Ceramic coating is the latest and best thing, but it can cause confusion. In this guide, we answer questions and misconceptions about ceramic sealants.
These coatings form a hard glass like barrier over your car, they can also cover plastics, metals and other hard surfaces protecting them from weather, road salts, environmental pollution, staining and they help to reduce scratches... all while keeping your car cleaner for longer by means of hydrophobic 'self-washing'. It all sounds almost too good to be true. But you are still probably wondering if it's worth the cost or if it works at all.
Finished today. Brian decided to have his new car ceramic coated, having just traded in his 5-year old car which had also been coated with a ceramic sealant. He received £1000 more from the dealership than initially quoted by phone once they had seen the car.
1. What is a ceramic sealant coating?
A ceramic sealant is a paint protection product which cures into a layer of hard ceramic which is only a few molecules thick.
We have had many salesmen explain this to us in laymen's terms, because that is the terms on which they understand it. In the future we hope to get to interview a chemist who can give us an understanding of exactly how a ceramic sealant work and how one might be different from another. But until then we can only explain this to you in layman's terms.
A ceramic sealant attempts to take advantage of the hardness and durability of ceramic. Ceramic coatings aren't new, and I'm sure many of us have seen old metal bath tubs which have been coated with ceramic which have lasted generations. This kind of ceramic is baked on at extremely high temperatures which is something you obviously cannot do to your car.
The challenge then is to find a way to chemically bond the ceramic nano-beads to your car in a way which is effectively permanent. We are not entirely sure how the various manufacturers achieve this, but having tried a good number of different products over the years, we can say that not all sealants are the same, don't give the same results, and we are doubtful if some of them actually qualify as "ceramic sealants"
Silica Dioxide - SiO2 joins together by sharing electrons with neighbouring atoms making a covalent bond.
However, what we can ascertain (after doing some googling for GCSE chemistry revision websites) is that these coatings use Silica Dioxide which is then persuaded into forming covalent bonds with itself and the surface of your paintwork. What does this mean exactly? It means the SiO2 becomes all fused together because they are sharing electron pairs. If that all sounds a bit atomic, it's because it sort of is. But what you really need to know is that the ceramic is fusing together in an extremely strong and stable way and creating a genuinely ceramic coating over your paintwork.
It really is like the ceramic coating on your grandmother's bath tub.
2. What are the benefits and features of a Ceramic Coating?
I'm sure you have seen them all before on every advert for ceramic coatings, but let's list them again.
...but compared to what? Don't other products also make many of these claims?
Yes, they do. Waxes, either natural of synthetic will also give you many of these benefits and a great shine, but they only last a matter of months, and they certainly aren't anywhere near as hard as having a glass-like ceramic coating over your paintwork.
The old acrylic sealants and the newer polymer sealants are far better than waxes when it comes to longevity, lasting many years. They are no slouches when it comes to modern technology either, the newer ones are suburb. We love them, we sell them. They can do pretty much everything on the list above. But Ceramic Sealants do it better, especially scratch resistance.
There are those traditionalists who will tell you that you still get the best shine from carnauba waxes, that they seem to have more warmth, life, clarity and depth of colour. We beg to differ.
3. Is ceramic coating a gimmick?
Many of the ceramic products sold online are gimmicks and marketing hype, but if you get a ceramic coating from a reputable application, it will be live up to the claims.
Over a decade ago, a company came to us offering us a revolutionary coating. I don't remember them mentioning ceramic or nano-particles, but they did make some rather extra-ordinary claims about the durability of the coating. They coated a car in our workshop and the results were rather impressive. We had seen D-Tech centres in Scandinavia and were looking for something similar to bring to the UK, and we though this product was similar enough that we could market it. However, the industry back then was not as well developed as it is now and we just didn't see how we could sell a product which cost £1000 or more, so we took a pass, hoping the price might come down over time.
I mention this anecdote because after the guys had left, they had left behind the cotton wool pads with which they had applied the coating. They were rock hard. It was as if they were coated in glass, you could stand on them and they would 'crunch'. This is the point at which I knew this wasn't a gimmick.
Back then, the trend was to make your car as shiny as possible. People were layering waxes over acrylics sealants and trying to get a finish which was visibly 'deep', and a section of the market was willing to pay a premium for it. We thought these new products would give us a shiny, wet-look, glass-like finish which we could bring to market, we were rather astounded when it turned out they were also hard like glass. The benefits of such a coating go without saying... although we are going to say them anyway if you continue to read this guide.
