Product Information Sheet

(previously Hard MSA Varnish)

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

Golden Artist Colors, Inc.
188 Bell Road
New Berlin, NY 13411-9527 USA
Toll Free: 800-959-6543
Fax: 607-847-6767

GOLDEN Hard Mineral Spirit Acrylic Topcoatwith UVLS (Ultra Violet Light Stabilizers) dries to a non-removable, rigid, non-flexible finish. Hard MSA Topcoatprovides excellent dust and mar resistance along with exceptional exterior durability.

Product Description
    General Guidelines
    Mural and Architectural
Technical Data


GOLDEN Hard MSA Topcoat dries to a non-removable, tough, non-flexible protective finish. The UVLS system provides increased resistance to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, making the product suitable for exterior as well as interior application. 

Hard MSA Topcoat can be used over a wide variety of paints, including acrylic, oil, and alkyd. Provides a harder, lower tack surface that is much less susceptible to dirt and much more mar resistant. 

Not for use on exterior murals.

Hard MSA Topcoat (Matte) should not be used for exterior sculpture or signage.

Hard MSA Topcoat (Gloss) dries to a highly reflective finish. Hard MSA Topcoat (Satin) offers moderate reflection, similar to most matte topcoats. The Hard MSA Topcoat (Matte) finish is exceptionally flat. The different finishes can be intermixed, or used sequentially, to achieve the desired sheen.


Prior to actual use, it is very important to experiment with Golden topcoats on test pieces to become aware of how they perform and how they alter the surface appearance of paintings. For best results, apply to a test piece that is similar in composition as the artwork to be topcoated. This will help ensure that all variables are accounted for, and a successful topcoat application will be achieved.


General Guidelines

To avoid defects, ALWAYS BEGIN WITH GLOSS TOPCOAT and then apply Matte or Satin topcoats to achieve desired sheen.

HARD MSA TOPCOATS MUST BE THINNED BEFORE USE. They are made thicker than usual in order to keep matting solids from settling to the bottom.


  • For best results always use GOLDEN MSA Solvent
  • Other full-strength commercial mineral or white spirits MUST be tested for compatibility prior to application as results vary depending on local VOC regulations. See Solvent Compatibility Testing Procedure for complete information.
  • NEVER USE low odor or odorless mineral or white spirits.
  • Artist grade turpentine is compatible but should be tested to ensure no residue is left after evaporation. Stronger solvents in turpentine presents additional health concerns and increase the risk of sagging and brush drag.
  • Suggested starting ratios
    • Brush: 3 parts topcoat to 1 part solvent. Adjust as needed for application. 
    • Spray: 2:1 to 1:1 depending on spray equipment.

Stir thoroughly before using .

Apply topcoat as evenly and as smoothly as possible. Avoid heavy build-ups. Maintaining a wet edge when overlapping will yield the most even finish. If applying multiple coats, avoid overworking the wet topcoat to minimize resolubilizing of the previous coats. Allow previous coats to dry thoroughly before recoating.

Drying/Curing Time: Usually becomes tack-free and suitable for recoating after 3-6 hours. Most curing will occur within two weeks. 

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

This product is intended as a final topcoat only! Do not repaint surface. 

Brush or spray apply only. DO NOT use rollers, foam or sponge brushes. Avoid over-working or puddling.

Clean tools with mineral spirits or other appropriate solvent immediately after use.

Brush Application

Use a high quality bristle brush, such as those made by Purdy or Wooster, or for more control and smoother application, a wide thin flat color-wash brush. The Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin brushes are an example of this type. The size of the piece to be coated will determine the size of the brush. Work from a shallow container to help control brush loading. The topcoat solution should wet only the lower 25-30% of the length of the bristles. It is always best to apply the topcoat on a horizontal surface in order to minimize running or sagging. If vertical application cannot be avoided it is extremely important that the topcoatbe thinly applied. In either case, it is better to apply two or three thin coats with sufficient drying time in between, rather than one thick coat of topcoat. The latter will take longer to cure, staying soft for some time, and could result in drips or a cloudy film. Apply the topcoatin a manner that allows it to be brushed out to the most uniform, thinnest film possible. Mentally divide the work into regions to be covered by each loading of the brush. These may be based on a systematic grid-like sequence or may follow natural boundaries of the piece. Maintain an even application by working from the center of each region outward. Lightly overlap into still wet, adjacent sections. When applying a satin or matte topcoat, never apply more than two coats. If multiple coats are desired, start with the gloss topcoat to build up and establish the multiple layers, then finish with one or two coats of the satin or matte finish. A thick film of these reduced sheen topcoats will result in film cloudiness, and loss of clarity.

