Every year, automotive enthusiasts and daily commuters alike spend billions of dollars on car washes, car wax applications, and a broad array of other exterior detailing and surface protection products.
While reducing exposure to UV rays and airborne crap may be a core cause for much of this detailing mania, a lot of people are more concerned about their vehicle’s appearances than its overall health. This invested interest in aesthetics, as well as a general dislike for washing and detailing, has caused car owners to pursue fresh application options.
One of the more recent entries in the “shield & shine” exterior detailing game, are DIY ceramic coatings, which due to their affordability and availability, have become an ideal way to save time, money, energy, and resources.
That being said, here at AvalonKing, we do occasionally get a customer who wants to know if they can apply car wax on top of their freshly ceramic coated car, to which we respond…
Below, you will find a list of reasons why waxing over a ceramic coating is pointless, pricey, and potentially harmful, along with some explanation as to why a nano ceramic coating doesn’t require waxing in the first place. You’ll also find a handful of tips for keeping a ceramic coat, like Armor Shield IX, in ship-shape, thus negating the need for this discussion in the first place.
The Problem With Nano Ceramic Coatings
Those who are new to nano ceramic coatings, or who are unfamiliar with their various forms and functions, often assume that once the product has fully cured, any detailing product on the shelf can be slapped atop its hardened surface. This is about as incorrect as it gets, and here’s why…
Nano ceramic coatings are hydrophobic by design, which means that they repel pretty much anything that comes into contact with them. Rain water, road salt, tree resin, bug guts, an incoming albatross with irritable bowel syndrome… it all gets kung-fu kicked to the curb by nano ceramic coatings, leaving nary a trace of contaminant behind.
So while a high-end ceramic coating booster/topper will play well with a previously applied nano ceramic coating, slapping a layer of carnauba palm wax on top is only going to generate more heartache than help.
Quick Nerd Note: In the scientific community, hydrophobic properties are occasionally referred to as the lotus effect. The reason for this unusual namesake, is that out of all of the vegetation on our planet, the leaves and petals of the lotus flower are the most resistant to moisture and airborne debris, thus earning it a “superhydrophobic” title.
The Risk of a Poorly Maintained Ceramic Coating
While nano ceramic coatings are indeed ultra resilient, they are by no means invincible, nor are they immune to things like water spots and dirt build-up.
Some shadier ceramic coating companies will brag that their products offer “outstanding self-cleaning attributes,” which is not entirely true. Although contaminants and liquids may struggle to stick to a ceramic coated surface, it is by no means “self cleaning.”
Despite all of their kick-ass repelling properties, nano coatings still require routine maintenance in order to function properly. A bi-weekly wash with a ceramic coating maintenance car shampoo and an ultra-plush microfiber chenille wash mitt is typically all that is needed in order to keep this futuristic protectant in top form.
Failing to wash a routinely driven ceramic coated vehicle every two weeks or so will eventually lead to a layer of filth forming on top of the coating. This can lead to the development of swirl marks while washing, as well as things like the acids found within bug splatter and bird crap slowly eat into the ceramic coating itself.
So do yourself and your vehicle a favor, and stick with a routine cleaning regiment.
Quick Nerd Note: In order to properly install a nano ceramic coating, you will likely need to spend around $100 on detailing materials and tools, and set aside a full eight-hours for the ceramic coating prep and installation process. While that may sound steep, it’s a hell of a lot better than coughing-up hundreds of dollars every year on car wax, and dedicating numerous hours every few weeks on its removal and reapplication.
What Happens When You Apply Car Wax to a Ceramic Coated Surface?
Just to set the record straight, yes, you can apply car wax to a ceramic coated surface. But it’s going to cause far more issues than solutions. Routine cleaning, garage storage, and applying a high-grade SiO2 ceramic booster spray on top of your coating has proven time and time again to be the best form of protection.
When you apply a paste or liquid wax on top of a ceramic coating, you’re hindering its ability to fully function. In fact, traditional car wax is notorious for being quite the debris collector, primarily due to the oils and lubricants found in natural carnauba wax, which remain present even once fully hardened.
As the wax slowly soaks-up all the crap in the air, the ceramic coating underneath is left with little to do but wait, its hydrophobic repelling capabilities rendered useless by the waxy media spread atop it.
Synthetic waxes aren’t much better either, as they too tend to absorb contaminants, and are unable to create the glossy sheen that carnauba waxes naturally generate. Sure, they have some hydrophobic water repelling attributes, but the hardness levels of most synthetic waxes are crap compared to a 9H-rated nano ceramic coating.
The result? A dull, hazy-looking wax job with a metric ton of airborne crud embedded into it, that is unable to cling to the surface in places due to being rejected by the nano ceramic coating’s superior hydrophobic properties.
Hell, even if you were able to get a wax to evenly cure atop a ceramic coating, you would still need to strip it away in its entirety a few weeks later with chemicals and clay decontamination media. This process would more than likely remove the ceramic coating right along with the wax, and therefore require a full reapplication once all necessary prep work and paint correction had been completed.
Applying something like a quality carnauba wax to a ceramic coated surface can be time-consuming as all hell too, for it requires additional buffing in order to remove all those waxy dingleberries that tend to form. (You heard it here first folks. Wax residue is officially being referred to as “waxy dingleberries” from this moment forth.)
How to Maintain a Ceramic Coating Without Wax
Ultra-strong, fully transparent quartz crystal defense shield of ceramic coating armor applied, and the your dream of waxing over it officially deflated, the thought of prolonging longevity surfaces once again.
Do certain maintenance methods and products work better with 9H-rated nano ceramic coatings than others? Wax definitely won’t do diddly-squat, so what’s a deflated-feeling DIYer supposed to do?
The answer is threefold, and surprisingly simple:
- Wash the vehicle every other week, using a ceramic coating approved car shampoo, and the two-bucket hand wash technique.
- Use a ceramic coat SiO2 boost spray as directed to retain surface shine and reinvigorate the coating.
- Keep a multi-pack of microfiber cloths on hand for when a quick wipe-down is deemed necessary.
Regardless of what brand or grade of ceramic coating you choose, it is important to remember that you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for coating aftercare. Extending the lifespan of the ceramic coating is the name of the game here folks, not shortening it.
That’s why here at AvalonKing, we try not to over-complicate things, which is why we formulated Armor Shield IX to last anywhere from two to five years when properly cared for and boosted with the right products. Car wax would not be one of these products.