It's definitely not a gimmick.
4. Should I believe the marketing hype?
You should definitely not believe the marketing hype about ceramic coatings! Always check and verify, look at reviews and recommendations.
UK companies are rather good about their marketing claims, we have strict consumer protection in this country, but some of the marketing hype coming from abroad is somewhat misleading, exaggeration or completely untrue. We will attempt the shoot down some of myths and misconceptions in this article.
Having said that, ceramic sealants do work. They have amazing benefits and give astonishing results.
5. What is the best ceramic coating?
The best ceramic coating is the one that's right for you, does what you want it to do at the right price point.
We don't claim to know what the best ceramic coating is. We have tried many, we haven't tried them all. What we can tell you is that they aren't all the same, although most of the ones we have tried have all been very good.
There are a few that we have tried that we would be very happy to stock, but somebody else has the franchise for our area. We have tried others that give really good results but they take far too long to apply, cost far too much or we are not confident in the supply chain or after sales service. When it comes to choosing our 'best ceramic coating', we have slightly different criteria than the end user.
The ceramic sealants which we use are chosen first and foremost based on the results, but there are other factors we consider. These products last many years, and we know from 30 years experience with acrylic and polymer sealants that we will be providing customer support for many years to come, so it is important to us that work with companies that are dependable and we can build a good relationship with.
A few years ago when we were looking to build a relationship with a ceramic sealant supplier, we were shown a number of products which were very hard to work with. And so we looked for products that were easier and quicker to apply. It turns out this was unwise. In our experience, the harder a product is to apply the better it seems to be in the end result.
6. Can I apply ceramic coating over wax?
Definitely not. You cannot apply a ceramic coating over wax because wax is a temporary, sacrificial barrier, while ceramic coatings are permanent.
A car wax is what we in the trade call a "sacrificial layer". It looks good when it first goes on, but over time, it burns off and wears away. This is a good thing because the environment is punishing the layer of wax instead of directly damaging your car's paintwork. But it will wear away. If you put a ceramic coating onto the wax, when the wax goes, so will the coating.
Much of the work involved in applying a ceramic coating is preparation of the paintwork which includes stripping away any traces of wax, silicone or synthetic acrylic and polymer sealants.
7. Can I apply wax over ceramic coatings?
That would depend on the brand of ceramic coating you have chosen. We would say that you can apply wax over any ceramic coating, but it may void your manufacturer's warranty, and there really is no reason to do so.
We have noticed that there are some ceramic sealants on the market which say that the solvents in waxes will damage the coating. However, we have tested the coatings we use against extremely harsh solvents and found them to have no noticeable effect. Our guess is that you probably could, but ceramic sealants come with a manufacturer's guarantee. I doubt any manufacturer is going to honour a guarantee if you are putting who-knows-what all over it.
having said that, some of the ceramic coatings suppliers do have aftercare products which they do recommend. If you are going to put anything on them, we'd recommend following the manufacturers guidelines.
8. Can I apply polish over ceramic coatings?
You can apply polish over a ceramic coating, but we would advise against it.
This is much the same answer as above, especially as very few car polishes are actually just polish. Most are a wax with some cut in them. If you really want to put something over your ceramic coating, some of the manufacturers like Autosmart make products especially for this, such as Reloaded which goes on any of the Matrix Coatings.
9. Should you ceramic coat a new car?
We would recommend ceramic coating a new car, this is definitely the best time to do it.
Ceramic sealants coat your car in a hard shell protecting it from scratches, UV, ozone and chemical pollutants. It is best to seal your car when it's new so that you can seal in all that lovely fresh newness.
It also tends to be cheaper. I don't like to use the word "cheap" but the simple fact of the matter is that your car needs to be prepared before we apply a ceramic coating. We will polish the paintwork even on a new car to make it as good as we think is reasonable before we coat it. The less preparation we have to do, the less you pay.
10. Is Ceramic Coating worth it?
Ceramic Coatings are perfect for classic cars, especially those with solid paint which can be prone to fading and oxidisation. This is a Mercedes we coated with ceramic over five years ago. It has been back a couple of times since for re-coating of a few panels which were resprayed.
We think it's completely worth it and cost effective.
If you plan to keep your car for five years, or even ten years, when you divide up the cost per year it's a small price to pay to keep your car looking like new. And although people seldom think this far ahead, when you do eventually trade in your car you are likely to get far more for it because it will be in better condition. It's not unlikely that you will profit from having a ceramic coating.
