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What Is Ceramic Coating? Pros, Cons, Price, and How to Apply

Ceramic Paint Coatings. I'm sure you’ve heard of them, and if you haven't, you're in the right place to become a ceramic pro!

Ceramic coatings were introduced to the professional car care market and car owners during the mid 2000’s. Since then professionals have completely adapted to nanotechnology and for good reason. And with manufacturers further advancing ceramic coating technology, you don't have to be a professional to get ceramic coating protection, hobbyists and enthusiasts have plenty of easy to use DIY ceramic coating options as well.

DIY CERAMIC COATING - 1yr of Protection
The Best Spray-On Ceramic Coating. Period.

★★★★★ "My car is slick as glass!! I put the Ceramic Shine on my Corvette Stingray and it is very slick and shiny. I should have purchased it sooner. It is a great product. It made my wheels look new. Keeps off dirt and dust." - Charlie F.

15% Off Deal

What Is Ceramic Coating?

Simply Ceramic Coatings are the highest grade of protection & gloss enhancement for your vehicle. Unlike traditional waxes & sealants which are just films that sit on the surface of a vehicle, true ceramic coatings create a semi-permanent barrier of protection that bonds with your vehicle's surface providing unmatched durability, protection, gloss, & self cleaning abilities.

A ceramic coating is a glass-like protective layer that bonds to your vehicle’s clear coat.

The clear coat gives your vehicle that deep shine. The problem is, your vehicle’s surface is full of tiny pores, and over time contaminants will seep in and damage your the exterior. Contaminants include dirt, road salt, tree sap, bug guts, brake dust, etc.

Ceramic coatings contains Silica Dioxide (Sio2), which is a hard, tiny compound.

After applied, it will “cure” to create a glass-like layer atop your surface. This protects the clear coat from contaminants and scratches.

The Science Behind Ceramic Coatings

A ceramic coating is simply a nano-structure of SIO2 and TIO2 molecules that when applied to your vehicle's paintwork undergoes heat induction, a chemical reaction which bonds the coating to your vehicle's clear coat creating a sacrificial layer of protection from the environment.

Ceramic coatings have come a long way since their initial release to the market. Originally ceramic coatings were developed by NASA for use in aircraft, space, and military equipment. These initial types of ceramic coatings were applied by Plasma Spray-Physical Vapor Deposition rigs using a very high power plasma flame injected with ceramic powder under a vacuum.

This process covers substrates like metal with microns of ceramic protection which is extremely resistant to environmental ware and extreme temperatures but flexible enough where it can withstand years of vibration and flex. The technology was and still is used to protect expensive engine components from eroding and environmental wear under extreme conditions. Items such as engine turbine blades, which need to endure extremely high temp environments and stress conditions, while still remaining smooth to avoid the disruption of airflow. Other examples of ceramic coating use can also be found in use with the navy and airforce protecting battleships and aircraft from rusting, wind, and UV erosion. 

With the advancement of coating technology, professional grade ceramic coatings can now be applied by hand with suede applicator pads and hardened with infrared lights and enthusiast coatings are as easy as spray on and wipe off.

Here's an unprotected clear coat:

Protection from a ceramic coating:

The thickness of the coating gives you a beautiful, deep gloss. The hardness gives you the long lasting protection.

Unlike waxes and sealants, Ceramic Coatings are resistant to detergents and chemicals.

Why are Ceramic Coatings Better Than Waxes & Sealants?

There are a lot of die hard wax for waxing and sealant enthusiasts that think ceramic coated vehicles are just a load of marketing and sales gimmicks. Let’s get into the advantages of coatings over waxes and sealants and see why all leading professionals in the auto detailing industry recommended coatings for their clients.

Advantages over waxes & sealants

Ceramic coating kits have plenty of advantages over waxes and sealants, things like length of protection, self cleaning abilities, and enhanced gloss and shine are just a few of many advantages that will go into further detail.

Furthermore with the detailing industry making a complete move to coating technology, the amount of research and development devoted to waxes and sealants lessens every year. This means coating performance will continue to improve while waxes and sealants will become pretty stagnant in performance.

