What is 9H ceramic coating? The Surprising Truth About It

9H Ceramic Coating Explained

9H is generally used as a metric for ceramic coatings. H stands for Hardness, and 9H refers to the level of hardness on a surface of a pencil or a material based on the Mohs scale. Some people believe a ceramic coating is only a true ceramic coating if it is a 9H product.

But do hardness metrics matter in a ceramic coat? Or is it just simply a marketing term used by the industry? Let’s uncover the truth behind 9H and more.

Ceramic Coating 

Before we dig deeper into 9H ceramic coatings, let’s see what a ceramic coating is. 

Ceramic coating is a protective layer that you can apply to your car’s paint without changing the color. It forms a strong, transparent layer that protects the paint from stain marks, UV rays, dirt, and other environmental contaminants. Ceramic coatings give your car a shiny appearance. They make cleaning your car easier and help maintain its beauty for an extended period.

Ceramic coating function through a combination of chemical bonding and sticks to a surface like a clear coat of paint. Its reactive components create a solid molecular bond promoting adhesion, as a result creating a durable, long-lasting protective layer. When you applied it goes through a curing or hardening process with the liquid transforming into a layer, creating a physical barrier on the surface.

Chemicals that form ceramic coatings such as silicon dioxide and other ceramic nanoparticles can fill in small imperfections and create a smoother surface. But it’s important to know that different ceramic coatings have different formulas and performances, impacting the effectiveness and longevity of the coating.

What Is 9H Ceramic Coating? 

Practically “9H” is a rating used to measure the hardness of a ceramic coating. It comes from the pencil hardness scale known as the Wolff-Wilborn method, which is a standard test to analyze the scratch resistance of different materials. But first, let’s check the Mohs Scale where the pencil hardness test bases the scales and decides the hardness of a ceramic coat.

Mohs Scale

Mohs Scale was developed by Friedrich Mohs a German mineralogist to determine the hardness of different minerals. These minerals consisted of ten minerals, each given a hardness value from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest.

Minerals included in the Mohs Scale and their hardness values:

Mohs Hardness Scale

We don’t see any ceramic coatings here, even though a lot of ceramic coatings have silicon dioxide which is an oxide of silicon known as Quartz shown in its natural form. Even that is a 7, not a 9!

So why do companies advertise 9H ceramic coatings? It has nothing to do with the actual coatings, the Mohs scale is used on the ability of one mineral to scratch another. As you can see there’s also no H in the scale, so where do they get the 9H scale? Well, the answer is the pencil hardness test.

Pencil Hardness Test

The 9H can be seen commonly in pencils, with H standing for Hardness. This technique uses graphite pencils to value the hardness of a surface or, more specifically the coating applied to it. While using a range of graphite pencils with a GLTL 3-PIN-1 Pencil Hardness Tester and depending on the test method, you can start by pushing across the coating under a force and a specific angle until the coating is scratched using different pencils, here’s a way to measure it:

1) You can start with the softest pencil hardness (B).

2) Increasing it through the medium (HB) 

3) Up to hard (H)

The scale ranges from 9H (the hardest) to 9B (the softest)

Pencil hardness test

You can find out the degree of scratch resistance that the coating has. This technique is not limited only to the coating industry, it is used also to measure the hardness of a surface in painting and manufacturing industries.

The hardness of a ceramic coating helps create a tough barrier that can act as a shield on paint, protecting it from light scratches and other forms of damage. 

Even though ceramic coatings are often assigned a 9H hardness rating which is determined through the pencil hardness test explained above, they would surely fall much lower on the Mohs scale. So claiming to be more than 7 on the Mohs scale would mean that a ceramic coat is hard as corundum or diamond!

Pros of 9H Ceramic Coatings:

Hardness and Scratch Resistance: 9H ceramic coatings provide a high level of hardness and scratch resistance that protects the surface from swirl marks, and other types of scratches caused by daily wear and tear

Protection from Environmental Factors: These coatings create a barrier against UV rays, oxidation, chemicals, bird droppings, tree sap, and other environmental contaminants that can damage the surface. This helps to maintain the original appearance of the coated surface for a longer period

Hydrophobic Properties: Many 9H ceramic coatings show hydrophobic characteristics, causing water to bead up and roll off the surface. This makes the surface easier to clean and reduces the chances of water spots or stains

Chemical Resistance: 9H ceramic coatings offer resistance to several chemicals, acids, and alkaline substances, protecting the surface from chemical damage and etching

Cons of 9H Ceramic Coatings:

Professional Application: Achieving the best results with 9H ceramic coatings often requires professional application, which may involve extra costs if done by a detailing or coating specialist. The right application of 9H ceramic coatings requires careful surface preparation, including thorough cleaning and paint correction if necessary.

Frauds: Some companies make exaggerated or misleading claims about their ceramic coatings having a true 9H hardness. It’s important to be cautious and make a thorough research to verify the credibility and performance claims of the product before buying it.

Cost: 9H ceramic coatings are generally more expensive than traditional waxes or ceramic sprays.

