Every year, automotive enthusiasts across the globe spend more than $2 billion on car wash, car wax and other exterior protection products. While their main intent is to provide a protective layer to reduce exposure to UV rays and other crap, many are seeing the light, by applying DIY ceramic coatings on their daily drivers.
The ceramic coating market is likewise thriving. People are discovering that spending about $100 and eight-hours of prep and install time is a hell of a lot better than $200 per year on car wax, polish, and the 4 hours every six weeks to remove and reapply this outdated paint protection stuff.
That being said, some automotive consumers often wonder if you can wax over ceramic coatings? Sure, it can be done, but it just doesn’t make any practical sense. In fact, that concept has me all like…
Simply put, applying wax on top of glass coating or ceramic coating is not the best way to protect the coating itself – or even extend its life. The best way to accomplish this is through basic maintenance or -- apply another coat of the ceramic coating on top.
So, let’s dive into a few of the best ways to maintain your ceramic coating. We’ll also provide a few reasons why you’re not only wasting time and money by applying wax on top of a ceramic coating, but you’re likely creating more problems for yourself down the line by applying car wax over a ceramic coating.
How to Maintain a Ceramic Coating
When a ceramic coating is applied to a painted or non-painted surface, it physically bonds to the surface and creates a strong layer of UV protection. But, contrary to popular belief, applying car wax on top of the hydrophobic coating doesn’t really do much to protect the coating, much less the valuable car parts underneath.
When it comes to maintaining a car ceramic coating, like Armor Shield IX, it’s pretty basic. As long as the nanocoated vehicle is self-washed, using the two-bucket method and drying with a towel made of microfiber cloth or having a professional detailer handle it, you’re good to go.
What is 9H Ceramic Coating?
I received a question not too long ago asking if applying wax on top of a 9H ceramic coating is recommended. While corresponding with the individual, I came to the conclusion that they believed that their 9H coating (a different product other than Armor Shield IX) was a higher-grade product to ours and that they were ‘told’ that Armor Shield IX was NOT a 9H coating.
Obviously, this was a solid head-shaker on my part. However, it’s not a surprise.
There is a lot of misleading ‘marketing’ lingo that tends to confuse the average consumer with all aftermarket automotive components. So, here is some clarification – specifically about what is a 9H ceramic coating application.
9H refers to the hardness level, which is measured on the pencil hardness scale. It’s the highest possible number on this particular measurement scale. It basically measures the hardness of the DIY ceramic coating product after it has cured. Nearly every DIY and ceramic pro coating have a 9H pencil scale hardness rating. So, when you hear the term 9H ceramic coating, it’s nothing more than a marketing phrase.
Oh – and just for clarification, there is NO such thing as a 10H hardness rating on the pencil hardness scale. 10H is on the Mohs scale, which is used to grade the hardness of tempered glass – not a ceramic coating. 10H is basically the hardness of a diamond.
What Happens to Ceramic Coating is it’s Not Maintained?
Ceramic coatings often brag about having exceptional self-cleaning attributes. This is because they are so slick, that dirt and debris have a hard time sticking to the surface. In fact, this is why many automotive enthusiasts will apply a high-quality ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX to their performance wheels. Brake dust or dirt and grime is simple to wipe or wash off with a spray hose after using Armor Shield IX.
While they are great for resisting the build-up of dirt, debris, road grime, and other stuff, nanocoatings still require routine maintenance.
A failure to simply wash the vehicle every few weeks will eventually build-up contaminants on top of the coated surface, which leads to possible swirl marks and improved surface tension. A major issue happens when birds shit on your vehicle or bug guts are sitting on top of the coating. Even if you spray them off the coated surface, microscopic levels of acids continue to slowly eat away at the ceramic coating surface.
This is the leading source of premature wear and tear of DIY and professional-grade coatings. Contaminants like dirt, road grime, and of course, the aforementioned bird shit contain small amounts of acids, chemicals, and other harsh materials that are the enemy of any paint protection product. The simple act of washing the vehicle as recommended will remove this harmful stuff and extend the lifespan of the product.
How Long Does Ceramic Coating Last?
A major reason why consumer invests in a ceramic coating in the first place is that their sick and tired of applying, removing, and reapplying wax and polishes every few weeks. They also want to produce a high gloss finish.
While the next progression is to use a paint sealant, it’s not much longer-lasting – maybe 8 months at the max until it needs to be reapplied. However, a ceramic coating – even the inferior grade stuff will last at least a few years for repelling dirt and water and producing a glossy finish.
