While it would be nice if every single car that rolled off of the assembly line had a rock solid, strong, and durable coating to protect it from scratches, chips, and fading, the reality of the situation is most cars are barely protected with a thin layer of clear coat.
Thankfully, though, ceramic coating products can provide you with that “automotive armor” you’re looking for.
Incredibly strong and resilient, unlike traditional coating materials (usually polymer resins) ceramic takes advantage of quartz crystals, sand, and silica to provide an almost bulletproof surface that looks absolutely gorgeous.
The trick with ceramic coatings, though, is that they aren’t exactly the easiest thing to apply to vehicles.
This isn’t something that you sort of squeegee on and then buff into the paint.
No, you need to be really deliberate with the way that you apply a ceramic coating – going so far as to make sure that the temperatures outside are conducive to letting that ceramic coating cure and harden the way it is supposed to.
Get this right and your car will be better protected than anything else on the road.
Get this wrong and you’ll have wasted a lot of time, a lot of money, and will have to start all over again from scratch.
Will Ceramic Coatings Cure in Colder Weather?
While today’s ceramic coatings are definitely a little less “finicky” to work with compared to earlier formulas of this protected material, they are still highly temperature reactive.
If the ambient temperature around your vehicle is off, the ceramic material simply won’t cure and harden the way it should – if it cures at all!
Really low temperatures can actually cause this material to slide right off of the paint finish of your vehicle, pooling up on the floor until things start to warm up where it hardens in place (unless you clean it up, anyway).
And while different ceramic coating manufacturers have different temperature tolerance windows, almost all of them recommend applying this kind of material to a vehicle in temperatures between 50°F and 90°F.
Some will tell you that any temperatures lower than 56°F is really pushing things, and as soon as you start to get into the 40° range you are wasting your time. Work in temperatures below that and you’re not just wasting your time, you’re wasting your money and all of those ceramic coating materials!
How to Improve Your Ceramic Coating Results
There are a couple of different ways you can improve the effectiveness and consistency of a ceramic coating application, especially if you’re going to tackle this kind of job with a DIY approach.
Just remember that there’s a reason why a lot of people choose to have this kind of stuff professionally done. Working with a ceramic coating is a universe different than working with different waxes or building up a protective finish with synthetic solutions.
If you are determined to knock this out on your own, though, here are some tips and tricks to help along the way.
Maintain Ideal Temperature Zones
For starters, you need to make sure that you are maintained the right temperatures for the ceramic material you are working with.
As we highlighted a moment ago, most manufacturers have a recommended temperature range that stretches between 50°F and 90°F.
In practice, though, you want to try and hit a sweet spot between those two extremes – say 65° to 75° – whenever possible.
Work with temperatures that are colder than that and you’ll find the ceramic coating to be really stiff, viscous, and difficult to spread evenly across your automobile.
Work with temperatures that are higher than that window, though, and your ceramic coating may end up being a little “runny”. The closer you get to 90°F (certainly once you get hotter than that) the sooner you are dealing with ceramic coating soup!
Control Humidity and Sunlight, Too
Most manufacturers are also going to recommend that you try to control humidity and direct sunlight exposure as much as possible.
Humidity and UV sunlight are going to have a lesser impact on the effectiveness and consistency of a ceramic coating cure than temperature alone, but the impact they do have isn’t totally negligible.
If possible, do your level best to control them really of your workspace and keep your vehicle out of direct UV sunlight for at least a couple of days after application.
Try to Knock This Out in a Covered, Climate Controlled Workspace
Whenever possible, try to apply ceramic coatings to your vehicles inside of a covered garage that offer some kind of climate control technology (even if that’s just a space heater or an air conditioning system).
This will allow you to have better control over temperature, humidity, and protect your vehicle from direct UV sunlight during the curing process.
It will also help you to keep dust, dirt, debris, and anything else that could have blown into the ceramic coating while still wet out of your finish, too.
If you’ve got the garage space to knock this project out it’ll make life a whole lot easier, that’s for sure.
Leave Plenty of Extra Time for the Coating to Cure
Lastly, it’s important that you give your ceramic coating plenty of time to fully cure.
A lot of manufacturers recommend a 24 hour to 48 hour cure time (a lot of that’s dependent on temperature), but it’s not a bad idea to give your new finish 72 hours or more to really harden and cement in place.
The longer you go before you take your vehicle for a test run, getting her out in the sun and having a look at how it shimmers and shines with real armor underneath that glow, the happier you are going to be really finished results.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the ceramic coating products you’re working with as well. They’ll point you in the right direction when it comes to getting this job done right.
Just remember you can’t go wrong giving the coating more time to cure than what they call for!