In a perfect world, every car on the road would be eternally pristine, as if it had just rolled-off the assembly line. Alas, we live in a world full of bird shit, road grime, acid rain, and surface scratches.
For decades washing and waxing to make your car’s paint appear pristine and protected was the preferred way of doing things. But this old school approach doesn’t do shit for protecting a vehicle from the chips, stains, scratches, and fading that come with vehicle ownership.
- What if there was a way to break the endless wash-n-wax cycle?
- What if there were a super tough DIY “defense shield” that you could easily apply yourself?
- What if you could protect your car against the elements for years to come?
A nano ceramic car coating answers all of these questions, and in DIY form, is far more affordable than one might think.
But what exactly is a ceramic car coating? What does it do? How much does ceramic coating cost? How long does ceramic coating last? Does it live up to all of the claims and online hype? Are there any ceramic coating pros and cons to consider? And perhaps most importantly, is ceramic coating worth it?
Our ultimate guide to ceramic coating car parts answers all of these questions and more, so read on to get the facts straight!
- What is ceramic coating and what does it do?
- What is ceramic coating made of?
- How tough are car ceramic coatings?
- How does ceramic coating work?
- What are the benefits of ceramic coating cars?
- What a Ceramic Coating Can’t Do
- Ceramic Coating Versus the Rest
- Nano Ceramic Coating Application Tips
- Parting Shots
What is ceramic coating and what does it do?
What is ceramic coating made of?
Most nano ceramic coatings are silicon dioxide or silica (SiO2) based, a chemical compound most commonly found in quartz crystals and sand. But don’t think that slapping some sand on your car will prolong the lifespan of your clear coat.
For a ceramic car coating to work, you also need things like titanium dioxide, polysilazane, triethanolamine, water, and other hard to pronounce ingredients. The best ceramic coating products rely upon these fillers to keep the silica in a suspended liquid state while it is in the bottle, and to help it harden once slathered upon a surface.
How tough are car ceramic coatings?
Many automakers apply ceramic paint protection to vehicles due to their superior heat, abrasion, chemical, H20, and impact resistance abilities. The best ceramic coating products on the planet offer both extremely tough sealant properties, and impressive longevity ratings.
Quick Nerd Note: The varying levels of hardness associated with ceramic car coating products are rated on the common “pencil hardness scale.” This is the industry standard for every ceramic coating for cars.
By applying various grades of pencil to a ceramic coated surface with controlled amounts of pressure, one can determine the amount of abuse a nano ceramic coating can withstand before a scratch or mark appears. Since higher numbered pencils contain harder lead, a 9H hardness rating remains the highest scratch resistance rating on the planet.
How does ceramic coating work?
The science bit of the equation boils down to having the right amount of SiO2 on hand. A good ceramic car coating should contain at least 80% silica dioxide (SiO2), as this gives a ceramic coating for cars the strength it needs to repel and protect.
Since all of these microscopic silica particles are so small (hence the term “nano”), ceramic paint protection does a damn good job of filling in things like surface imperfections. Once fully cured, a nano car ceramic coating will not only create a super-strong invisible top coat that has bonded with itself, but the surface it is protecting as well.
What are the benefits of ceramic coating cars?
A high grade 9H-rated ceramic coating for cars will not only shield a vehicle’s paint from scratches and swirl marks, but it will reject UV rays, contaminants, and liquids as well. This translates to fewer car washes, less upkeep/maintenance, fewer paint correction procedures over time, and a general peace of mind for the vehicle owner.
What a Ceramic Coating Can’t Do
Make a Car Bulletproof
While a 9H-rated ceramic coating will do an outstanding job of repelling contaminants and preventing scratches, it won’t do jack-shit if softball-sized hail starts falling from the sky.
Replace Routine Maintenance
For all of its superior strengths, even the best ceramic coating will eventually require some routine cleaning. While it’s impossible for a car ceramic coating to reject everything that it comes into contact with on the open road, it excels at making cleaning far less frequent and labor-intensive.
Permanently Protect a Vehicle
When allowed to fully cure, a car ceramic coating transforms from a transparent liquid to a semi-permanent shield. Notice that we used the word “semi?” It’s best to think of ceramic car coatings like they were skin on a snake, for over time they must be removed and replaced.
Car Ceramic Coating Applications Are Quick
While a DIY ceramic paint protection kit may be super easy to apply, there is a significant amount of prep time that must be conducted prior to its installation. Surface scratches, clear coat oxidation, hard water stains, and other unsightly issues must all be attended to before a layer of ceramic paint protection can be implemented. So be thorough, and do your prep work to avoid any regrets down the line. Just like marriage prenups…
Ceramic Coatings Hide Imperfections
While a quality ceramic coating for cars will create a smooth satin sheen, it will do little to hide blemishes. Regardless as to whether it is attractive or not, what you see on a vehicle’s exterior is what will be getting locked into place once the ceramic car coating cures.
