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"Varnish/finish/polyurethane myths" Topic

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paranoid painter27 Oct 2010 4:31 p.m. PST

I have always been under the impression that, in general, gloss coats are tougher than matte or flat coats. Well, this article persuaded me otherwise:


There's also another topic, one which I'm not as sure on and is proving to be much more difficult to research. I'm going to have to rely on TMP's knowledge and experience if I am to make decisions that won't cost me an arm and a leg (and maybe even a model or two).

The position(s) in question:

"To keep your clear coat finish from attacking, dulling, or otherwise distorting the appearance of your acrylic paint jobs, make sure to use one that's acrylic."

I'm aware of positions similar to the one above, only that they claim using enamel finishes, and not acrylic ones, will produce the desired effect (or lack of one, should I say?).

Does anyone have any insight on this matter? Which are better for miniatures with acrylic paint jobs, acrylic clear coat finishes or enamel ones? Or does it not matter, and I'm just being, as my reader name would suggest, paranoid?

jpattern227 Oct 2010 4:49 p.m. PST

Not true at all. I have used Dullcote lacquer-based spray, in mist coats, over acrylics for more than 20 years with no problem. In thick coats, yes, the lacquer solvent would attack the acrylic piant, but in thin mist coats, no problem.

Edit: Brush-on Dullcote might be more problematic, because it's easy to brush on too thick a coat.

Garand27 Oct 2010 5:18 p.m. PST

If you use decals on minis at all, you must glosscote the mini first in order to get a proper surface for the decal to adhere to. The only exception is dry transfers, but I'd do it anyway. The article mentions it is better to use several think coats (this is true); however it shouldn't matter if the first one is gloss, and subsequent coats are dull (though technically, if using decals you should use a glosscote over the decal to help hide the edges -- dullcote will not do it consistently).

Disclaimer: I have been building plastic models for 30 years.


paranoid painter27 Oct 2010 5:41 p.m. PST

Thanks. Though I'll still be looking for more testimonies and other knowledgeable input affirming your view! Can't be too sure!

I'm still wondering about whether or not acrylic clear coat finishes will attack, dull, etc. an acrylic paint job, specifically on miniatures. As I said, I've heard the rumor going both ways.

At any rate, thanks again. An experienced painter's input is always helpful.


While I don't ever use decals, your information will be useful if I ever do in the future. Not to mention the help it will lend to others who use them now. Thanks.

Sysiphus27 Oct 2010 6:08 p.m. PST

Well, opinions vary no getting around it. My opinion is; flat white Krylon base, acrylic paints, brush on and blow off bubbles w/ MinWax Tudor gloss polyshades.
Dullcote to taste….I tend not too.


richarDISNEY28 Oct 2010 6:17 a.m. PST

I use Flowquil spray, and that is solvent based.
It works really really well, and does not attack the paint.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP28 Oct 2010 7:48 a.m. PST

I have used Dullcoat spray on thousands of 15mm and 25mm figures for 20 years as well. It has never attacked the acrylic paint (model, craft or artists acrylics) and I put it on thick!

One difficulty is that lacquer can absorb moisture and "fog" especially in crevices where it can pool. I gently heat the figures and the Dullcoat under a standard incandescent light before I spray and the figures for about five or ten minutes after spraying to ensure they are thoroughly dry.

In the few instances where I have used brush on Dullcoat, the brush friction has tended to loosen the acrylic paint on raised surfaces. Subsequently I use a light coat of acrylic matte finish over the area to be covered and later bush on Dullcoat. This has been 100 percent successful.

When applying decals I brush the area with gloss acrylic finish to prevent the "halo effect" and spray Dullcoat after the decal has thoroughly dried. Again, 100 percent successful.

I believe gloss coat seems stronger because the surface is slippery creating less friction.

jpattern228 Oct 2010 9:38 a.m. PST

As others have said, yes, definitely gloss coat if you're decaling. In fact, I gloss the area to be decaled, decal when dry, gloss again over the decals when they're dry, then Dullcote. Double-glossing followed by Dullcote eliminates the silvering/haloing around decals and really makes them look painted on.

paranoid painter28 Oct 2010 12:42 p.m. PST


Well, it seems the discoloring problems that come from non-acrylic finishes are a result of brushing them directly on acrylic paints along with pooling issues. Thanks, guys.

There is something else that I don't think I made clear in the original message. I've also heard that acrylic paints may discolor when you apply acrylic finishes. In other words, I've heard "Don't use acrylic clear coats, they'll mar your acrylic paint jobs," as well as "Don't use anything other than acrylic clear coats, or else your acrylic paint jobs will be marred."

The second issue has been resolved (to my satisfaction), the first has not.

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