Today’s car enthusiast wants solutions faster, cheaper, and user friendly. We totally agree – hell, that’s our mission, to empower automotive consumers to take on DIY tasks that would otherwise be completed by a professional. When it comes to paint protection, the DIY Nano Ceramic Coating is the ultimate modern-day solution.
But how do you keep these products protected? Is there an alternative for those who don’t feel comfortable with the application process of a high-quality DIY ceramic coating?
The answer to both is – YES. It’s called a ceramic boost spray – a diluted variant of the traditional nano-coating that can be used on top of existing coatings or used as a standalone product.
However, like the DIY ceramic coating segment, not all ceramic boost sprays are identical. There are some that are prime rib quality – and others that are low-grade dog food. There are also different application methods, factors that impact longevity, and even myths that are simply not true about these products.
So, let’s investigate the truth about ceramic boost spray.
- What is Ceramic Boost for Cars?
- What is a Nano-Ceramic Coating?
- What is a Ceramic Boost Spray?
- How Does a Ceramic Boost Spray Work?
- What Does a Ceramic Boost Not Do?
- What Can a Ceramic Boost Spray Do?
- How Can You Tell the Determine if a Ceramic Boost Spray is Legit?
- How to Get the Best out of Your Ceramic Boost Spray
What is Ceramic Boost for Cars?
Let’s clear up something quick – we are not here to bash ceramic boost spray products. In fact, we feel that they can be very helpful for extending the lifespan of a nano-coating like our Armor Shield IX. But we also know there is a LOT of BS information out there – and flat out misconceptions about these products in the industry.
So – let’s start by explaining the difference between a concentrated DIY nano-ceramic coating vs ceramic boost spray.
What is a Nano-Ceramic Coating?
Nano-ceramic coatings like Armor Shield IX are highly concentrated, very sticky liquid products that provide a sacrificial layer of protection over car paint, windows, headlights, wheels, plastic trim and more.
There are multiple grades of these products, some requiring a professional to apply (due to extremely high SiO2 percentages) and those cheap DIY versions you can pick up on Amazon or Alibaba.com for $10 per bottle. SiO2 percentages vary from 50% to 96% Silicon Dioxide.
Once they are applied and cure – they can hold up from a year to five years or more in some cases. Obviously – exposure, care, the quality of the product, and support products used will impact how long they last.
What is a Ceramic Boost Spray?
A ceramic boost is a less concentrated and uniquely engineered ceramic coating. It is typically applied by spraying directly on the surface or on a microfiber towel or pad to be applied on the surface.
They are formulated by combining silicone resins, ethyl alcohol, distilled water, and other ‘special ingredients’. Percentages of “SiO2” can range from 10 to slightly higher than 20 percent. Like nano coatings, the higher the percentage of SiO2 typically equates to the longevity or hardness of the product – ONCE IT CURES.
How Does a Ceramic Boost Spray Work?
Well – this is where the confusion comes into play. Once the ceramic boost is applied to a surface, (either by spraying directly onto the surface or applying to a cloth and applying), it bonds to the material underneath.
When used on top of an applied nano coating, the SiO2 bonds to the flat surface and layers on top of it. This essentially provides a sacrificial layer on top of a sacrificial layer. When applied on a non-protective material, it seeps into minor imperfections on that porous surface.
The application method is quite simple with a ceramic boost spray.
- Make sure the surface is clean, dry, cool and free of debris.
- Apply it in a shady or covered area (never in direct sunlight).
- Spray or apply the ceramic boost liquid evenly on a small section (roughly 3 feet by 3 feet is best).
- Use (1) microfiber towel to spread the product over that area evenly. Let it sit for a few seconds.
- Use a 2nd microfiber buffing towel to remove the residual.
- Let the vehicle CURE for 24 hours for optimal protection.
The last item listed is where most people fail – and quite frankly, most manufacturers fail to mention to customers. If the boost spray is not given time to cure or harden, it will wear thin sooner. It’s really that simple.
What Does a Ceramic Boost Not Do?
This is where the confusion and marketing BS come into play. By definition, a ceramic boost spray is intended to add extra protection on top of the vehicle surface. It’s not meant to be used as a detailer spray or waterless wash.
Think about this for a second.
What is SiO2? It’s basically quartz – the same stuff you find in sand. If you apply a ceramic boost on a dirty surface, it will scratch that surface. Even worse, when you apply it on top of water spots and other debris, it will harden on top of those imperfections – and trap them under the applied layer.
So – here is a list of things that a ceramic boost does NOT do:
- It’s not a waterless wash or quick detailer spray. Products marketed as such are not really SiO2 coatings, but hybrid wax or sealant products mixed with detergents.
- It does not improve scratch resistance. Sorry, the SiO2 percentage in a boost spray is not high enough to really make a huge impact on scratch resistance – especially when used alone.
- It’s not as strong as a concentrated nano coating. Simply do the math – 15% < 80%.
