Ultimate Guide To Ceramic Coating For Cars
What Is Ceramic Coating?
We are here to tell you all the ins and outs of what ceramic coating is, and to help you determine which type of ceramic coating fits your needs best.
First, let’s start with the basics. Ceramic coating is best described as an additional layer (or shell) that you can add on top of your vehicle’s existing paint job. This helps both prolong and protect the car’s surface by forming a clear, hydrophobic coat layer over your vehicle.
So, what is a hydrophobic layer? If you google “hydrophobic” you’ll see the definition as “tending to repel or fail to mix with water”. This is exactly what ceramic coating does, but it also has many other benefits. A ceramic coating’s formula, which we will go over later, is used to add an additional layer of paint protection without altering the color of your car.
Okay then. Let’s explain what is ceramic coating in terms we can all understand. Do you remember when you first bought your car and it looked absolutely flawless?
The paint wasn’t only shiny, but it had an amazing glossy/wet look you couldn’t stop staring at? This shine was probably one of the reasons why you fell in love with your car.
Over the years, when that shiny look begins to fade, most car owners start to wonder how to get it back. In this case, a ceramic coating product is your answer not only to bring that look back, but to also keep it there.
Ceramic coating is used to protect your car from wear and tear and to stop those pesky, but natural, everyday elements you encounter from spoiling its look. Doesn’t it seem sometimes like everything on the road is out to slowly attack your car’s beautiful exterior and diminish its value?
So, if you ever wondered what ceramic coating is for cars, here is your answer. Think of it like the ultimate raincoat. A band-aid acting like another layer of skin or the shield used by Captain America…you get it! As ceramic coating is a clear coat, it won’t change the original, stunning color of your vehicle.
When it comes to ceramic coating for cars, YOU HAVE OPTIONS and there are several different avenues you can take. You can seek professional help…which of course will be the more costly option. Alternatively, you can take the DIY route depending on your level of comfort and skill.
There are videos on YouTube you can watch to help you with the process, or you can read car care reviews to see what other people prefer. Several companies also offer products to help you get a professional look at a fraction of the price.
Before diving into the products on this guide, cost breakdowns, and the nitty-gritty details, let’s first talk about why your vehicle needs ceramic coating.
Why Does My Car Need Ceramic Coating?
If you’ve read our explanation so far for “what is ceramic coating?”, this next question is like asking, “why do I need an umbrella when it’s pouring down rain?”
Are you concerned with the longevity of your vehicle’s appearance? Do you truly see it as an investment? Then you need to take a deeper look into ceramic coatings and sprays.
You don’t want to watch your car depreciate by ignoring an issue that can be easily resolved. Using a paint protection product is the only way to keep your car looking its best, and ceramic coating is the absolute best way to do just that.
Below are just some reasons why you should add a ceramic coating to your car, truck, motorcycle, RV, or any vehicle that has paint on it!
Here’s Why You NEED Ceramic Coating:
- You want your paint to last.
- You want rain to bounce off/roll off your car and windshield with ease.
- You want to protect against the harsh rays of the sun (oxidation, UV rays, dullness and fading.)
- You are sick of seeing dirt settling on your car after it just barely rains.
- You want to wash your car less often, but still maintain its glossy appearance.
- You want to help protect your car against several everyday hazards including:
- rock chips, hail damage, tree sap/droppings, acid rain, salt (if living in colder climates), mud, rain, dust, road grime, small scratches and my all-time favorite….bird crap!
- You care about the value of your vehicle, and want it to last and look great without signs of rust for as long as possible!
- You want to wash your car with ease and not feel like you have to scrape every little thing off, making you even more worried about damaging your paint.
Now that you understand the benefits of a ceramic car coating, let’s go through the application options. If you aren’t looking to spend a small fortune and like to do things yourself, then ceramic sprays and DIY ceramic coating kits are perfect for you. Let’s break it down.
What Is The Difference Between Ceramic Coating And Ceramic Spray?
Since we are going to be talking a lot about ceramic coating and all of your options, let’s clear something up (pun intended)! First and foremost, ceramic spray is a TYPE of ceramic coating.
If you are going down the DIY route, you might want to look into some of the different ceramic sprays out there. Many companies also offer ceramic coating kits to make the process foolproof.
With SO many options on the market today, it can get really confusing for someone who’s just getting started. No one wants to sit there and read about a million different products and then waste time using a mediocre one. And that’s exactly why we started CarCareReviews.net.
