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A very common question that gets asked is , “What is a ceramic coating?” There are consumer grade coatings and professional grade coatings. There are even coatings that dare to name themselves things like “BulletProof” and send a very confusing message to consumers. I’m hoping to clear up most of the confusion with this write up.
Let’s start with a simple answer to give you an idea of what a ceramic coating is and what it is designed to do for you. You saw the picture of the pan with butter in it right? The butter is added for not only flavor,but to ensure things don’t stick to the pan. Have you ever cleaned a pan that had crusted,burnt food on it. It takes a lot of time and is kind of a pain. Then we invented non stick pans to make it even easier. Now imagine a nonstick coating that lasts for years on your car. That is a ceramic coating. Now onto the more technical talk.
A ceramic coating is a hardened layer of protection installed over your clear coat or paint. There are several great companies out there and also several snake oil products out there. I could get into some of the science I know about the carriers and SIO2 etc, but I’m not a chemist and do not want to pretend to be one. I would much rather discuss the benefits of a coating and the features that make these coatings so desirable.
A legitimate ceramic coating will have some self cleaning abilities. Now what does that even mean? The coating creates a super slick surface on your paint. This causes water to have a dramatic contact angle and bead very well. This action lends itself to helping keep the surfaces clean. It allows something like simple rainfall to rinse off a majority of dirt from the coatings surface. This by no means is maintenance. The coating will still need regular washes and upkeep to keep it looking its best just like your paint does.
Let's talk about our favorite feature of a coating, the gloss factor! Any reputable detailer is going to do a paint enhancement or paint correction with the installation of your coating. This service lends itself greatly to increasing the gloss factor by reducing the damage in the paint. It is all about reflecting and refracting light. If the surface has a lot of damage then it will not have depth because the light is reflecting instead of enriching the paint. If the surface is smooth and damage free it will have a deep gloss because the spectrum is being absorbed creating depth. Once the enhancement/correction portion is done and the coating is applied it has even more depth and gloss as it adds additional layers of protection. You simply cannot beat the depth and gloss of a true professional grade ceramic coating.
The reason everyone should be getting on the coating band wagon is the ease of cleaning. We all know that anything you want to keep nice has to be maintained or cleaned regularly. We have dispelled the myth that coatings clean themselves. While they stay cleaner longer, due to their self cleaning abilities. It would be a lie to say that you do not have to maintain them. The coating creates a super slick surface that debris will struggle to adhere to. Cleaning times get cut in half because of this super slick surface. It makes washes so much easier and drying becomes a lot easier as well because the water doesn’t WANT to stick to the surface due to reduced surface tension.
My least favorite part of a coating to discuss is its hardness. Most coatings have a hardness rating. This hardness rating is widely based on the pencil hardness scale. Some coatings claim to be 7H all the way up to 10H in hardness. At no point in time should you believe a coating cannot be scratched or provides a scratch proof layer of protection on your paint. The coating is to be treated as a sacrificial layer on your paint. If a mishap happens, it is more likely that it can be fixed if you have your vehicle coated. Nothing can make scratches and damage stop happening. It is a part of everyday life to expect things will wear over time. The coating provides a hardened layer of sacrificial protection should a minor mishap happen. They are not rock chip proof, scratch proof or any of the like. They simply are a better layer of protection for all the above reasons. If you are strictly looking for scratch protection or rock ship protection it would make more sense to look into something like PPF.
In finality, there are several reputable coating brands out there like IGL, Gtechniq, System X and Opti to name a few. Each coating has a different formulation and provides different features and benefits to the client. Some coatings offer better protection from bird poop etching than others. There is always a give and take though. One benefit may sacrifice another benefit. The best suggestion I can make to anyone wanting to purchase a professional grade coating is to do your research on the installer. That is where the true expertise comes into play. The prep work greatly changes the way the coating will perform. If the prep work is poor, the coating will be poor. So, this truly is a matter of finding the right installer and not necessarily about finding the right coating. When it comes to our coatings, we back everything personally. We take pride in every installation here at New Wave Auto Detailing.
Feel free to reach out anytime with any questions you may have.