Disadvantages if any over waxes & sealants

None! Initially when ceramic coatings were introduced to the market they were very expensive and difficult to apply. But as coating technology has been updated over the years and continues to do so, high quality ceramic protection is just as affordable as a bottle of spray wax and is just as easy to apply. A great example is Torque Details Ceramic Shine which is a spray on and buff off formula that provides your cars paint job, glass, and chrome up to a year's worth of ceramic gloss and protection.

DIY CERAMIC COATING - 1yr of Protection
The Best Spray-On Ceramic Coating. Period.

★★★★★ "My car is slick as glass!! I put the Ceramic Shine on my Corvette Stingray and it is very slick and shiny. I should have purchased it sooner. It is a great product. It made my wheels look new. Keeps off dirt and dust." - Charlie F.

15% Off Deal

The Different Types of Ceramic Coatings

Now you’ve seen us talk about professional grade coatings let go over those and the other options on the market available for enthusiasts and DIYers. (Not too long).

Professional Grade Ceramic Coatings

Professional grade ceramic coatings are coatings produced for professional detailers. The only way to purchase these coatings are directly through the manufacturer after completing specific certifications through in person or online training. These coatings require training and certification because of how expensive and difficult they are to develop and use. Costing $300 to $500 per oz most of these coatings are complete SIO2 and TIO2 solid formulas using the highest grade of ceramic resin. These professional coatings if missued can cause major defects like highspots to your vehicle's surfaces. High spots are essentially improperly leveled areas of ceramic coating that cause a rainbowing and shadowing effect on your paint. Depending on the ceramic coating being used at the time advanced polishing or even wet sanding is needed to level the coating. Proper paint preparation like advanced paint correction is also required prior to applying professional coatings, this process can take hours sometimes even days to complete. But when pro grade coatings are applied correctly by a seasoned professional, these ceramic coatings can provide your vehicle a lifetime worth of gloss and protection.

Budget Ceramic Coatings

Unless you're a professional detailer, budget or otherwise known as enthusiast ceramic coatings, are gonna be your first option available for purchase. These coatings are similar to professional coatings in how they are packaged and applied, but they provide only a couple of years worth of protection and contain substantially less ceramic. For example professional grade ceramic coatings are typically 80% to 100% solid formulas while Budget ceramic coatings are around 30% to 50%. Because of this, budget ceramic coatings as the name implies, are much more affordable and much easier to apply then professional coatings. We still recommend following directions and taking your time when applying these coatings, even though they are easier than pro grade coatings, they still require proper paint preparation and contain a noticeable amount of ceramic that needs to be applied properly.

Sprayable Ceramic Coatings

Sprayable ceramic coatings are the next and final option available, these coatings are the easiest to use and most affordable coatings on the market. They do contain less ceramic solids than your traditional coating options listed previously, but they still have enough to provide a substantial layer of protection typically lasting up to a year. Torque Details Ceramic Shine is a great example, ceramic shine is a perfect balance between ceramic protection and ease of use. The product is a simple 3 step process; Spray on to a panel, buff on with a microfiber towel, then with a second microfiber towel buff off any left over ceramic residue. This simple 3 step process takes less than 30 minutes to complete and gives paint, glass, chrome, and even plastic surfaces amazing ceramic coating shine and protection.

Benefits of ceramic coating your vehicle

Let's go over all the benefits that ceramic coatings provide your car (Not too long).

Benefit #1: UV protection:

Ceramic coatings last a lot longer then traditional waxes and paint sealants, and when I say a lot I mean A LOT! Your longest lasting wax can last up to 3 months, longest lasting sealant up to 8 months, while the longest lasting ceramic coatings can last 20 plus years. You’ll actually be hard pressed to find a ceramic coating that lasts less than a year.

Benefit #2: Heat resistance

The great thing about ceramic is that it's extremely heat resistant, good for uv rays. Conventional ceramics, including bricks and tiles, are well known for their ability to withstand high temperatures. Fine Ceramics (also known as "advanced ceramics") are used in professional grade coatings and are even more heat resistant than conventional ceramics withstanding heat over 2,000 degrees fahrenheit. This extreme heat resistance obviously reduces the chance of fading and oxidation on your car’s surfaces.

