Are Ceramic Car Coatings Worth It?
Straight off the mark, I'm going to answer that question with a resounding yes! If you're big into car care and want to be the boss of gloss, it's a no brainer. However, what are these ceramic, glass and nano coatings?
Please understand I'm not discussing spray on and wipe off do it yourself miracle products that you see advertised daily on social media platforms. This article is about professionally applied vehicle coatings.
I'm not a chemical engineer or chemist, and I'll not even attempt to delve into the chemistry behind these coatings. But if we accept that these coatings are all based around the same technology and are an inorganic coating that is applied in a liquid form to the cars paint and when allowed to cure gives a hard shell of protection that should last anywhere from 3 to 5 years for the quality products they begin to sound pretty good.
We polish and wax our cars to clean and protect them, but if we're honest with ourselves, we're really after the high gloss. For a vehicle to be glossy, it needs first to be clean. Secondly, the paint needs to be as flat as possible to refract the light correctly, where the polish comes in. Moreover, it all needs sealed and protected so the gloss lasts and the car is easier to clean, where the wax comes in. However, having to polish and wax the car every three to six months can be too much of a hassle for some, which is where the ceramic coatings come into play.
Modern car paint has two coats: the colour coat or base coat and the clear coat or lacquer coat. The job of the first coat provides the colour, the second coat or clear coat is the one we need to understand. The clear lacquer coat provides gloss and depth to the colour underneath. It also adds protection to the colour coat from harmful elements, most of all the suns damaging UV rays. However, the clear coat itself is rarely perfect and is also susceptible to damage.
If you looked at the clear coat on a car through a microscope, you would see that the surface of the paint is kind of like a mountain range with troughs and peaks, even on new paint straight from the factory. These are not visible to the naked eye, yet they offer dirt and contaminants a grip on the surface of the paint. These troughs and peaks also cause light to refract badly from the paint, reducing the overall gloss. We can polish the paint with a product that contains resin fillers which fills the troughs and smooths out the peaks improving light refraction and therefore gloss. These polishes are only temporary and rely on waxes to seal them in. They wash off after a few months and need constant reapplication.
Now if we had a product that could fill and smooth out the troughs and peaks to give high gloss and a smoother surface aiding in the cleanliness of the car. Also, giving a hard shell of protection yet inorganic and engineered to offer more resistance to chemicals, heat and UV, and offer up to 5 years protection before needing reapplication, we would then have a super wax. Guess what we already do, and this is what the current range of ceramic, glass, nano and silica coatings all do.
Now that's where the super qualities stop. Your car still requires safe washing. You must remove bird droppings immediately. Water spots occur if not dried correctly and the biggest shocker of all - the car can still be scratched. You care for a ceramic coating the way you care for a wax coating, no different. The difference you pay for is the fact you're not having to polish and reapply the coating every few months. That's the truth of it.
There is a financial cost to quality ceramic coatings and expect to pay £300 plus for a detailer to apply it. It's not just the cost of the coating itself but the time and preparation needed to get the vehicles bodywork ready for application. If applied correctly you get long-lasting results, incorrectly its money down the drain.
The preparation is critical to achieving a long lasting result. The vehicles paint must be clean and free from all other polishes, waxes and sealants to allow the coating to bond with the paint. All blemishes and marring require removal from the paint before application - even on new cars. Older cars will most likely require detailing and compounding of the paint to remove contamination, scratches and swirls. The coatings themselves have a specific method of application and also must be cured for typically 24 hours in a garaged clean environment.
Now not all products are created equal, and not all products are applied correctly. You pay for what you get in this world, and this is very true with car coatings. Go with a reputable brand and a trusted applicator, some quick research on the internet should offer results. I'm not going to endorse a brand. You can contact me for advice.