Kicking ass and keeping things clean, that’s how we do things over here at AvalonKing. When it comes to consumer-grade ceramic coatings, Armor Shield IX continues to lead the pack in both customer satisfaction and protection performance, and its rise in popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

But manufacturing and selling the highest rated DIY ceramic coating on the planet is just but one of the many jobs we take seriously over here at AvalonKing. Teaching our customers the importance of investing the time, money, energy, and resources in proper prep and application procedures is also vital.

For instance…

Proper aftercare is just as important as having the right products on hand, and the significance of practicing correct ceramic coating maintenance procedures should never be underestimated.

The following tips, tricks, and warnings are all considered vital ceramic coating maintenance must-know information, for proper care is what will guarantee that your vehicle achieves a 2-year AvalonKing longevity guarantee. Hell, with enough care, you might even be able to join the coveted “5-year ceramic coating club,” so pay heed to the following information.

How Strong is a Healthy Nano Ceramic Coating?

Ceramic Coating - How It Works

As the video above clearly illustrates, ceramic coatings serve a significant role in the automotive surface protection market. As the microscopic nano particles within these protectants penetrate the invisible imperfections spread across a hard surface and slowly begin to harden, they create a virtually impenetrable shield of armor that is stronger than the best clear coats on the market.

Clear coat, glass, carbon fiber, raw metal, chrome, unpainted plastic surfaces, fiberglass, truck nuts constructed from solid brass… if its hard and semi-porous, there’s a damn good chance ceramic coatings like Armor Shield IX can protect it.

How to measure coating hardness using the Wolff-Wilborn Pencil Hardness Test
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this graphite pencil hardness scale test, be sure to check out the video above, and then scope out our abbreviated synopsis below.

A fully cured ceramic coating’s strength is graded upon what is commonly referred to as a pencil scratch hardness scale, or the “Wolff-Wilborn Test.” It is this scale that determines how well a ceramic coating can shield a surface against things like scratches and scuffs, and to this day remains a standardized test for all new ceramic coating products coming to market.

But contrary to common misconception, ceramic coatings are NOT tested on the Mohs scale, which is reserved for ranking the hardness of minerals and metals from 1–10. Instead, it’s the hardness of the graphite found in pencils that determines a ceramic coating’s resiliency.

For example, AvalonKing’s Armor Shield IX has earned a pencil scratch resistance rating of 9H, which is the highest achievable level a surface protectant can obtain after completing the “Wolff-Wilborn Test.” This equates to about a 6H rating on the Mohs mineral hardness test, which means that a pencil with a 9H graphite hardness rating will not scratch the protective surface.

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

Quick Nerd Note: You will occasionally see ceramic coating manufacturers claiming that they have developed a product with a 10H or 11H scratch resistance rating. This is complete bullshit. The pencil hardness scale only goes to 9H, and therefore the only thing going to 11 is that amp Spinal Tap just purchased.

5 Tips for Maintaining a Ceramic Coating

Maintaining a ceramic coating may be mandatory, but at least it's not difficult or incredibly time consuming.
Maintaining a ceramic coating may be mandatory, but at least it’s not difficult or incredibly time consuming.

While a DIY nano ceramic coating creates a layer of surface protection that’s stronger than your garlic-loving aunt’s breath at the dinner table, it does still require some routine maintenance and care.

Adhering to the following five pillars of nano ceramic coating aftercare will not only help your vehicle’s exterior emerge as a winner in the long run, but it will make it look damn good in the process.

Tip #1: Wash Your Car Every Two Weeks

Washing an automobile can be both incredibly rewarding and risky, so following a few core car cleaning rules is vital to your success.
Washing an automobile can be both incredibly rewarding and risky, so following a few core car cleaning rules is vital to your success.

If you’ve ceramic coated your daily beater with Armor Shield IX, you should be adhering to a bi-weekly car wash routine. This will help remove any contamination that does not get kicked to the curb by the ceramic coating’s hydrophobic properties, and will keep things like water spots from forming.

Tip #2: Use the Two-Bucket Car Wash Method

If you are not using a two-bucket hand washing method, you are contaminating your car shampoo and your automobile. Photo Credit: Pan The Organizer/YouTube
If you are not using a two-bucket hand washing method, you are contaminating your car shampoo and your automobile. Photo Credit: Pan The Organizer/YouTube

The two-bucket method of washing a car is proven to reduce swirl marks and produce the best hand-wash results. For those of you who are not familiar with this technique, here’s a quick rundown on what this DIY “deluge of grandeur” entails.

