Hard MSA Topcoat (UVLS)

(previously Hard MSA Varnish)

Gloss w/ UVLS: Product #07742
Matte w/ UVLS: Product #07744
Satin w/ UVLS: Product # 07743


GOLDEN Hard MSA (Mineral Spirit Acrylic) Topcoat with UVLS (Ultra-Violet Light Stabilizers) dries to a non-removable, rigid, inflexible finish. The UVLS system provides increased resistance to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.  This product is intended for use on interior, rigid artwork only. NOTE: THIS PRODUCT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR EXTERIOR SURFACES, INCLUDING SIGNAGE AND MURALS.

Hard MSA Topcoat can be used over a wide variety of paints, including acrylic, oil, and alkyd. It provides a harder, lower tack surface compared to the standard GOLDEN MSA Varnish w/UVLS. Avoid use on flexible substrates such as PVC panels, thin plywood, stretched canvas, etc.


Prior to actual use, it is important to experiment on test pieces to become aware of how this product performs and how it may alter the surface appearance of paints. For best results, apply to a test piece that is similar in composition as the artwork to be top-coated. This will help ensure that all variables are accounted for, and a successful topcoat application should be achieved.


General Guidelines


  • GOLDEN MSA Solvent is highly suggested to use for thinning Hard MSA Topcoat.
  • Do not use weaker solvents, such as “odorless” or “low odor” mineral spirits. These solvents are not compatible with Hard MSA Topcoat.
  • Artist Grade (distilled, rectified) Turpentine may be used as an alternative to MSA Solvent, but ALWAYS test for compatibility.
  • Stir thoroughly before use
  • Starting ratios (adjust as needed for proper application):
    • Brush Apply – 3:1 (Topcoat to Solvent)
    • HVLP Sprayer – 2:1 (Topcoat to Solvent)
    • Airbrush Apply – 1:1 (Topcoat to Solvent)
  • DO NOT apply Matte or Satin Topcoat directly to an absorbent, unsealed surface as frosting or streakiness can occur.
  • ACRYLICS: Use of an isolation coat is recommended. If you want to apply the topcoat directly to the surface, begin with Hard MSA Topcoat Gloss thinned 1:1 with solvent to seal surface and even out absorbency, then apply desired sheen.
  • OILS: Apply directly to fully cured paintings (6-12 months). Begin with Hard MSA Topcoat Gloss thinned 1:1 with solvent to seal surface and even out absorbency, then apply desired sheen at standard starting ratios.



  • ALWAYS apply in properly ventilated locations, and wear proper PPE, such as NIOSH-approved respirators with organic vapor mist cartridges and solvent-resistant gloves.
  • Apply topcoat evenly and smoothly.
  • Avoid heavy build-ups.
  • Avoid over-working or puddling.
  • Maintain a “wet edge” on larger projects.
  • If applying multiple coats, avoid overworking the wet topcoat to minimize resolubilizing of the previous coats.
  • Allow previous coats to dry thoroughly before recoating
  • Brush or spray apply only. DO NOT use rollers, foam or sponge brushes.
  • Use a high-quality brush, such as those made by Purdy or Wooster, or for more control and smoother application, a wide thin flat color-wash brush, such as the “Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin” brushes are an example of this type.
  • Call 1-800-959-6543 or email [email protected] for additional information or assistance.



Estimated at 400-500 sq. ft. per gallon if by brush application; 800-1000 sq. ft. per gallon for spray application.

Drying/Curing Time:

In typical room temperature and humidity levels, Hard MSA Topcoat is usually tack-free and suitable for recoating after 3-6 hours. When brush-applying multiple coats, allow for AT LEAST 3 - 6 hours in between coats. When spray-applying multiple coats, recoat times are reduced, but still allow for surface to be relatively tack-free.

When practical, 12 hours or longer is suggested to allow time for solvent to dissipate. Most curing will occur within two weeks (important for transporting and storage needs).

Storage and Transportation

Gently inspect the surface for tack, which can help identify when the coat is sufficiently dry.  Allow several days curing before packing or transporting art. During transportation and storage, avoid contact of the surface with packing materials, including glassine, bubble wrap or any other plastic.



Interior Murals and Architectural Applications

DO NOT APPLY to exterior murals. Because Hard MSA Topcoat dries to a less permeable, tighter film than our regular MSA Varnishes, it may inhibit moisture from escaping, potentially causing delamination. https://www.justpaint.org/ongoing-mural-panel-test-results/

In addition, any paint or topcoat applied to a building is considered an architectural coating and subject to regulations limiting the amount of VOC"s (Volatile Organic Compounds) a product may have. Murals painted directly onto these surfaces, therefore, will fall under the same guidelines and all paints, mediums, and varnishes being used will need to comply with the same rules. Containers that are 1 Liter (1. 05 Quarts) or less in size, however, are currently exempt from these requirements.

