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The Truth About Ceramic Coating

The Truth About Ceramic Coating

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

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, 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
  • What is a Ceramic Coating
  • What Are The Options?
  • What Does a Ceramic Coating Do
  • What Does a Ceramic Coating NOT Do
  • Ceramic Coating Myths
  • Conclusion

1. 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.

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.

Here’s where Ceramic Coatings come in.

Ferrari Ceramic Coating
A Ferrari is getting ceramically coated.

 

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

More Reading:
How it Works
FAQ

2. What is a 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 layer is completely transparent.

Ceramic Coating vs Non-Coated
The difference between an uncoated surface vs. a coated.

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 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.

3. What are the options?

Although they’re just now catching wings in the “mainstream” – ceramic 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 surface covered:

  • Professional Applications
  • DIY Consumer Kits

 

3a. Professional Application
Cost: $500 – $2,000

These are coatings that must be applied by trained and certified professionals. The use of equipment and expertise makes the cost relatively high, depending on your budget. On the very low end, you can expect to pay at least $500 for just the application. Pre-prep and professional preparation will add several hundred dollars more, at a bare minimum.

The 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?

Some References:
Ceramic Pro Packages
Opticoat Packages

 

3b. DIY Consumer Kits
Cost:  $20 – $150

Recently, a range of exciting consumer level products has been entering the marketplace. This has opened up 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 coatings, they are also designed to be applied with little to no experience. The quality & durability of these products can vary, but in comparison to the costs of professional applications, they are obviously a lot more accessible to the average driver.

Armor Shield IX DIY Kit

Armor Shield IX is a highly durable protective coat.

$69.99

One of the observations we made when researching the most popular DIY Ceramic Coatings 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 coating and how to maintain, so it lasts for many years.

Advantages:
● Relatively easy to apply
● Extremely cost effective
● Very visible results

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

4. What Does a 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 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 vehicles paint).

 

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, 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.

5. What Does a 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. It 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
The 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 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.

6. Ceramic Coating Myths

We thought we’d round up a few of the myth we most often hear about, so you can get your facts from a reliable source in case you’re wondering.

Myth 1: Coatings Are Scratch Proof
A lot of detailers and suppliers exaggerate the scratch resistance of Ceramic Coatings, 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 Ceramic Coating and the sacrificial layer the 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 are typically rated 9H on the pencil scale. This is the highest possible scratch resistance, however… Ceramic coatings 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: Coatings Doesn’t Require Maintenance
Another myth is that ceramically 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 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: Coatings Are Permanent
Partly, this is true. The ceramic coating is actually semi-permanent, as to it bonds with the 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.

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 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 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: Coatings Provide More Gloss Than Sealants And Waxes
Not necessarily. The truth is the coating 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, 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, is it worth it to ceramically coat your car?

Yes, absolutely, for most cars. The marginal investment, particularly from a DIY standpoint makes a ceramic 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 or converted to Euro, approx. €0.04.

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 of super easy, and does a better job of protecting your paint then 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 ceramic coating. We’ll link a few of them down in the references below.

Armor Shield IX DIY Kit

Armor Shield IX is a highly durable protective coat.

$69.99

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’re actually offering you to ceramically coat your vehicle with a 3-Year Warranty for only $69.99. That means you basically have zero risk, as we’ll just pay you back the money if you’re not happy with the product.

 

GET STARTED TODAY

Take advantage of the offer today.

 

 

Here are some popular How-To Videos from YouTube using Armor Shield IX:
● 
How to Restore Faded Paint With Ceramic Coating
● How to Restore Headlights With Ceramic Coating
● How to Restore Nasty Aluminum Rims With Ceramic Coating

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 57 Comments

  1. that black SUV in the end, holy hell… I gotta buy a new car just to have it coated right away, or just repainting my beat up Altima 😀

  2. I attend a lot of shows with my de ville and I use a detailing spray for each show, gets quite expensive after some point when you think about it… You recon I can completely avoid the need for using detailing sprays by coating my car with a ceramic coat? Any opinion is appreciated

    1. as detailing sprays are basically just a top up for degraded wax and sealants you can be 100% sure you won’t need them with a ceramic coated car. The ceramic stays flawless for years so you can just wipe down the surface with regular microfiber towels instead of wasting money on expensive sprays.

  3. how many layers is recommended with Armorshield?

    1. 1 layer should suffice as standard.

      You’ll definitely get some results with a 2nd layer, but from there you’re looking at fractional improvements. For the labor involved, I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 at most.

      There are some pro shops that do ridiculous layering, like 10+ which is just silly.

  4. I have a question on preparation. Some 3 months ago I used a spray sealant on my paint. It doesn’t really say much on the bottle in terms of what it actually is. So my question being, can I coat over my car now with ceramic or do I have to do some extra steps to remove the sealant.

