Ceramic coating is amazing. There are so many great reasons to apply ceramic coating to your vehicles, so read on to learn all about it!
So what is ceramic coating?
Ceramic coating is a protective layer that's added to the surface of the paint on your vehicle to help protect it from damage and degredation.
Superior Paint Protection
Ceramic coating after applied to the paint on your vehicle is essentially a microscopic layer of glass that significantly protects the paint from harmful ultraviolet rays, acid rain, hard water deposits, bird droppings, and scratches.
Easier to Clean and Keep Clean
When ceramic coating is applied, sio2 nano particles fill in the pores to chemically bond and level the surface above the paint with an incredibly smooth and slick non-porous barrier that prevents contaminants such as dirt, grime, bird droppings, insects, and hard water deposits from bonding to the paint.
Seriously Hard Protective Barrier
Not only does the super slick finish help prevent contaminants from bonding to the paint, after ceramic coating is cured it becomes exponentially harder than the original paint. Most mainstream ceramic coatings on the market claim to have 9H or even 10H on the hardness scale. Consequently, Diamonds are 10H on the hardness scale. What this means is ceramic coated paint will resist scratches, swirls, and paint chips exponentially more than the soft underlying paint. This is not to claim that scratches, swirls and paint chips cannot happen, it is just much more difficult to introduce these types of blemishes to ceramic coated painted surfaces than unprotected paint and offers a far superior protection to traditional waxes and sealants.
This is the buzzword of the day for marketing ceramic coating. "Hydro" is another word for water and "phobic" is another word for fear. It's a pretty slick term suggesting that water is afraid of ceramic coating and when the two meet up, the water quickly slips away.
The super slick ceramic coating prevents water from penetrating any pores in the paint at a microscopic level and when water molecules are introduced to cured ceramic coating they attract to each other because they cannot stick to the ceramic coating. This can be seen visually by the water beading to extremely round beads then sliding off the surface.
Ceramic Coating Compared to Alternatives
I think it's safe to say pretty much anyone who lands on this page knows what carnuba wax is. It's a paste that you apply to the paint to consequently do the exact same thing as ceramic coating, and that is to protect the paint from UV, contaminants and scratches, and make the surface slicker and glossier. The biggest issue with carnuba wax is it does not last much longer than 6-8 weeks and if you want continued protection it needs to be reapplied quite often. And of course, ceramic coating offers an unprecedented level of protection to your paint.
There are many alternatives under the category of "Polymer Sealants", which many are superior to carnuba wax. However, they do not come close to matching the properties of ceramic coatings.
Long Lasting (1y, 3rys, 5yrs, 8yrs...)
How long ceramic coatings last is dependent on many variables. The 2 main variables are how well it is bonded to the paint, and how thick of an application it is. There are 3 forms of ceramic coating that I am aware of.
The first and least durable (6mos - 1yr) comes in the form of a ceramic spray sealant, waterless wash or quick detailer spray. These are now commonly found on the shelves at auto part stores. These do not bond as well to the paint and they are the thinnest application of all. Consequently, we purchase this type of ceramic coating concentrated and mix our own spray detailer to top off every exterior detail that we do with a good 6-12 months of protection because it is simply better than any wax or polymer sealant that we have come across, and is easier to apply. A word of advice here, this is not something you can just run your car through an automatic car wash then spray on and expect it to last 6-12 months. The paint needs to first be stripped of all contaminants including old wax and sealants, then prepared with a ceramic prep spray to ensure a proper bond with the naked paint.
Secondly, there are prosumer grade ceramic coatings readily available online that have up to 5 years protection, many of which are amazing products. They are not in the form of a spray sealant that has a relatively weak bond and is very thin. This grade of ceramic coating needs to be applied carefully to fully cover and avoid high spots, which are like visible streaks that will not go away without machine polishing. Because of the long term nature of the product, it is highly advisable to remove paint contaminants and repair defects such as swirling, scratches and paint chips before sealing them in under a hard shell of coating. This type of coating comes in a small bottle that is applied to the naked paint a small section at a time with an applicator pad to ensure proper coverage.
Finally, there's professional-only grade ceramic coating that is only available to accredited trained and approved installers because it goes on so thick and hard after it's cured, to correct any mistakes or future scratches, it must be corrected with varying steps of wet sanding and polishing. At this time we are limited to a maximum of 6-year rated ceramic coating, which for most is quite sufficient anyway. For those with deep pockets and the need for nothing but the best, we are working on becoming an accredited approved installer so we can offer such products in the future.
There are some great brands of coatings available, and also not so good brands. After testing numerous coatings on various vehicles and researching the coatings on the market, we have chosen to currently offer Gtechniq's Crystal Serum Light to our customers for 5 years of protection. It's a great highly regarded product. If you want to step it up a notch from there, we can top it off with Gtechniq's EXOv4, which adds up to 2 more years of durability and a bit more gloss and water & dirt repellency.
For a vehicle that's brand new... exterior detail with a light paint enhancement polishing will generally be suggested to prepare the vehicle for ceramic coating. For a 5+ year old vehicle with heavy defects, we will probably recommend a full exterior detail with paint correction and polishing to prepare the vehicle for coating.
This service is considered an add-on that's performed following a level 2 or 3 exterior detail, which you can read all about HERE. The prices below reflect the ceramic coating installation including materials, a thorough wipe down with ceramic prep spray, and application of the ceramic coating.
Gtechniq CSL (5yr): $200
CSL+EXOv4 (7yr): $355
Gtechniq CSL (5yr): $210
CSL+EXOv4 (7yr): $373
Gtechniq CSL (5yr): $220
CSL+EXOv4 (7yr): $390
Gtechniq CSL (5yr): $230
CSL+EXOv4 (7yr): $408