • Clean pails or buckets
  • New stir sticks
  • Clear coat strainer
  • Basic sprayer repair tools
  • Sponge sander (fine grit)
  • Drop cloths for covering
  • Covered table for tools (picnic or banquet etc.)
  • Saw horses with (covered) plywood (2'x4') on top
  • 2" putty knife
  • Electric palm sander (220 to 320 grit paper)

Paint spraying products & materials
  • Painters plastic
  • Painters tape
  • Wood putty same color as door or dried stain
  • Clear coat
  • Funnel screen (strainer)
  • Solvent (or water)

Amazon is an on-line retailer that most people know and trust. Because of Amazon's size they tend to offer better prices on tools and materials than your local home improvement center. Just be sure to use the free or low cost shipping options that are available to you.

Amazon's selection is quite large and includes top quality brand name painting and decorating materials for spraying clear-coat on doors or trim along with a five star rating system for tools & products.


Due to the smell and possibility of over-spray I prefer to work in an outside setting when I'm spraying. A back yard or driveway usually works best. Your garage or basement area is fine if whether is a factor.

Interior spraying on the other-hand requires plastic covers walls and removal of furniture or other items or in the very least drape them with drop cloths. You also want to place drop cloths onto the floors then move your sawhorses into the middle of the room. Lay plywood onto the sawhorses while ensuring the plywood is covered with a brand new drop cloth.

Grab a door and place it on-top of your draped plywood. You want your sawhorses set up to be sturdy yet far enough underneath the door that the draped drop cloth doesn't get over-spray all over it.

If you have stained your doors you can proceed to spraying the clear-coat on, otherwise raw wood doors will need preparing prior to clear-coating your doors.


Begin by removing hardware (hinges, knobs) if needed then tape and mask off any glass that the door may have. New doors need to have the knob holes and place for hinges cut out prior to coating.

With a spot light look for any holes, scratches, grooves or divots and fill them using your putty knife and wood filler. Flip the door over and fill the other side.

Set the door up against a wall to dry grab another door and fill it. Keep filling doors until they are all done. After the filler is dry check them again and refill as needed.

Your now ready to sand the doors. Some doors are manufactured using rails, stiles and panels. Sand any indented molding and around the panels using a sponge sander. Follow up by sanding the panels, rails and styles (with the grain) as if they where separate individual pieces never sand against the grain.

Flat doors can have the entire door sanded by using an electric palm sand. Keep the sander flat against the surface as you sand be careful otherwise you will create scratches and gouges. Also, you want the door to be smooth and level yet at the same time removing as much wood filler as possible. Less filler means less chance of it coloring differently after the door is coated.

With your doors prepped you can proceed to spraying the clear-coat on or you can use this staining page to help you out.


When using a paint sprayer I prefer to have my doors in a standing position because its the fastest way to get them coated. Stand them up involves screwing the doors together in an accordion or stepped fashion. I keep the doors upright by using 1" metal corner brackets (or blocks of wood) to lift the doors and 6" metal L shaped flat brackets screwed in at the top to hold the doors together.

If you have little or no experienced with a paint sprayer and your going to rent or buy one you might want to lay the doors onto your sawhorses as its a lot harder to get a run or sag in a door that's laying flat as oppose to doors that are standing up. Doors that are sprayed laying down at least three or more saw horse set ups (if you have room) so that you can spray more than a single door at a time.


Remember to stir your clear coat (my preference) to remove any floating sediment that it might have. Clear coats can be shaken but you will need to leave them to settle (at least over night) otherwise you will have to much air in the can.

Using a funnel screen and clean can screen your coating to remove debris.

Most coatings will need to be thinned and the look of your finished door can depend a lot on how well you thinned your product. Heres the thing, I can't tell you how thin it needs to be because it all depends on the product, needle/tip size, gun settings and sprayer being used.

When using spraying equipment or products that I have never used before I will start thinning at about 5% (water too coating) for water based coatings and 10% for lacquers and oil based products.

Add your percentage of thinner (or water) to your coating then spray it on a scrap piece of wood. Decrease or add more solvent depending on the finish that your getting.

You will also need to adjust your air and product flow (knobs on the gun) accordingly.

In almost all cases I have found that coatings need to be thinned by as much as 0 to 30%. You will need to decide on how much thinning is need in regards to your specific situation.

Start with less thiner and keep thinning and testing, testing, testing until you find the optimum finish that your going for.


Standing in the middle and at the hinge or knob side of your door turn your spray fan in a vertical position (or dot if your using an HVLP) adjusting the size too about the thickness of the door . For those using an airless you might want to change tip sizes.

