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How to Apply Ceramic Coating
Ceramic coating is simply the best alternative currently available in the market if you are looking for long-wearing protection for your vehicle.
This technology has several benefits that no other coating offers:
- A waterless surface on your car that repels water and dirt.
- A highly resistant nano coat that adds an extra layer of protection from environmental damage.
- A glossy finish that does not fade fast.
It really looks like magic, but the nano-texture of SiO2 does not allow water to adhere to the texture, it’s pure science (Teshima et al., 2005). Based on how innovative this technology is and the incredible results it delivers, it used to be a very expensive thing to get for your vehicle. At first, it was a service that was offered only by top-tier car detailing businesses.
Now, most car details offer ceramic coating at different rates. But the market has expanded so much that there is a new player in the game that came to flip the entire industry 180 degrees. There are several brands that are offering kits so you can coat your car with SiO2 technology, at home!
There are really good vehicle ceramic coating products out there that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but we’ll get more into that later in the article. Not only you will save some bucks, but you won’t even have to leave your home to obtain professional-grade results.
DIY alternatives are fantastic, with many pros and very few cons. But there is a con that might be stopping you as well as many other buyers from getting a kit for your own vehicle.
Everything is happiness and joy until the moment you get a kit for yourself and realize you don’t know how to use it.
Now it makes a little more sense why detailers are charging those high amounts for their service. Expertise comes with time and time is money. This might be your first rodeo with car detailing, and in the “trial and error” scheme, you don’t want your car to be “the error”, right?
Of course, DIY ceramic coating products come with an instruction manual. The thing is that it’s sometimes too short, or not specific enough. Some others are too technical, or require stuff that you don’t even have at home and/or is not included in the kit.
But we don’t want this to discourage you from getting great results at home…
Please, don’t panic!
Although different products have their very own specifications, there are some general things that are better for you to know before even starting. So, we’re here to be the beacon of light in the sea of “I’ve never done this before and have no clue where to start”.
Let’s get started with the preparation of the vehicle.
It is VERY important that the vehicle is as clean as possible before even thinking of an application.
Depending on your current paintwork condition, you might even want to go for some corrective work first.
Why is it so important?
Well, vehicle ceramic coating is a semi-permanent coating that will protect your paintwork by fully sealing it. That means it won’t let anything get in, but nothing can get out either.
If there is dirt, grime or paint damage, it will be sealed in until the coating fades, which depending on the product, might take a couple of years. Also, dust specifically will affect the way ceramic coating bonds directly with the clear coat of the vehicle, so the longevity of the product will be significantly reduced.
In the case that you want to remove paintwork damage off your vehicle after coating the car, you would have to take the coating off.
And I think we mentioned how resistant car coating is...
Needless to say, a lot of harsh sanding will be required and all the product you used to coat it would go to waste.
So first let’s make sure to remove any damage on the paintwork.
How you repair your paintwork damage highly depends on the damage level that’s been done. We have several articles on that since that is a separate topic that requires different paraphernalia.
We’re not going too deep into those deep scratches right now, but let’s just mention the basics:
- If the swirl marks and scratches are minor, a good-old polishing will do perfectly fine.
- If the damage is a little deeper, you will need to sand the area in order to even it out, then go with the polisher.
- If the damage has passed the clear coat of the car, the actual paint, the primer or even the metal sheet of the car have been compromised. You will have to reapply paint and/or primer in the scratch, then polish.
There are separate sets that offer “one-and-done” paintwork damage solutions, but they are only effective if the damage is not too deep. Otherwise, if you’re not really experienced with scratch repairs, it is a better idea to get your local detailer to get the job done. Hopefully, it won’t be too expensive, but think you’re saving a lot of money after the coating since you won’t have to revisit in a while.
Now that the paintwork is looking brand-new, it is time to get it sealed so it stays like that.
Your detailer should give your car back completely clean, but before starting the application there is an extra step that you have to take.
Polishes have waxes and oils in it that will sit on top of the vehicle’s surface. Those shiny compounds are what keep the car glossy for a couple of weeks or months, obviously not as long-lasting as a ceramic coating.
Now, think of it as when you apply too much hand lotion. Your hands will stay slippery for a while and it will be harder to grab things. Something similar would happen if you apply the ceramic coating over a freshly polished vehicle. The slippery surface won’t allow the ceramic coating to properly “stick” and bond to the car’s clear coat.
How to you remove any residual oils?
Isopropyl alcohol will get the job done. Simply spritz it over the surface of the vehicle and rub it with a microfiber towel.
Now your vehicle is ready for application…
Let’s say the paint is A-Okay, then a thorough wash and decontamination will be the first step.
Starting with the car wash, you HAVE to do it manually. No taking your car to the automated wash, as it will be dirty by the time you get home and they won't detail-clean it anyway.
A foam cannon and pressure hose are recommended but not needed.
Start from the top of the car and work downwards, as the closer you get to the tires, the dirtier the car is.
Good old soap and water will do.
Once the car is squeaky clean, it’s time to remove the encrusted contaminants that won’t disappear as easily as a sponge swipe.
For this we highly suggest claying. Specialized clay and clay lube are sold both online and in local detailing stores.
The process is pretty simple. Lube a small section of the vehicle, lube the clay bar, rub it over the surface, rinse and you’re good to go! Do not apply too much pressure, a soft hand is recommended.
Now that the vehicle is clean and “detoxed”, you can polish if you want to. Again, a good rubbing of isopropyl alcohol is recommended to remove any product residue.
Alright! Sorry that it was a long process, but it is VERY important for the paint to be in optimal condition before sealing it.
Now, time for action.
First, what type of container does your product have?
Regular bottle or spray?