By dunking your wash mitt in a bucket that’s been filled with water, you are able to decontaminate it prior to filling it up with the soapy suds floating in the second bucket sitting beside it. This rinsing dunk should be made every time your mitt begins to grow dirty or run low on car shampoo, as it will help prevent the harmful smearing of contaminants across the vehicle’s exterior.

Quick Tip: When you wash a vehicle with the two-bucket method, always work in a top-to-bottom approach, rinsing each section as you go. This will help prevent the spreading of heavier contaminants along the lower portions of the vehicle, and reduce the formation of water spots.

Tip #3: Use a Ceramic Coating Specific Car Shampoo

Knowing when to use a ceramic prep shampoo and when to whip out the maintenance car soap  is just as important as having the right car cleaning tools for the task at hand. Photo Credit: Pan The Organizer/YouTube
Knowing when to use a ceramic prep shampoo and when to whip out the maintenance car soap is just as important as having the right car cleaning tools for the task at hand. Photo Credit: Pan The Organizer/YouTube

Just like there’s a reason why automotive-specific soaps exist, so too is there a reason behind the invention of ceramic coating specific car shampoos. Even many of the highly-rated car wash shampoos can contain abrasive chemical agents and punishing pH levels that will cause a silica-based ceramic coating to turn into a hot mess.

Always use a ceramic coating friendly car shampoo, as it will not only safely clean all those coated surfaces, but also add shine and rejuvenating properties to the coating.

Tip #4: Do Not Wash the Vehicle in Direct Sunlight

Avoid washing a vehicle in direct sunlight, as this tends to encourage the formation of hard water spots and dried soap residue.
Avoid washing a vehicle in direct sunlight, as this tends to encourage the formation of hard water spots and dried soap residue.

To ensure that your hard work returns optimum results, and prevent the formation of water spots, always scrub your vehicle beneath a covered structure, or in a heavily shaded outdoor area.

If neither of these is available to you, wash the vehicle in the early morning or during evening hours, when the sun is low in the horizon and shadows loom tall. Avoiding water spots at all cost, is the name of the game folks, and you have to play, regardless as to whether you want to or not.

Tip #5: Use Separate Car Wash Supplies for Wheels and Tires

Scrubbing your vehicle's wheels and tires first will help keep cross-contamination to a minimum.
Scrubbing your vehicle’s wheels and tires first will help keep cross-contamination to a minimum.

Tires and wheels collect brake dust, road grime, deicing salt, and other forms of filth far faster than any other part on a vehicle, all due to their location. Brake dust in particular is super nasty stuff, as it consists of millions of microscopic shards of metal shavings and pulverized, sand-like substances.

Do yourself and your vehicle a favor. Wash your wheels and tires with a separate set of cleaning supplies first, as it will reduce the risk of spreading this nastiness to other areas of the vehicle.

Dirt, Debris, and Other Damaging Natural Disasters

Sometimes there's not much you can do when it comes to avoiding mud puddles while driving. How thoroughly you clean-up afterwards is completely up to you. Photo Credit: Micah WrightSometimes there's not much you can do when it comes to avoiding mud puddles while driving. How thoroughly you clean-up afterwards is completely up to you. Photo Credit: Micah Wright
Sometimes there’s not much you can do when it comes to avoiding mud puddles while driving. How thoroughly you clean-up afterwards is completely up to you. Photo Credit: Micah Wright

Now that we’ve established the fact that nano ceramic coatings are essentially quartz crystal infused clear coatings on steroids, it’s time to turn to the crap that they have to combat.

Like any worth adversary, Mother Nature has a slew of weapons at her disposal, including UV rays, dirt, sand, sea salt, tree sap, bug guts, bird shit, acid rain, and a million other invisible threats that are prone to slowly eating away at even the hardest ceramic coating.

So while a ceramic coating, like Armor Shield IX, will either repel or keep these naturally occurring contaminants safely stuck to its outer shell, they will eventually begin to take their toll if allowed to linger.

What Happens if a Ceramic Coating Isn’t Well Maintained?

A properly maintained nano ceramic coating will provide a shine that is reminiscent of freshly polished glass.
A properly maintained nano ceramic coating will provide a shine that is reminiscent of freshly polished glass.

Contrary to the ceramic coating myths floating around on the internet, even the best SiO2-based products on the market today are far from bulletproof.

The old “set it and forget it” philosophy is only going to lead to massive issues down the line, and the following warning signs will be the first things you will notice when that nano ceramic coating starts to shit the bed.

