Ceramic coatings are being super hyped lately. Yes, they have some fantastic benefits, but not everything you hear about them on social media may be true.
In short, ceramic coating is a type of paint-protection product. But unlike other products, ceramic coatings are made of silica-based liquid polymer that creates a protective layer on your car and prevents damage from various external factors.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about ceramic coatings for cars to help you understand whether or not you should use them.
What Is Ceramic Coating?
A ceramic coating is a chemical polymer solution that protects the paint from external damage. The coating is usually applied by hand, and it blends nicely with the car’s paint.
Many people consider this an alternative to a paint protection film, but it is an alternative to car wax.
Ceramic coatings are used as a long-term solution that bonds with the car’s paint and can not be washed, damaged, or broken down easily. In addition, since it is a permanent or semi-permanent solution, you do not have to reapply it after a few months.
The ceramic coating is usually made of silicon dioxide that can be naturally extracted from quartz and sand. Some professional-grade coatings use titanium dioxide as an additional hardening agent to enhance durability.
Two Types of Coatings
Even though the base properties are the same, there are two types of ceramic coatings that are most commonly used. We will discuss them below
Industrial-grade Ceramic Coatings
Industrial or professional ceramic coatings are super high-quality sealants that should be handled by certified professionals only. This is why professional ceramic coating or other places is done by trained staff under controlled environments, using industrial equipment. Unfortunately, all these steps translate to a steep installation cost.
Before adding the coating, they will prep the car’s surface, and the entire application process can take about five days. This will cost you a few grand, depending on which brand you are using and what type of car you are coating.
Just the product alone can cost you anywhere from $500-$3000.
DIY Ceramic Coatings
These are the average products most people use. They can cost you about $30-$200. Compared to professional coatings, these are cheap, but they have similar chemical properties.
Since you will have to buy them from your local shop, here is a pro-tip-
The durability and quality of the ceramic coating depend on the hardness grade. Therefore, the best option would be to use one with a 9H rate for long-term results.
The big difference between the DIY kits and the industrial-grade kits is not the price but the application process. The DIY coatings usually have vague instructions, which make it difficult to apply them by yourself. Some brands offer helpful manuals, but with most kits, you will have to figure it out yourself.
But don’t worry because we have a separate section in this article on correctly applying ceramic coatings.
Ceramic Coating VS. Waxing
Ceramic coating is considered a better alternative to car wax, and here is why:
Ceramic coatings are more durable than wax. They provide multiple resistance against environmental contaminants, detergents, UV rays, heat, and high-pressure washes.
Wax also has some resisting qualities, but it primarily just creates a layer on top of the paint surface. It does not chemically bond with the paint like ceramic coatings. This is why you will need to apply wax more often.
Things Ceramic Coatings Can Do
There are a lot of benefits to using ceramic coatings, but sometimes advertisements tend to oversell their benefits. This is why we are going to focus only on the tested and proven benefits of ceramic coatings-
1. Protection Against UV
If your vehicle is exposed to the sun for prolonged hours every day, the paint will oxidize and look faded. Ceramic coating can create a chemical layer to protect your vehicle’s surfaces from harmful UV rays. This reduces oxidation and keeps the paint job fresh for a long time.
2. Protection Against Chemical Stains
Cars get chemical stains or etched because of natural acidic contaminants. These acidic contaminants are commonly found in toxic and polluted air. A polymer layer will prevent these contaminants from settling in and bonding with the paint of the car. As a result, your car will be resistant to etching and chemical staining.
3. Has Hydrophobic Properties
Before detailing or waxing, you have to properly wash your car, which can be very time-consuming. With ceramic coatings, you do not have to worry about frequent washing.
The most common advertisement you will see about ceramic coatings is their ability to stay dry and repel water. This is actually true. The polymer layer over the paint creates a water repellent surface so that water, grime, and water-based dirt can slide off the surface.
4. Creates a Glossy Appearance
Ceramic coatings enhance the car’s aesthetics. It offers a glossy finish similar to protection films. Therefore many people think these two are the same.
The clear coat of ceramic enhances the reflective properties of your car and adds more depth to it, making it appear glossier.
5. Works as Mud and Dirt Repellent
Because of the polymer layer, the exterior surface of your car will resist dust and debris. This is great for people who have to drive through dusty or gravel roads.
Things Ceramic Coatings Can Not Do
Because of the mentioned benefits, ceramic coatings have become extremely popular in Sydney. However, there are some myths and misinformation about ceramic coatings flying around on the internet.
Even if they are not deal-breakers, as a customer, you have every right to know about them.
So, here is a list of things ceramic can not do for your car-
1. Eliminates All Types of Scratches, Rock Chips, and Swirl Marks
Sometimes the qualities of a ceramic coating are exaggerated. Sure, they offer scratch resistance to a certain level, but it does not make it completely immune.
The coating certainly can not resist rock chips or parking lot scratches. Even though the exterior becomes water repellant, improper washing can still create swirl marks on the surface.
2. Resist Water Spots
This correlates with the previous point. The coating will create a protective layer so that contaminants can simply slide off. But there are still some soluble particles that can create water spots on the surface.
3. You Will Never Have to Wash Your Car
Ceramic coatings keep your car looking brand-new for a long time. But you still have to put in some effort to keep the shine. Even with an industrial-grade coating, your car will still get dirty.
The coating does not make your car immune to getting dirty. It just makes the cleaning process easier. You will not have to wash your car for hours every week, but you will still need to hose it down once in a while.
How to Apply Ceramic Coating?
The ceramic coating should be applied by trained professionals. The product needs to be used carefully with the right tools.
However, you can do it by yourself if you have enough experience. Here is how you should properly apply the coat-
- Use a ceramic coat applicator cloth to wrap a sponge.
- Gently dab the applicator cloth on the ceramic coating compound.
- For working on edges and small areas, do not apply too much of the product in one place.
- After applying, give the compound 3-5 minutes to sit on the surface.
- The coating will slowly evaporate and leave behind a shimmering slick appearance.
- Use a microfiber towel to wipe the area.
- Let the coat sit in your car for a full 24 hours without moving it.
Remember, ceramic coating is not to be confused with restoration. This is why you need to prep your car first. Closely inspect the exterior of your car after washing and drying and take care of any defects. When applying the coating, always use microfiber cloths or accessories to keep the risk of scratching to a minimum.
Is It Worth the Money?
In short, yes. Ceramic coating is a great way to give your car an extra layer of protection from external damage. The ceramic coating does make cleaning and maintenance easier. However, it is not a one-stop solution for everything. In fact, there is no product available that can guarantee complete protection from absolutely everything.
Ceramic coating can also save you a lot of money. If you use the average DIY kit, the cost decreases significantly. Also, you will not have to worry about spending on frequent waxing now and then.
The ceramic coating does not contain any harmful chemicals for the vehicle. Make sure you buy products with a 9H rating for longer-lasting effects. Last, even with the coating, you will have to do minimal maintenance to make sure your car stays shiny and pristine for a very long time.