  • Gallon sizes of Hard MSA Topcoat cannot be used in the United States for architectural applications, including interior murals painted directly onto walls and ceilings.
  • Quart containers of Hard MSA Topcoat are allowed and can be used.
  • Solvents used to thin Hard MSA Topcoat may exceed allowable VOC levels. 
  • Always check local and state VOC regulations as these may include additional restrictions.
  • Currently there are no restrictions for murals completely painted and top-coated on an independent panel which is later mounted onto a wall.


Exterior Murals: DO NOT USE HARD MSA TOPCOAT.  Use MSA Varnish Mural Formula from the Mural and Application Guidelines.

Tool Cleanup

Clean all equipment immediately following application. Golden Hard MSA Topcoat should be cleaned from tools with the same solvent used for thinning.  Brushes are especially difficult to complete clean of MSA Varnishes.  Ideally, remove excess varnish with solvent, then shape the brush and hang upside down until dry.  The dried varnish should soften with sufficient soaking, or simply dry the brush out and dispose of properly.  If the brush doesn’t respond to just MSA Solvent, add about 10% xylene or acetone into the MSA Solvent.


Cloudy appearance or opacity occurs in topcoat layer

  • if using a satin or matte topcoat, and this only occurs over dark colors, this may simply be the nature of such a reduced sheen topcoat (caused by the presence of the matting agent). There is no way of applying a satin/matte finish to a dark color without lightening it (the more matte the finish, the more potential for lightening dark areas). To restore the depth of the dark colors, apply a higher gloss to restore some of the sheen.
  • if this is uniform across much of area, regardless of the darkness of the underlying colors, it may be caused by moisture entrapment. High humidity or a damp surface under the topcoat layer, often causes loss of clarity. Using a warm, forced air source to blow across the surface should help the moisture evaporate, restoring clarity.
  • if topcoat is not properly thinned, or is shaken or stirred excessively, air bubbles may become trapped within the dry film, causing a loss of clarity.
  • if a "frosted" area appears, a satin or matte topcoat may have been applied over an absorbent surface (this is common for spray applications). To restore, apply a layer of Gloss topcoat and check if the frosted appearance has been reversed. If yes, then apply a new layer at the desired sheen.

Surface sheen is not uniform

  • if surface has varying absorbency, this may result in uneven gloss. The surface should be sealed by applying one or more additional coats of gloss topcoat, followed by the desired sheen.
  • improper mix of topcoat. The topcoat/solvent mixture was not thoroughly mixed. If different sheens were blended together (gloss with matte), they may not have been thoroughly mixed. If the diluted topcoat is used over a long period of time without re-stirring, it may be separating (matting agents settle). To achieve a uniform finish, start with a fresh mixture of topcoat/solvent (thoroughly stirred) and apply another coat (may also consider removing the existing topcoat layers).

Brush strokes remain in dry film

  • the topcoat may not have been thinned sufficiently to level during application.
  • the solvent was not compatible with the topcoat.
  • if the surface was absorbent, it may have caused the topcoat to dry too quickly, and not allow it to level.

Topcoat does not thin down when solvent is added

  • the solvent is probably not strong enough to be compatible. Use MSA Solvent, or distilled turpentine.

When spraying the surface is pebbly or textured

  • the topcoat may have dried before reaching the surface. This could be caused by insufficient thinning (add more solvent), an extremely dry environment (add humidity, reduce heat, limit air flow) or by excessive air flow (reduce air pressure).

Topcoat is sinking in and not developing sufficient gloss

  • the surface is too absorbent. Apply additional coats of gloss topcoat. Excessive dilution of topcoat may also result in this problem.

Surface gloss level is unacceptable

  • apply a satin or matte finish of the same kind of topcoat already applied.

Surface matte level is unacceptable

  • apply a gloss or satin finish of the same kind of topcoat already applied. Caution: multiple layers of matte products can become increasingly opaque.



Adhesion: Adheres to most non-oily surfaces, including most plastics and degreased metals. May exhibit poor adhesion to fresh (unpolymerized) oil films or even acrylic paints if residual surfactants are present. TESTING IS HIGHLY SUGGESTED PRIOR TO ACTUAL USE.

Aging Characteristics: Accelerated and intensified aging tests of this topcoat indicate it resists yellowing under long-term conditions of interior exposure. While Hard MSA Topcoat is a soluble resin packed in mineral spirits (Stoddard solvent), after the film cures, it quickly loses solubility in mineral spirits and turpentine.

Appearance: Excellent clarity when wet and when fully cured.

Chemical Resistance: Resoluble in certain strong solvents (benzene and related aromatics, acetone, methylene chloride, ketones, alcohols). Resistant to water and household cleaning compounds.


The above information is based on research and testing done by Golden Artist Colors, Inc., and is provided as a basis for understanding the potential uses of the products mentioned. Due to the numerous variables in methods, materials, and conditions of producing art, Golden Artist Colors, Inc. cannot be sure the product will be right for you. Therefore, we urge product users to test each application to ensure all individual project requirements are met. While we believe the above information is accurate, WE MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, and we shall in no event be liable for any damages (indirect, consequential, or otherwise) that may occur as a result of a product application.