This site was built to answer all your questions about what ceramic coating is, different types of ceramic coatings on the market, and other DIY car care products. When I was first starting out, I had a million questions… “Do I need a kit?”, “How much spray do I need to buy?”, “What parts of my car can I use it on?”, “Which one lasts the longest?”, “Which one has the strongest formula?”, “Which one is the best value?”, and more.
One of the main things we’ll look at is cost, which is generally the first thing coming to everyone’s mind. Then we’ll break down the science and technology behind ceramic coating and why it’s so effective.
Afterward, we’ll go through any questions that may come up during your search like “how do I apply a ceramic coating?”, “what surfaces can I use a ceramic coating on?”, “what is the difference between a ceramic coating and other detailing products?” and “how long will one application last?”.
Ceramic Coatings At Different Price Points
There’s a HUGE price difference in ceramic coatings, depending on whether you do it yourself or go to a professional auto detailer.
Taking your car in for a professional ceramic application can cost you anywhere from $450-$2400. Professionally installed coatings do last longer than a ceramic spray and a DIY ceramic coating kit (more on that later).
When it comes to what is a professional ceramic coating, and who it is for, you must consider: this is something for those who really want just the absolute best, regardless of the cost.
Many professional detailers will offer you a warranty, generally between 5 and 7 years, but there can also be a lot of hidden costs behind taking your car to a professional. Some will tell you the ceramic coating will be $700, but won’t include prep work costs, among other things.
Another thing to consider is that a professional ceramic coating can take anywhere from 1 to 5 days since it has to be baked on with UV lighting. Hence, you may need to rent a new set of wheels while your car is in the shop, adding even more money to the cost.
Now, if you want to avoid spending all that money, and can follow simple directions, then consider getting a DIY ceramic coating and applying it yourself. Some of you might think this may be too hard, but we are here to tell you otherwise! We’ll also show you some of our favorite ceramic sprays for an even faster application process.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of Ceramic Coating?
A good product will, on average, last 2-3 years. However, some claim to last up to 5 years! Whether you choose to take your car to a professional or do it yourself, know that ceramic coating is NOT a permanent solution and the results will fade over time. So don’t let a professional detailer convince you that their ceramic coating application will last for your vehicle’s lifetime!
Since most professional ceramic coatings also require maintenance, there’s another question you need to ask yourself. Do you really want to take the time to bring your car into the detailer once a year for maintenance? After all, you could easily just take a little bit of time and do it yourself.
Before we get into more detail on what a ceramic coating is made out of and how it works for cars, let’s see a cost breakdown between your options.
Breaking Down The Costs Of Professional Ceramic Coating
Say you go for a professional ceramic coating that’s supposed to last 7 years. When you break this down at the higher price tag of $2500 divided by 7 years, you get about $358 a year. $2500 is a pretty large sum to cough up for something that’s going to slowly fade away right before your eyes.
You may be thinking that $358 doesn’t sound too unreasonable. However, when you look at the cost of a professional coating, a DIY kit, and a ceramic spray, the price difference is staggering!
Another thing to consider is many types of professional ceramic coating are a much longer process and will require you to bring your car back in every year for maximum protection. Again, this is because your coating would need to be baked on with a UV light, making it a much longer process. You might also be talked into purchasing a bigger ceramic coating package. But beware! They might be selling you the idea that it will last longer and look better.
Let us show you now what the advantage of using a DIY ceramic coating product is by looking at the cost of one of our Top Rated ceramic sprays.
The Nexgen Ceramic Spray costs $19.95 per bottle. It will coat your vehicle 4 times. Or possibly even 6 times, depending on the size of your car. What’s more, it lasts up to 4 times longer than other ceramic sprays on the market. How long would you say the paint protection film lasts?
We reviewed Nexgen and after 2 months, we saw that it still made one of our vehicles look like it had just been detailed. A spray with these qualities can last you between 4 and 6 months!
Let’s do the math….Nexgen lasts for 4 to 6 months with just one application. Suppose you use one bottle of Nexgen a year. This would mean you really put your car through the thick of it, touched it up a lot, and somehow only got 3 applications out of the spray. In 7 years, comparing it to the time professionals claim their coatings last, you would use 7 bottles for a whopping total of about $140.
If you want to break it down even further, we are talking about $5 per average application. Now, we aren’t mathematicians, but it’s pretty easy to see this is significantly less than $2500.