If you only intend to keep your car a few years and you are unsure, then there are other options which could suit you better. You will undoubtedly get benefits during those few years, your car will look great, be easy to clean and stay looking cleaner for longer, and people have reported back to us that when they came to trade their car in they got more for it meaning they easily got their money back. Far more people have told us that, they decided they may as well hang onto their car because it still looked so good. You will really start to reap the benefits of a ceramic sealant when your car is 4-5 years and older. Your car will look newer than it is and you will also have all the benefits mentioned previously. We think it is completely worth it especially when spread out over the life of the car.
If you are only likely to keep your car 2-3 years we have Polymer nano-coatings which last from 3-5 years and are in a lower price bracket which will definitely be worth it.
11. What is the longest lasting ceramic coating?
The longest lasting ceramic coating in our range is Siramik Diamas Professionali and has a manufacturer’s guarantee for 10 years.
We couldn't possibly say which is the longest lasting ceramic coating. Many of them guarantee they last for 3, 5, 7 or even 10 years. But most of them haven't been on the market that long, so how could they possibly know?
What we can tell you is that for over 30 years we have been applying acrylic and polymer sealants to cars, and although most of them guaranteed a life of 3-5 years, they actually lasted much longer with a reasonable amount of care. The good ceramic sealants are far harder and we have every confidence that they will last much longer than advertised.
For once, you can believe the hype.
12. Can you apply ceramic coating yourself?
Yes, of course you can apply a ceramic coating yourself!
However, there are a few thing you should know before you go down this route. The first is that not all ceramic sealants are made equal. We doubt some of them even really qualify as "ceramic sealants" at all. In the enthusiast world, a "sealant" has come to mean a synthetic wax, so a manufacturer can throw some ceramic micro beads into a synthetic wax and hey-presto, the marketing department has a "ceramic sealant", because why not?
In fact they have been putting silica and micro-beads in waxes for decades as 'fillers' and 'diffusers' which help scatter light so that scratched cars look less scratchy.
There's no harm done because really it's just a wax, and that's not a problem if you paid £14.99 for it. But you should beware of paying large amounts of money for something which isn't what it is pretending to be.
The second thing you should know is that, as mentioned elsewhere, we have found that the harder a product is to apply, generally the better it is. And they really can be rather hard to apply with very little room for error. Errors do happen, and they can be difficult to put right. We know from painful experience.
13. Can you put ceramic coatings on glass?
Yes. All of the ceramic coatings we have tried work on glass and work really well. They also work on plastics and metal.
Although not ceramic, we have a range of nano-coatings for fabrics to meaning we can protect virtually every surface with modern high-tech coatings.
14. Can a ceramic coating be applied over a paint protection film?
Yes, and the companies that make paint protection film are even selling their own ceramic coatings.
This is something of a revelation because you would think that a sealant which is "like a coat of glass" would crack and peel off when put on such a soft and flexible substrate. But ceramic coatings go on so thin and bond so firmly, that they can stay on. It has been demonstrated that you can abuse a paint protection film to a severe degree and yet the sealant stays on there.
15. How much does ceramic coating cost?
Good ceramic coatings generally start in the region of £500 just for the coating.
We have separate prices for New and Used cars for both FireBall and Matrix Black.
The actual cost will depend on the condition of your car because the coating is dependent on being applied to a properly prepared surface. Some cars require more work to prepare than others which is why we have different prices for new cars and old cars. Older cars may require extra paintwork correction. This raises the question, how paint Preparation is enough?
16. How much paint preparation is enough?
We feel it's worth talking about this because although it's not really something our customers bring up, it is a question which we ask ourselves frequently.
There can be very little doubt that enthusiasts have helped popularize ceramic sealants, specifically car care enthusiasts. This is a community of people who are chasing absolute perfection, and they enjoy nothing better than to spend hours and days machine-polishing their cars, their friends cars, their family's cars... some even make a living out of it and do very good business polishing super-cars belonging to people who have seen their work (and it really is close to art) and have bought into the idea of having paintwork perfection.
This raises the question for us, should 'perfection' be the standard to aim for? We think not, for a number of very good reasons.
No matter what equipment we have, no matter our skill level, it is a time consuming process which means it's expensive. It can be very expensive.
Secondly, cars are not built to the standard of 'perfection'. Sanding off all the orange-peel may give you a mirror-like finish only to reveal imperfections. Your car was most likely put together by robots on an assembly line, not by master craftsmen. That orange-peel helps to hide tiny dents, ripples in the metal work, stretch marks around seams.
