More Tips for Using American Paint Company Top Coat—And A New Product Announcement

Last week we shared with you five of our favorite tips for using American Paint Company’s Top Coat, an eco-friendly product designed to give your paint projects a durable shiny finish. Today we have five more tips for you plus the big announcement we promised about a new APC product coming soon. Thank you for reading the All Things New Again Blog!

More Tips For Using APC Top CoatOne of the nice things about American Paint Company’s clay chalk and mineral paints is all of that chalk in there makes it easy to create beautiful distressed finishes by simply rubbing your piece with a damp cloth or sponge. However, keep in mind that Top Coat is a liquid product. If applied too heavily, it can also zap that chalk and cause you distress by adding more distress to your piece than you planned. The liquid can also cause two side-by-side colors to bleed together if you aren’t careful. Not fun!

Keep reading to find out how to avoid these issues, but first …

* * *

I would like to note here that any potential issues with distressing and bleeding are NOT specific to APC Top Coat or to American Paint Company paints. This can occur when using ANY liquid product on ANY brand of paint containing chalk as an ingredient.

* * *

1. Apply Top Coat lightly to avoid distressing your paint.

I am waaaaaay too heavy handed when it comes to applying Top Coat. I will admit that to you right here, my friends. I end up “lightly distressing” pieces I intended to have a solid finish like this magazine rack I painted in APC’s turquoise Shoreline. It doesn’t look bad, but it isn’t the look I was going for.

shoreline magazine rackThe best way to avoid unintentional distressing is to apply your first coat of Top Coat using a “dry brush” method. This means apply very little product to your brush. I dip my brush in Top Coat then dab it on a paper towel to remove excess product. Then brush it on in thin even strokes. Don’t work the brush back and forth, back and forth. Just go over each area once. Don’t soak your piece with Top Coat. You will take off paint. It is best to apply the first coat very lightly and let it dry. Once the Top Coat dries, it will provide a protective shell over your paint job so you don’t have to be as careful with subsequent coats. Kind of like that candy coating that protects your M&Ms from melting in your hand.

Three coats of Top Coat are recommended for maximum protection. After the final coat has dried, you have the option of applying APC Clear Wax for a more satin finish. Sometimes I do this, but most of the time I just like the shiny Top Coat finish and leave it like that. (Remember to let it cure for at least a week before heavy use!)

2. Be careful to avoid bleeding around stripes or stencils.

stripe tableAgain, Top Coat is a liquid product. It can cause paint colors to “bleed” together if it isn’t applied lightly and carefully. I applied Top Coat to this striped table, but I did it in stages. I did not want my white stripes to end up pink and gray and green because my wet brush picked up pigment from the other colors nearby.

I used a small brush to apply Top Coat onto the white stripes first. When they dried, I came back and painted each of the other colors separately, again with a small brush. I poured a small amount of Top Coat in my container and rinsed it out between each color to prevent the pink from contaminating the green, etc. Once all of the stripes dried, the tabletop was protected enough that I could come back with a larger brush and apply Top Coat across the entire piece—without regard to the colors—for the second and third coats.

3. Apply Top Coat to laminate tops so paint sticks better.

Some old dressers, desks and tables appear to be wood at first glance, but upon closer inspection you find the tops are made from a wood-colored laminate that is usually glued on top of the wood. If it is in good shape, don’t waste time removing it. Just paint over it! If the surface is super-shiny, I recommend sanding it lightly first. You may also brush on a coat of Top Coat, let it dry and then start painting. The Top Coat fills in small scratches and gives the paint something to stick to. It’s a little extra step, but it makes your tabletops look really nice.

I had some paint/Top Coat mixture leftover from freshening up the inside of these desk drawers so I used it for the first layer on this laminate desktop. It gave me a nice smooth surface to build upon with other layers of color until I created a look I loved.


coral desk4. Apply Top Coat in between colors to prevent distressing down to the original finish.

A popular look right now is to apply two or more different colors then distress your piece to reveal the colors underneath. Sometimes you will distress all the way down to the original finish, which looks great on some pieces. Others? Not so much. Apply a thin coat of Top Coat after the first color dries. This will protect the basecoat and make it harder for you to distress all the way down to the original finish, especially if you are using the “wet distress” method with a damp cloth or sponge. Works like a charm!

Here’s an example:

I did NOT want this wood-colored plastic to show through when I distressed the legs of this little table.


So I painted it with Fireworks Red and then sealed it with Top Coat after the paint dried. (It took two coats of the red, but it covered all of that plastic beautifully with no sanding or priming needed.)


I came back with soft yellow Heaven’s Light and distressed with a damp cloth to reveal the red underneath, but the Top Coat prevented my sponge from zapping the paint all the way down to the plastic wood.


