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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 6 Comments

  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

ceramic-prep-kit-armor-shield-ix

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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 VehicleRecommended QuantityVolume Savings
motorcycle   Motorcycle1 bottle*
small car   Small car1 bottle*
sedan   Sedan2 bottles*Save $35 (25%)
pick-up truck   Pick-up2 bottles*Save $35 (25%)
jeep   Jeep2 bottles*Save $35 (25%)
suv   SUV3 bottles*Save $70 (33%)
van   VAN3 bottles*Save $70 (33%)
boat   Boat4 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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