    I see no shine like I used to when I applied the spray before so is it safe to assume that stuff wore off?

    also, how long does ArmorShield last?

    1. that sealant is probably long gone but, just to be safe, I would recommend doing one pass with a swirl remover to make sure any remnants would be cleared off and to ensure your surface is fully swirl and scratch free prior to the ceramic application so that you get an even better result in the end.

      on your second question, when applied correctly, ArmorShieldIX lasts 3-5 years and, depending on the climate and vehicle usage, possibly even more. Just make sure you follow the instructions and advice on preparation and application and you will have a lasting and powerful protections for years.

    2. As a certified installer myself, you will also want to use a ‘panel wipe’. This is usually a mixture of 1/3 isopropyl alcohol to 2/3 distilled water. The panel wipe will strip any surface oils such as paint sealant or wax and leave a clean prepped surface for the coating to bond to. You should also consider using a clay bar or clay mitt during the wash phase to remove any contaminants trapped in the paint pores which is where the coating will need to bond to.

  5. do you need a machine to buff this stuff? like a dual action or rotary polishing powertool?

    1. with ArmorShieldIX at least, you don’t need any power tools, everything you need is included in the kit

      1. can I use a dual action polisher with a microfiber attachment for final polishing since I already have it?

        1. if you already have it, sure, just make sure you are using a 100% clean microfiber attachment and not to apply too much pressure

    2. I did mine completely by hand, need to put in a bit of elbow grease but its not that hard really… if you ever polished your car by hand this is 20 times easier…

  6. Hi I have used 9H auto ceramic coating on my panther black Fiesta, not happy with the end result. Is there any way of totally removing the coating? Your help would be appreciated, thanks, Richard

  7. How does ir compare wit some of the waxes out there is it that much better?

    1. Waxes are easier to apply or require as much prep. On the face of it, they also seem a lot cheaper. However, a typical wax is only going to last a few weeks vs years for a ceramic.

      Waxes are also primarily for appearance. It’s not going to offer any chemical resistance against insects, sap, bird droppings, harsh chemicals. Nor UV or scratch resistance.

    2. used to wax before I discovered ceramics, as Eric wrote yeah, to do it right, its pretty much same amount of prep but you gotta do it every month… also wax is soft so no chipping resistance at all

  8. its amazing how much damage just regular powerwashes do… my last car’s paint was so bad when you looked at it closely and I thought I was taking such good care of it, waxing it and all… I got a ceramic coat as soon as I purchased my new car after that, that was 2 years ago, just looking for a DIY option right now not to shell out $600 again but even that was worth it…

    any suggestions if I should remove whats left of my previous coating first? I believe it was SiO2 based as well, just lower % then armorshield

    1. if your previous coat was SiO2 you can just coat over with ArmorShieldIX. If you can thou, I would suggest doing a fine polish first to remove the old coating and then do the preparation as per instructions. This way you can be sure, if your old coating was not too good, that it wouldn’t compromise the performance of the new ArmorShieldIX coat.

      Btw, we heard people getting charged even more then you were, and I bet you will do it even better on your own then the detailer did for you 2 years ago.

  9. what if I mess something up? any way I can correct imperfections after it cures?

    1. Its not that easy to mess up if you follow the instructions. But, if you do, there are steps you can take to make corrections.

      here are some options I recommend:

      1. you’re going to need to get a soft foam finger pocket and gently appy a one-step cleaner/wax and with then ‘massage’ it out. You want to do this gently as it can take off the original ceramic coating.

      On dark colors you’ll clearly see the lighter area if you remove the coating. Then just simply re-apply the coating to the area going a bit larger than the spot you wiped free.

      2. Use a very fine polishing pad with essence polish, and level it off that way.

  10. anyone know how important it is to keep it out of rain for 24h? my thinking is, if I roll it out in the sun after application, surely its gonna fully cure in a couple of hours tops

    1. on a real hot day, direct sunlight after the application and buffing is complete, should be ok yes. Its still recommended to try and avoid rain on a “just in case” basis but you should be good.

    2. @Nicholas As a certified installer, the first 24h ceramic coatings are very susceptible to water etching i.e. water spotting. It is also recommended not to wash the vehicle for 7 days following application. You also do not want to apply consistent amounts of heat such as leaving the vehicle in hot sunny weather for the first few hours, as it may lead to the coating curing unevenly resulting in an incorrect bond. Installers sometimes use IR lamps which pulse an area for a few seconds at a time, four about 10 minutes a panel. Instead you may want to leave the vehicle indoors four the first 4 hours and then leave it in the sun.

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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.