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How Ceramic Coating Works

How Ceramic Coating Works

It seems everywhere you look a new ceramic coating or related paint protection product is popping up for sale. Whether it’s a new professional-grade ceramic coating or one of the multiple DIY ceramic coatings available online, it seems there are more questions than answers.

One of the most popular questions that potential ceramic coatings ask is how ceramic coating works? Believe it or not, regardless of their unique formulation, all ceramic coatings basically work the same way.

That being said, there are multiple facts about ceramic coatings that need to be explained to explain how these awesome paint protection products work. And that’s what we’ll tackle today.

In the information below, we’ll outline the facts about how ceramic coatings work. We’ll dive into explaining some of the ingredients, when they should or should not be used, and explain the differences between the good ceramic coatings vs the pretenders.

What is 9H Ceramic Coating?

While there are many differences with ingredient percentage, quality, and application instructions – which impacts the overall quality of the product, ceramic coatings are all liquid polymers that chemically bonds with a surface to create a microscopic and a semi-permanent layer of protection.

Ceramic pro products are much better auto detailing products than standard car wax or wax or sealant solutions. They are exceptional at removing the potential of water spots, helps reduce the amount of car wash trips, and does an amazing job of repelling dirt, debris, and water spots. However, a question that many consumers ask is whether there is a difference between 9H ceramic coating and regular ceramic coating?

In truth, most are one and the same.

9H refers to the hardness of the product, with regard to the pencil scale of a harness. This scale starts at 0 and eclipses at 9. That being said, 9H is the hardest possible durability with this scale, which is what most ceramic coatings are advertised. There are some ceramic coatings that do not have 9H hardness, just like there are some who advertise 10H hardness (which is simply not possible).

In the end, when you see a product advertised as 9H ceramic coating, it’s basically boasting that it’s the strongest possible hardness.

What is Ceramic Coating Made Of?

Now – let’ get scientific and shit.

A ceramic coating is a liquid polymer, that is comprised of a collection of multiple, bonded molecules that utilize nanotechnology to provide a semi-permanent layer of water repellent protection. It can infuse onto exterior clear coats, plastics, vinyl, glass, and even metals.

Once it has cured, it hardens to create a glass or quartz-based, flat layer of protection, usually less than the size of a human hair. It repels water spotting, UV rays, contaminants, many chemicals, and also reduces the ability for spray paint to stick.

There are several different grades of ceramic coatings including:

Professional Grade: This is the stuff that professional detailer is certified to apply. They are usually formulated with high SiO2 percentages, which makes them quite tricky and requires special equipment and procedures. Some of them come with a lifetime warranty and are installed only by a pro detailer.

High Quality DIY Ceramic Coatings: The second grade is the professional-grade DIY ceramic coating or high-quality coating. These products are slightly altered variants of the professional-grade stuff, mainly with lower SiO2 %, to allow easier application. They provide a great protective layer, reduces washing or professional car detailing services.

Cheap Ceramic Coatings: You can usually tell that a ceramic coating is a cheap rip-off, if they market outrageous claims, such as being 10H hardness, lasting more than 5 years, or providing a permanent layer of protection. They usually are watered-down versions of the high-quality DIY ceramic coating, and don’t last longer than a few years if that. They also tend to require a secondary “top-coat” of “added protection”. They are basically one step higher than wax.

While all companies hold the exact ingredients very close for obvious reasons, most of the high-quality DIY ceramic coatings contain the following ingredients.

  • Nano SiO2: This is the magic sauce that provides the hard quartz layer of protection. For those not up to date on their Chemistry 101 lessons, Si02 is the chemical formula for silica dioxide, an inorganic metal oxide. The diameter of SiO2 is less than 100 nanometers.
  • Nano TiO2: You’ll typically find Titanium Oxide (TiO2) in pharmaceutical products such as antiseptics. For ceramic coatings, it helps improve hydrophobic effects (repelling water).
  • Activation of Fluorine: The anti-dust effect of ceramic coatings is attributed to this ingredient. It makes it difficult for dust and debris to stick to the vehicle surface, which keeps your car cleaner – for longer periods.
  • Brightening Silicon Particles: The shiny and gloss effect of ceramic car coatings is mainly attributed to the addition of this ingredient.
  • Polysilazane: The anti-graffiti and temperature tolerance of ceramic coatings is attributed to this hard to pronounce ingredient.

There are multiple extra ingredients that make up most ceramic coatings, which you can find on the MSDS sheet of these products.

Is Ceramic Coating Permanent?

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Ceramic coatings are semi-permanent, meaning they provide a durable, and long-lasting layer of protection that will protect the paint surface due to exposure to rain, snow, hail, or frequent car washes. While a car wax or sealant will last less than a year, ceramic coatings typically last from 3 to 5 years and eventually begin to wear thin due to frequent exposure to UV light, chemicals, contaminants, and excessive weather.

Here is a great example. If you have (2) identical BMW 235i’s, with the exact paint job, same level of paint quality, prepped identically, and applied at the same time, meaning all things are the same – but one is kept in the garage and driven only on Sunday’s, while the other is an outside-kept daily driver, which one do you think would last longer?

Well – the garage queen would have a ceramic coating that lasts longer, due to the lack of daily exposure.

When they begin to wear out, hydrophobic properties will slowly reduce, and the product will need to be removed, re-prepped, and reapplied.

Can you Remove Ceramic Coating?

A ceramic coating provides an exceptionally strong layer of protection, that can be difficult to remove – but it is possible when using special equipment and supplies. Here is how the process is typically completed.