5. Top Coat will resist water, but it is not waterproof.

Top Coat provides a more durable finish than wax so after it cures, your table can be safely wiped down with a damp cloth without leaving smudges. However, it is not totally waterproof so don’t spray cleaner or furniture polish on it, and be sure to use a coaster underneath beverages to prevent marks.

If you are painting something like kitchen cabinets or a dining table that you are constantly scrubbing mac and cheese off of, then you may want to consider using a product that does contain chemicals because it will provide a more durable finish than an all-natural product like APC Top Coat.



American Paint Company has developed a new product called Hard Coat to provide a more durable finish for high-use pieces like cabinets, floors and tabletops. Hard Coat is a LOW VOC product unlike Top Coat which contains ZERO VOC’s. If you have sensitivity to chemicals or are committed to only using all-natural products, then APC Top Coat remains the best choice for you. We will continue to carry it in our shop, All Things New Again, and continue to use it on many of the pieces we paint for sale at the shop and for personal use in our homes.

However, if you are comfortable with integrating a low-VOC product with the all-natural products American Paint Company produces, then the new Hard Coat is another option for you. It provides a higher level of protection for your furniture that, unfortunately, you just can’t get with an all-natural product. With even greater water resistance, you can scrub away at that mac and cheese stuck on your kitchen table after breakfast, lunch and dinner (or is that just at our house because that is all my 2-year-old will eat right now?)

The new Hard Coat will be available for sale this fall. We are looking forward to carrying it at All Things New Again and using it on pieces that need a little extra protection. I’m starting with my mac-and-cheese-covered kitchen table at home!

At All Things New Again, are committed to providing you with options for creating beautiful furniture pieces that will stand the test of time—and the information you need to make the best choice for your family and your home.

Happy Painting!

~ Courtney


7 responses to “More Tips for Using American Paint Company Top Coat—And A New Product Announcement

  1. Pingback: Tips for Using American Paint Company Top Coat–Part 1 | All Things New Again·

  2. I’ve learned SO much from reading your tips tahtbthenstore failed to mention when I bought top coat! Thanks , signed up for your emails!

  3. I just put the first coat of top coat on my table top and there are so many streaks. Is this normal? Will this go away with more coats? Will buffing it with a paper bag help? Would you recommend buffing in between coats? Please help me. The table top was sanded and then white washed with Uncle Sam, during this process I wiped off most of the paint, I then sanded to distress and bring out the wood grain in certain spots leaving the white in some spots. Perhaps it streaked because the top has minimal paint? Please tell me how I can get a smooth streak free table top.

    • Hi Laura,

      I’m sorry for the delay in responding to you. I have been a slacker about keeping up with the blog lately.

      We don’t carry American Paint Company Top Coat anymore and I have not used it for quite some time. I believe the formula for many of the APC products changed and I’m not sure if I can answer your question. In my experience, it is best to work quickly with the Top Coat. For the first coat…just get it on and keep going. I apply in long strokes all the way across the tabletop. Then keep a “wet edge” which means constantly overlap—just a little bit—over the last stroke so it all dries evenly to prevent streaks. If you miss a spot, that’s OK. Just keep going and it will fill in with later coats. Don’t keep going back and forth/back and forth over the same area. Just put down one stroke and move on. I think with APC Top Coat–as with many other products on the market—you get a better result if you don’t overwork the product by spreading it around too much. Also, I use the widest brush I have so I can cover more area at one time.

      The streaks should lessen as you add more coats of product. Sanding lightly with fine-grit sandpaper or a paper bag in between coats is a good idea. As the product fills in and levels out, the streaks should become less noticeable. If this is a table where you will be eating/wiping off a lot, I would apply at least 3 to 4 coats of Top Coat—again in long strokes. It is a great product, but it is not as durable as some of the other polyacrylic products on the market that have a lot more chemicals in it.

      Your table sounds beautiful. Again, I’m sorry I’m so late in responding to you. I hope everything works out and you have a table that you love and your family will enjoy using for many years.

      If you have any more questions, please let me know. I’m happy to answer as best as I can. 🙂

      ~ Courtney

  4. I used your top coat on a small table, a year ago, and there’s now a small stain that won’t come off, think it may be from pizza! Not from me!
    How to get it off ? I have a picture of it It has fou or five coats of your top coat on it

    • Hi Linda,
      Hmm… a pizza stain is a new problem for me. 🙂 If it won’t scrub off, I would try to ***very lightly*** sand it with fine-grit sandpaper to try to sand the stain off without going through to your paint job. If that doesn’t work, you may need to repaint the tabletop.

      If you do have to repaint, you need to clean it really well with a de-greaser like TSP or else the greasy pizza spot will just show through the paint. Paint will stick to the top coat, but any greasy residue will “bleed through” and leave a mark.

      Good luck with your table.


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