February 24, 2024

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Innovation in the Automotive Realm

Best Ceramic Coatings, Tested By Experts (2024 Guide)

4 min read

A nano-ceramic coating can protect your car’s exterior from marring and other hazards. These coatings typically last much longer than a typical wax coating. While you can have a professional apply ceramic coating, these are also reasonably simple to apply yourself.

What Is A Ceramic Coating?

Ceramic car coating is a chemical, liquid polymer that bonds with a vehicle’s clearcoat and protects a vehicle’s paint from environmental damage such as: 

  • Acid rain
  • Grime, dirt, and debris 
  • Industrial fallout
  • UV rays 
  • Water spots
  • Bird droppings

Silicon dioxide is the key ingredient in ceramic coatings. It gives them hydrophobic properties, meaning they repel water and take any moisture bead or sheet easily away from a car’s surface. This is why car enthusiasts often note the product’s cleaning properties – water and dirt can’t easily stick to your vehicle.

However, ceramic car coatings aren’t just functional. After application and curing, these products harden to give your car that “candy apple” shine. The best ceramic coatings for cars add a high-gloss finish to your paint job while also increasing the color’s depth.

Cost Of Professional Ceramic Coating

Drivers can have the ceramic coating done professionally or use do-it-yourself (DIY) products. Although pro-grade ceramic coatings have longer staying power – upward of three years – they can be expensive. A professional detail may cost between $1,000 and $2,000. High-quality, DIY ceramic coatings are an excellent way to get a professional-grade look without the professional price tag.

Is Ceramic Coating Worth It?

Reasons you may want to add ceramic car coating to your detailing arsenal include:

Longer-lasting than car wax: While waxing gives your car a beautiful glow, it only lasts three to six months. Some of the best ceramic coatings for cars last more than a year. Applying a ceramic car coating may be more labor-intensive, but you don’t need to reapply it as frequently as traditional carnauba wax.

Protection from the elements: Ceramic coatings protect your vehicle from UV rays, debris, rain, stains, oils, dirt, contaminants, and industrial fallout. Depending on where you live, your paint job can take a beating. A ceramic car coating ensures your paint coating is guarded in the long term.

Cut down on cleaning time: After a ceramic car coating cures and hardens, your car’s surface will become slick, making it tough for water, dirt, and debris to stick. The fewer particles on your car, the less time it takes to clean.

Cost-effective way to enhance your car: On average, ceramic car coating products range from $15 to $25. Pro-grade kits cost more, but most are less than $100.

Can You Wax Over Ceramic Coating?

Vehicle owners looking for the best car care may try multiple methods to preserve the vehicle’s finish. While you can use wax after a ceramic paint coating has cured, it can be redundant. Both perform similar functions.

Buffing can help with paint correction and remove swirl marks, but adding wax for sheen and shine is a job already done by the ceramic coating.

“There is never a time, in my opinion, where you would use both a coating and a wax,” says Clark Webster, an auto detailing expert with over a decade of experience. “The wax would need to go on top of the coating, but the hydrophobic properties of the coating would render the wax useless. There are ‘top coats’ designed specifically for coatings, that help rejuvenate the base coating as well as add additional protection. This almost eliminates the need for traditional waxes.”

Ceramic Coating Vs. Car Wax

Ceramic coatings and car wax perform essentially the same function: to protect your paint and add a pleasing shine. But which is better? Detailing professional Clark Webster told us:

“Ceramic coatings are far more durable than waxes, so from a performance/durability/longevity standpoint, you’ll get more protection and less environmental breakdown from a coating than you would a wax. In general, a wax will last between three to four months. A coating can last anywhere from six months to five years.”

Of course, car wax is much less expensive than a ceramic coating. To pay a professional to coat your vehicle can cost as much as a new paint job. A ceramic coating that you apply yourself is much less expensive, but the application is difficult and it is easy to make mistakes.

That said, applying a ceramic coating is doable for the at-home enthusiast, but you may want to take a class in the process beforehand. Check with your local detailing shops to see if any offer training in ceramic coating application.

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