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The Truth About Ceramic Coating

The Truth About Ceramic Coating

Are ceramic coatings worth it? What is a ceramic car coating in the first place? 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 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.

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 coating ruin my car?   And why do they seem so expensive when the bottles are 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.

Let’s spend some time clearing the facts from the fiction. This is what we’ll be covering today:

Background

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 exterior and the paint begins to dull & fade from the sun, which spurns many consumers to find ways of providing UV protection.

Anything and everything is constantly attacking your car’s surface. Mud, dust, dirty rain, water spots, unsightly brake dust, grime start sticking to your car almost immediately after cleaning it. And let’s face it, having to wash your car is boring, monotonous and time-consuming. Snow, ice, salted roads, tree gum, bird shit doesn’t help either.

Automatic car washes scratch and mars your paint, while the chemicals used are terrible for the surface. Not to mention daily life scratches from kids, shopping carts, bikes, and scooters.

Wax adds a good level of shine and gloss, and a small amount of protection, but lasts a few months at best. But it certainly doesn’t act as a quality glass coating product.

Here’s where auto Ceramic Coatings come in.

Ferrari Ceramic Coating
A Ferrari getting 9H ceramic coated.

Originally designed for the oil and space industry, the 9h ceramic technology has now expanded quickly into the automotive industry. All because how effective it really is.

More Reading:
How it Works
FAQ

What is a Ceramic Coating for Cars?

What is a 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 clearcoat.

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 surface, they seal all the pores making the surface hydrophobic (water-repellent), but also resistant to UV, scratches, chemicals, extreme heat and even anti-graffiti. This 9H ceramic layer is completely transparent.

Ceramic Coating vs Non-Coated
What is a ceramic coating?   The difference between an uncoated surface vs. a nano ceramic coated surface .

This also explains why the bottles contain so little liquid (typically 30ml). The particles are so small, that this is all that is required to coat a single car.

The nano ceramic coating forms a semi-permanent bond with a vehicle’s surface, resulting in a ‘sacrificial’ layer that will not wash away under cleaning or rain, or break down over a short period of time. In fact, usually, it lasts years.

They repel dirt and water like nothing else, which makes them easier to clean. Their hardness helps to prevent swirl marks and marring from washing.

What are the options?

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 their prohibitive 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 auto surface ceramic coated:

  • Professional Applications
  • 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 labour makes the cost relatively high, depending on your budget. On the very low end as far as professional ceramic prices 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.

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 ceramic coating?

Professional Ceramic Coating Costs
Ceramic Pro Prices
Opticoat Ceramic Coating Costs

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 the elements.

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. A for how to ceramic coat a car yourself, the process is actually quite simple.

Featured Product

Armor Shield IX DIY Kit

The Most Complete Ceramic Coating DIY Kit for Consumers

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, because some had little to no guidance, which is mainly the reason we’ve created Armor Shield IX and made it a big priority to properly guide customers through the whole experience from ordering the right amount, preparing the surface, applying the nano coating and how to maintain it so it lasts for many years.

Advantages:
● Relatively easy to apply nano ceramics
● Extremely cost effective paint protection
● Very visible results

Cons:
● Takes effort to properly prepare a car if paint surface is poor
● A lot of poor quality knockoffs nano ceramics out there. Research required
● Not proper guidance from every company
● Some companies exaggerating benefits

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 of.

4a. Hydrophobic
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 surface 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.

Watch the hydrophobic features on the left side of the car, which is coated vs. right side that’s not coated

Any remaining dirt on the car can be removed with less effort. A lot less effort.

4b. Mud & Dirt Repellent
Ceramic paint coating works much harder at protecting the surface of your vehicle than an ordinary paint job.

Rain and water bead as opposed to accumulating on the surface. Snow and ice does not stick to the surface. 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 sunrays, 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
Ceramic coatings or nano coatings if you will, works much harder at protecting the surface of your 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 DIY solution should last 2-3 years.

What Does a 9H Ceramic Coating NOT Do?

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.  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 surface is exposed to. The truth is not every vehicle will benefit from it.

Totalled Car
Even the best ceramic coating doesn’t make your car bulletproof.

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.

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.

Ceramic Coating Myths

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.

The fact is if you are going to drive your car, even if its infrequently, the road is a dirty and the surface is going to gradually get dirtier even with a ceramic coat.

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 surface 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 surface.

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: They Are 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 surface has to be free of surface blemishes, which applies to even brand new vehicles. The process really depends on the condition of the surface. 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 a very 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.

Conclusion

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. 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.

Featured Product

Armor Shield IX DIY Kit

The Most Complete Ceramic Coating DIY Kit for Consumers

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 similar results 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.

Ceramic Coating Black Glass
“Look at this thing, it’s like black glass” – Moe, Happy Armor Shield IX Customer

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.

Featured Product

Armor Shield IX DIY Kit

The Most Complete Ceramic Coating DIY Kit for Consumers

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.