Benefit #3: Water Beading & Self Cleaning

Because ceramic coatings make an extremely slick surface your paint becomes hydrophobic, this allows water spots to bead up and roll off your car, carrying away dirt, grime and contaminants rather than letting it stick to your paint. Furthermore most ceramic coatings have great anti dusting abilities which creates an anti static surface as a dust repellent keeping your car cleaner longer.

Benefit #4: Increased gloss and shine

Because ceramic is essentially glass, when applied to your painted surface it fills in any left over pores and scratches that were left from paint correction (the process of refining and priming paint prior to car coating application). Paint correction in combination of ceramic coatings thickness and filling capabilities basically create a glass like effect that allows light to evenly reflect and magnifies the shine and gloss of your vehicle.

Benefit #5: Thickness of Protection

Depending on the ceramic coating and amount of solid content in the formula (amount of SIO2 and/or TIO2) ceramic coatings can provide a vehicle a very thick measurable layer of protection. Longer lasting coatings on the market like 10+ year coatings can sometimes measure up to 8 microns worth of protection after proper application, now compare that to your traditional wax or sealant which both provide no measurable difference.

Benefit #6: Warranties

If you're a consumer purchasing a professional ceramic coating from a reputable detailing shop you also have the peace of mind that all pro grade coatings come with manufacturer backed warranties. So if anything does happen to your coating or your paint while your vehicle is coated, you are covered as long as the damage abides by the manufacturer warranty guidelines.

Benefit #7: Versatility

Another great things about most ceramic coatings like Torque Details ceramic shine, is there versatility. Many budget and spray coatings can be use on multiple surfaces like paint, chrome, glass, and even plastics. This versatility keeps your detailing set up simple and effective saving you time and money!

Ceramic Coating Myths

When ceramic coatings were released to the market some coating manufacturers decided to put out some false marketing promising myths to entice buyers. Lets go over these myths one by one and see how they started.

Myth #1: Ceramic coatings are scratch proof / 9H paint protection

The first and most popular myth is that ceramic coatings are scratch proof, this myth came about because ceramic coatings do provide light to minor scratch resistance. But for most the term scratch resistance is often confused with scratch proof, causing this myth to come up a lot. Another reason for this myth is many manufacturers marketing their coatings having 9H hardness. Just to put this in perspective diamonds are 9H scratch resistance, in reality ceramic coatings are harder than your clear coat but not as hard or scratch resistant as diamonds. Why do some manufacturers market this? Absolutely no idea, just another way to make a sale!

Myth #2: Don't have to wash a ceramic coated car

This is another example of taking a truth and fabricating it into a myth! The self cleaning abilities of coatings are great, but it doesn't mean you don't have to wash a ceramic coated car. All it means is that your car stays cleaner longer causing you to wash your car less frequently.

Myth #3: Coatings are permanent

We mentioned lifetime coatings previously, now does that mean it will last forever? In reality no, nothing lasts forever, but lifetime coatings can typically last a lifetime of a vehicle or the time of your ownership if properly maintained. The +longest lasting coating on the market currently can last over 25 years with proper maintenance, and your average daily driver will probably be long gone before then.

What Ceramic Coating is Right for You

The coating you need is really going to depend on what you're looking for at the end of the day. If you desire a worry free vehicle ownership and don't really know much about car care, a professionally applied coating is probably best for you since they are low maintenance, provide the most protection, and need the least amount of reapplication.

If you have some detailing experience and a good overview on coating applications maybe an enthusiast ceramic coating is right for you. There are plenty of budget friendly ceramic coating options available that can provide you 2 plus years worth of protection.

And finally maybe you're someone who just needs some quick quality protection that doesn't require all the money or extreme prep work like paint correction. Then a spray on coating is a perfect option for you! After a simple hand wash and clay bar service all you have to do is spray a product like Torque Ceramic Shine one panel at a time and buff off with a microfiber towel. In less than 30 minutes your car has great ceramic coating gloss and shine for up to a year.

How To DIY Ceramic Coat Your Vehicle

Materials

Step 1.) Pre Rinse

The Pre Rinse Stage is great in removing large build up of surface contamination from your vehicle prior to you touching it with your wash mitt. The more dirt, such as bird droppings, you can remove from your car without physically touching it, the safer your wash process becomes. This is super important for new cars or paint that has been maintained very well. Just rinse your car from top to bottom using a strong stream of water from your garden hose or a pressure washer.

