Are ceramic coatings worth it?
What is a ceramic car coating in the first place? And how does this 9H hardness rate against other paint protection products?
While there are several ways to spice up the flavor of your daily drivers, such as paint correction or self-cleaning efforts, many consumers are looking into the power found in a bottle of ceramic coating as a viable option.
It’s certainly all over the internet these days with countless videos across social media showing mud being thrown over a hood and sheeting off instantly leaving barely a dirty mark. Some even scratch the vehicle with a cigarette lighter, so show how it reduces damage on the body. In fact, the results are hard to believe.
For many viewers, this is the first time they’ve even heard of the terms “Ceramic Coating” or “Nano Coating”. Others are skeptical -- have the videos been staged in some way? Will the coat ruin my car? Can the actual results vary -- or are all coatings the same? And why do they seem so expensive when the bottle is so tiny?
In today’s post, we’re going to look at the realities of ceramic coating your car, whether they do what they claim and help you decide whether it’s for you or not. Although the protection these coatings offer is unrivaled, they do have some potential downsides depending on what you’re after. And yes, individual results and price will vary.
Also, check out our post that breaks down all the myths associated with ceramic coating products. You will enjoy the read!
Let’s spend some time clearing the facts from the fiction. This is what we’ll be covering today:
You want your car to look as amazing as it did the day you drove it off the dealer’s lot. But despite your efforts maintaining and washing, the scratches, chips, and stains start to spread across your car’s body and the paint begins to dull & fade from the sun.
This spurns many consumers to find ways of providing UV protection with exceptional results, improved shine, reduced damage, at a fair price.
Contaminants Damage Car’s Surface Constantly
Anything and everything is constantly attacking your car’s finish. Mud, dust, dirty rain, water spots, unsightly brake dust, grime start sticking to your car almost immediately after cleaning it. These contaminants can also lead to damage on your vehicle’s paint, headlights, and more.
And let’s face it, having to wash your car is boring, monotonous and time-consuming. Snow, ice, salted roads, tree gum, and bird crap results in more hard working cleaning your ride.
Problems with Using Automatic Car Washes
Automatic car washes might spray off dirt, but it can scratch and mar your paint, while the chemicals used are terrible for the finish. While the price and convenience of an automatic car wash is attractive, the damage done causes havoc to your cars body. Not to mention daily life scratches from kids, shopping carts, bikes, and scooters.
Why Not Wax?
Wax adds a good level of shine and gloss, and a small amount of protection, but lasts a few months at best. And while a coat of natural carnauba and spray wax provides a hardness that Mother Nature appreciates -- it’s not exceptionally strong.
But it certainly doesn’t produce results on par with a quality glass coating product. Also, when you apply car wax, you have to remove it before you apply it again.
Here’s where auto Ceramic Coating products come enter the mix.
Originally designed for the oil and space industry, the 9h ceramic technology has now expanded quickly into the automotive industry. It allows customers to apply a coat of protection via nano-technology in concentrated doses to spray products. All because of how effective it really is.
What is Ceramic Coating for Cars?
What is a bottle of 9H ceramic coating? The easiest way is to understand Ceramics Coatings are to think of them as a second layer of skin, or a sacrificial layer of protection over your car’s coat of clear paint.
The 9H represents the hardness of the coating, based on the pencil scale. It’s what leads to durability and the potential of reduced damage to your ride. While there are some spray ceramic coatings on the market, the 9H hardness is often reserved for highly-concentrated formulas.
Use of Nanotechnology in Ceramic Coating
They utilize nanotechnology, which are essentially tiny particles that form a very fine, thin layer completely invisible to the eye. Because these particles are so small, when applied to a finish, they seal all the pores making the substance hydrophobic (water-repellent), but also resistant to UV, scratches, chemicals, extreme heat and even anti-graffiti.
