For many of us, protecting what we see in our cars is merely part of the ownership experience. But on the other hand, there are those who obsess over every detail, a lessee intent on not paying for excessive wear-and-tear, or one of an increasing number of drivers who do not drive because of the advent of a work-from-home plan. Where you’re on the spectrum will dictate whether you’re prepared to invest and whether a costly ceramic coating is worth the investment.
What is Ceramic Coating?
To understand ceramic coatings, it’s helpful to first examine the most popular paint protection products.
Wax is a natural product that is the most affordable product and is available in a variety of forms ranging from an old-school paste to a simple spray. For a long time, “waxing” a car is a way of keeping it shiny and new. Unfortunately, wax isn’t that resistant to wear and needs to be applied several times per year. There are some companies that claim it is, however, environmental contaminants or even a strong soap could easily crack through that wax layer.
Sealants, however, are made of synthetic material and designed to last many months. Therefore, they are simple to apply, although they usually don’t have the same quality shine one receives from quality wax.
Both are defeated by ceramic coating. This liquid polymer is based on silica, placed by hand, and then baked to form a protective layer that can if properly maintained, be effective for several years.
Advantages of Ceramic Coating
Durable protection is the primary reason car owners choose a ceramic coating over the other alternatives. A hard shell and ceramic coating will block water stains, road grime, bird droppings, and other substances from getting into and damaging the paint. Instead, with a simple rinse, they’ll simply slide straight off.
And that brings us to an interesting word: hydrophobic. Typically, anything related to “phobic” has a negative connotation, but in this case, it’s completely positive. A ceramic coating will create a hydrophobic coating that blocks water, which means that dirt and mineral deposits have less chance of damaging the paint surface.
What Ceramic Coating Won’t Do
However, due to expensive costs, ceramic coatings are not the best choice for everyone. Contrary to wax, for example, a ceramic coating sticks to and bonds with car paint and can’t be removed and reapplied. It’s more similar to applying stain on a piece of wood, where the application has to be smooth, consistent, and, for the best results completed by a skilled professional. If a mistake is made or something gets on the surface before it has fully cured and dried, the entire area of the car needs to be wet smoothed, then the coating will be reapplied.
While the cost for a ceramic coating kit is lower than $100, proper preparation could result in an expensive endeavor. Because the coating will magnify imperfections, you’ll first need to meticulously clean the paint to get rid of any swirls, scratches, or discoloration. Experts have even said that it’s even necessary when you buy brand new cars off a dealer’s lot since they’re likely to have slight paint damage due to running through an automated car wash.
With this in mind, it is likely that you will be surprised to find out that a professional may cost you $1,000 or more for applying a ceramic coating to your vehicle. We, therefore, don’t recommend DIY attempts to repair any vehicle of any type.
Perhaps more important than the expense of a ceramic coating are the unrealistic expectations many people hold about the results. Ceramic coatings provide unbeatable protection but your car will not be able to create unbreakable protection. Stones will still chip your paint, unintentional shopping carts are sure to scratch off your car’s fender, and the tree sap left to bake over the hood will make fun of your $1000 silica-based polymer.
Furthermore, you must maintain your ceramic coating with regular, non-brush washes (to keep from scratches and swirls) and occasional treatment with the right spray. owners are able to do it themselves.