And perfection is hard to maintain. Your car will pick up some wear and tear even with a paint sealant. The slightest scratch or dent will become glaringly obvious when the rest of the car is near perfect.
The simple fact is that on picking up a car from the show room, most people say, "Wow, shiny new car!"
Only detailing enthusiasts say, "What a disgrace, the wash marks are abysmal, they obviously don't use the two bucket method".
I'm afraid it's true. Most people think a factory finish is good enough. We can give a new car a quick machine polish with a soft foam pad and the results will be better than factory finish. Then putting a ceramic sealant over the top to seal it in will further enhance it. The Pareto principle comes into play here, often called the 80/20 rule, we think that for most people would feel that final push for perfection isn't worth the added expense.
This isn't to pour scorn on those that think it is worth it and want the shiniest car in the city, we can go there if you really want to but it is not our benchmark.
17. I have seen the videos online, are they faked?
I'm sure somewhere out there, somebody has faked a video. They might also "stage" things so that the video is shot under ideal conditions.
But when it comes to CGI, editing or camera trickery, I have yet to see anything which could be described as faked.
If you have videos showing them throw buckets of mud over a car, and the mud just falls off (or at least rinses off) of the half which has been coated, then I can say that those are the kind of results we would expect to see... although we would advise against testing this by throwing a bucket of mud and gravel over your car.
18. Does this mean i will never have to wash my car again?
No it doesn't and we would advise avoiding any product that makes this claim.
Everything gets dirty... my car usually gets dirty because I park under a tree which drops sticky sap all over it. There is nothing about a ceramic sealant that would help much with my personal situation, I still need to use a fairly strong soap to remove it.
What it does mean is that your car will possibly need cleaning less often and be easier to clean. A ceramic coating leaves a finish which is both incredibly shiny and hydrophobic. This means that there is little for dirt to cling to and water tends to roll off. If fact, because your car is now so slick, the dirt will be attracted to the water more than your paintwork, so any rain water will carry much of the dirt away. This means that in circumstances like motorway driving in the winter, much of the dirt will just fall off.
19. Will the sealant last forever?
Nothing lasts forever, everything degrades over time, although your ceramic coating may last the life of your car.
It also depends on how you look after your car. If you wrap your car in bubble wrap and put it into air conditioned storage, there's a fair chance the coating will last far longer than if you park your car in a field.
Even ceramic will scratch and wear over time, but with proper care it will be far easier to maintain a good shine on your car.
20. Are ceramic coatings scratch proof?
Ceramic coatings are scratch resistant, but not scratch proof. They are certainly tougher than paint.
Ceramic sealants are tough, but they aren't bombproof. In fact we can quantify just how tough they are, and the best ones are "H9", which is not the kind of measure which would impress a manufacturer of Kevlar body armour but is just about as hard as you can get for a coating.
This is harder than the clear coat lacquer which your came from the factory with and so will be more resistant to the normal kinds of marks you get from dirt, grit and the hedge next to the driveway that you haven't gotten around to trimming yet.
The surface of your car's paint (seen in blue) is rough and porous seen under a microscope. The Ceramic particles fill in any holes and unevenness and forms a hard ceramic barrier over your paintwork.
21. How thick is a ceramic coating?
They vary, but generally too thin to be seen with a normal microscope. You would need an electron microscope to see them. Very, VERY thin!
Over the years we have had a few people disappointed because when they hear about all the wonderful things sealants can do, they expect them to be 2-3mm thick. Literally like a sheet of glass over their car. This is not the case, but we promise you won't be disappointed with the shine and durability.
22. How hard is a ceramic coating?
They are pretty tough all things considered. All the best ceramic coatings claim a rating of H9... although they seldom tell you what that means.
Being vaguely familiar with the Rockwell Scale I went looking, and found out that H9 is the hardest rating on DIN ISO 15184, otherwise known as the Wolff-Wilborn test, or colloquially called the Pencil Test (see below).
23. What is the pencil test?
The pencil test has absolutely nothing to do with the thing the girls used to do at school and doesn't involve lady-lumps in anyway (more the pity). It is however a rapid standardised test for coating hardness based on pencils.
A pencil is held at an angle of 45º and pressed hard into the surface until the end of the pencil breaks off. The coating is rated for the hardest pencil you can use without the surface marking.