Inspirational How-To-Videos

How to Restore Faded Paint With Ceramic Coating
How to Restore Headlights With Ceramic Coating
How to Restore Rims With Ceramic Coating

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.

Eric Williams

Eric is the Product Specialist at AvalonKing. He's also known as the Ceramic Coating whisperer in our office hallways. When he's not buffing away on his ol' Shelby Cobra, he enjoys watching Sunday sports and spending time with his family.

This Post Has 354 Comments

  1. I have a new car that I will be adding a clear bra (xpel or 3M) and graphic stripes. Should I wait until these are applied before I ceramic coat the finish?

    1. Hi Barry!
      You can actually do it either way or both but most apply Armor Shield after applying the bra in order to add some protection to the wrap or bra.

  2. Hi there I have an Audi SQ5 and had System X applied to it. I heard that is the best product available can you comment on the quality difference between this and Amor Shield and what differentiates the level of quality of cheap Chinese versions through to high end products ?
    Thanks

  3. We recently bought a black F-150 and had vinyl lettering applied. It looks amazing. I am a bit concerned down the road if there will be fading if we a few years from now remove the vinyl. For this reason, and to keep the truck looking great, we want to apply a ceramic coating. I mostly want a degree of UV protection. Do ceramic coatings also have some UV protection? Thank you in advance for your help.

  4. Hi there. We just had our new car ceramic coated at the insistence of my husband (new Ford Expedition). The problem is that the clear ceramic coat has now completely changed the color finish of the car. It had been a dark graphite grey with some metallic visible and now it looks like it’s all metallic gloss. I actually absolutely hate it and want to know how can we restore it to what the original paint color looked like. Does the sheen wear off enough to not be so brilliant? We specifically got this color because of the stealth edition and the darker grey. Now it looks silver and I’m so frustrated.

    1. Hi Jessica!

      Armor Shield itself doesn’t alter or change color. It enhances the existing surface. If the coating is too shiny for you the only recourse would be to remove the coating. The industry-standard method of removing a ceramic coat would be by taking a fine polish to all the coated areas. The abrasive nature of polishing will remove the entirety of Armor Shield.

  5. I have the US Flag on both front doors and on my hood. It’s a Jeep Wrangler not used for off roading. Can I use this with no problems?

    1. HI Lu!

      I assume you mean a decal. If it is a decal on the painted surface then Armor Shield will work perfectly to protect the decal and help prevent premature peeling.

  6. How much is it to coat the whole car

    1. Hi Clayton:

      It depends on the size of your car. If you have a two-door coupe or motorcycle, (1) kit will work. Four-door sedans and crossover SUV’s should use (2) kits, and full-size trucks or SUV’s are best for (3) kits. We offer discounts for multiple kit purchases – so check out this link https://avalonking.com/shop/armor-shield-ix-diy-kit/

  7. Hi Eric,
    I just had a ceramic coat professionally applied to a black car. Is there benefit to adding additional layers of ceramic coating?

    I was told black cars are more difficult to prep, once they have been coated, are diy applications the same as other colors?

    1. Hi Roger. There would be a benefit up to a certain point yes. With Armor Shield IX I can recommend going up to 3 coats, more than that and it would be excessive. Any car would actually be easier to prep if already coated (if you don’t want to do paint corrections as that would require the removal of the previous coating). For DIY, application on a black car actually has its benefits like it being a lot easier to see that the surface is properly coated and later buffed (this can be quite hard on a light gray color or white for example).

      1. Eric – just applied a coat and waiting 24 hours in the garage for it to dry…should I now be able to add another coat?

        1. For sure. You can actually do coats with just a bit of a break in between… Like an hour. But letting it fully cure definitely has its advantages as well.

  8. How do I remove scratches from a ceramic coated car?

    1. Hey Tony:

      That depends on where the scratches are located. Quite often, the scratches are underneath the ceramic coating and were not removed prior to the application. If that’s the case, you’ll have to remove the coating, complete paint correction, and reapply. If the scratches are on the coating itself, you can resolve it just like a clear coating, using a cutting polishing compound. You’ll likely have to reapply coating to that section.

  9. Hi, Eric,

    Great article.

    I was promised 4 layers of 9H ceramic coating with warranty for 5 years by a professional detailing shop and the job can be done in 6 hours. Is that possible? It seems to contradict what you have written and my own check tells me it is not. Happy to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

    1. Hi Chew. Durability would heavily depend on the quality of the coating and the preparation work involved. For 6 hours, taking aside enough time to do 4 coats, I do doubt the detailing shop is planning to do enough of the prep work needed for a truly perfect result. Just washing the vehicle properly and de-contaminating the surface could take 2 hours alone, not to mention at least doing one light polishing pass…

      1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. How do you remove ceramic coating?

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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 Vehicle Recommended Quantity Volume Savings
motorcycle   Motorcycle 1 bottle*
small car   Small car 1 bottle*
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*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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