This 9H ceramic layer results in a completely transparent shield of Armor. The strength of this coat protects paint from damage via UV rays, spray chemicals, and other contaminants.
The higher-quality of the coat, the increased shine, durability and protective qualities. The drawback is an elevated price for many of these products.
This also explains why the bottle contain so little liquid (typically 30ml). The particles are so small, that this is all that is required to coat a single car. This results in a better shine and more bang for your paint protective buck.
Forms Semi-permanent Bond With Vehicle’s Surface
The nano ceramic coating forms a semi-permanent bond. This results in a ‘sacrificial’ layer that will not wash away under cleaning or rain, or break down over a short period of time. In fact, the durability is so protective, it usually lasts years.
They repel dirt and water like nothing else, which makes them easier to spray clean. Their hardness helps to prevent swirl marks and marring from washing. And of course, the price of protection vs the cost of repair makes it a strong value proposition.
Although they’re just now catching wings in the “mainstream” -- ceramic car coatings have been around the detailing industry for several years now.
However, because of prohibitive ceramic coating costs through detailers, they’ve previously they’ve really only been accessible or cost-effective for enthusiasts or owners of high-end vehicles.
There are two options when deciding you want your car’s finish ceramic coated:
- Professional Applied Products
- DIY Consumer Kits
3a. Professional Application
Ceramic Coating Cost: $500 -- $2,000
These are (car) ceramic coatings that must be applied by trained and certified professionals and delivers super-hydrophobic properties. The use of equipment, experience and labor makes the cost relatively high, depending on your budget.
On the very low end as far as professional ceramic price you can expect to pay at least $500 for just the application. Pre-prep with a clay bar and professional preparation will add several hundred dollars more at a bare minimum.
Time Taken to Complete the Process
The nano ceramic process typically takes anywhere between 1-5 days depending on the condition of your paint, the size of the vehicle and the packages you select. For premium ceramic coating packages such as Ceramic Pro Gold, expect to pay upwards of $2,000 from a licensed dealer.
But what about the average person who doesn’t drive a Ferarri or doesn’t want to pay potentially $1000s for an auto polymer or ceramic coating?
3b. DIY Consumer Kits
Ceramic Coating Cost: $20 -- $150
Recently, a range of exciting consumer-level car coatings have been entering the marketplace. This has opened up “nano” ceramic coatings to casual drivers who are less concerned about their cars being showroom quality and more about ease of cleaning and protection against damage due to the elements.
The DIY ceramic coating products are attractive due to its ability to create exceptional hardness -- with very little effort. Its due to the nano-technology with an advanced polymer infused in these products -- like Iron Man’s suit in Avengers Infinity War.
The DIY coating often comes in an attractive box with everything needed to apply. In the box of a superior quality DIY kit you’ll find gloves, an applicator sponge, suede cloths, detailed instructions and a high-quality buffing microfiber towel.
Benefits of DIY Consumer Kits
Specially formulated so that they are much less sensitive than professional-grade car coatings, they are also designed to be applied with little to no experience. The quality & durability of these products can vary immensely, but in comparison to the costs of professional applications, they are obviously a lot more accessible to the average driver.
The main attribute that enhances or reduces durability is it’s hardness. As for how to ceramic coat a car yourself, the process is actually quite simple.
The DIY Kit includes everything you need to perform a professional grade ceramic coating without any prior experience. Get the feeling of driving a new car, every day.
One of the observations we made when researching the most popular Ceramic paint protection options on the market, was that even if they were available to the average consumer, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend everyone to get them. While the box might look good on the outside, the support and instructions were vague.
Some had little to no guidance, which is mainly the reason we’ve created Armor Shield IX. AvalonKing made it a big priority to properly guide customers through the whole experience from ordering the right amount, preparing, applying the nano coating and how to maintain it so it lasts for many years.