The key to longevity for nano-ceramic coating products like Armor Shield IX is prep work and the application process. In order for the coating to physically bond to the surface, it must be free of oils, debris, contaminants, or anything else.
This is due to the nanotechnology used with car ceramic coatings, as it will fill those microscopic imperfections as a protective coating on bare metal, clear coats, even vinyl wraps, and PPF. One it does, it then cures exceptionally flat – which is a major reason for the enhanced hydrophobic properties and anti-dirt collection properties.
Are there Pros and Cons of Applying Car Wax to Ceramic Coatings?
Let’s say – for the sake of argument that you are hell-bent on applying paste wax on top of your freshly applied ceramic coating. That’s well within your rights. But -- to be blunt, applying car wax on top of a ceramic coating is kind of like paying Chip Foose several thousand dollars to design a bitchin paint job, having it sprayed for an additional $20K, only to throw a flat-black vinyl wrap on top.
With that being said – if it’s your bag baby, who are we to stop you?
While I’d like to provide you with some “PRO’S” of applying a ceramic coating, to be honest, I can’t think of one.
There are several reasons why vehicle owners apply a ceramic coating in the first place. But, on the top of the list includes the fact that they are incredibly hydrophobic, repels dirt and debris, produces an elegant shine and is far superior to a spray sealant or quick detailer product.
The hydrophobic properties are produced by the ultra-slick surface and glossy appearance that a ceramic coating produces. This helps to repel water and dirt. When you apply a paste or liquid wax on top of the ceramic coating, you’re blocking the coatings ability to produce this quality – not enhancing it.
In fact, paste wax is notorious for being a dirt and debris collector, mainly due to the oils and lubricants found in natural carnauba wax. Synthetic waxes and liquid polymer polishes likewise tend to ‘attract’ dirt, not repel them. While car wax does produce some hydrophobic (water repellency) attributes, it pales in comparison to the ceramic coating once it is dry.
The only PRO that I could think of would be that it could possibly provide a protective layer on top of the ceramic coating. The main problem with this “PRO” however, is that the wax only lasts about six weeks.
When it’s worn out, you’ll have to remove it, by using chemical cleaner or removers and buffing off. This can actually damage the ceramic coating and lead to premature wear and tear.
How Difficult is it to Apply Wax to a Ceramic Coating?
On a scale from one (being simple) to 10 (being difficult) – applying wax to a ceramic coating is about a five. By nature, automotive wax best adheres to imperfect surfaces (like a clear coat for example). This is due to the small peaks and valleys that are common with clear coated vehicles. The wax doesn’t necessarily fill those gaps, but it does bond better.
So, applying carnauba wax to the ceramic coated surface can be time-consuming and require extra buffing (to remove all of the residues). If you are going to apply automotive wax to your coated vehicle, it is crucial to only use natural paste wax or carnauba wax. If the wax has any cleaners or abrasives, this will likely damage the finish and slowly remove the coating.
Is there a Better Alternative to Applying Wax on Top of Ceramic Coating?
I searched high and low to try to find out where the concept of applying car wax to a durable ceramic coating originated. The general consensus is that some car owners are looking to get the most life out of their ceramic coating investment.
I can hardly blame them – especially if you have a professional apply a ceramic pro product, that can be rather costly. However, ceramic coatings themselves are engineered to work – by themselves. There are some professional-grade ceramic coating brands that offer spray enhancement products or a ceramic coating maintenance booster.
Generally, these specially engineered products are used to deep clean or treat the ceramic coating to provide a mild sealant on the surface. It’s not necessarily a wax or a paint sealant. It’s basically their special ‘formula’ that is a hyper-concentrated version of their ceramic coating.
As you spray it on the ceramic coated surface, it fills those microscopic imperfections found in ceramic coatings as they age and are exposed to excessive weather, UV rays or other contaminants. This helps to restore lost gloss and improve hydrophobic properties. Typically, they are applied every few months and are used after the coating is at least a year old.
Wrapping it Up
So, let’s bring it back to our original question about applying car wax on top of ceramic coating. As you can clearly see after reading this article, I’m not a huge fan of this concept. The best way to extend the lifespan of your ceramic coating, regardless of the brand or grade, is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for aftercare.
Here at AvalonKing, we prescribe to the philosophy of ‘if it’s not broke – don’t fix it.’ We also don’t like to over-complicate stuff, which is why we’ve formulated Armor Shield IX to last anywhere from two to five years in best case scenario. However, in order to achieve this level of protection, you need to hand wash your car as directed.