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?
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.
But that’s where the similarity ends.
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.