So, to conclude, applying a ceramic spray is MUCH cheaper and almost as effective as taking your car to a professional. We’ll get into more differences later, but we wanted to get the cost breakdown out of the way.
Now, before you lose focus and start googling ceramic paint protection products, SLOW DOWN! We’ll walk you through your options and give you the lowdown on the best ceramic sprays out there. Let’s go back and get into the science behind ceramic coating.
What Is Ceramic Coating Made Out Of?
If you want to know what is the number one ingredient you should look for in a good ceramic coating, that’s Silicon Dioxide, or SiO2. The higher the content of SiO2, the stronger the formula.
But what is SiO2? Silicon dioxide is a combo of two natural materials, silicon and oxygen. People mainly know silicon dioxide as Quartz, which to some people can be a little confusing. Just think of SiO2 as the essential ingredient of ceramic coatings.
If you are looking to add a ceramic coating to your car yourself then you must purchase a ceramic spray with a high SiO2 content. Our favorite and top rated ceramic spray, Nexgen, is made of 13% silicon dioxide, which is more than any other product on the market.
Other common ingredients found in ceramic coatings are deposited aluminum dioxide, deposited chromium oxide, titanium dioxide, silica, and several others. Don’t let all these fancy terms fool you though. Remember, you want to look for what is the SiO2 content. This is the key ingredient, even if some ceramic coating brands may try to fool you. Remember to check out our rankings to see which ceramic sprays contain the highest levels of SiO2.
You’ll notice how when you start researching about ceramic coatings, the words “nano coating” and “nanotechnology” come up quite often. This is because ceramic coating uses nanotechnology to pack all these chemical components into a big punch, giving your car that sheer level of protection.
Then, what does nano coating mean? Nano coating, sometimes referred to as nano sealing, is just a fancy way of saying the same. If you are applying ceramic coating to your car, you are nano coating it, so don’t let fancy jargon confuse you!
Since ceramic coating is a semi-permanent bond, it’s made of some pretty powerful ingredients. Now, let’s go all Bill Nye the Science Guy and really dig into how ceramic coatings work chemically.
How Do Ceramic Coatings Work?
You might be thinking, “ok, ok I get it, it’s a clear coat.” However, rather than thinking about it as just a clear coat, it’s better to understand that ceramic coatings are literally a semi-permanent, clear BOND that protects your vehicle.
The bonded molecules inside ceramic coatings compound themselves to form polymers. The polymers then bond to form a structure. The result is nanocoating – (the clear layer coat) which binds to your vehicle’s paint to create that additional layer of protection, TA DA!
Think of it this way…Remember when you were growing up and you had K’NEX to play with? All those K’NEX linked together to create something spectacular! That’s what nano coating/ ceramic coating does. All those connected polymers result in a beautiful, clear, hydrophobic liquid that’s then applied to your vehicle for a solid, sheer layer of protection.
If you add a screen protector to your iPhone or Android, don’t you think you should do the same for your car? Just let that sink in for a second. Isn’t it more satisfying to understand how ceramic coatings work rather than just hoping for the best?
You are now packed with insights and information. Why not start narrowing it all down, and dive into the specifics? Let’s look at how durable ceramic coating is, how it works, and what the “shell” really does!
How Tough/Durable Are Ceramic Coatings?
Before we talk about what the normal expectation for a ceramic coating’s durability is, you have to understand the hardness, toughness and muscle behind ceramic coatings.
How are ceramic coatings tested and how can you trust a product? This is another common question and something you’ll come across a lot. Do know many companies out there falsify their hardness levels, so be mindful when purchasing.
Many professional ceramic coating brands will make a statement of having the hardest or toughest layer of protection. Of course, this sounds like something you would want, right?
Several different manufacturers claim that their ceramic coatings for cars are a level “9” or commonly referred to as a “9H” coating. What is a “9H” rating you ask?
Let’s take it back to our school days when we all had to sharpen pencils…if you were around for that. Yep, you guessed it, the hardness scale used for ceramic coating is the same scale used for pencils.
Remember making ceramics in art class, and your teacher had to keep it overnight for it to cure? Well, that applies here. Once a ceramic coating is cured to your car’s surface, you can determine its level of toughness and durability. This will be its hardness level (determined by the pencil test.)
In other words: The highest possible hardness level of a ceramic coating is 9 or 9H. Why? Because that’s the highest level of hardness on the pencil scale.