- Relatively easy to apply nanoceramics
- Extremely cost-effective paint protection
- Very visible results at a fair price
- Exceptional shine, hardness and durability
- A lot of power for such a small bottle of product
- Everything needed inside the box -- with the best DIY kits
- Takes effort to properly prepare a car if paint is poor
- A lot of poor quality knockoff nanoceramics made from a cheap polymer out there. Research required
- Often confused with spray ceramic boosters -- not the same thing
- Not proper guidance from every company
- Some companies exaggerating benefits of their bottle of coating.
What Does a Nano-Ceramic Coating Do?
There is a good reason why their popularity is growing a lot. A lot of the benefits are simply unheard of in the automotive industry, but that said, there are also some minor precautions you need to be aware.
Otherwise known as being very water repellent.
An important feature of a nano Ceramic Coating is that it is hydrophobic. This basically means that water will be repelled instantaneously. When your car is ceramic coated, the incredible hydrophobic effect of the coating will cause water to bead up and roll of the finish along with most dirt, grime, or mud (as it has all been unable to bond to your vehicle’s paint).
When people ask “what is ceramic coating” this is often the first demonstration.
. However, there are some “ceramic” spray-on products that depend heavily on a polymer that replicate the same hydrophobic attributes. They just don’t last as long.
4b. Mud & Dirt Repellent
Ceramic paint coating works much harder at protecting the vehicle than an ordinary paint job.
Rain and water bead as opposed to accumulating on the paint finish. Snow and ice does not stick. And mud as demonstrated above just slides off.
4c. Protection from UV Damage / Oxidization / Rust
Vehicles often exposed to the sun will start seeing the paint fade and look dull. This is caused by the sun’s ultraviolet sun rays, which causes oxidation to the car’s paint. By adding a layer of Ceramic Coating to your paint, you can dramatically reduce the oxidation.
4d. Improved Durability
As we said above, hardness of the coating is what leads to durability. But, it’s not the only factor. Ceramic coatings or nano coatings if you will, works much harder at protecting the vehicle than an ordinary paint job.
The new coating bonds with the molecular structure of your car’s paint and can’t be dislodged by vibrations or external force, meaning it lasts years not months.
As mentioned earlier in the article, think of it as an added layer of skin on top of your paint. How long does ceramic car coating last? A good bottle of DIY nano-coating should last 2-3 years. A polymer spray only holds up for about 6 months.
A lot of misconceptions about what the protection does not cover. Some of it might be logical, but never the less, let’s start off by saying this.
Not Make Car Bulletproof
Even the best ceramic coating does not make your car bulletproof. And they’re not some magic all-encompassing product that will solve all potential hazards your ride is exposed to. The truth is not every vehicle will benefit from it.
Does Not Eliminate Proper Care
They do not stop rock chips, they do not prevent water spots, they do not replace proper care or maintenance, they do not prevent dings or dents, and they do not last forever.
Does Not Give Complete Protection From Contaminants
Just because your vehicle has undergone the ceramic paint process or treatment it doesn’t mean you no longer need to dust, wash or remove bird droppings. You still do. The difference is that maintaining your paint will require less elbow grease and less time.
We thought we’d round up a few of the myths we most often hear about, so you can get your facts from a reliable source in case you’re wondering.
Myth 1: Ceramic Car Coatings Are Scratch-Proof
A lot of detailers and suppliers exaggerate the scratch resistance of 9H Ceramic Coatings for cars, even going so far as to call them scratch-proof or resistant to rock chips which is completely false.
Small scratches can definitely be resisted by a Nano-Ceramic Coating and the sacrificial layer the car coating forms will certainly help against minor incidents that would otherwise mar your surface. For examples, driving through brush, small little knocks from bikes, kids playing, or animals jumping excitedly against the car.
Most newer coatings for cars are typically rated 9H on the pencil scale. This is the highest possible scratch resistance, however -- 9H Ceramic coatings for cars are not thick or flexible enough to absorb the impact of a rock hitting your paint at highway speed or to resist against someone purposely trying to scratch your car.