Ceramic Coating Versus the Rest
While there are a plethora of automotive paint protection products on the market, they each have their own pros and cons. Here’s how some of the more popular car surface protectants stack-up against a 9H-rated nano ceramic coating like AvalonKing’s Armor Shield IX.
Ceramic Coating Versus Waxing
Car waxes are the automotive equivalent of erectile dysfunction: They only work for a little while before letting you down.
Sure, a good wax may add a lustrous level of shine to a car’s paintwork for a great price, but it will never provide the rock-hard, long-lasting results of a ceramic car coating.
And while the price of a DIY ceramic coating may cost a bit more than the average car wax, it more than makes up for it in the long run. Just factor in the amount of time, money, and energy spent stripping and reapplying car wax every month, and it becomes clear that a 2-5 year nano ceramic coating replacement plan is the way to go.
Alternatives to Ceramic Coating
As for the rest of the ever-expanding armada of paint protection products on the market, the majority of the stuff being marketed to the masses is either complete crap or entirely too expensive.
Some of the more commonplace nano ceramic coating alternatives include paint sealants, graphene coatings, vinyl wraps, clear bras, and paint protection film (PPF). Despite being marketed for their superior protective capabilities, all of these products tend to be far more expensive than the average 9H-rated ceramic coating, and/or require professional installation.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, is the whole “spray-on ceramic coating craze.” Inexpensive and readily available, these DIY products often rely upon polymers to replicate a ceramic coating’s water-repelling hydrophobic attributes. With their diminutive durability ratings, and piss-poor longevity, spray-on ceramic products are a far cry from the real deal.
DIY Versus Professional Application Ceramic Coatings
But not everyone is the DIY type, which is precisely why a large portion of all nano ceramic coating products are installed by professionals.
In contrast, if you do decide to go the DIY route, how much is ceramic coating a car going to cost when compared to a professionally installed nano ceramic car coating?
Professional Grade Ceramic Coating Products
Cost: $500 – $3,000
Professional ceramic coating products require controlled environments, expensive equipment, and highly trained artisans. This translates to high installation costs.
While a $500 product price point may seem tempting, most vehicles require quite a bit of prep work before they are ready to receive a ceramic coating. Scrubbing surfaces with clay decontamination media, paint correction, isopropyl alcohol wipe-downs, microfiber polishing… the list of ceramic coating prep procedures is both extensive and expensive.
Speaking of time. On average, the installation of a pro ceramic coating takes around five days to complete. Naturally, this time frame can be reduced drastically if the car’s paintwork is in pristine condition, or if the vehicle in question is slight of stature.
DIY Ceramic Coating Kits
Cost: $20 – $150
Not everyone can afford a pro ceramic coating install, thus leaving the masses with little option than the DIY approach.
Fortunately, the benefits of opting for a DIY ceramic coating kit go well beyond saving a hefty stack of cash. DIY ceramic car coatings tend to be far less finicky than the professional-grade stuff, which makes them an appealing option for the average car owner.
Quick Nerd Note: Perhaps the most notable nano ceramic coating benefit, is its water displacing/hydrophobic capabilities. Water, and all of the dirt, grime, and mud that come with it will just bead-up and roll away from any ceramic coating for cars that’s worth a hoot.
Nano Ceramic Coating Application Tips
Can I apply a ceramic coating myself?
Applying a ceramic coating to a vehicle is an extremely easy, wipe-on, wipe-off application process. If you can wash your car, you have the skills you need to apply a ceramic coating.
How to apply ceramic coating the right way?
Properly applying a DIY ceramic coating means having patience and a keen eye for detail. Take your time, make sure that you cover every square centimeter of the vehicle, and avoid making any of the 9 most common ceramic coating mistakes.
How many layers of ceramic coating should you use?
Nano ceramic coatings don’t layer well, so properly applying a ceramic car coating the first time should be all that is needed. The reason why many people opt to coat a vehicle twice, is not to add an additional layer, but to guarantee that no areas were missed during the first pass.
What should you be coating when ceramic coating car parts?
When it comes to ceramic coating car parts, your options are numerous. As long as it’s a hard surface, chances are you can hit it with a ceramic car coating. From headlights and glass, to exhaust tips and wheels, ceramic coating car components is a bottomless barrel of opportunities.
What should you avoid when applying a nano ceramic car coating?
Nano ceramic car coating products don’t bond well with soft or porous materials. So you should skip the rubbery stuff like door seals and tires, as well as softer interior materials like suede and cloth seating surfaces. It’s also best to avoid ceramic coating areas of the vehicle that get extremely hot, as even a 9H-rated product like Armor Shield IX will fail when applied to things like brake rotors and exhaust manifolds.
DIY Ceramic Coating Preparation Tips
If a ceramic coating is applied to a clean vehicle, it will always bond better and cure harder. Here are a few core tasks that should always be completed prior to installing a DIY ceramic coating.
- Wash and Dry- Use a 2-bucket system with microfiber products and a ceramic coating car prep shampoo to dislodge any surface scuzziness, and always work from the top down in order to avoid cross-contamination. Then, crack open a fresh bag of fluffy microfiber towels (and perhaps another beer), and dry that ride as quickly as possible to prevent unsightly water spots from forming.
