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How to Maintain Ceramic Coatings

How to Maintain Ceramic Coatings

We talk a lot about ceramic coatings in this here blog. Obviously, we are slightly biased since we manufacturer and sell what many automotive experts consider to be the best DIY Nano-ceramic coating product on the planet. (don’t believe me – Google it).

That being said, if you’ve made the investment to protect and enhance the visible shine of your car, truck, boat, or other clear-coated product, you’re smart enough to understand the value of maintaining ceramic coatings. 

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Ceramic Coating

While a DIY Nano-ceramic coating is Superman-like strong when it cures, it does require some routine maintenance and care. In the information below, we’ll break down a few of the reasons why routine service will help extend the lifespan and improve the brilliance of your paint shine.

Here are five easy steps that you should follow to extend the lifespan of your ceramic coating.

Step #1 – Wash Your Car Every Two Weeks

Whether you have a daily driver or a garage-kept queen, it’s recommended to wash your car every other week. This will help to avoid the excessive build-up of contaminants. Even if you use a car cover on the vehicle, remember, car covers collect dust, which can penetrate underneath in microscopic levels.

Step #2 – Do Not Wash the Vehicle in Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight creates heat – which is the sworn enemy of these professional coatings. To ensure you get the best results from your hard work of washing the vehicle, make sure you wash the car in shade, inside the garage, or outdoors (but not in direct sunlight).

It’s always best to wash the car in the early morning or early evening hours – as the sun will be at its lowest levels. This will also help to avoid water spots – which is always nice. 

Step #3 – Use the Two-Bucket Method of Washing

The two-bucket method of washing a car is proven to reduce swirl marks and produce the best wash results. For those who are not aware, basically, the two-bucket wash method is using one bucket for soaking your wash mitt – while the other is used to clean the wash mitt after each section you wash on the car.

The ‘rinse’ bucket is filled with clean water, has grit guards and used to simply rinse dirt, and debris from the wash mitt after each, individual application.

Here is a great video that shows how to complete the two-bucket method of washing a car – with a twist.

Step #4 – Use an Automotive Specific Car Soap or Shampoo

There are some coating companies who swear by using a specific type of soap for washing (which ironically, they sell as secondary maintenance products). Here is the truth – these soaps are automotive-specific products that do not contain harsh abrasives, chemical agents or other contaminants.

It’s always best to use a quality car wash soap or shampoo. You don’t need to use any products with added wax or polish – just straight, good suds producing car shampoo.

When you wash (with the two-bucket method) always wash from top to bottom and rinse each section as you finish (like that two-bucket video showed you).

Step #5 – Always Use Separate Wash Buckets and Mitts for Wheels

Tires and wheels collect brake dust, which is basically microscopic pieces of metal shavings. Just think logically here for a second. Why on earth would anyone want to use a wash mitt with tiny pieces of metal to wash their ceramic coated paint on their ride? So – does it make sense to use separate materials for washing wheels?

How Does a Ceramic Coating Work?

This video will explain how a high-quality Nano-Ceramic coating works.

Why is Proper Care of Ceramic Coatings Important?

If you watched the video posted above, you likely have a pretty clear picture of how ceramic coatings work. Automotive ceramic coatings are car care or paint coating products designed to penetrate deeply into microscopic imperfections within the clear coat of your car. When they cure, they maintain a 9H hardness, which makes it much stronger than the best clear coat.

For those who might be confused about the whole 9H deal – here is the lowdown.

Contrary to popular myth – 9H on a paint protective coating does NOT refer to the Mohs hardness scale. If that was the case, then you’d be able to scratch glass with a dried out version of the product.

The Mohs hardness scale is a scientific rating of the hardness of minerals (from 1 to 10). A soft mineral like iron is rated slightly below 5, while diamonds are rated at 10 on this scale. Quartz, which is the primary ingredient in a Nano-ceramic coating is rated at 7 on the scale. But, that’s 100% quartz.

If you see THIS image or anything like it on a ceramic coating product website claiming that their product meets this rating scale – it’s BULLSHIT!

But that’s where the similarity ends.

This is the pencil scale. Harder pencil lead is much lighter, while soft pencils for artwork are darker and thicker.

The hardness of protective coatings is actually factored from the pencil scale – which is a variant of the OG Mohs scale. This scale’s highest rating is 9H but equates to about a 6H rating on the Mohs mineral scale of hardness. It basically means that a pencil with a 9H hardness rating will not scratch the protective surface.