Myth 2: Nano Coatings for your Car Don’t Require Maintenance
Another myth is that ceramic coated cars do not require washing or maintenance. A coating will heavily cut down on the amount of washing and maintenance but not completely eliminate the need for it.
Eventually, your ride is going to get dirty. That’s just a fact of life.
It will still require washing, just with a lot less effort and less frequency. Overall with a car coating, it’s going to be much easier. Additionally, it eliminates the need for waxing every few weeks, saving a lot of money over the course of the ceramic coatings lifetime.
Myth 3: Car Coatings Are Permanent
Partly, this is true. The nano ceramic coating is actually semi-permanent, as to it bonds with the car part and cures into a hard and shiny sacrificial layer. That means that you don’t have to re-apply every other month to maintain that glossy appearance.
How long does ceramic coating last? With a good product and proper application, it should last at least 2-3 years, however, it is definitely not permanent.
Myth 4: Ceramic Coating is Really Easy to Apply
This is actually relatively true. With the new DIY kits becoming available to consumers, the actual application process is relatively easy.
That said, it’s not necessarily simple. Before you can even apply the nano coating, the material has to be free of surface blemishes, which applies to even brand new vehicles. The process really depends on the condition.
As the ceramic coating will semi-permanently add a layer over your vehicle’s paint, it’s crucial to do any paint restoration before applying the car coating. It’s up to you to decide, but we do recommend washing the car, claying, buffing, and keeping it pristine while applying the coating.
Myth 5: Ceramic Coatings Provide More Gloss Than Sealants And Waxes
Not necessarily. The truth is the nano coating for cars doesn’t provide the gloss alone – the prep work done underneath is also crucial. If you have faded paint and apply a coating to your car, it will still be faded, with a little bit of shine on top.
The same applies for haze or swirl marks, they’ll also be “locked” under the coating if they’re not removed first. While the shine, durability and protective quality will be enhanced, damage underneath will be amplified.
Frequently Asked Questions -- Ceramic Coating FAQs
The information above is really educational and provides a detailed explanation of how these products work. Here are some FAQs about ceramic coatings that will help you understand further
1. How Long Does a Ceramic Coating Last?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a black and white answer. A high-quality DIY ceramic coating like Armor Shield IX should hold up and provide protective properties for at least three years – but can last up to five. There are three factors that determine the durability of a ceramic coating.
The prep work and application. If a ceramic coating is applied to a clean and debris-free vehicle, it will bond stronger, penetrate the imperfections, and cure harder. When the coating is harder, it provides superior protective qualities, with enhanced durability. Thus, it will last longer.
The quality of the formulation. Not all ceramic coatings are equally formulated. In fact, there are several products out there that are extremely watered-down versions that simply don’t adhere or flash consistently. A high-quality ceramic coating is going to be sticky, but not overly thick.
SiO2 Percentage. A good bottle of ceramic coating will contain at least 80% SiO2 in the formulation. The stronger the SiO2 percentage, the harder it will cure – and thus – last longer.
2. How to Remove Ceramic Coating
Removing ceramic coating is not easy. There are three proven methods for accomplishing this task. First, you can use a chemical remover that is designed for removing coatings. The problem with this method is the chemical tends to be very acidic, which causes damage to unprotected surfaces – such as rubber on tires.
The second removal is to clay bar the surface. This tends to work well when the coating is on its last legs and is very thin. The third method is paint correction or specifically using a polishing cutting compound to ‘polish’ the coating off the surface.
3. How to Maintain Ceramic Coating
The best way to keep your ceramic coated vehicle looking strong is to activate a consistent hand washing schedule, using a pH neutral car shampoo that contains NO car wax or sealants. We recommend washing your Armor Shield IX protected vehicle every two weeks, using the two-bucket hand washing technique.