If it’s a bottle, it will most likely come with a block applicator and a microsuede cloth. You just have to cover the block with the cloth and apply some product to it. Normally a little goes a long way, but the manufacturer will specify that. Some of them recommend as little as two droplets, some others a thin stripe throughout the block.
Work in small sections. It’s usually recommended to divide the car hood into four quadrants. Work in similar proportions throughout the entire vehicle.
Work in criss-cross patterns, horizontally and vertically. Then, let it dry and check on the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact time. Some take as little as 30 seconds, others might take 3-5 minutes.
After that time, buff the excess out with a short nap microfiber towel. Some kits come with microfiber pads that to the same thing. Keep in mind to throw those microfiber towels as soon as you’re done.
The coating will dry on them and they’ll pretty much have micro-crystal shards embedded in them.
I promise you don’t want to dry your face with that towel.
Other products come in spray bottles.
Ceramic coating has self-leveling properties so you don’t even need a block or a pad, although if you feel more secure with those items you can just spray it over them.
Similarly, it dries and you buff it with the microfiber pad or towel. Use a mouth mask to protect your lungs.
Now that you worked all your way through, your car is coated!
Now, just let it cure…
For how long, you might wonder…
How Long Does It Take to Apply Ceramic Coating?
The curing process vary between brands, but the average would be between 12-24 hours. 24 hours is best to avoid any risk. It is recommended to keep it protected in a garage as well.
Remember that ceramic coating will seal anything before it dries…
So, you better not drive during that time! Unless you want to show off your brand new semi-permanent dust coat.
As far as how long does it take to apply it to your car, you can expect just a couple of hours or less.
Now, you might be already very familiar with certain products that you use and love, so you might wonder if you can combine ceramic coating with other products…
Can You Put Sealant Over Ceramic Coating?
Sorry to be that abrupt, but ceramic coating will pretty much repel anything you put on top of it. That includes sealant and waxes.
But instead, let me answer the same question with...another question:
I know you’re already familiar with the performance of certain products and you like them.
Mainly because you haven’t tried ceramic coating yet, but I’m pretty sure that will change soon…
The thing here is, the main purpose of sealants and waxes are to make your car shinier and protect it from environmental contaminants. Ceramic coating does that too, and for a longer time. And it does WAY MORE.
Ceramic coat will add the extra scratch protection, a more reflective glow, and the hydrophobic surface. So, you will be saving a lot of money on the long-run as you won’t need sealants or waxes anymore.
Now, talking about savings…
How Much Does It Cost to Get Your Car Ceramic?
Well, if you want to visit your trusty car detailer, expect paying somewhere between $500 and $2,000.
But now that you know it’s not even that hard to do it at home, I hope you plan on spending way less than that.
The range is pretty wide as far pricing for DIY solutions. It really depends on the brand’s reputation, the promised longevity, and if the kit includes extra boosting products and tools or not.
Some of them might be as cheap as $10, whereas higher end products might cost about $95. That’s a pretty good considering how much a detailer would charge!
Now, with such a wide market you might be overwhelmed with the number of options available.
Well, look no longer.
Our personal pick is Shine Armor’s Fortify Quick Coat:
Designed by Shine Armor, FORTIFY QUICK COAT is the best choice when it comes to car detailing products, since it avoids the main pitfalls most of them have:
- Water-based silicones.
- Corrosive chemicals that could damage your paint.
- Hefty pricing.
In addition to making your car look so shiny you’d like to lick it, FORTIFY QUICK COAT also acts as a unique paint sealant and maintenance spray that’ll last you for longer than you’re used to.
The best part?
It’s waterless. This means you’ll no longer have to worry about making a huge mess in your garage or damaging the environment.
Whether you’re a professional detailer or simply looking to make your car the best reflection of who you are, FORTIFY QUICK COAT is the perfect solution for anybody looking into getting more than their money’s worth.
In fact, one of the reasons I decided to try it out was because of what other customers like me & professionals that have tested this technology had to say about the product:
Better than wax!
Shine Armor is the real deal ... applied to the whole car in 20 mins and another 10 to do the rims. The shine is noticeable and the feel is smooth like traditional wax without the bucket of water, sponge, buffer, or wax residue. This is amazing stuff! I can see how layering it can become an obsession. I liked it so much, I sent my dad a kit!
I had trouble keeping my car shiny. After a wash, the clean and shiny look would be gone 2-3 days after. My husband applied Shine Armor last week Wednesday and it’s now Wednesday again and the car looks like it was just washed. It has this clean and shiny look to it. My husband and I are surprisingly happy with Shine Armor, with one coat our suv looks amazing! We’ll definitely purchase more! We highly recommend this product!
Excellent results and easy! I thought my new motorcycle was shiny and slick until I used this on it. No comparison! Great product!
As you can see, there’s a very obvious reason customers and professionals are choosing to switch to FORTIFY QUICK COAT from regular car waxing products. I personally did and I’ve never felt better about a product in years.
If you’d like to get an unmatched shine for your car at an unmatched price, then click here, and start getting your FULL money's worth.
Bibliography & Sources:
Bertrand-Lambotte, P & Loubet, Jean-Luc & Verpy, C & Pavan, Santha. (2002). Understanding of automotive clearcoats scratch resistance. Thin Solid Films. 420. 281-286. 10.1016/S0040-6090(02)00943-4.
Schulz, U., Klimasch, T., & Alers, P. (2001, 18 junio). The influence of weathering on scratches and on scratch and mar resistance of automotive coatings. Recovered september 3rd, 2019, de https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300944001001485
Song Luo, Li Zheng, Hong Luo, Changsen Luo, (2019) A ceramic coating on carbon steel and its superhydrophobicity,Applied Surface Science,Volume 486, Pages 371-375, ISSN 0169-4332, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsusc.2019.04.235.