Step 2.) Two Bucket Wash With Decon Soap

Now time to wash your car with the two bucket wash method, almost as effective as the car wash! Everytime you touch your paint with your wash mitt you pick up dirt. When dirt accumulates it acts like sandpaper scratching your paint, to minimize this we use the two bucket wash method. Fill both buckets with fresh water then take your first bucket and apply a few ounces of torque details decon soap via directions on the back of the bottle. This will be your wash bucket. The second bucket will be left with just water and will be used for rinsing your wash mitt from your wash kit. Start washing your car working your way from top to bottom making sure to rinse your mitt and grabbing fresh soap regularly.

Step 3.) Drying

Take your clean microfiber towel, fold it until it's comfortable to maneuver around your vehicle & lightly drag it across all exterior surfaces making sure to pick up as much water as possible. Repeat this process until the vehicle is completely dry. You can also use a leaf blower to remove water from nooks and crannies, and then dry them off with your microfiber towel.

Step 4.) Clay Block Treatment

After washing & drying your vehicle take the back of your finger and drag it across your hood, most likely you're gonna feel a rough surface, might even sound like sandpaper! Paint is just like your skin, it’s porous with pits, rivers, & valleys. Over time dirt & contamination gets embedded in the paint. Imagine the clay block process like skin exfoliation, we need to remove that contamination to make it nice and smooth. If your paint is smooth after the wash process you can skip the claying step.

Take your clay block and spray the clay lube on both the clay and the surface of the vehicle. Work in 2x2 or 3x3 sections and lightly scrub the surface in up & down motions with the clay. you'll notice the surface become smoother after each pass. After you feel little to no contamination buff off your clay lubrication. Make sure to rinse the mitt after each panel to remove the contamination from the clay mitt. Continue this process on both the paint & glass surfaces of your car until complete.

Step 5.) Machine Polishing Swirls and Scratches

If you are happy with the condition of your paint or have a new car you are more than welcome to skip this step. But if you have swirl marks, deeper scratches, oxidation, and other paint defects we recommend machine polish prior to coating your paint.

Take your pad and evenly apply it to your polishers backing plate, you want to make sure the pad and backing plate is perfectly aligned, so your machine is balanced. After that apply about 6 pee size drops of Torque Scratch and Swirl Remover polish, then gently place the pad & polisher on your paint. Turn on your polisher at its lowest setting and spread out your polish. Work in small 3x3 sections at a comfortable speed, light pressure, using slow straight overlapping passes. After 3 to 4 passes, turn off your polisher while the pad is still on the paint, don't remove the pad & polisher until it has completely stopped. Buff off the polish residue and examine your results, you should see a substantial difference between your before & after. If satisfied, continue the process till the whole vehicle is complete.

Step 6.) Applying Torque Ceramic Shine

Using two fresh microfiber towels, take your initial application towel and prime it with a couple light mists of Ceramic Shine. Then Lightly but evenly spray the coating on a panel and massage the solution into the paint with your primed applicator towel. Then take your second buff into the towel and buff any remaining residue to a high gloss shine. Continue this process around the whole vehicle even glass, chrome, and plastics until completed.

DIY CERAMIC COATING - 1yr of Protection
The Best Spray-On Ceramic Coating. Period.

★★★★★ "My car is slick as glass!! I put the Ceramic Shine on my Corvette Stingray and it is very slick and shiny. I should have purchased it sooner. It is a great product. It made my wheels look new. Keeps off dirt and dust." - Charlie F.

15% Off Deal

Summary: Why Ceramic Coatings are Good For Any Vehicle at Any Budget

There's a lot of information about ceramic coatings out there, but the key takeaway is that there's a ceramic coating option for everyone. If you have no experience with coatings or car care we recommend checking out spray on coatings first since they are super affordable, easy to use, and offer great protection. Now if you're looking to take your car to the next level or want to protect your investment for the long term, professional coatings are the perfect option. We recommend doing some research prior to choosing a detailer or business for a coating application, detailers quality and expertise differ drasticly. So feel free to ask all the necessary questions to make sure you're spending your hard earned money with a true professional.

  • Published on May 24, 2021
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