For many of us, protecting the appearance of our vehicles is merely part of the ownership experience. On the other hand it’s possible that you’re an ardent fan who obsesses about every minute detail or a leaseholder intent on cutting down on wear-and-tear costs or you’re among the increasing number of folks who drive less often due to a new work-from-home arrangement. The place you’re on the spectrum will determine the amount of time and money you’re willing invest, as well as whether an expensive ceramic coating is a worthwhile investment.
What is Ceramic Coating?
To fully comprehend ceramic coatings it’s useful to first look at the most popular paint protection products.
Wax is natural and most affordable it comes in many styles ranging from an old-fashioned paste to a quick-and-easy spray. For years, “waxing” a car has been synonymous with maintaining its appearance and looking new. Unfortunately, the wax isn’t very resistant to wear and needs to be applied multiple times per year. Some companies claim otherwise however environmental contaminants or even harsh soap can easily penetrate that wax barrier.
However, sealants are chemically-based and made to last many months. Because of this, they are easily applied, though they typically don’t offer the same amount of shine one can get from high-quality wax.
Both are outmatched by The two are outmatched by a ceramic coating. This liquid polymer based on silica is applied by hand and cured to form a protective film that should be maintained in a manner that will last for several years.
Advantages of Ceramic Coating
The long-lasting protection is the main motive for car owners to choose a ceramic coating over the other choices. A hard shell and a ceramic coating will stop water dirt, road grime bird droppings, and many other substances from getting into and damaging the paint. Instead, with a simple rinse, they’ll fall effortlessly off.
Then we come to the term “hydrophobic,” which is an interesting one. Typically, anything related to “phobic” has a negative connotation, however in this instance the meaning is all positive. A ceramic coating will result in the appearance of a hydrophobic film that repels water. This means that dirt and mineral deposits are less likely to damage the paint surface.
What Ceramic Coating Won’t Do
However, ceramic coatings are not optimal for everyone due the cost. Contrary to wax for example, the ceramic coating adheres to and bonds to a car’s paint and can’t be removed and reapplied. It’s more similar to applying stain to a piece of wood, and the application must be smooth, consistent , and, for the best results executed by a skilled professional. If a mistake is made or something comes into contact with the surface prior to it having fully dried the entire area of the car should be wet cleaned and sanded before having the coating was reapplied.
Although the cost is for ceramic coating kits are less than $100, proper preparation could result in an expensive undertaking. Because the coating will magnify imperfections, you’ll need to polish the paint to eliminate any scratches, swirls or discoloration. Experts suggest that’s the case when you buy brand new cars off the lot of a dealer, since they’re likely to suffer minor damage to the paint due to being run through an automated car wash.
With this in mind, you may not be surprised to find out that a professional will charge $1,000 or more for applying the ceramic coating on your car. We don’t suggest DIY attempts to repair a car of any value.
Perhaps more significant than the ceramic coating cost are the unrealistic expectations some people have about the end result. Ceramic coatings provide unmatched protection however, your car will not be able to create an unbreakable layer of protection. Stones could still chip your paint, unintentional shopping carts will completely scratch your fender, while tree sap left on the hood will be laughing at your $1000 silica-based polymer.
Additionally, you should ensure the longevity of a ceramic coating with frequent brush-free washes (to prevent scratches and swirls) and occasional treatment with specific sprays, which owners can handle themselves.