It’s not intended to be used in direct sunlight. Ceramic booster sprays will streak when exposed to direct sunlight and applied. Plus, if the surface is warm to the touch, the booster spray will likewise streak and is very difficult to remove.
What Can a Ceramic Boost Spray Do?
Due to the unique formulation, a ceramic boost spray is a coating that can layer – similar with car wax. Contrary to popular myth, a nano coating like Armor Shield IX does NOT layer on top of itself. The SiO2 percentage is so concentrated, that it simply doesn’t stick on top of the hard coating.
Think of a nano coating like applying paint on top of a raw metal. If that metal isn’t prepped (or scuffed up in some capacity), the paint will not bond. It needs those porous or minor imperfections in the surface to stick.
The boost spray works a bit differently – due to the formulation.
When the SiO2 percentage is lower and other ‘special ingredients’ contained in a boost spray react to the hard coating, it can bond on top. Once the spray coating hardens and cures (again – 24 hours at least), you can spray another layer on top – and so on, so on, so on.
There are multiple benefits of using a ceramic boost on your car, truck, motorcycle, toy, or race car.
- Improves Shine and Luster: When a ceramic boost is applied on top of a nano coating (like Armor Shield IX) it thickens the layer of protection. This amplifies the shine under the surface even more.
- Adds Extra Protection from Elements: While the SiO2 percentage is lower than a nano-coating, it provides extra strength against UV light, bird droppings, bug guts, chemicals, road salt and more.
- Improved Hydrophobic Properties: Unlike applying a wax, sealant, or hybrid substance on top of a ceramic coating, the ceramic boost spray improves hydrophobic properties. Other substances like those mentioned above reduce the hydrophobic properties on ceramic coatings. With the boost spray, you’re getting added protection without compromising the ability to repel water, dirt and debris.
- Can Be Used on Multiple Surfaces: The ceramic boost can be used on chrome, plastic trim, headlights, vinyl wraps, clear coating, wheels, and more.
How Can You Tell the Determine if a Ceramic Boost Spray is Legit?
The term “ceramic” is WAY overused in the automotive industry. By definition, a ceramic is any substance that is inorganic and non-metallic material. That’s a broad scope of potential products – huh?
This is where overmarketing and pure grade BS is used to take advantage of a consumer segment that is looking for a “hot buzz term” product.
So – how do you tell the difference between a legit SiO2 Ceramic Boost Spray from a punk-ass poser? Here are some tips to consider.
What’s the Manufacturer Say?
Transparency is a big deal in today’s world. Those who sell products that are not afraid to be open and honest about what is in their products are ones you can trust. Now, they don’t have to tell you the exact percentages of each ingredient, but they should be open with them.
If they say it’s a SiO2 boost spray, then they should have SiO2 in it. The ingredient(s) you’re looking for is a form of “silica”. There are more than 100 different variations of silicon dioxide, but you’ll find silica in the root of most of them.
What’s the Application Method?
There are some ‘ceramic boost’ sprays that are activated by water. The manufacturer says that you can spray the coating on top of your recently washed vehicle, and simply wipe off with a drying towel. Here is the problem – how does it harden?
A longer-lasting ceramic boost spray is going to be applied to a freshly washed and completely dried surface area. You’ll let the coating cure for at least 24 hours – without exposure to water. This permits the SiO2 to harden – even at a lower percentage, for longer lasting protection.
Exposure and After Care Matters
Just like a professional-grade nano-coating, exposure to elements and the aftercare makes a big difference with how long it works. There are several elements that contribute to accelerated breakdown of a ceramic boost spray including:
- Water and Washing: The main threat to a lower Si02 protectant is exposure to water and car washing. Constant or frequent rain showers, washing the vehicle at automatic car washes, or high-pressure washing will accelerate wear and tear.
- Windshield Wipers: SiO2 Booster sprays can be used on windshields. However, every time you turn on the wipers, it starts to wear the coating thin. You’ll likely have to apply the spray booster more frequently than on a body panel, headlights and other surfaces.
- Parked Outside: Natural exposure to UV rays is great in the first 24 hours – as it hardens the coating quicker. However, with every day it’s parked outside, exposed to dirt, debris, chemicals, and other stuff, it can slowly wear thin.
How to Get the Best out of Your Ceramic Boost Spray
While good SiO2 boost sprays can “last” for up to six months, the best way to extend protection is to reapply after every three car washes (or once per month). This is especially true if you’re using a ceramic boost as a standalone product.
Remember, with each application of a high-quality SiO2 spray, you’re able to layer it on top of each sublayer. This means that if you stay on top of maintenance of these products, and reapply once per month or so, you’re extending the overall effectiveness and lifespan.
Plus, assuming the surface remains hydrophobic, you won’t have to remove it, compete new prep work and reapply (like many nano-coatings recommend).
So, if you want your ride to shine, have maximum protection, and extend the life of your professional-grade or DIY nano coating, apply a high-quality SiO2 boost spray every month or two – right after washing and drying your vehicle.