Warning #1: Loss of Shine

The level of shine and gloss produced by a nano ceramic coating is both rich and resilient, regardless of what form of hard surface it is layered atop.
The level of shine and gloss produced by a nano ceramic coating is both rich and resilient, regardless of what form of hard surface it is layered atop.

One of the best features that a ceramic coating product like Armor Shield IX has to offer, is the brilliant shine it produces. However, if you neglect the coating, and filth begins to build, those hydrophobic repelling properties will begin to wane.

As your protective layer becomes increasingly frail, you will begin to notice that the shine and luster you’ve grown accustomed to are no longer present. Rejuvenating ceramic coating boosting products may be able to help restore some of that shine, but if the coating is already a couple years old, chances are full failure is not far behind.

Warning #2: Reduced Hydrophobic Effects

Water beads and rolls off the hood of a BMW that's been ceramic coated with Armor Shield IX.
Water beads and rolls off the hood of a BMW that’s been ceramic coated with Armor Shield IX.

AvalonKing customers love sending us pics and videos of how water, mud, dirt, and other contaminants literally slide off surfaces that have been coated with Armor Shield IX.

However, if those filthy machines remain unwashed and are allowed to soak-up excessive amounts of harmful UV rays, the hydrophobic repelling properties contained within the ceramic coating will begin to fail to function. The result? Standing water everywhere, along with every contaminant you wish to avoid.

Warning #3: Complete Failure

They may look like hard water spots, but that's actually a nano ceramic coating failure taking place, complete with exposed pockets of clear coat peeking out.
They may look like hard water spots, but that’s actually a nano ceramic coating failure taking place, complete with exposed pockets of clear coat peeking out.

Eventually, all good things must come to an end, including that box of chocolates you’ve secretly been snacking on in your office desk. What? Didn’t think we would notice?

This same feeling of guilt is exactly what you will experience when your failure to maintain your vehicle’s ceramic coating literally causes it to fail. These products are marketed as a form of protection, NOT a permanent self-cleaning solution.

Ceramic coating failures may not be dangerous, but rarely are they very pretty. If you realize that your ceramic coating is beginning to lose its luster and is not performing like it once did, don’t hesitate to strip that coating away and begin to prepare the application process.

The Truth About Ceramic Coating SiO2 Boosters

Ceramic SiO2 boost sprays have the ability to strengthen and revive a previously installed ceramic coating, and in certain cases, can be used on their own for short periods of time as a standalone protectant.
Ceramic SiO2 boost sprays have the ability to strengthen and revive a previously installed ceramic coating, and in certain cases, can be used on their own for short periods of time as a standalone protectant.

While we’re on the topic of maintaining ceramic coatings, we should probably discuss the whole SiO2 boost spray craze, and what it will and will not do for your coating of Armor Shield IX.

For starters, you should know that higher end boost sprays are indeed actually worth a damn, and they will indeed help rejuvenate the nano particles within a ceramic coating. While this elasticity will eventually begin to fail as well, the use of a quality SiO2 booster/topper will at least help slow down the degeneration.

The trick to selecting the right ceramic coating spray, is knowing that you need a product with around 20% silica (SiO2), and that routine applications yield the greatest results. Just be sure to thoroughly clean all ceramic coated surfaces with an approved automotive maintenance shampoo, and towel every square centimeter dry with an edgeless microfiber towel prior to application.

The last thing anyone wants is a bunch of grime hardening within their freshly applied booster spray, as mistakes such as these are sure to ruin anyone’s day. Oh look, it’s rhyme time once again…

Parting Shots

A properly applied, fully cured, and well maintained layer of Armor Shield IX ceramic coating provides years of protection, shine, and DIY pride.
A properly applied, fully cured, and well maintained layer of Armor Shield IX ceramic coating provides years of protection, shine, and DIY pride.

Improving the life-expectancy and effectiveness of a ceramic coating is like oral hygiene. It may be a tad tedious and time consuming, but sticking with a routine that works will always bring forth the best results, and will keep you and you ride from looking haggard.

Fortunately, taking care of a nano ceramic coating is just as straightforward as maintaining your car’s clear coat. Wash it, dry it, and when it starts to look a little sad, add a splash of shine with a spray-on chemical solution.

Car owners who have been rocking Armor Shield IX on their rides for years all agree that having a ceramic coating in place does indeed make maintenance far easier. Yet this too is just but one gear in this ever-evolving surface protection and shine enhancing machine we’ve constructed, so be sure to peruse some of the other installments in the AvalonKing blog for even more useful information.

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.