Is Ceramic Coating Worth It?
- What Are Ceramic Coatings?
- What Are the Different Types of Ceramic Coatings?
- Is Ceramic Coating the Same as a Paint Protection Film?
- Prepping a Car for Ceramic Coating: How It Works
- How Long Does It Take to Ceramic Coat a Car?
- Benefits of Ceramic Coating
- Disadvantages of Ceramic Coating
- Debunking Five Common Myths Surrounding Ceramic Coating
- DIY Ceramic Coating: Is It a Good Idea?
- Final Verdict: Is Ceramic Coating Worth the Money?
- Bottom Line
Now that you’ve bagged your dream ride, it’s time to talk about upkeep. Sure, the new paint is shiny and perfect right now, but how long can you keep it that way? Let’s be honest: the meticulous cleaning, waxing, and polishing sessions get old quickly. Nobody wants to spend their Sundays in the garage. Plus, despite your best efforts, you cannot entirely ward off scratches and chips indefinitely. A rogue hit can peel your paint straight off, even if you’ve put a lot of elbow grease into protecting and cleaning your car. So, is there any way you can safeguard your car’s paintwork for the long haul? You bet there is. Enter ceramic coatings. When it comes to miracle car-care products, it’s hard to beat the hype surrounding ceramic paint coatings. You’ve probably heard about them already. If you haven’t, we’re here to give you all the details.
What Are Ceramic Coatings?
Back in the day, most car owners swore by a trusty jar of carnauba wax. That is until paint sealants rolled around. Today, ceramic coatings have taken the market by storm. A ceramic coating is a type of liquid polymer applied to your car’s exterior. Technically, it is an automotive paint treatment and protectant. Most ceramic coatings contain silicon dioxide (SiO2) sourced from materials like quartz and sand. Some brands also use titanium dioxide (TiO2) as an additional hardening agent. It’s glossy and pleasing to the eye, but the perks don’t end there. High-quality nano-ceramic coatings pierce deep into the microscopic pores of the clear coat, forming a chemical bond with the paint. As a result, the top dries into a smooth, hard layer, similar to a shell. Once applied, ceramic coatings can shield your car against:
- UV radiation
- Chemical erosion
- Bird droppings, bugs, sap, and acid rain, etc.
As a bonus, ceramics are naturally hydrophobic. This causes them to repel water and ice, minimizing stains. They also keep dirt, grime, and salt from tarnishing the car’s paint. Since the bond is permanent (or semi-permanent), ceramic coatings typically last a long time, depending on your level of maintenance.
What Are the Different Types of Ceramic Coatings?
1. Professional-Grade Ceramic Coatings
Industrial-strength ceramic coatings often take longer to cure and are not available for mass consumption. They are usually reserved for vetted, trained, and reputable automobile detailing companies.
2. Consumer-Grade Ceramic Coatings
Created for passionate DIYers who love getting their hands dirty, consumer-grade ceramic coatings are far more forgiving. The downside is that they do not cure as hard, which reduces their glossiness and durability.
3. Spray-On Ceramic Wax
The cheapest option of the three, this one is easy to apply. However, ceramic coating sprays do not offer much in the way of protection. They tend to be softer and wear off easily.
Is Ceramic Coating the Same as a Paint Protection Film?
Not quite. Paint Protection Films, or PPFs, are malleable thermoplastic urethane films. Think of them as the protective screens you apply on your phone. PPFs typically safeguard vehicles against light hail damage, flying debris, and rocks. PPF and ceramic coatings share multiple similarities. They both:
- Block out environmental hazards like acid rain, smog, snow, and excess heat.
- Slow down fading by minimizing oxidation.
- Stop chemical etch marks caused by minerals in the water.
- Keep your car paint looking fresh for years.
- Provide an invisible finish.
PPF differs from ceramic coatings in some significant ways. Let’s explore a few.
- PPF is removable. If you accidentally bump your car in traffic, you’ll have to replace the damaged panel. On the flip side, a ceramic coating won’t come off so easily.
- PPF and ceramic coatings are made of different materials. This affects their installation methods, timelines, and costs
- PPFs may mattify your car, but a ceramic coating will improve its shine
Prepping a Car for Ceramic Coating: How It Works
Imagine putting on a sleek black tuxedo after rolling around in the mud. Unthinkable, right? The same applies to ceramic coating. Creating the ideal situation for a coating is the first step to ensuring optimum results. Needless to say, it’s more complicated than you think. Here’s how your car needs to be prepared for a ceramic coating treatment.
First things first: your car gets a good wash, and we’re not talking just soap and water. Most detailers use high-quality cleaners to strip away sealants, waxes, and glazes. The goal is to rid the paint surface of any residue. Any leftover particles will act as a barrier between the coating and the paintwork, preventing proper adhesion.
Claying the paint eliminates any surface contamination that the washing was unable to remove. This is important since even a small amount of fallout can cause irreversible damage to your paintwork.
