The DIY ceramic coating industry is filled with contenders – and pretenders. Let’s face it, making a user-friendly product that was initially intended for professional application is hard. While there are a few brands who have accomplished this difficult task, some are not as successful.
Then there are those in the middle, like today’s contender, Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light, a DIY version of Gtechniq’s Crystal Serum (CSL) professional coating and paint sealant that is applied by a Gtechniq accredited detailer.
In today’s blog, we’ll compare our Armor Shield IX DIY ceramic coating vs Crystal Serum Light. Like all of our reviews, we’ll do an apple to apple comparison. We’ll break down what’s in each product (to the best of our knowledge), what’s in each DIY kit, and outline some areas of paint protection similarity and differences.
Breaking Down the Formulation of Armor Shield IX vs Crystal Serum Light
All ceramic coatings are essentially made from the same ingredients to produce a high gloss finish. What makes them unique is the formulation, or how those ingredients are combined. It’s not very easy to find the ingredients and especially the exact percentage of each, simply because that’s proprietary information.
With that said, the one ingredient that helps consumers determine the quality of a DIY ceramic coating is SiO2. This is a chemical formula for silica dioxide. SiO2 is mainly responsible for forming the solid crystal layer of protection that infuses onto a clear coat of paint.
With regard to the percentage, professional coatings typically have a SiO2 percentage close to 90% and are very difficult to apply. The ‘happy spot’ for DIY ceramic coatings is slightly below 86% SiO2. When the SiO2 percentage is lower, the application is easier for the DIY consumer – however, hardness and longevity is compromised.
CSL: Crystal Serum Light is marketed as the ‘prosumer’ (which is English for DIY version) of their dealer-only Crystal Serum Ultra formulation. According to the parent company, CSL offers 80% of the performance of their professional formula, that according to them, requires 1,500 grit sand paper to remove if applied incorrectly.
We searched high and low, placed three phone calls to several dealers and emailed their US distributor. Regardless of our efforts, we received no reply to our inquiry about their SiO2 percentage. So, we’ll have to assume that since it’s 80% of the strength of their pro-grade product (likely 90% SiO2), that would equal 72%. But again, that’s just a logical guess.
US: Our Armor Shield IX maintains a SiO2 percentage above 80 percent of 99.9 percent pure Si02. Our first formulations were in the 86-percentile range, but we reduced it for easier application for DIY consumers.
Winner: We’re going to take the win here for two reasons. First, when you contact us, we reply quickly to all inquiries. Second, 80 is better than 72.
What are the Product Contents?
Since this is an apple to apple comparison, we’ll compare what you receive when you order a 30ml bottle of each product. CSL does offer a 50ml bottle, but we’ll compare their 30ml version since that’s the only size we offer.
US: What’s in Armor Shield IX? – $69.99 + FREE Domestic Shipping
When you order (1) DIY ceramic coating kit, here is what you’ll receive:
- (1) 30ml Bottle of Armor Shield IX
- (1) Applicator Sponge
- (3) Applicator Suedes
- (1) Pair of Professional-Grade Nitrile Gloves
- (1) Microfiber Buffing Towel
A 30ml bottle of Armor Shield IX is good enough to apply (2) coatings if desired on a compact car or motorcycle. Order (2) bottles for sedans, Jeeps and smaller pick-ups. (3) bottles will cover SUV’s, full-sized trucks, and vans. Our packaging is clean, arrives in a form fitted matte-black case with the product inside a chrome-coated bottle, detailed illustrated instructions, microfibre towel, and the user guide.
We also provide volume discounts for ordering multiple kits.
- (2) kits cost $104.99 – or buy one get 2nd half off
- (3) kits are $139.99 – or buy two get one free.
Them: What’s in Crystal Serum Light – $69.99 + Shipping
Crystal Serum Light is sold to US consumers as a 30ml bottle or a 50ml bottle. The 30ml version costs $69.99 with the customer covering all shipping charges. However, if you order more than $250 worth of products from their US distribution company, they’ll throw in free shipping. So, what’s in their kit?
