When considering how to best protect your vehicle’s paint and finish, there are lots of options to consider. A newer choice, ceramic coating, can be very effective if applied properly.
So, how does ceramic compare to other paint and finish protection options? Let’s take a look.
What to choose
Traditional waxes and polishes have been effective for years. Carnauba wax has been used for decades. The protection offered is great, but waxes may be more difficult and time-consuming to apply. Especially considering how temporary wax is.
Paint protection films are a form of vinyl car wraps which can keep your ride looking nice while protecting it from rocks and chips. PPF covers your vehicle’s exterior with a protective film, making the paint virtually impervious to dirt, light surface scratches, and even rock chips.
PPF’s are more expensive than waxing and usually turn out best when installed by professionals.
A third product, ceramic coating, is a durable and relatively inexpensive choice. Ceramic coating provides a layer of clear protection over your vehicle’s paint and exterior.
When applied properly, your paint job will shine like new while resisting road gunk and grime and making your car easier to keep clean.
At home or with the pros?
Ceramic coatings exist as both professionally installed products and DIY sprays and applied coatings. With most things, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
In this article we’ll be examining the effectiveness of DIY methods, as well as some insight into what a professional can offer.
Why ceramic coating?
So, you want to protect your car, truck, or van’s shiny paint finish. After all, not much looks sharper than pulling up in a clean ride. Ceramic coatings are an excellent product for protecting the paint job, as well as the life of the car.
Beyond appearances, there are lots of practical reasons for protecting a vehicle’s finish.
- Protect the paint and guard against sun damage. Especially in the sunbelt, hoods, roofs and trunks can quickly show the effects of prolonged sun exposure. Paint discoloration, chipping, peeling, and ultimately rust, which kills all vehicles, in time.
- Snow, ice, and water are also deflected. In addition to sun damage, many other consumers have to contend with snow and all of its derivative forms. For areas which salt their roadways to reduce snow and ice, ceramic coatings help resist the corrosive effects of the salt on your vehicles.
- Easy clean-up. By protecting the paint, you also make it easier to clean off the road grime. This can mean less time and cost for detailing your vehicle.
- Extend the vehicle’s paint life and value. Protecting a paint job can help increase resale values. A clean, well-maintained vehicle is always more attractive to buyers.
- Ceramic wax coatings are less expensive. Compared to a full car PPF, ceramic coating costs much less. Paint Protection Film still offers greater protection, but ceramic coating can be quite effective, especially when applied properly.
When considering how to complete a task, it’s important to look at the whole process ahead of time. Get a solid understanding of what the project will fully entail.
One of the best methods for gauging a project’s difficulty is to consult professionals. See what the pros think and even how they would tackle your task.
For ceramic coatings, there are lots of paint, detail, and body shops which offer this service. Consult the internet for reviews and recommendations to find some highly rated businesses near you.
Then, contact the shops to ask some preliminary questions about their application process and warranty details.
The advantage of most shops is they have the proper spaces for the cleaning, applying, and curing process. They also have the right tools and professional-quality ceramic coat solutions.
Plus, professional shops usually have the combined experience and technical expertise needed to make an application go smoothly.
Professionals may also be certified and/or accredited and will be able to purchase and install the highest end ceramic products that may not be available to a consumer directly.
You’re going to pay more going the professional route, but you’ll have piece of mind that the job is done properly and completely. Most shops will also warranty their work to some degree, in case there is an unforeseen problem.
If you’re trying to work under a tighter budget, there are DIY ceramic alternatives which can give your vehicle a level of coverage that is significantly better than no coating but less than that of professional products. Of course, there will be trade-offs but, you may see, after reading further, that DIY is a viable option.
You can find numerous ceramic spray-ons at automotive stores, as well as stores which sell auto detailing products and equipment.
DIY ceramic coatings are usually silicon-based, and are applied as a coating over your vehicle’s paint job.
With a professional application, there is a process of stripping old wax or other contaminants off of your vehicle’s exterior.
The preparation for applying the ceramic coating is actually often more critical than the application itself. Any surface contaminants or debris will affect the adhesion of the ceramic layer.
Pro shops can work in steps, and keep the vehicle protected in enclosed, contaminant-free work spaces. The end result is an evenly coated and protected paint job. With the DIY application, you’re attempting to emulate the pro process.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the space(s) to dedicate to prepping and applying ceramic coating. The trade-off? The store-bought sprays require less prep work and usually cure faster than a professional application.
Most preps for spray-on ceramics still require a rigorous cleaning before applying, but not the level of surface stripping a pro shop will perform.
DIY kits are usually hand sprayed on for their application process. The spray-ons can then be evenly applied with microfiber towels. For a professional application, a polymer liquid is layered on and cured, and may even require multiple coats.
When comparing length of time between applications, the DIY can last anywhere from 30 days to up to 6 months, whereas a professional application can last for up to 9 years. The professional coat will also provide a stronger protective layer.
But, if you don’t mind regularly applying a spray-on coating to your vehicle, you’ll find the DIY ceramic coatings can be quite beneficial. If you’re already a hands-on vehicle owner, a ceramic coating regimen may become part of your regular cleaning and maintenance routine.
Not just for cars and trucks
Ceramic coatings can be great for boats and RVs, too. These vehicles often see even more harsh conditions than our cars and trucks.
Ceramic coatings will help extend their lives, too.
RV and boat applications
Whether driving a Class A or towing a 5th wheel, RV owners are usually looking to get the most life out of these homes on wheels. Ceramic coating, either from a professional or from the store, may be a worthwhile addition to keep your investment protected.
Since many RVs are covered or in sheds when not in use, their paint jobs may fare better. But, when they sit in a RV park or in a boondocking location, the sun and the elements are doing their work on the paint job.
For boats, the elements work overtime. Salt water, intense sun exposure, and sand abrasions can all take their toll on your boat’s exterior. Protect the paint and fiberglass integrity with a proper ceramic coating.
Protection and piece of mind
Whatever method you choose for ceramic coating application, you’ll find benefits in protecting your vehicle’s paint and exterior body. Search the internet or ask local detail shops for a product which will work for you. For information on professional applications, contact a pro near you or ask the professionals at EZ Auto Spa.