Even new vehicles need a coat of polish and some paint correction before a ceramic coating treatment. Without the proper perfecting measures, your glossy beast can quickly turn into an eyesore.
After a whole lot of cleaning, washing, polishing, and correcting, the vehicle receives a final wipe down to remove lingering waxes and glazes. Once that’s over, your car is ready for ceramic coating!
How Long Does It Take to Ceramic Coat a Car?
It depends. Different coating projects can be faster or longer. Typically, it only takes a couple of hours to apply the coating. The vehicle is then placed in a controlled environment for the coat to cure. However, this is only one aspect of the process. Several other factors play a critical role in determining how long you’ll have to leave your car at the auto detailer’s workspace. A few considerations include:
- Does your car have paint chips?
- Are there any scratches or nicks?
- What surface area is going to be treated?
Most professionals will provide you with an estimate only after analyzing the current condition of your paintwork. For example, if your car is covered in scratches, you may need extensive paint correction and scratch repair before the ceramic coat goes on. It may take several days.
Benefits of Ceramic Coating
Anything that contains chemical compounds is bound to be a resilient solution. Ceramic coating is no different. For starters, it is permanent and easy to clean. Additionally, a ceramic coating offers the following advantages:
1) Protects Your Car from UV Radiation
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that UV radiation is harmful. Health problems aside, overexposure to UV radiation can fade and dull your car’s paint well before its time. This is especially true if you always (or mostly) park your car outside. Ceramic coatings minimize oxidation and UV damage, thus keeping your car bright and shiny for a longer time.
2) Shields Your Car from Organic Contaminants
Did you know that acidic contaminants in the air can damage your car paint? Ceramic coatings act as a resistant layer on top of your car’s paintwork and prevent these contaminants from bonding with the paint molecules. With air pollution on a steady rise, you may want to look into ceramic coatings sooner than later.
3) Creates a Hydrophobic, Dust-Repelling Layer
Believe it or not, your car paint has numerous microscopic pockets that attract dirt and debris every time you drive. A ceramic coating works on a molecular level to fill these pores and ensure an even, smooth exterior. Because this also causes dirt and contaminants to slide off the surface simply, you can expect fewer trips to the car wash.
4) Offers Long-Standing Protection
There’s no denying that regular car wax wears off quickly. As a result, it requires reapplication every few months to work effectively. On the other hand, ceramic coating fuses to your car’s paint and withstands vibrations, weather, and similar external forces. Additionally, nano-ceramic coatings do not break down easily. This helps them protect your vehicle’s paint for years at a time.
5) Saves You Money
Having to get your car waxed every few months can turn into a real hassle. Furthermore, these waxing sessions can burn a serious hole through your pocket. This is where professional ceramic coating comes in. It’s easy to see ceramic treatment as an unnecessary expense but look at the bigger picture. Ceramic coatings typically last for years, eliminating the need for frequent waxing. In the end, you’ll save a lot more than you spend.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Coating
Although ceramic coatings have revolutionized automobile care, they do have a few drawbacks. Let’s take a look.
1) Do Not Offer All-Round Protection
Tough as they are, ceramic coatings will not protect your car from scratches, swirl marks, and rock chips. The best they can do is reduce the adverse effects of these threats. So, you’ll still have to deal with unwanted parking scratches.
2) Cannot Remove Water Spots
Despite being hydrophobic, ceramic coatings aren’t immune to minerals and other particles present in water. These particles may stay on the surface and form water spots. Luckily for you, they often go away with a good hand wash.
3) Car Washes Are Still Recommended
As we said, ceramic coatings may reduce your trips to a car wash. However, this doesn’t mean you can put off cleaning it forever. You will need regular upkeep to keep your car looking dapper.
Debunking Five Common Myths Surrounding Ceramic Coating
People have cooked up some inaccurate theories about nano-ceramic coatings, and we want to dispel any untrue myths. Here are a few.
Myth 1: Ceramic Coatings Are Entirely Resistant to Harsh Chemicals
While chemicals like degreasers and bug removers may not melt a nano-ceramic coating immediately, long-term chemical exposure will affect even the hardest coating. Since prevention is better than cure, it’s best if you remove inorganic chemicals from your car’s surface as quickly as possible. Also, be sure to give your car a good rinse and a thorough wipe down before parking it in the garage.
Myth 2: Ceramic Coatings Are Fireproof
This one is a real doozy and wildly untrue. Ceramic coatings can withstand high temperatures, but that doesn’t make them inflammable.
Myth 3: Ceramic Coatings Have Self-Healing Properties
No car element is truly self-healing. Ceramic coatings cannot recover from scratches, rock chips, and bird droppings on their own. However, you can use a ceramic spray booster or topper to restore a worn-out coating. These sprays contain SiO2 microparticles that tighten the coating and replenish its hydrophobicity.
