Ceramic coating is the top of the line in auto paint protection, offering long-term protection and increased durability. With a price tag between $500 and $2,000, is ceramic coating an investment worth making? This depends on a lot of personal factors, but we’ve laid out the details to help you to make your decision.
WHAT IS CERAMIC COATING?
A ceramic coating is a liquid polymer that chemically bonds to the surface of your car’s paint job. The ceramic coating is applied all over the vehicle and protects against just about everything including –
- UV rays
- Tree sap
- Chemicals used on roadways
- Road salts
Ceramic coatings also give your paint a slight gloss similar to waxes and sealants.
Unlike other paint protection options, the ceramic coating chemically bonds to the paint, so it has a much longer lifespan. The average ceramic coating lasts between two and four years.
Ceramic coatings are also very difficult to wash off, whereas waxes and sealants degrade with detergent use.
HOW IS CERAMIC COATING APPLIED?
The first step in applying a ceramic coating is to thoroughly wash and “decontaminate” the vehicle’s exterior. The ceramic coating needs to be able to bond with the paint so that it “sticks.”
Applying a ceramic coating on a dirty vehicle (or a vehicle that has another type of finishing product on it already) causes various problems.
Firstly, the coating may not adhere correctly. Secondly, the finish may not look as intended. Lastly, it is possible that the ceramic coating could interact with other substances on your vehicle’s paint.
Once your car is thoroughly clean, the ceramic coating gets applied to the vehicle in a liquid form. A certified technician will apply the coating by hand to each panel of the vehicle’s exterior painted surfaces.
The ceramic coating must “cure” before it can effectively protect your vehicle. It takes an average of twenty-four hours for curing, and while the coating is still curing, your vehicle should not get exposed to rain.
WHAT OTHER PAINT PROTECTION OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Wax is the most used paint protection option because it is the most affordable. Wax gives your car a glossy finish and helps to keep daily grime from sticking to your paint job.
While waxes can protect your paint job against dust and dirt, they cannot protect against rocks that get thrown up from the road, scratches, and any type of chemical that may come into contact with your paint job.
There are four types of wax that you can choose from when waxing your car: paste wax, liquid wax, spray wax, and rubbing compound. Each wax type varies in how it is applied.
The average wax job lasts between two and four months, but the life of your wax job depends on how often you wash your car and the quality of wax you use.
Sealants offer a glossy finish while also protecting your paint job. A good quality sealant will protect your car against everyday grime as well as UV rays, tree sap, and chemicals used on the roadways.
The average sealant job lasts between three and six months, but the life of your sealant depends on whether it regularly comes into contact with detergent. Regular exposure to chemicals can also reduce the life of your paint sealant.
CLEAR PAINT PROTECTIVE FILM
A clear paint protective film is a thermoplastic urethane film that gets applied to your paint job to protect against more significant damage. The protective film is not generally used on the whole vehicle, but it gets applied to areas of the car that are more likely to experience damage.
For example, the front of the vehicle is more susceptible to rock chips, so this is a common area to apply the film.
The paint protection film is much longer-lasting than waxes and sealants. A good film can last between five and ten years. That said, the protective film does not protect the entire vehicle.
WHY IS A PROTECTIVE COATING FOR YOUR CAR NECESSARY?
A protective coating of any type is designed to protect your vehicle paintwork from damage and degradation. Depending on the type of protective finish you choose, your vehicle may be more or less protected from everyday wear and tear.
For example, during the springtime, you may use a wax coat on your vehicle to protect the paint from the wave of pollen that will stick to your car. In the fall, you may use a sealant to protect against falling tree sap that can really take a toll on the quality of your paint job.
Wax and sealants both help to protect your paint job, but they are short-lasting, and repeated application can get expensive. Ceramic coatings offer better protection than waxes and sealants, and they last much longer.
HOW DOES CERAMIC COATING WORK?
When applied to your vehicle’s paint, the liquid ceramic coating reacts to the paint surface and forms a chemical bond. This chemical bond keeps the ceramic coating adhered to your vehicle (even when washed!) This bond differs from waxes and other protectants that only adhere to your vehicle’s paint.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CERAMIC COATING AVAILABLE?
There are many different brands of ceramic coating available for your vehicle. Perhaps the most recognizable brand, however, is Ceramic Pro.
There are also different options for ceramic coating application. You can choose to have a professional apply the ceramic coat for you, or you can choose to use a DIY or self-application kit.
While many people attempt to DIY their ceramic coating to save money, a large percentage of those people wind up having a professional complete the job after they have botched the application themselves.
If you do not know how to apply a ceramic coating the correct way, save time and money and have a professional do it for you.
If you decide to do your own application, there are different forms of coating available. Ceramic coating can be purchased in a spray bottle or as a liquid in a regular looking bottle. There is no real difference between these two except for how they are dispensed – both require cloth application.
