Are Automotive Clear Finishes Suitable for Wood?

Those who've tried it say automotive clears work beautifully on wood. Here are tips and cautions. June 9, 2007

Before I get raked over the coals, I am building a torsion box veneered countertop for a late middle aged couple, no kids, and she always uses a cutting board. I am not the skilled finisher some of you are. I do okay with Magnamax, but am hesitant to do a 2k poly. Since this is veneer and wood movement is nil, what would you say to having a local body shop (close by) shoot it with an automotive poly? I want as bulletproof a coating as I can get and since it is veneer and has less movement than automotive plastics, I was hoping there wouldn't be a problem.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
Auto clear is used on wood all the time. It's super tough and easy to rub out. There are two types, a polyurethane and a urethane - they are different. Most car clears are actually urethane. A few are polyurethane (which aircraft will only use, like Imron). It's even more durable. I use SPI brand clear (which is a poly) on all my auto collision work. I'm getting ready to do two end table tops with it next week. I'm going to use a lacquer sealer over the oil stained wood first to be sure. I tried auto lacquer once and it peeled off in sheets - didn't like the stain, I guess. So I'm anxious to try the poly. It's expensive though, about $100 gal. I'm told it works just fine on wood.

From contributor B:
Auto poly is like any other product used on wood. Your key, as with metal, is the primers/sealers to prevent that peeling off in sheets, which is an adhesion problem. The correct sealer for a catalyzed topcoat is recommended.

From contributor D:
Modern Automotive clears are acrylic urethanes and they work super on wood. Imron and Algrip are linear polyurethanes and they too work super on wood and are used extensively on boats. I use clear coat all the time on wood and it's the absolute nuts. Once polymerization is complete, you can pour lacquer thinner on it and it will not phase it. Great stuff.

From contributor P:
Keep in mind that catalyzed automotive finishes can be pretty nasty stuff, health-wise. I remember spraying Imron back in the 80s, and the health warnings used words like "fatal" and "death." I recall that the manufacturer strongly recommended the use of a mask hooked up to a fresh air source. Beautiful, bulletproof finish off the gun, though.