If this all sounds a bit slap-dash, (I certainly thought so at first) then it should be pointed out that they don't just go down to Stapes and buy a packet of pencils with the erasers on the end. This is an actual scientific test using specially produced, Mohs calibrated testing pencils. And you can buy a set for only $250 if you fancy having a go yourself. You learn something new every day!
This begs the question, "is H9 hard?" ...and if so, compared to what?
I have not been able to get reliable information on how hard regular OEM clear coat is and we know it varies quite considerably from car to car. But we can say is that the Wolff-Wilborn test is the standard test for coatings, and 9H is the hardest. You aren't going to find a harder coating. We can also say from bitter experience, that ceramic coatings are far harder than your car's paint.
24. Can a ceramic coating be layered?
This very much depends on the product. We have one that can and one that can't... but when I say that it can't, I mean it would be difficult and you probably wouldn't get much benefit from it anyway.
As already mentioned, they go on so thin you would need an electron microscope to see them. That's not much, and two or three times "not much" still amounts to not much. But "not much" is plenty enough, they really are incredibly shiny. It is hard to imagine putting on more coats would 'add depth of shine' which is what some people seem to be aiming for.
25. Is ceramic paint protection permanent?
"Permanent" is a strong word philosophically speaking, but ceramic coatings are designed to provide permanent paintwork protection.
We would suggest that if you do ever find yourself looking at your now vintage car, wondering what you can do to put the shine back, you would have considered that you've had your money's worth out of your ceramic sealant.
A ceramic sealant should still be considered a sacrificial barrier the same as a wax, although it is in a completely different league. Where as a was will burn off in a matter on months, ceramic sealants are measured in years. Here at New Again, we pick sealants which are guaranteed for seven or more years. We believe with proper maintenance they will last fifteen or more years, at which point they will still be on there but will be showing signs of wear.
In the past we have shown examples of cars which had acrylic sealants which have been well cared for which still look good after 17 years. Ceramic coatings will be far more durable than acrylic or polymer.
26. What are ceramic hybrid waxes?
Your guess is as good as ours. I have read the marketing gumpf for a few of these kinds of products and the only information I can decipher is just that -- marketing gumpf. It is very hard to tell what they are supposed to do or achieve.
The reviews for them generally seem quite good. They are nice and shiny and last about a month... which is pretty much what you'd expect from any good wax. So it's hard to tell why they are putting ceramic in these products and they don't seem to be making any firm claims that the ceramic actually does anything.
It's possible the ceramic could be doing something, after all, they have been putting micro-beads into waxes for decades as optical diffusers to help hide scratches. But if I had to guess, these kind of products are just something to hang fashionable marketing buzzwords on. That doesn't make them bad products, but it doesn't mean they are ceramic sealants of the type we are talking about here.
27. Will a ceramic sealant hide swirls and scratches?
It shouldn't do as ceramic coatings are too thin, although we suspect it does... just a little, but not enough difference to make a difference.
As with any semi-permanent sealant, you will be sealing in what you got. Therefore we do our best to remove any swirls and scratches before application, even on new cars because your new car may have been sitting at the docks, on a transporter or displayed at the dealership before you took delivery. The vehicle is cleaned, decontaminated, polished and prepared before we apply the ceramic sealant.
28. What is the difference between DIY kits and professional install only?
This would depend on the DIY kit. A few we have looked at are easier to apply and don't last nearly as long as the professional kits. They would seem to have a different formula which is weaker.
Behind the scenes, ceramic coating manufacturers have boasted to us about the purity and high silica content of their professional products. It would be our guess the DIY products contain far less silica and more metallic oxides which are softer and do not form such strong bonds, but have the advantage of being more forgiving in application.
29. Have you ever messed up a ceramic coating application?
Oh yes! I cannot tell a lie, we have had a few disasters!
We won't hide it, in fact we will share because these stories perfectly illustrate both just how tough ceramic coatings are and why they are best left to professionals.
The first real disaster we had involved on of our staff accidentally brushing against the rear wing of a Porsche just after the coating had been applied. So he wiped off the area and reapplied. It turns out this was the wrong thing to do. There is a window of time in which you are supposed to remove the sealant, and while waiting for this patched area to "flash-off" the rest of the panel was left too long. Any other day and he probably would have gotten away with it, but this day was hot and windy and the air was particularly dry.