Visual Imperfections: In some cases, application errors or improper curing can result in visual imperfections, such as streaks, unevenness, or haze. Creating a flawless finish with a 9H ceramic coating requires skill and experience, if you are inexperienced you may have difficulties in achieving the desired results.

Should We Call Ceramic Coatings 9H?

Not in the way that many car care companies advertise it. The “9H” is used when companies market their ceramic coatings to show a high level of hardness.

You should know that the hardness is not only set by the composition or the presence of ceramic particles but by many factors such as their formula, curing process, application technique, and the substrate on which the ceramic coat is applied meaning car paints.

If a ceramic coat should be considered 9H, first it should be reasonably thick which means a high level of silicon dioxide and be quite slippery. This slipperiness can deceive the pencil hardness test by preventing the pencil from gaining traction, but there are industrial coatings designed for long-lasting applications that require oven baking at high temperatures. These coatings serve as true examples of 9H coatings.

Here are some key things to consider:

  • The term “9H” has become a marketing buzzword rather than a standardized measure of hardness.
  • No universally accepted industry standard or certification system for measuring the hardness of ceramic coatings.
  • Different factors contribute to determining whether a ceramic coating is considered “hard” or effective.
  • Hardness alone does not guarantee the overall effectiveness or quality of a ceramic coating.

You should evaluate ceramic coatings based on their overall performance, durability, chemical resistance, hydrophobic properties, and ease of maintenance. We recommended choosing a trusted brand with real-world performance feedback, rather than solely relying on the “9H” marketing term.

DIY Coatings vs 9H Professional Coating

In our opinion DIY coatings are much easier, and cheaper to use. 9H ceramic coatings can provide sometimes a high level of protection, and true 9H ceramic coatings are rare in the market plus they often need a professional application. 9H coatings have a high percentage of silicon dioxide up to 70%, with that high percentage, problems can come up. Like flashing or high spots, and it will make the coating excessively rigid and brittle. 

With these high silicon dioxide products you can end up going to a pro detailer and have them fix the potential mistakes. On top of that, you have a lot of companies saying unrealistic things, simply put lying about the hardness their ceramic possesses and the benefits you will gain, so the best way would be to always analyze their claims. 

DIY coatings can be a better choice:

  • DIY coatings offer cost savings compared to professional coatings.
  • DIY coatings are often easier to use and apply, making them more accessible to individuals without professional experience.
  • By opting for DIY coatings, you can achieve satisfactory results while maintaining control over the application process.

As you know silicone dioxide plays a crucial role in a ceramic coat but you don’t need too much silicone dioxide and also not in a small percentage because you can’t get the desired effects, and Nexgen Ceramic Spray is perfect in this case. A substantial 13% silicone dioxide that’s very easy to use, cheaper when you compare it to true 9H professional coatings, and with great results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best ways to apply 9H ceramic coating?

You can apply it by cleaning and preparing the surface, ensuring it is free of contaminants and defects. Then, apply the coating in a controlled environment using a microfiber applicator or sponge, and follow the product’s instructions. Work in small sections spread the coating evenly and avoid overlapping. Allow sufficient curing time before buffing or removing any excess residue.

Let the coating cure fully for the recommended duration, typically 24 to 48 hours, and avoid washing the vehicle or exposing it to harsh conditions during this time.

How long does 9H ceramic coating last?

Typically ranges from 1 to 5 years, depending on maintenance, environmental factors, application quality, and product quality. Regular upkeep and inspections are necessary for optimal performance

What is 9H hardness in the ceramic coating?

It tells a high level of hardness and durability. They get their hardness scale from a pencil hardness test. 9H hardness rating implies that the coating has excellent resistance to scratches, swirl marks, and minor abrasions

How many layers of 9H ceramic coating?

The number of layers of 9H ceramic coating to apply can vary depending on the product. In most cases, a single layer of 9H ceramic coating is sufficient to provide effective protection and durability. Applying multiple layers of ceramic coating may offer additional thickness and enhance the overall performance. Still, it’s important to follow the product’s instructions regarding the recommended number of layers you should add. 

Keep in mind that excessive layering can lead to longer curing times, reduced clarity, and potential issues with the coating’s bonding or durability. Be sure to check the instructions for the specific product you plan to use.

How do you remove 9H ceramic coating?

To remove 9H ceramic coating, options include using abrasive polishing, chemical strippers, or seeking professional help. Keep in mind that removing the coating can be challenging, and do it with caution to avoid damaging the underlying surface.

Bottom Line

9H is often used as a metric for ceramic coatings, indicating their hardness. However, the term has become a marketing tool rather than a standardized measure. While the Mohs scale provides a basis for assessing hardness, ceramic coatings do not fall directly on this scale.

The hardness of a ceramic coating is influenced by different factors such as formula, curing process, and application technique. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate ceramic coatings based on their overall performance, durability, chemical resistance, hydrophobic properties, and ease of maintenance. DIY coatings can be a great alternative to 9H professional coatings, offering cost savings and ease of use.


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