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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.

Our pick

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.

Our pick

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.

Our pick

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 Faded Paint With Ceramic Coating
How to restore headlights with ceramic coating
How to Restore Headlights With Ceramic Coating
How to restore rims 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 294 Comments

  1. Are there any different steps for a re-application 2-3 years down the road?

    1. Hi Bruce!

      Not really! You will want to detail the car, clay, and polish before a fresh coating 2 to 3 years down the road.

  2. The drawing shown in how ceramic coatings work is incorrect. Ceramic coatics do not result in a “flat” surface finish, instead there are micro structures like hills at microscale that cause the hydrophobic effect. It is intended to be like that and is designed to mimic topography of natually occuring hydrophobic surfaces e.g. lotus leaf.

  3. Hi may I enquire if I still need to polish or wax my car after completing ceramic coating? If yes, how often should that be.

    1. Hi Jacqueline!
      No need for waxes or polish once you have Armor Shield protecting the car.

    2. Here is why it is a bad idea to apply wax over a ceramic or any other hydrophobic coating.
      Hydrophobic coatings result in micro structures on the surface like small hills that cause the hydrophobic effect. It is intended to be like that and is designed to mimic topography of natually occuring hydrophobic surfaces e.g. lotus leaf. When you apply wax on top of this coating, you fill the vallies between these hills and remove the benefits of hydrophobic ceramic coating.

  4. This type of finish should not be confused with the high temperature Ceramic Coatings which are applied to exhaust system components like headers and manifolds that go up to 1500 degrees F. It’s a completely different Baked-On Ceramic of a totally different nature and has no relation at all to the exterior finish products.

    1. Hi Jerry!

      Thanks for sharing that information. I would like to add that although Armor Shield is not baked on it does have a high-temperature resistance. Our customers will find success using our product on exhausts and other extreme heat parts of the vehicle.

  5. just a quick question. my new car only has 3k miles on it, is this safe for my paint. thanks

    1. Hey Steve. Indeed it is safe and pretty much the best time to protect it. This way you can ensure it stays factory perfect for years and years.

  6. Have been following this for long here in Kenya. Am telling you if you have not tried please do…… If its risking do it and see… You will be amazed by my black murano….. If it passes you send tears ans saliva too…… Take it serious men.

  7. I have vinyl on my hood can this product be applied over it too when I do the painted surface?

    1. Hi June!

      You sure can. Armor Shield IX works great over vinyl wraps, striping, and decals.

  8. Can i wax over it ? Carnuba or a synthetic wax ?

    1. Hi Rick!

      Well, you can but why would you? Armor Shield IX provides you all the advantages of wax and then some. A better solution would be to apply a second coat which would offer you greater, durability, and longevity of the coating.

      1. Here is why it is a bad idea to apply wax over a ceramic or any other hydrophobic coating.
        Hydrophobic coatings result in micro structures on the surface like small hills that cause the hydrophobic effect. It is intended to be like that and is designed to mimic topography of natually occuring hydrophobic surfaces e.g. lotus leaf. When you apply wax on top of this coating, you fill the vallies between these hills and remove the benefits of hydrophobic ceramic coating.

  9. That .05 cent a day equals $1.821/2 per year. That’s only $18.25 for 10 years of protection. What a great deal.

  10. Have a new truck ordered, is the 30 day wait after a fresh paint job needed on factory paint job?

    1. Don, no. Most factory purchases are cars that have been sitting somewhere for months on time. Unless the manufacturer is specifically telling you that the paintwork is less than 30 days old you shouldn’t have a concern.

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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 VehicleRecommended QuantityVolume Savings
motorcycle   Motorcycle1 bottle*
small car   Small car1 bottle*
sedan   Sedan2 bottles*Save $35 (25%)
pick-up truck   Pick-up2 bottles*Save $35 (25%)
jeep   Jeep2 bottles*Save $35 (25%)
suv   SUV3 bottles*Save $70 (33%)
van   VAN3 bottles*Save $70 (33%)
boat   Boat4 bottles+*Save $110 (39%)

*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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