The result was that the patched area looked fine, the rest of the car looked fine, but that rear panel looked hazy. So we thought we would just get it off with some solvent. We tried every solvent we had in the company, including Tar & Glue Remover, paint thinners, acetone etc. Nothing would even touch it. So then we tried machine polishing it, with a mild compounds but that didn't work. It's at this point we called the supplier, "Oh no, if you are going to get it off, you are either going to need to wet-sand it or use a coarse lamb's wool polishing head with a heavy compound" he said. To cut a long story short, that rear quarter had had a repair at some point in the past and the paint was fairly soft and didn't take well to this rough treatment. So we had to have that rear quarter repainted, an expensive mistake for us.
The latest disaster we had was when one of our staff was trying a new product and misunderstood the instructions given to them by a salesman. Thinking that "It only takes an hour to do" meant that you left the product on the car for an hour. The situation wasn't as bad as with that first car, but it took many hours of machine polishing to get the car looking the way it should.
We hope we have learned from our mistakes, but mistakes happen. No matter how good you are, inevitably something will eventually go wrong, especially if you do it enough times. We tend to judge a company based on when things go right, but they are perhaps better judged by how they handle things when it all goes wrong.
30. What's in a ceramic coating?
Aside from ceramic nano beads, we aren't entirely sure. We hope to expand on this article as soon as we can interview a chemist who is willing to give away their trade secrets.
Ceramic isn't just one thing. A whole lot of different crystalline oxide materials can make up a ceramic, but to take an educated guess, there needs to be some kind of solvent which suspends all the ceramic beads in a liquid state. That solvent will be different from product to product. Different products smell differently depending on the solvent used to suspend the mixture, and we have noticed they behave differently, when they dry on the side of the bottle. Some dry like powdery crystals, others look like dried lacquer.
As mentioned above, most contain Silica Dioxide which is what forms the covalent bonds. Some also contain metallic oxides which form ionic bonds.
31. Will a ceramic sealant protect against bird droppings.
Bird droppings are just highly corrosive. That's the simple fact of the matter. Ceramic coatings will provide better protection than any other product but we still suggest you remove bird droppings as soon as possible.
Some ceramic sealants will be more resistant than others, and we would hope they are more resistant than other coatings but if you get bird dropping on your car, you need to get them off quickly an neutralize the area with a suitable alkaline product.
It does seem that bird droppings are one of the most destructive substances known to man. It is always best to attend to any bird bombs as quickly as possible.
32. Will a ceramic coating prevent water spots?
No it won't but it will reduce the problem and make them easier to remove.
Because most of the ceramic coating are extremely hydrophobic, the water tends to bead up and roll off the car. It doesn't mean there is no water on your car, but a lot of it will roll off. Less water means there is less chance of water spots.
But water spots are caused by a chemical reaction between the water, chemical contaminants and dirt particles in water. The end result is a little like the chemical reaction that you get with cement drying into concrete. If these ingredients are present on your car, the reaction will happen even if you have a ceramic coating.
33. Will a ceramic coating crack or peel?
Provided it is applied properly over a stable substrate which is free of wax and oil, no it won't.
34. How long does a ceramic coating take?
We can apply a ceramic coating within an hour or so, but the time spent preparing the car's paintwork depends on the condition of the car.
The ones we use are put on and then have a fairly short window of opportunity where they 'flash off' and we buff off any excess. This means that it's actually fairly quick to apply them and we have to be fairly efficient because to dilly-dally would lead to a sub-standard application.
However, a sealant will seal in the paintwork you have. It is imperative that that that proper care is taken to prepare the car to a standard which is to the customer's satisfaction.
This is a whole other subject. There are those that are prepared to spare no expense to have their car polished to a flawless mirror finish, removing all scratches, swirls and orange peel. Such an undertaking could take several days.
For most people, they are happy to maintain a factory finish on a new car. Once we have polished and prepared a new car, it's almost always better than when it left the factory. We can do this in a day.
Other people have a car that is a few years old and the paintwork could use a bit of a lift. This takes a little longer but usually we can do it within a day.
35. What is Hydrophobicity?
This is how well something 'repels' water, but in fact it isn't that anything actually repels the water, it's a lack of attraction.
Water has surface tension, and will form round droplets until something rough interrupts the tension giving the water something to cling to.
Ceramic coatings go on so smooth that water literally has nothing to stick to. In fact nor does dirt and dust. The end result is that the water and dust find it easier to stick to each other than the car's paintwork. When water hit's your car, most of it will fall off taking dirt and dust with it. This all goes to mean that your car will stay cleaner for longer and require less frequent washes. As most scratches appear on your car when you are washing it, from dirt and grit trapped on your sponge or wash-mit, less washes equates to less scratches.