- Claying- Hitting a freshly washed and dried exterior with a clay bar, clay mitt, or clay towel will lift any stubborn impurities that might still be lurking within the clear coat. Contrary to common belief, claying is neither difficult nor dangerous, as our ultimate guide to claying cars clearly illustrates.
- Polishing and Paint Correction- Buffing not only adds shine to a car’s clear coat and plastics, but also helps remove any airborne debris that might be lingering on the surface. Paint correction on the other hand, is a far more complicated (and risky) endeavor. This procedure typically requires digging into the clear coat and paintwork, to “correct” any scratches, scuffs, or clear coat oxidation that may not buff-out. Be sure to read our list of paint correction tips for DIYers to see if paint correction is something you should be tackling or handing-off to a professional.
- Apply IPA- A properly blended Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) spray will help guarantee that the area receiving the ceramic car coating is devoid of contaminants and/or media left behind from the prior preparation steps. Here is how you can make your own IPA surface prep spray, along with a handful of helpful application tips.
DIY Ceramic Coating Application Tips
As for the act of applying a nano ceramic coating, you will be amazed by how easy the procedure is, and how smoothly it goes on. Simply place a few droplets of nano ceramic coating onto an applicator cloth, wipe it on the surface, and then buff it off with a plush microfiber cloth once it starts to harden. That’s it!
A few additional tips to remember are:
- Always apply ceramic coating on a cool surface, and NEVER in direct sunlight.
- Avoid applying ceramic coatings in windy, dirty/dusty, excessively humid, or cold environments.
- Try not to lay it on too heavy. A little bit of nano ceramic coating goes a long way, which is why bottles of Armor Shield IX are just 30ml. Applying too much will make for longer curing times and “greasy-looking” finishes.
- Take your time, coat thoroughly, and make a second pass if you feel like you might have missed a section.
If you feel the need to dig deeper into the ceramic coating application process, and are on the hunt for additional DIY tips, be sure to read our in-depth blog article focusing on how to apply a ceramic car coating.
How do I maintain a ceramic coated car?
The best way to keep a ceramic coated vehicle looking sharp is to regularly hand wash the entire automobile with water and a pH neutral car shampoo. Make sure that your shampoo does not contain any waxes or sealants either, and use the two-bucket hand washing technique.
Applying a high-quality SiO2 ceramic boost spray every other month will go a long way to boosting the longevity of that ceramic coating as well. This will help extend the life of the nano ceramic coating, and add additional depth and shine.
How to wash after ceramic coating?
When it comes to washing a vehicle that has been ceramic coated, there are three things you have to remember:
- If you just applied a ceramic coating, wait at least two weeks before washing the vehicle.
- When you do wash the vehicle, be sure to use a low pH car shampoo to guarantee that you don’t damage the coating.
- Always use the two-buckets-and-a-beer car wash method, as it will ensure that your vehicle gets cleaned properly, and that refreshments are in plentiful supply.
Should I be waxing the car?
Slathering car wax on top of a ceramic coating is like vinyl wrapping over a $20,000 paint job. All this will do is make your vehicle a “waxy magnet” for the contaminants you are trying to repel.
How long does ceramic coating last?
Although a high-quality DIY ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX is guaranteed to provide protection for 2 years, there have been reports of it lasting as long as 5 years.
How do I remove ceramic coating?
Removing a ceramic coating requires having the proper tools, some free time, and maybe a cold six pack. It’s a task that can be accomplished in the garage on a Sunday.
The three most common methods for removing a nano ceramic coating include:
- Chemical Stripping: Like your pervy uncle once said, “Strippers aren’t for everyone.” In the case of chemically stripping a ceramic coating, using a product that as been specifically designed for the task tends to be the easiest route. Just be forewarned that many of these chemicals can damage softer materials like tires and door seals, and will eat into clear coat if allowed to linger for too long.
- Claying: The safest approach is to wait until your car’s ceramic coating is on its last leg, and use a clay decontamination product and a little clay lube to scrape away the aging nano ceramic coating.
- Polishing: You can also go the polishing route, and put a series of abrasive compounds and a power buffer to work. Just be forewarned that this method is not intended for amateurs.
When properly applied and maintained, a 9H-rated nano ceramic coating for cars creates a semi-permanent, easy-to-clean transparent shield that will last for years.
From a DIY perspective, ceramic coating car components on one’s own saves money, and outlasts traditional spray-on protectants.
The perks of DIY coating a car make the up-front cost, mandatory prep steps, and aftercare completely worth it. The only question is whether or not you and your ride are ready to make the transition to nano ceramic car coating protection.
If you enjoyed this article, then you'll love AvalonKing's automotive care products for Do-It-Yourselfers. We create "No B.S. products" for an affordable price. And the best part, we treat our customers like family, so if you have any questions or just looking to chat about cars, we're only an email or call away. Check out our homepage here.