Once you’ve washed the vehicle, we recommend applying a high-quality SiO2 Ceramic Boost Spray every two months. This will apply a sacrificial layer on top of your coating, that can be layered every time you apply it. This can significantly extend the life of your DIY nano coated vehicle and provide additional depth to the paint.
4. What is Ceramic Coating Made Of?
Top secret sauce. Just kidding – kind of. A ceramic coating is formulated with multiple ingredients that work together to penetrate microscopic imperfections on porous surfaces and leaves a semi-permanent layer of protection.
The main ingredient is silica dioxide or SiO2. The higher the percentage of SiO2 – the stronger it will cure. However, there is a point where if it’s too thick, it’ll make it difficult to apply yourself. The happy spot is between 80 to 84% SiO2 for DIY application.
Other ingredients include Titanium Dioxide or Nano TiO2, Activation of Fluorine, Brightening Silicon Particles, Poly Silazane, Triethanolamine, and water.
5. How Many Layers of Ceramic Coating Does a Car Need?
One. Nano ceramic coatings do not layer on top of each other. Once you have a layer of protection applied to the surface of your vehicle, that’s good enough. We recommend applying a second coat, but this is just to ensure you have even coverage on all surfaces and don’t miss any areas.
You can enhance your DIY nano coating by applying a High-Quality SiO2 Ceramic Boost Spray on top every few months.
6. Can You Apply Wax Over a Ceramic Coating?
You can – but shouldn’t. Applying wax over a ceramic coating is like putting a dull vinyl wrap over your $20,000 candy paint job. It might help to protect the coating, but it removes most of the benefits of your ceramic coating. Mainly, you’ll experience less hydrophobic properties, collect more dirt and dust, and must wash your car more often.
If you’re looking to protect the ceramic coating, use a high-quality SiO2 Boost Spray instead, that applies another layer of ceramic coating that can layer on top of itself. This will provide the protection of car wax, that lasts longer, and won’t reduce hydrophobic properties.
So, hopefully that helps answer “What is a Ceramic Coating?”.
As for whether it’s worth it to ceramic coat your car?
Yes, absolutely, for most cars. The marginal investment, particularly from a DIY standpoint makes a ceramic car coating well worth purchasing. The upfront cost will pay for itself in savings in less than a couple of months.
A professional application is also worth exploring if you have a high end or show vehicle. We’ve actually calculated a bit on it, and if you spread the upfront cost out on the duration of the entire protected period, you’re looking at a whopping $0.05 per day.
The important thing is to not expect a magic product that forms a bulletproof force field of protection around your car. What it does do is keep your car looking like its been recently waxed for years, makes dirt fall off super easy, and does a better job of protecting your paint than any wax or sealant.
Its also phenomenal on your rims, plastic and especially headlights. In fact, it’s so good that we’ve had many people try out our very own Armor Shield IX and offer their honest reviews in the process.
From reviewing the product, opening the box, and applying, to reviews after a year of use or more, you’ll find a ton of information online -- especially on YouTube.com.
Some of these how-to videos even have hundreds of thousands of people watching them, so we do recommend watching some of these videos before you go ahead and make up your mind about going forward with a 9H ceramic coating. We’ll link a few of them down in the references below.
The DIY Kit includes everything you need to perform a professional grade ceramic coating without any prior experience. Get the feeling of driving a new car, every day.
Lastly, it’s important to know that we guide you through the whole process, so you can get a result as if you had it professionally done.
So ask yourself this: Do you want your car to look like it’s just been washed and waxed every day for years, with a deep glossy finish, easy cleaning, dramatically increased level of environmental protection? If you can say yes to that, we encourage you to try out a Ceramic Coating DIY Kit today.
We, at AvalonKing, stand by our product so much, that we’d like to invite you to try out our DIY Ceramic Coating Kit yourself with a 2-Year Guarantee for only $69.99. That means you basically have zero risks as we’ll just pay you back the money if you’re not happy with the product or results.