36. Do I have to wash my car?
Yes. A ceramic coating will mean you will have to wash your car less frequently but it will need the occasional wash.
Claims like, "never wash your car again", have been around for decades and they are marketing hype. However, it is an admirable goal, and ceramic coatings could be described as "self washing" depending on how you want to stretch the definition. If you drive in the rain, water hitting your car will actually wash dirt off it, it is that slick and shiny. It won't leave it spotless, but it is something we have witnessed.
Wash your car when it needs it, which you will find will be less often than before. If however you enjoy cleaning your car, then you will find it far less effort now.
37. Can I put the car through a car wash?
Yes, you can put ceramic paint protection through a car wash.
However, if you do we recommend you only use the soft-wash types. Not all car washes are the same and the older ones can be very harsh. They can also be harsh if not properly maintained. All in all, car washes are not the safest way to clean your car if you want to avoid wash marks.
38. How do I wash a car with a ceramic coating?
If your car has a ceramic coating, we recommend washing it by hand, but don't worry, your new coating will make this job so much easier.
What we suggest is to get yourself along to a place with coin operated pressure washers if you don't already own one. Give your car one good blast over with a pressure washer paying careful attention to the bottom of the car.
Then with a suitable wash mitt, was the car with soapy water, rinse and then repeat. If this sounds a lot like how you would normally wash a car, that's because it is, only this will be much less hard work.
Then you can dry your car. You can dry it with a microfibre towel or a chamois leather.... or you could just get in the car and drive and let air-speed dry your car for you.
Because you have coated your car in something very much like glass, you can actually use window cleaner to finish your car. We have found this works very well for finishing should you need to get rid of any water marks.
39. What happens if my car needs accident repair or panels resprayed?
That's very simple, you come back to us and we will recoat the newly painted panels. If you had the repair done on insurance you should be able to claim for this.
40. How do I choose the best ceramic coating?
We would suggest that you don't! Instead we suggest that you carefully chose the best person to apply it for you, choose a reputable company with a good track record and let them guide you to the ceramic sealant they have chosen to use.
Considering all the points with have covered in this article, let us pull it all together with complete transparency and brutal honesty.
As a company, we chose the best ceramic sealant for us, and this should turn out to be the best coating for the customer.
Having weeded out the "brands" who have jumped on the bandwagon without much work, the rest are much of a muchness. If we were to make a football analogy, they are all premier league. All have their strengths and weaknesses but generally speaking are all guaranteed to give you a good game.
Once the sealant is on your car, you are not going to notice significant differences between equivalent products until you start bringing out gloss-meters and other scientific testing equipment. To the untrained eye, or even to the trained eye, there's probably not enough difference to make a difference.
The real difference is going to be things the consumer doesn't really see but are of great concern to the person applying it.
- Is there a good profit margin? - lets not kid ourselves, we all like to make money. And the more profitable a product is, the more time and care we can afford to spend on 'the process'. The more we care about doing a good job and the more we enjoy doing it. You don't want you detailer to thinking he's rather be vacuuming carpets because he makes more money that way.
- Is it easy to apply? Is it quick to apply? - We don't want it to be too easy, because that probably means it's not much good and besides, if it were easy every sponge monkey would be doing it. But if the process takes a week and takes round the clock vigilance, that will push the price up in terms of time and effort. We want it to be a good balance. We don't want it to be so hard to do that it becomes a royal pain in the back side.
- Is the company that supplies it reliable and has good support? - We have kicked a couple of suppliers to the kerb because they have supply issues or had fluctuating prices. If they can't get their act together now, how are they likely to be in five years time? These are important questions when selling a product that lasts years.
These issues and many others are important to us as a company that applies ceramic coatings, but they also impact you as the end user.
Before I leave this subject, I should also comment on marketing malarkey. We stand by what we said further up the page that ceramic coatings are not just a gimmick and generally speaking they do live up to the hype. However, once you have a bunch of them that are all "premier league" there is a tendency for some of them to try and get ahead of the pack by coming out with something new, especially if they are coming from behind.
You see this in all sorts of products which have reached the peak of development. Sometimes they really do add extra features, but do you really need your toaster to be controlled via wi-fi by your mobile phone? Other times they just change a formula slightly and make vague claims about benefits when really they have done nothing at all. You see this all the time in the cosmetics industry. I'm sure you have seen advert's for shampoo that say things like, "The only shampoo with Xenon-Z, patented hair care technology". They are selling you a feature, not a benefit, and just trying to mark themselves out as different when there probably isn't any real difference.
