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Ceramic Coating: What Is It and How Does It Work?

by &BAM Collaborator on September 03, 2020

There’s wax, and then there are alternative products that can provide even better protection, and don’t require as much elbow grease when it comes time to reapply. 

We’re talking about ceramic coating. 

But, tons of people aren’t aware of this miracle product and what it can do for their vehicles. Let’s break down what ceramic coating is and how it works.

 

What is Ceramic Coating?

In a nutshell, ceramic coating is a protective layer you can apply to your car to defend it from damage, make it easier to clean, and provide your vehicle with a number of other benefits. It's best understood as a wax alternative, and some people prefer ceramic coating to other types of protective layers.  

Ceramic coating, much like wax, can add more protection to the exterior of your car by adding an additional layer of material. So, when something comes along that would otherwise scrape the paint or underlayer of your car’s exterior, it instead scrapes at the ceramic coating, which can be more easily replaced.

Ceramic coating is valuable because your car's finish is almost constantly under attack. Whenever you take it out of your garage (and sometimes even while it’s in your garage), dirt, debris, rain, grime, oil, and even tar get onto the exterior of your car as small particles you can't always see or avoid. This can build up over time, leading to big blemishes, scratches, worn down paint, discoloration, and much more.

Some people also call ceramic coating a type of "nanotechnology." This sounds a little sci-fi for our tastes, but it's roughly accurate – ceramic coating does rely on nano-sized particles to provide protection to your vehicle.

 

How Does It Work?

Ceramic coating works with nano-sized ceramic particles forming a very fine and thin layer of material that’s invisible to the naked eye. As you apply ceramic coating to your car’s finish (note: not the actual surface of the vehicle!), the particles seal up the microscopic pores that line your car’s surface.

By doing this, the particles form a hydrophobic, i.e. water repellent layer that can also resist scratches, extreme heat, and other damaging factors that would otherwise affect your car's paint or finish.

Ceramic coating is normally applied by hand, as this gives the material enough time to chemically bond with the finish of your car. Since the coating bonds with your finish, the paint job beneath the finish isn’t touched or distorted by the material. The fact that it chemically bonds to the finish also makes ceramic coating a semi-permanent solution. While it won’t last forever, it will definitely last more than many other brands of wax or other protective layers you might find on the market.

Furthermore, ceramic coating doesn’t break down as easily as other types of protective products, especially when it comes to regular atmospheric hazards, like water or road debris.

 

Why Not Use Wax?

Wax can be a beneficial product to use for your vehicle. It also adds a decent amount of gloss. But, it’s just not as protective as ceramic coating, and it’s much more susceptible to being worn down or washed away over time. Basically, ceramic coating is simply more effective and more protective than even the hardiest wax coating.

To make matters worse for wax, you have to remove any remaining wax before applying it again. While you still have to remove ceramic coating from your ride if you want to reapply it, you’ll only have to do so once in a while. This means savings both time and elbow grease.

 

The Benefits of Ceramic Coating

There are tons of reasons why you should use ceramic coating instead of regular wax (and especially instead of just relying on factory paint alone!).

Stop Rain, Dirt, Mud, and Tar From Impacting Your Car

This is the most obvious benefit by far and the one that most people will be interested in. Ceramic coating does a much better job of protecting the exterior of your vehicle compared to regular wax. 

Furthermore, the hydrophobic properties mentioned earlier come into play whenever you drive in the rain or drive through a puddle. Rain (and the mud particles that are often carried with it) can really do a number on your car over time. With ceramic coating, you don’t have to worry about it!

Protects You From Rust, Oxidation, and UV Damage

The other protective abilities of ceramic coating include defenses against more ambient damage types, like UV damage. If you leave your car in the sun for too long without ceramic coating, the paint, particularly the clear coat on top, might eventually fade, peel, or crack, none of which look aesthetically pleasing.

Furthermore, this can lead to gaps in your paint or finish, and expose the metal beneath. If that metal were to become wet, oxidation or rust could set in, resulting in huge damages that are costly and very difficult to repair. Ceramic coating stops things from getting this far in the first place.

Easy Cleaning

Since the ceramic coating is a secondary layer of material, and because it’s hydrophobic, you can safely use hoses, sprays, washrags, and any other water-based cleaning solution to get rid of any surface debris or dirt that might splatter your vehicle. The ceramic coating won’t easily wear away, so you don’t have to reapply the coat very frequently.

Cost-Effective

Ceramic coating only needs to be applied once every 2 to 3 months (with some variation depending on the product). For instance, Shine Armor’s Fortify Ceramic Coating should be applied every 60-90 days, which is far longer-lasting than many other brands of ceramic coating available.

This is cost-effective for you in the long term. Compared to many other types of wax, ceramic coating lasts longer, so you only need to buy a new bottle of the stuff every once in a while instead of once every few months. This is especially great if you want to use the coating for your daily driver, or even for your show car to give that 1960s paint job a little extra protection. 

Provides A Good Shine

Last but not least, an excellent ceramic coating product can give your car a glossy finish that looks attractive and elegant. The high gloss finish won’t fade under the sun or become less impressive over time. If you really want your car to stand out from the crowd, ceramic coating is the way to go.

When Is It Good to Use Ceramic Coating?

Since ceramic coating lasts for a long time and provides excellent protection, it’s a suitable pick for cars that:

  • Are driven in all kinds of conditions regularly, but that are also taken care of
  • Are washed regularly, especially since you can wash ceramic coating without rubbing it off
  • Have excellent paint that will really look amazing with the shine offered by ceramic coating products

It’s a premium product for premium cars and drivers. 

 

Conclusion 

While ceramic coating can’t permanently protect your vehicle from scratch damage, there’s no denying that ceramic coating can provide far greater safety over a longer period of time compared to regular wax. We think ceramic coating is a great fit for everyone’s prized daily driver, or even for those classics that you want to keep looking amazing for decades to come!

Sources:

https://www.nanopro-group.com/articles/curing-stages-of-ceramic-coatings/

https://www.twi-global.com/technical-knowledge/faqs/what-are-nanoparticles

https://driving-tests.org/beginner-drivers/how-to-wax-your-car/ 

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