*BUYER BEWARE! There are SEVERAL less than stellar manufacturers of ceramic coatings who claim their products have a 10H or 11H scale. This is BULLSHIT! The scale only goes to 9H – so no going to 11 like This is Spinal Tap.

A high-quality DIY ceramic coated car will complete the curing process or reach that 9H level within a few days (which is why we recommend keeping the car indoors for a few days after application). Although it’s an incredibly durable and strong paint protection product, it can wear out prematurely due to a few reasons.

Exposure to Dirt and Debris

The ceramic coating is essentially a clear coat on steroids. Like the traditional paint clear coating, frequent exposure to our environments such as UV rays, dirt, debris, road grime, tree sap, acids found in de-icing products, bird droppings, and bug guts, can slowly eat away at the ceramic coating microscopic layer.

While it will take some time to show noticeable diminishing results, constant exposure without routine maintenance can prematurely wear the coating, increase water spotting, and reduce the self-cleaning attributes of a ceramic coated surface. 

What Happens to Ceramic Coating if Not Maintained? 

Contrary to popular belief, even the best ceramic coatings are not bulletproof. Assuming you want to enact the ‘put in gas and go’ philosophy of using this product, it’s likely that you’ll notice a few warning signs that the lack of maintenance is starting to take its toll. 

Here are a few of the symptoms of coating maintenance that is neglected like Jon Snow did to Ghost in Season 8 Episode 4 of Game of Thrones (seriously Jon…WTF?)

Loss of Shine

One of the best features of a high-quality product is the brilliant shine it produces. I mean – seriously, sometimes it looks like your car is constantly wet. However, if you neglect the coating, eventually the protective layer will thin – which will gradually decrease the shine and luster you’ve been accustomed.

Reduced Hydrophobic Effect

Car owners love how water, mud, dirt, and other contaminants literally slide off the protected surface when these coatings have been applied. But – if the car remains unwashed or allowed to soak up harmful UV rays frequently, it will increase the surface energy and thus, reduce the hydrophobic properties.

So – what’s surface energy you ask?

Simply put, surface energy is how liquids react when touching a surface. Ceramic coatings help to reduce the surface energy on a clear coated paint surface, which is why water and mud simply slide off without sticking. But, as the protected coating is covered with dirt and debris, the surface energy is increased, which leads to more debris sticking.

Eventually, Wear Out

Eventually – all good things come to an end. Well, this is exactly what will happen if you neglect your ceramic coating. While it’s marketed as ‘reduces the need to wash as often’ – it doesn’t mean that you never have to wash the car again.

By failing to wash your car as recommended, the debris will build-up, cause the ceramic pro coating to wear quickly, and eventually damage your paint surface.

Wrapping it Up

Now that we’ve clearly explained what WILL happen if you don’t take care of your freshly applied nano coating, let’s explain how freaking easy it is to keep it protected. Ready…Wash Your Car!

Seriously – it’s really THAT simple – well, kind of.

It’s not recommended to take your vehicle to an automatic car wash. However, if this is your only option – make sure it’s a touchless wash, and make sure you take time to dry the vehicle with a microfiber towel (or several). 

A Nano-Ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX is a smart investment for protecting your vehicle’s paint. By following these simple five tips for washing the vehicle correctly, you can significantly improve the life-expectancy and effectiveness of this fantastic product.

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 19 Comments

  1. what do i use to get the d***N lovebugs off of this ‘miracle’ coating

    1. Assuming it’s prepped correctly and applied right, bug guts are simple to remove with just car wash shampoo or soap, a microfiber wash mitt, a little elbow grease, and spray off….pretty simple actually.

  2. I applied AK ceramic coating 2 layers on my white Ford SUV.. after a month my car was covered with minute drops of paint by the wind when my neighbor was painting his walls.. When I run my hand though the surface it isn’t smooth anymore.. washing did not get rid of it.. scratching with finger nails is getting rid of them.. But can scratch only so many.. What should I be doing

    1. Hi Raj:

      I appreciate the question, but it’s not very easy to answer based on the information we have from you. It really depends on the type of prep work you completed, the application, the weather or conditions in which it was applied, the type of paint (from the neighbor), and how long it sat on your coating before you noticed and began to remove the paint. If washing did not remove it, but you’re able to scratch ‘some’ off with your nail, then you should be able to remove the excess with a light rubbing compound. That shouldn’t hurt the ceramic coating, as long as you’re light with the application or buffing. If you’d like, try to spray some IPA (isopropyl alcohol) on a microfiber towel and buff off. Let us know if this works for you.

