Updated: Jul 17
A commonly asked question is, "What is a ceramic coating?" This article is made to outline and provide the correct information regarding ceramic coatings.
Let's start here: Simply put, ceramic coatings are a product that provides a hardened layer of protection that bonds to the surface of a vehicle's clear coat. You've probably experienced a non-stick pan before. You add a little bit of non-stick spray and when you fry an egg the egg just slides right off. When you go to wash the pan it's extremely easy and water slings right off of it. That pan has some form of a ceramic coating on it. A ceramic coating for your vehicle acts similarly.
Here are the benefits: A true ceramic coating will come with some form of self- cleaning properties. What this means is that since the ceramic coating provides such a slick surface on your vehicle's paint, the water contact angle will make water and other liquids bead up on the surface and slide off easily. This allows for dirt to be encapsulated with let's say rainfall to be rinsed off from the surface. However, this should absolutely not be maintenance for a ceramic coating, just a simple way of explaining it. The coating will still need to be washed regularly to maintain all of its great benefits.
Now, the gloss, shine, and incredible depth to the paint. Isn't this something we all love? That amazing wet look on the vehicle when it's clean and shiny. Any quality, reputable detailer is going to do some form of paint enhancement or paint correction before installing a ceramic coating. The paint enhancement or correction service itself will provide a great improvement to the look of your vehicle by removing imperfections in the paint such as swirl marks and scratches. Paint correction and defect removal are discussed in a separate article as that can be a relatively lengthy topic on its own. Back to where we were, the reason we get a shiny finish on the paint is that when the paint has defects in it, a light source, for example, the sun is reflected against the scratch or swirl mark and it appears white or lighter in color, making it noticeable. A surface that is defect-free or free from the majority of paint imperfections, allows the light source to be absorbed giving that great gloss factory and shiny finish. Now top off the corrected paint with a professional-grade coating and there will be even more gloss and depth added since the coating is adding additional layers of protection.
Ok... so what, it's going to look great. What else? One key reason that everyone should get a ceramic coating is for the ease of cleaning. Like we mentioned before, the coating is going to have a level of self-cleaning to it but maintaining the coating will be much, much easier to keep clean than an uncoated vehicle. A coated vehicle will stay cleaner for longer since having self-cleaning properties but the wash and drying processes are dramatically faster. Dirt comes off easily during washing and water can be blown off using forced or compressed air making these steps much quicker. Not to mention that a ceramic coating will provide UV resistance, water spotting resistance, checmical resistance, and a level of scratch resistance.
Most ceramic coatings have a hardness rating. Their hardness ratings are based on the pencil grade hardness scale. Some coatings have a 7H rating and some even a 10H hardness rating. Ceramic coatings are by no means scratch proof whatsoever but do add a level of scratch resistance. The ceramic coating should be treated as a sacrificial layer of protection that if a scratch were to occur that the scratch is in the ceramic coating not in the actual paint of the vehicle.
What ceramic coatings are not: Ceramic coatings are not bulletproof products at all. They do not make your vehicle scratch proof. Ceramic coatings are not a solution to neglect your car and not maintain it. Your car can still get scratches, bugs, and bird poop can still etch into the coating and water spots can still occur. However, the coating is to be treated as a sacrificial layer of protection while also providing protection superior to a wax or sealant while lasting for years.
There are many different brands out there, some of which are selling snake oil and marketing hype, as well as consumer-grade ceramic coatings and professional-grade coatings. There are many great coating brands out there such as IGL Coatings, Gtechniq, Gyeon, Anglewax, and System X to name a few. Some coatings offer better protection in certain areas such as water spots than others but in the end, it's a balancing act where there are give and takes. When looking for a professional-grade coating be sure to research your installer, make sure they are using a proper preparatory process as the prep work is usually more important than having the best brand of coating. Poor prep will lead to poor ceramic coating performance. When it comes to our ceramic coatings we ensure all of our work and provide professional warranties with our coatings.
Please feel free to reach out to us anytime with any questions or concerns you may have. We hope that this article has helped you gain a better understanding of what ceramic coatings are and aren't.
Thanks for reading,
Seth's Auto Detailing LLC
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