WHERE DID CERAMIC COATING ORIGINATE?
The first Nanoceramic coating product was released in 2019 by Nanoshine ltd. Their product was called Ceramic Pro. Ceramic Pro led to a shift in the car detailing industry that had previously used PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) coating to protect paint.
PTFE – unlike ceramic coating – sticks to the surface of the paint on the vehicle. Since there is no chemical bonding taking place, the adherence of the PTFE to the paint is much shorter-lived. The average PTFE coating lasts between five and six months.
With the introduction of Ceramic Pro, car owners were getting much more value for their money since the protective ceramic coating outlasted PTFE by years.
The ceramic coating product industry has continued to grow since 2019 and has become the preferred option for many car enthusiasts.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A CERAMIC COATING?
A ceramic coating lasts for between two and four years. Wax lasts between two and four months. Sealants last between three and six months. Clear paint protective film does last the longest at five to ten years, but it does not cover the entire paint job.
Longer-lasting protection also means having to make fewer applications of paint protectant each year. So, while it may seem costly to have a professional apply ceramic coating, you are only going to need to get this done a few times a year as opposed to waxing which needs doing every two months or so.
Ceramic coating protection covers all painted exterior surfaces of the vehicle and offers the most comprehensive paint protection compared to wax, sealant, and film.
More Diverse Protection
A ceramic coating protects your car’s paint job against a full range of offenders including UV rays, tree sap, road salt, and road chemicals. Something like wax, however, offers very minimal protection by keeping lighter dust and grime from adhering to your paint job.
ARE THERE ANY DRAWBACKS TO CERAMIC COATING?
Ceramic Coating is Not a Miracle Product
Many people mistakenly believe that adding a ceramic coating to their vehicle will protect the paint from anything and everything. This idea simply is not true.
While the ceramic coating does protect your vehicle from most of the common road and parking lot “hazards,” it cannot prevent deep scratches or chips in the paint from rocks or debris hitting your car. Adding protective film in areas that need it can prevent these problems.
Ceramic Coating Can’t Stop Water Spots
Yes, your paint protectant will repel water from the surface of your vehicle, but as this water beads and rolls off your car, the naturally occurring minerals in that water can be left behind. This process can cause water spotting on the surface of your car’s paint.
The only way to truly stop water spots from happening and leaving traces of minerals on your paint job is to never let your car get wet, and that is just impractical!
CAN I INSTALL MY OWN CERAMIC COATING?
Many automotive stores do sell DIY ceramic coating kits, but a ceramic coating is not something that should be taken on lightly.
Applying a ceramic coating takes talent, patience, and knowledge. As a first-timer, you should ALWAYS have a professional apply your ceramic coating for you.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG IF I INSTALL MY OWN CERAMIC COATING?
If you apply your own ceramic coating and don’t know what you are doing, you are risking the finish of your car. Improper application can:
- Leave hazing on the surface of the paint
- Leave streaking on the surface of the paint
- Create high spots
- Create distracting reflections
In short, the improper application can cause your car’s paint job to look hideous.
You can take comfort in the fact that ceramic coating – even when improperly applied – will not damage the paint of your car. You will have to put up with an awful finish on your paint until that coating wears thing, though.
Can you remove the ceramic coating yourself? Yes, but you probably don’t want to. If your application goes wrong, you will have to
- Wait it out for a few years.
- Sand, polish and refinish your vehicle.
- Head to the professionals and let them do the job for you.
CAN I ADD A PROTECTIVE FILM TO MY CARS CERAMIC COATING?
A protective film can get applied to a vehicle with ceramic coating.
Adding protective film as well as the ceramic coating will help your ceramic coating to last longer, and the film will protect against things that the ceramic cannot – like rock chips!
IS CERAMIC COATING EASY TO MAINTAIN?
Compared to other paint protectants, the ceramic coating is the easiest of protectants to maintain. After application, simply wash your vehicle as you normally would (after the ceramic coating has cured!) to keep it clean!
Your ceramic coating will begin to show signs of wear after between two and four years depending on your vehicle use. For example, if you drive six hours a day, every day, your ceramic coating is going to be shorter-lived than someone who drives one hour a day, every other day.
Your ceramic coating will also show signs of wear earlier on if you wash your vehicle every single day versus once a week.
IS CERAMIC COATING WORTH IT?
Deciding whether a ceramic coating is worth it for you is a personal choice that depends on your lifestyle. Try answering these questions while deciding whether you should invest in a ceramic protectant…
- Why do you want a ceramic coating?
- Is your car exposed to enough that a ceramic coating would be a worthwhile investment?
- Can you afford the professional application of a ceramic coating?
- Are you looking for basic protection for your vehicle (as in a water repellant) or are you looking for an industrial-grade protective shield?