Chemical Removal of Ceramic Coatings

There are a few special chemical compounds that are the kryptonite for ceramic coatings. These products are high alkaline formulations that are capable of breaking down the ceramic coating layer of protection completely. However, some of these products have been known to slightly damage the clear coating of paint as well.

Claying Removal of Ceramic Coatings

If you enjoy elbow grease workouts, you’ll love the clay bar method of removing ceramic coatings. Essentially, this is the process of using a claying mitt to constantly and slowly penetrate the ceramic coating until it’s worn thin. This is usually the safest way, but it takes quite a bit of physical labor.

Polishing Removal of Ceramic Coatings

The method that most professional detailer use is polishing. They use a mid-grade cutting compound and polishing wheels with microfiber cloth pads to remove ceramic coatings from the clear coat. The cool thing about this process is that you’ll likely complete minor paint correction at the same time, which will enhance the shine of your next coating.

How Long Does it Take for Ceramic Coating to Cure?

A high-quality DIY nano-ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX is fairly quick to prep, apply and cure. In fact, it can cure in as little as 24 hours. The entire process is mainly dependent upon the quality of your paint, the level of prep work required, skill level, and comfort with medium-level detailing procedures, techniques, and equipment.

Curing time also depends on the ambient temperature of the area applied, exposure to direct sunlight, or cloudy conditions. It’s recommended to leave a vehicle garaged or in temperature, low-dust environment, to reduce the potential of contaminants bonding to the curing ceramic coating. In most cases, you can drive the car 24 hours after your final application and removal.

When Should You Not Apply a Ceramic Coating?

A ceramic coating should not be used on paint that has been damaged. It’s commonly misunderstood that these products are intended to improve the condition of the paint. That’s simply not true.

They are designed to protect the existing paint surface, bare metal, glass, vinyl, Paint protection film like a clear bra, or glass. In fact, it will amplify paint scratches, swirl marks, and other paint imperfections. It’s due to these facts that paint correction is a vital step when it comes to correctly applying these products.

How Do Ceramic Coatings Compare Against Dealership Applied Sealants?

A historic trend in car dealership sales is the up-sale, where the car sales associate, or usually the finance department manager, will break out their trusty ‘upgrade’, laminated card and explain why you should have a dealer-installed paint sealant.

So, what is this magic stuff?

Basically, it’s just a standard paint sealant product, just like you’d purchase on the auto parts store shelf or have detailing services complete for you. It lasts about six months and is nothing more than a longer-lasting liquid car wax. It’s not a ceramic coating, even if it’s a spray with ‘ceramic’ ingredients.

How Much Does Ceramic Coating Cost?

Armor Shield IX Nano Ceramic Coating

Most consumers opt for either a professionally applied or high-quality DIY ceramic coating to protect their vehicles. The professional stuff can cost anywhere from $600 to $4,000 for prep work and installation. They are usually applied with specific package levels, providing warranties ranging from one year to a ‘lifetime’ guarantee.

The DIY ceramic coatings are formulated for the average car enthusiast to apply themselves. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you’ll spend anywhere from $70 to $200 for the supplies needed to correctly apply these products. Most of the best ceramic coatings are sold in complete DIY kits, that contain everything you need to do the job right.

What is the Best Ceramic Coating?

We’re not too shy about tooting our own horn. Our Armor Shield IX DIY Nano-ceramic coating is one of the best, and most affordable paint protection products sold today. We’ve been reviewed by multiple, highly reliable and professional automotive detailing experts, media, websites, blogs, YouTube.com channels, and more. With each review, positive comment, and those that are constructive, we listen and revise our products to continually surpass their expectations.

Armor Shield IX is sold in a 30ml kit, that includes the ceramic coating, protective gloves, application sponge, multiple application cloths, and microfiber towel for buffing. We offer volume discounts for multiple kit purchases, for those larger vehicles that require the extra product.

However, arguably the best reason to choose Armor Shield IX is our customer service. We go above and beyond for our customers, offer lightning-fast, free shipping to North America consumers in the US and Canada, and have a ton of application, prep work, and aftercare tips for all types of projects.

Wrapping it Up

With so many different paint protection products to consider these days, weeding through the BS and choosing a product that is easy to apply, lasts a long time, and keeps your car looking bitchin can take time. Hopefully, the information above helps you understand how ceramic coatings work, what they’re made from, and which one(s) are best for you.

If you have questions about ceramic coatings, or any paint protection products, comment below, follow us on Facebook or Instagram – as we’re here to help you make the best decision – whether it’s our product or not.

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.

Tim Charlet

Tim is part of the AvalonKing team as a content editor. A 30-year automotive guru, marketing super freak, and accomplished publicist & columnist, “Timmah” is also a licensed NHRA Drag Racer, a proud dad of two, and loves a good Guinness two-part pour.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. The article was very informative and educational.

    1. Thanks, Nate – we work hard to make our articles – both informative and educational. Appreciate the kind words!

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These are our recommended quantities for the respective type of vehicle. The Volume Savings can be seen besides/below.

Type of Vehicle Recommended Quantity Volume Savings
motorcycle   Motorcycle 1 bottle*
small car   Small car 1 bottle*
sedan   Sedan 2 bottles* Save $35 (25%)
pick-up truck   Pick-up 2 bottles* Save $35 (25%)
jeep   Jeep 2 bottles* Save $35 (25%)
suv   SUV 3 bottles* Save $70 (33%)
van   VAN 3 bottles* Save $70 (33%)
boat   Boat 4 bottles+* Save $110 (39%)

*Please note that it may be a good idea getting an extra bottle, ensuring you don't run out when doing an application.

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