Spray Application

The best way to achieve an even coating of the topcoat is to spray apply. This is particularly true for impasto surfaces. Spray application is required for any surface where the paint film is fragile, such as gouache, and should not be touched by application tools. Spraying is also a useful technique for creating a matte surface. The size of the surface to be sprayed will determine the best type of spray equipment to use. These topcoatscan be sprayed from an airbrush, airless or air pressured spray equipment, or refillable aerosol equipment. In preparation for spraying, make sure all equipment is free of dirt. Work in an area free of dust and dirt and keep work off the ground when spraying. Spray three to four light even coats instead of one or two thicker applications, allowing enough time for drying between coats (1-4 hours, until surface is tack free). Release the spray trigger if the motion of the airbrush is stopped during application in order to avoid an uneven build of topcoatin one spot. Maintain uniform distance from the surface, and avoid the tendency to use an arcing motion. Make straight passes across the work, changing direction once the spray has cleared the edge of the piece being coated. Slightly overlap the spray pattern with each pass, until the entire piece has been covered. To aid in achieving a more even application, turn the painting 90 degrees in order to apply the subsequent coat perpendicular to the previous one. A typical spray application lays down a film only 1/6 to 1/4 the thickness of a brush coat application. If maximum protection is required of the topcoat layer, apply multiple coats. This is especially important when protecting colorants that are not inherently lightfast, as the thicker the total topcoatfilm, the greater the protection from ultraviolet radiation. Because it is not recommended to apply several coats of a satin or matte finish, underlying layers should be established using a gloss topcoat.

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 might inhibit moisture from escaping from the underlying surface and cause possible delamination.

In addition, any paint or topcoat applied to a building, including interior or exterior walls, 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.

Specific Guidelines

Murals painted directly onto architectural surfaces

  • Gallon sizes of our Hard MSA Topcoat and Acrylic Glazing Liquid cannot be used in the United States for architectural applications,including interior and exterior murals painted directly onto walls and ceilings.
  • Quart containers of our Hard MSA Topcoat and Acrylic Glazing Liquid are allowed and can be used. The rate of coverage for these products is approximately 75-150 sq. ft. per quart, depending on the type of substrate and method of application.
  • Solvents needed to thin Hard MSA Topcoat might be limited or prohibited by similar VOC requirements.
  • Always check local and state VOC regulations as these may include additional restrictions.

Special VOC--Compliant MSA Varnish and Solvent
The following products are VOC compliant and can be used for murals painted directly onto exterior and interior walls, ceilings,and other architectural surfaces . Please Note: They are NOT available through retailers. These are custom products and MUST be ordered directly from Golden. Please call Customer Service at 800-959-6543 / 607-847-6154 for pricing and availability.
  • MSA Varnish - Mural Formula (Semi-Gloss), Product #: CPWMV01 
    GOLDEN has formulated this to be VOC compliant in the Graphic Coatings category, < 500 g/l, and applicable for interior and exterior murals. The standard MSA Varnish products are not VOC compliant and therefore are not recommended for such applications. This varnish cannot be thinned with standard paint thinners, as they increase VOC beyond limit, and should only be thinned using the CPWMV02 MSA Mural Formula Solvent to maintain VOC compliance.
  • MSA Solvent - Mural Formula, Product # CPWMV02
    This solvent is VOC exempt and is used to thin the CPWMV01 MSA Varnish - Mural Formula (Semi-Gloss) for application and while maintaining VOC compliance. Typical additions are 1 part by volume of MSA Mural Formula Solvent to 2-3 parts MSA Varnish - Mural Formula (Semi-Gloss) to thin varnish to proper application viscosity.

Murals painted onto panel and other supports

  • Currently there are no restrictions for murals completely painted and topcoated on an independent support which is then mounted onto an architectural surface.

Call or email Technical Support for additional information or assistance.


Clean all equipment immediately following application. Golden Hard MSA Topcoat should be cleaned from tools with the same solvent used for thinning, followed by soapy water wash and clear water rinse.

Drying Time

When building up multiple coats, allow for 3 - 6 hours in between coats. Gently inspect the surface for tack, which may signify that the coat is not sufficiently dry. Let topcoat cure several days 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. 


If milkiness or opacity occurs in topcoat layer, then

  • 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.

If reflectance is not uniform, then

  • 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 restirring, it may be separating (matting agents settling). 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).

If brush strokes remain, then

  • 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.

If the Hard MSA Topcoat will not thin down, then

  • solvent is not strong enough to be compatible. Use a stronger solvent (distilled turpentine, toluene, etc.)

When spraying, if the surface is very pebbly or textured, then

  • 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).

If the topcoat is sinking in and not developing sufficient gloss, then

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

If the topcoated surface is too glossy, then

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

If the topcoated surface is too matte, then

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


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.

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 (actually 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.