Ceramic Coating: Is It Worth It?

2021-05-26

How much dirt is on your car right now? Be honest. 

Your car is probably covered in bug guts, brake dust, and dirt. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can avoid your car looking like that for years with no effort on your part. The secret? …

Ceramic coating. 

Ceramic coating is a self-healing layer that protects your car from dirt thanks to its hydrophobic properties. Sound complicated? In this article, we break it all down so you understand everything. Let’s start.

What Is a Ceramic Coatings?

Let’s be honest, knowing what something is is not nearly as interesting as what it can do. But … to fully understand the benefits of ceramic coatings we must first understand what the coating actually is. 

Coatings are usually a solution of silicone polymers with ceramic nanoparticles spread throughout. How much ceramic is in the coating depends on which of the two kinds you buy. The publicly available coating is mostly polymer, with a low amount of actual ceramic. True ceramic coatings tend to be sold to professionals only. 

Either way, you’ll have a carrier fluid containing nanoparticles that create an inseparable bond with your paintwork. Meaning that the coating cannot easily be washed off like a wax can. 

Think of it as a semi-permanent wax, that lasts for several years.

What Does a Ceramic Coating Do?

With all the hype around ceramic coatings, we need to be realistic about what they can and cannot do. It seems everywhere you turn lately you may hear amazing claims of what this coating can do. 

“This coating completely prevents scratching rock chips!” 

or 

“You’ll need to wash your car again!” 

While these claims aren’t exactly accurate, there are still some very real benefits you can expect.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Easy exterior maintenance
  • UV protection
  • Protection from tree sap, bug guts, and bird droppings. 
  • A unique deep glossy appearance
  • Hydrophobic properties. 

The most important feature 

By far the most appealing feature, and the reason everyone raves about ceramic coatings, is its self-cleaning characteristic. Thank to the hydrophobic properties of the solution, dirt no longer wants to stick to your car.

That’s not metaphorical either. Dirt finds it physically easier to stick to water droplets than your car’s glossy surface. Thanks to the rain, your car can clean itself. Dirt sticks to the water and gets blown off the car as you dry.

Does this mean you NEVER have to wash your car again?

No.

You still need to maintain the surface of a coated car. But it makes washing your car significantly easier and eliminates the need to apply a wax or sealant afterward. No more waxing. Hallelujah. 

How Do You Apply Ceramic Coating?

It’s worth noting that some coatings are sold as D.I.Y kits, and some are professional install only. The install process is virtually the same, but the professional grade coating has a much smaller room for error.

Humidity, temp, and amount applied all change when the product flashes and needs to be wiped down. Having an environment like a car shop where these variables can be kept consent is important for the application process.

Before the coating is applied, the paint surface should be completely clean and free of blemishes. Ceramic coatings will not hide swirls or scratches, they’ll actually seal them in. Once the coating goes on, removal requires aggressive polishing with heavy compounds. Risking harm to the actual paint.

The application process is pretty straightforward and similar to painting a car — proper protection is required. We recommend full skin and eye protection and an approved ventilator. The risk of inhaling fumes with liquid-based products applied is very very low, but extra safety never hurts. 

Most coatings are applied with a dropper to a microsuede towel, and then applied to the vehicle in small sections. After applying to a small area and a streaky appearance will appear which means you should wipe off the excess with the towel. And then a final wipe again with another microfiber towel. 

If applied to glass, it may require a third wipe down with a damp towel to remove any haziness. When applied correctly, it will be clear on glass.

The process should be repeated until the entire car is covered. Yes, the whole care. Coatings can be added to the matted surface without altering the matted appearance.

If the paint is in good shape, then an installation only needs a few hours. 

Afterwards, the car needs to stay away from water for 24 to help the curing process. After 4 days, the coating will be completely cured.

During this curing process, the gloss will continue to grow glossier. 

Ceramic Coating vs Protective Film Wrap

A huge benefit of ceramic coating is its compatibility with paint protection films. But wait. If a ceramic coating, a hard glass-like surface, is applied on top of a urethane protective film…wouldn’t that negate the protective property of the film? 

It does not. 

Much of this is the result of how incredibly thin the ceramic coating layer is. The protective flexible film helps prevent chips by spreading the impact of rocks, and because the coating is so thin, the self-healing properties of the film still work.

A ceramic coating will provide basic protection, but it’s more about the depth and glossy appearance + the hydrophobic and seal healing properties.

Protective films offer real protection against scratches and rocks.

Now, while you could go either product individually, they can only work together one way. A ceramic coating can go on top of paint protective film but the film cannot go on top of the coating. 

Putting the coating on top of the film gives you the best of both worlds.

The Clear Choice

If you’ve ever seen a bad paint job or lousy tint job, then you know that some car work is best done by professionals. Applying a ceramic coating to protect your car is one of those jobs.

We apply these coatings all the time down at our shop. Don’t want to protect your car with a deep glossy finish, call us at (941)-306-9659 for an appointment. Drop your car off before work, then get it back protected and glossy on your way home. A perfect way to end the day.