  3. My question is how long before recoat or looking bad can I expect for my car that sits outdoors all day in the Arizona sun. It get to 118 F in the shade at times in the summer. We have gone 3 months with no rain just light dust.

    1. Hey Finn:

      Thanks for sending the question. I too live in Arizona, so I totally get the weather and conditions here. The cool thing about Armor Shield IX is that it has amazing heat resistance. I’m getting ready to apply on the wife’s new BWM and I’m expecting 3 to 4 years, before I need to remove and reapply. Removing is easier than you’d think. The best advice I can offer for application, especially in Arizona, is to wait till November or so, when it cools down. You want to make sure to apply in the garage or indoors, as direct sunlight exposure or hotter than 80-degrees is not a good combo for optimal results.

      Let us know if you’ve got any more questions.

  4. what product can you put on once you have washed the ceramic coating to keep it looking good?
    And can you recoat? Do you use panel wipe?on the coating before you recote?

    thanks
    Steve

    1. Hi Steve!

      Let me answer your last question first. And can you recoat? do you use panel wipe on the coating before you recote?
      Very easy to apply multiple coats and it is definitely recommended. You can apply a second coat after just waiting 1 to 2 hours after the first coat. If the vehicle is still in the garage and untouched for several days you could get away with just dusting and applying. Now, if the time has been greater than a week between coats we suggest a regular wash, air dry, and then finish off with an IPA wipedown… You are now ready to apply!

      On to your first question. What products can I use to keep it looking good? Well, to be honest, more often than not a general cleaning and use some form of blow drying to remove water (leaf blowers work great!). We do encourage the use of boosters, reloaders, and detail sprays that contain a percentage of Si02. One suggestion I would add to their usage. Give the product some time not in direct sunlight to properly bond and adhere. Detailer sprays are rapidly developing a bad reputation for causing water spots.

  5. I was wondering if it is okay to use other companies too coats or SiO2 boosters since I don’t see any here online. I want to start a ceramic coating business and love y’all product I just wish there were more products behind it I could maintain it with, to keep the branding 100%

    1. Hi Owen!

      This is a great question! Yes, and we actually recommend that from time to time. Simply look for a detailer spray that has a percentage of Si02. There are many detailer sprays on the market right now designed specifically for ceramic coats and so far I haven’t come across a single one that I would say is “bad”.

  6. Now I do have a question if you don’t want to wash your car off. Can you use something like Meguiars detailer to spray and wipe it down?

    1. That would be fine. I would suggest on those days when you don’t feel like doing too much to simply take a pressure washer to the car. Often times that is all it needs.

  7. Your article states for optimum curing leave the vehicle indoors for a few days. My car is hardly ever in the shade(much less indoors). Will this effect the performance of the product?

    1. Hey Mike!

      Actually, a bit of sun will speed up the curing process.

  8. I seen alot of the comments talking about the prep & prep time being long. So what is involved in the prep work to use the product?

  9. I would be interested on advice on recoating the ceramic after a period of time. Obviously if it’s becoming dull or not repelling water it’s probably time. How long should this be? 1 year? 2 years? And should we add coatings at the first installation to prolong the time until recoating?

    1. Hi Robert. With an SiO2 based coating like Armor Shield IX, you can re-coat without the need to take off the previous layer at any time. We do recommend doing this after 2 years as the coating offers full protection for the 2 years time even if the hydrophobic effect lessens slightly, but you can re-coat sooner.

      1. Hi!
        I jump in, i have been looking in to ceramic coatings but never got one. And Roberts question is part of what i search for but can’t find the answer on.
        When it´s time for the recoat, what is the prepwork?
        I guess you don’t blast it with a DA poolisher since you then remove the former layer?
        I am completely green when it come to “advanced” car care, i am thinking about buying a poolisher and try it myself or leave it to a company the first time, and then recoat when it’s time myself.
        My car is outside year around in Sweden with snow in the winte, So something like this should do good for the car.

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Type of Vehicle Recommended Quantity Volume Savings
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*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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