Myth 4: Ceramic Coatings Are Indestructible
Most ceramic coatings come with a warranty, ranging anywhere from a few months to a few years. Still, very few say that the coating will last forever. Even if they do, they’re probably lying. A well-maintained ceramic coating can indeed hold up for a long time, but it’ll eventually begin to wear.
Myth 5: Ceramic Coated Cars Only Need Water Baths
Again, a ceramic coating is not a miracle cure. It can resist a lot of dirt and debris, but it cannot shake off everything you throw at it. In other words, you’ll still have to scrub your car with a cleaning agent to remove stubborn debris like tree sap. Be careful about the type of shampoo you use for your ceramic-coated car. Ideally, you should use a product that does not affect the coating’s hydrophobic properties. You can also use a pH-balanced car shampoo that has specific SiO2 based protectants. With so much talk about ceramic coating, you’re probably wondering if you can do it at home. Of course, we’ve already mentioned consumer-grade ceramic coatings available for commercial use, but is it a good idea to take on the task yourself? Let’s find out.
DIY Ceramic Coating: Is It a Good Idea?
A DIY ceramic coating sounds like a sweet deal for average auto enthusiasts who take pride in fixing stuff themselves. Not only does it let you save a few bucks, but it also leaves you feeling satisfied after a hard day’s work. The best part? You need little to no training to ace the procedure. That said, DIY ceramic coatings aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Recently, DIYers have been rewarded with a plethora of easy-to-apply, watered-down versions of professional ceramic coatings. Unfortunately, while some work great, others are nothing more than vegetable oil in a can. This is the harsh reality: it’s infuriatingly easy to fall for these less-than-perfect DIY ceramic coatings. So, in case you decide to take the DIY route, you’ll have to be cautious. There are a few general rules of thumb as far as DIY ceramic coatings are concerned. Remember that:
1) You Can’t Apply the Coating in Direct Sun
A freshly coated vehicle looks like a million dollars in the sun, but it’s nearly impossible to apply nano-coating in direct sunlight. You’ll likely have to schedule outdoor applications in the early mornings or after sunset.
2) Temperature is Key
Mind the temperature of your car’s surface. The coating will not bond to any substrate if it is too hot or too cold. Additionally, if your car’s painted surface is warm to the touch, the coating will flash almost instantly. This may result in a poor, jagged finish.
3) High Humidity is a No-No
Try applying a DIY ceramic coating in damp weather, and you will see why it’s a challenge. The added moisture in the air can ramp up the flashing process, which makes buffing a chore.
4) The Amount of Formula Used is Important
Once you start working on the coating, there’s no margin for error. Use too much formula, and the coating will take forever to flash. Apply too little, and the coating won’t last nearly as long. You will have to get the concentration just right, which may be difficult the first time around.
5) The Application Requires a Steady, Careful Hand
Ceramic coatings cannot damage your paintwork. However, you may not want to wing the application process. Botched coats can leave hazing, high spots, and streaks, among other things. Also, remember that once the coating is applied, it’s game over. The only way you can take off cured ceramic coating is by sanding it for days.
6) Delicate Prep Work is a Must
If you think you can slap on the DIY ceramic coating on your car and call it a day, think again. As mentioned, you’ll have to spend a reasonable amount of time cleaning and polishing your vehicle. Otherwise, the coating will lock in every imperfection in the paintwork and keep it there for good. It sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? If you’re not comfortable with DIY ceramic coating or want a higher-quality ceramic finish for your car, we suggest you reach out to the pros for help.
Final Verdict: Is Ceramic Coating Worth the Money?
Absolutely! As you can see, the benefits of ceramic coating almost always outweigh its disadvantages. Ceramic coatings shield your car against grime, which keeps your vehicle looking brand-new for longer. Moreover, they also allow for easier cleaning and maintenance. On the financial front, ceramic coatings may seem expensive at first. However, a full-range service from a reputable car detailing company can easily set you back a couple of thousand dollars. Still, it’s quite cost-effective when compared to the yearly expense of waxing! Plus, if you’re a little short on cash, you can always opt for a light ceramic coating. These aren’t as long-lasting but work just as well. That said, ceramic coatings are not a one-size-fits-all solution. In the end, it comes down to how you use and care for your car. One way to gauge whether you need ceramic coating is to consider the type of car you’re driving. In case you’re leasing a cheaper car, you’re better off using ceramic coating sprays. They offer great protection and keep expenses low.
To sum up, a ceramic coating can work wonders for your car. Not only does it ward off dirt and grime, but it also makes your vehicle more attractive. As a result, you’re sure to turn a few heads driving in a mirror-shiny car! If you are on the fence about ceramic coating, we hope this post helps you make an informed decision. Let the Big’s Mobile team know if you have any questions or need help with ceramic coatings. We use high-quality supplies to get your car looking as good as new. Plus, we offer ceramic coating as part of our standard package, so you won’t have to dole out any extra cash for it! Simply reach out to us today and let us work our magic on your car!
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