Varnish vs auto clear coat

Welcome to Forums Teardrop Builders’ Forum Varnish vs auto clear coat

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #1969

    While I have some time before I reach this step (I have just finished putting the two layers of fiberglass on the outside of the teardrop) I have been spending a lot of time thinking about options regarding the finishing touches. I have seen a couple of people on here mention an auto-body clear coat but the details have been somewhat spares. Waterlust’s build ( employed a clear coat done at an auto body shop and they mentioned sanding down to 800 grit after their layers of epoxy fill coats.

    I am in phoenix and the weather may not be the best for varnishing which is why I am hesitant to go down that road. Also this would be the biggest varnishing job I have done. I called one shop and they were quoting over $2000 for a clear coat finish which seems a little steep. I thought it would be closer to a few hundred but maybe I am being unrealistic. I may try a shop like MAACO since they seem to have more reasonable prices. Anyone have any thoughts or advice? I appreciate your help with this.



    $2,000 seems excessive for something this small. Is the estimate for them doing all the masking and everything? It has to be. Still, too rich for my blood.


    This was all over the phone so perhaps they were quoting high to be safe. I don’t have the trailer completed yet but I am hoping to be close over the next couple weeks. I kept repeating on the phone that I would do practically all of the prep work (sanding mainly). Not much would need to be masked, maybe just the trailer when I bring it in.

    I did call a MAACO and they wanted to see the camper before committing to the project. The first MAACO I called said they don’t do things like that. Interesting how they have different policies.

    What are your finishing plans Green Ninja? I see you are around where I am based on your recent posts.


    I would be leary of anyone charging less. Proper materials and the knowledge to apply them does not come cheap. I chose varnish because I didn’t want to have to get a shop involved if I needed future repairs.


    The more I research varnishing and look at posts and videos I think I will go ahead with varnishing myself. I will likely have to thin the varnish (I plan to use schooner as recommended) so that I have more time to work with it. I suppose I could start with an interior piece to practice


    FWIW, I considering the same and so I asked the guys at Waterlust how much they paid for their finish work. They stated it was about $1,000.  They recommended just driving it around from place to place once you’re ready for that step and see what you can get.

    Varnish can be hard, especially if the temps are extreme. I found that I got the best results from thinning higher than 10% (which tends to be the upper end). And then I just  applied more coats. Another approach I saw was ‘wiping’ the varnish. It takes considerably more coats, is a bit less known technique.

    Good luck!


    Are those spares are available on all the auto body shops near me.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.