- (1) 30ml Bottle of CSL
- (1) Dropper/pipette
- (1) Applicator Pad
- (1) Pair of gloves
- Instruction/info sheet
- (1) Gtechniq sticker
Winner: Armor Shield IX. We ship Armor Shield IX to all consumers in the United States for FREE. Crystal Serum Light charges a minimum of $8.65 for USPS delivery. We include multiple applicator suedes and a buffing towel. Crystal Serum Light does not.
What are the Similarities Between Armor Shield IX and Crystal Serum Light?
With regard to comparing the two DIY ceramic coating products, there are some similarities that you’ll find.
- Great hydrophobic properties
- No need to polish and wax after installation to maintain an incredible gloss
- Simple to apply for the average DIY car care consumer
- Level of preparation work. Both Armor Shield IX and CSL recommends a detailed car wash, clay bar treatment, paint correction (if needed) and a final IPA panel wipe down prior to applying the products.
- Provides chemical resistance, water, tree sap, contaminants, road grime, UV rays, and more.
- Resistant to bug splatters, light scratches, and bird droppings.
- Reduced need to wash cars frequently due to great dirt repellency.
- Both should not be applied in direct sunlight.
- Same life expectancy – 3 to 5 years depending on the paintwork condition, prep work completed, and correct application
What Are the Differences?
Both products are very good at what they are designed to do – protect the paint surface. But, there are some differences.
CSL: This product is sold in the United States by Gtechniq North America INC, which is a division of the parent company located overseas. When customers order online, they pay for shipping and have several shipping options to choose.
US: This product is sold in the US by AvalonKing – the parent company itself. We have no distributors or authorized third-party sales. We do not charge for shipping to consumers in the United States.
Winner: Armor Shield IX – manufactured, sold, and shipped from the USA.
CSL: Gtechniq recommends two different aftercare or enhancement solutions for their Crystal Serum Light DIY ceramic coating. The first option is to apply an overcoat product they call Gtechniq EXO, which provides enhanced gloss, depth, and ultra durable paint protection. The second option is a spray called G2, another top coating that reduces water spots and improves paint coating protection.
US: Aftercare for Armor Shield IX consists of washing your car every two weeks using the two-bucket method. No extra investment needed to keep your vehicle looking sharp.
Winner: Save money, save time, and keep the car looking clean by installing Armor Shield IX.
CSL: The process for applying Crystal Serum Light is somewhat similar to our product, but some important differences. First, they include a dropper, to apply thin strips of their product on their application sponge. You’ll apply in similar 2 x 2-foot small panel overlapping strokes in sections, but when it ‘flashes’ you’ll use a three towel buffing process. The video above explains this in detail. They also recommend using one of their top-coat products after the coating.
US: We recommend applying (1) coating of Armor Shield IX. You can apply the 2nd layer for extra protection, but it’s not required. Plus, we don’t offer a top-coat product to enhance water beading or shine.
Winner: Although there isn’t a huge difference in the benefits of the top-coat products from Gtechniq, I’m certain it does provide a benefit. So – we’ll call this one a draw (since those extra products will cost you extra).
Summary: What’s Best for Your Car?
These two consumer-installed ceramic coating products will both protect your vehicle against exposure to elements, extreme cold and hot temperatures, and contaminants. They’ll both keep the vehicle shiny, glossy, and looking fresh and clean for up to 5 years. How they achieve those results is slightly different.
US: Armor Shield IX is a one-product solution. Simply prep the vehicle correctly, apply following our detailed, illustrated instructions and keep the car washed every two weeks as recommended. We offer (1) bottle size, make purchasing additional bottles simple and cost-effective, and don’t charge for shipping – PERIOD.
CSL: Crystal Serum Light is a very good ceramic coating product, that when combined with their top-coat products, produces similar results to Armor Shield IX. The state that their 30ml bottle is good enough for an average-sized car and their 50ml bottle is good for larger sedans.
Winner: If you’re looking for simplicity – a one-product solution with superior customer service and support, Armor Shield IX is your best bet. If you’re looking for multiple steps, spending extra money on top-coat and protection products, you’ll likely enjoy CSL.