Graphene - the new wonder material which may or may not revolutionize everything.
And just because a new scientific breakthrough is good for one thing, doesn't mean it has application for us. I'm sure many of you will remember back in the 1990s when suddenly everything contained 'Royal Jelly?"
Rest assured, we don't fall for this malarkey. And while things like graphene coatings show promise, we think it's best to wait and see. We don't feel there is much advantage of being first to market with products which don't work or have no tangible benefits.
We freely admit, there are some products we cannot get. It is not uncommon for suppliers to give an area franchise to one particular company. Had this not been the case we might be stocking a different product line to what we have now. That doesn't mean the products we didn't get are leagues above what we have now -- in one particular case, we would have chosen them because we liked the company.
All in all, we think we have chosen a range which suits us, suits our customers, gives exceptional results at a reasonable price and with good customer care.
41. How do I chose a good company to apply my ceramic sealant?
The simple way is to look at their pictures, look at their videos if they have any. Read the testimonials and have a chat with them. See if they sound like they know what they are doing and want your custom.
Having said that, let us inform you a little about the way the industry has been going. The last 30 years has been pretty rough on the wider industry. That industry ranges from car washes all the way up to high end detailing and restoration. The bottom end of the market has been savaged by regulation, immigration, and several slumps in the economy.
It's no secret that the last century has made many millionaires out of businessmen who can clean dozens of cars a day, quickly, efficiently and cheaply. 'Detailing' cars was largely an add on to that and for a long time the motor trade was a large part of the business. Those days are long gone. In order to make money, many in the industry have pushed towards services which require a greater level of skill, a much higher degree of customer service and often they are catering to a much smaller market.
From a business point of view, it makes much more sense to make a little bit of profit from the millions of people who own Fords, Vauxhalls and Toyotas, than making a big profit out of the people who own Ferraris and Lamborghini... largely because very few people own these very expensive sports cars.
However, as the business has got tougher, the tendency is towards the exclusive rather than the domestic, and this has been going on for around 20 years. It started off with "paintwork correction" which is machine polishing cars to a fine shine. This was very popular with enthusiasts who like to show off their custom cars at shows but there was also a market there for people with expensive sports cars who wanted the very best and were willing to pay a premium for it. This of course goes hand in hand with ceramic coatings so these kinds of operations have done very well for themselves.
This has led to a section of the industry which we would describe as 'boutique'. They are usually located in cities, they are surrounded by rich businessmen, celebrities and Saudi princes, they will have leather sofas in the waiting room and have workshops which are near sterile environments to work in. And yes, they make good money so have the budget to spend on marketing and build a presence on social media.
If you really want to choose somebody who can be trusted to apply a ceramic sealant, chose these guys. They take it seriously and will do a fantastic job, there's no knocking them. Of course, they are expensive, there's sometimes a long waiting list. Some of them even turn down people because a BMW or Mercedes isn't exclusive enough for their workshop.
If you can afford it, then you can't go wrong.
However, don't be fooled into thinking this is how it has to be. Having leather sofas and a Playstation in the waiting room does make a difference if you want to buy into the experience, but it won't make much of a difference to the end result. Likewise, while we believe that it's important to prepare the car and apply the coating in a controlled environment, which means indoors, but you don't need white marble floors and a workshop which looks like a research laboratory.
I'm reminded that over the years, when dealing with vintage, custom and high end cars which needed a special paint-job or an unusual set of skill, we might find that that one person in the whole country who everybody went to might be a rockabilly called Spike who had tattoos and pink hair and worked out of a barn. I can think of one particular expert who is so down-to-earth and forthright that we have to quarantine him from our customers.
The trend in the industry has been away from trade work and towards packaging everything up to give the customer an experience. That's no bad thing, you can never go far wrong giving the customer what they want, so long may it continue. However, this isn't to say there aren't very skilled people out there with a small workshop who can't give equally good results at a reasonable price.
Ceramic coatings aren't for everyone. If you are only going to keep the car a short while, if you know your car is going to get bashed about and you know keeping it in good condition is going to be next to impossible, then there are other option. But ceramic coatings are for most people. You can find somebody who will do a good job at a reasonable price, and they are a worthwhile investment for your Ford, Vauxhall, Toyota, etc.