Begin spraying the doors edges they can be very absorbent and need the most coats.

If the door has groves or molding around glass or panels I will then spray the groves or molding.

Now change your fan to a much wider vertical width and move onto the top of the door sweeping your sprayer gun toward the doors bottom edge. While spraying use nice strait horizontal lines and be careful not to rub up against the doors edges.

Your spray fan needs to be level, at a consistent width and 4" to 8" away from the surface (depending on your HVLP). Hold the gun 10" to 14" away if your using an airless or conventional (compressor) system.

As you spray be sure to overlap each path (horizontal lines or swath) by half of the width of the fans spray pattern.

Remember to start spraying before you reach the doors edge and to stop after you have passed it, never start or stop on the door surface itself.

Your spray fan should also overlap and go onto the hinge/knob sides of the doors edges due to there absorbency.

Spray cans or bombs (aerosol type) can be used in the same fashion mentioned above but the process will be much slower and cost more for product. The fewer doors your doing the better. You will also need to be between 2" and 4" away from your door when spraying (depending on the can). If you do use spray can I would recommend buying a plastic gun that fits on the cans cap lip.

Apply three or more coats of product sanding between each dried coat (220 to 320 grit sand paper). Depending on the coating that your using you might want to coat your door/s let them set up a bit then (vary carefully) lean each door against a wall to dry. While those doors are drying spray and sand the other ones.

Keep spraying, drying, sanding and flipping doors until they are done.


Standing doors are sprayed much the same as when they are laying flat (read the above). If a door has glass or panels, rails and stiles I will set my sprayer to a dot or small fan then spray the doors edges and around the (square or rectangle) panels and molding that holds any glass in.

Once the groves (channels) are sprayed or if the door is flat in the first place change the fan to a wide horizontal position and spray from top to bottom using strait even swaths over top of what you have already sprayed(around the panels etc.).

Overlap each coating pass by half the width of the next. Be sure to start at the doors edge (knob or hinge side) and finish by spraying the other door edge.

When spraying pull the guns trigger above the door and let go of the trigger once you have passed the doors bottom edge. Never start on stop spraying on the door surface itself.


For spray equipment to function properly it must be exceptionally clean. Each kind of machine may require a different type of cleaning process. Follow your manufacturers instructions as per cleaning your sprayer or use their website to find your specific sprayers download-able manual. Most sprayer manufacturers (e.g., Graco, Titan, Wagner) also have videos for you to watch the actual spraying process.


Cup guns (HVLP or otherwise) usually have three adjustments including product flow, air supply and fan width. You must learn how to use all three adjustments in combination for the best finish.

You'll also want to adjust the spray when you change fan size or position (as needed).

Another thing to keep in mind is that cup guns have different needle sizes. Be sure your gun has the proper needle for the product that you are spraying.

A good tip is to check out Amazon paint sprayers and Google each manufacturers name and type of sprayer. Even if your sprayer is different say a Graco for instance (my preferred choice) you will still find very useful videos and manuals on the Titan or Wagner sites that pertain to paint spraying in general.

Always practice with your product, tools and equipment before taking on your main project.

Prior to using your clear coat screen the product, sprayers are very finicky and plug easily. All spraying products, tools and materials must be very clean and in proper working order.

If you use an airless sprayer it should not have had paint (especially latex) in it. You can change the hose (and gun) which will help immensely but paint can be inside the sprayer and clear-coats tend to loosen that paint spitting it onto your newly sprayed surface.

Since I can't adjust my spray fan on a airless I will interchange tip sizes. I find that reversa tips (twist to unplug) work best.

Avoid getting runs and sags as much as possible. In most cases they can be removed by sanding them out with an electric sander. At times though they can still show up (or where you sanded) after re-applying your coating.

Your first coat should be very light in fact it's better to apply a number of thinner coats than a couple heavy ones.

Products called sanding sealers which are like primers are available for clear-coats but I don't find them necessary.

Keep an eye on the edges of the door making sure they have enough product on them. With that said never finish up by spraying the doors edges otherwise you will have over-spray on the face of the door. Door edges (the hinge and knob sides) are always sprayed first followed by the front and back door surfaces.

Last but not least be sure to wear the proper mask, gloves and goggles when your spraying.

Another good idea is to have some help especially when moving your partially dry doors. When moving wet doors hold them at the top and bottom edge or knob hole and hinge sides so as to protect the coated surface.

If your looking for more information regarding spraying clear-coat on doors or other types of woodwork for that mater you might want to check out this Spray finishing book and DVD at Amazon. Also while your on the book page scroll down and read the reviews or search for another wood finishing book or product if you prefer.

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