- Hardness is tested by applying (pressing down) a pencil (starting with the softest “H”) at a 45º angle to a surface.
- If a pencil is tested and does not leave a mark, then you keep repeating the process until a mark is left. When the mark is left behind, then you have your rating!
What Is The Strongest Ceramic Coating Spray?
When looking for a ceramic coating, you are going to come across many products claiming to be the “strongest” formula. But what does it mean? A 9H ceramic coating is applied only by professionals. With a little help from us, we’ll show you some of the strongest do-it-yourself ceramic sprays out there.
We’ve talked about the hardness level of ceramic coatings as well as SiO2 formulas. So now that you are aware of these two VERY important factors, how do you know which product to buy?
This can get confusing, so we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ll show you one from each category based on our industry knowledge and hundreds of reviews out there!
- Nexgen Ceramic Spray – If you are looking for what is the best ceramic coating spray, you need to pick up Nexgen’s Ceramic Spray. They are not only the longest-lasting ceramic spray on the market, but have the highest level of SiO2 out there. With a 13% SiO2 content, this is the strongest ceramic spray you can find. What’s more, this product is extremely user-friendly and, guaranteed, will provide the layer of protection you want for your vehicle. You can’t go wrong with this spray!
- Avalon King Armor Shield IX DIY Kit – Said to last for 3-5 years, their DIY kit is easy to use and budget-friendly. Avalon King will come across your search bar any time you type ceramic coating. They claim to be the highest consumer-grade ceramic coating kit on the market and, with over 1200 positive reviews, they are a pretty credible company.
How Long Does Ceramic Coating Last?
When it comes to what is the longest a ceramic coating can last, know this is really circumstantial and based on many factors. Your car comes across many different elements on any given day. Rain, salt, mud, UV rays, pollen, and airborne particles you can’t see, are just a few of these.
For example, a ceramic paint sealant will last a long time in Southern California, where there’s virtually no humidity, no bugs, no salt in the air, and it very rarely rains. Compare that with South Florida (the complete opposite) and you’ll see how, in those conditions, the same ceramic coating may last only a fraction of the time.
If you are taking your car to a professional to have a ceramic coating applied, you can expect it to last anywhere from 1 to 5 years, sometimes even 7. This will depend on the package you choose, and how much you are willing to spend. Best-case scenario, it will last 7 years, but your car will still need maintenance once a year.
There are “professional” DIY kits stating they can last up to 2-3 years. However, that’s also assuming you follow the directions well, focus on doing a great job during the application process, and prep your car before applying.
Don’t be fooled when you see or hear people say that it’s a “semi-permanent bond.” Again, it all depends on what you put your vehicle through and how you care for it on a daily basis. You can’t just apply ceramic coating once and then neglect any aftercare or maintenance.
One issue we see with professionals is that if/when you start to notice that some areas of your ceramic coat are fading, you can’t really just touch it up. In the end, you are basically tied to them, costing you more time and money.
This is where we see a huge benefit in ceramic sprays and DIY products. Although they may not last as long, it’s easy to see the cost-benefit. As having the ability to make necessary touch-ups is a huge plus, ceramic sprays become a no-brainer. We’ll go over this a little more when discussing the types of product applications.
Below is a short list of three ceramic coating sprays and their longevity just to give you an idea:
- Nexgen Ceramic Spray was given a 10/10 on the longevity scale of ceramic sprays. It can last anywhere from 6-12 months and is an easy, 3-step process. You can also reapply and touch up as needed to protect your vehicle and make the coating last longer.
- Torque Detail is just above average and will last about 4 weeks before you get the urge to start touching up some areas. If we were to give them a letter grade, they would stand at a solid “B.”
- Mother’s will last about 3 weeks under “normal conditions” before you start to see the need for re-application. Given that their formula isn’t as strong as their competitors, this isn’t considered the best (still good though.)
You can see that ceramic coating products vary in longevity. Obviously, it will last the longest if applied by a professional, but be aware that it’s going to cost a pretty penny.
Can I Apply Ceramic Coating Myself?
You’ll see a lot of websites out there telling you it’s difficult to apply a ceramic coating yourself. But what is the truth?
Well, we are here to tell you that as long as you follow the correct steps and take your time, you CAN apply ceramic coating to your car simply and safely!
Obviously, professional detailers are going to steer you towards having it done professionally since it’s a more costly process, and makes you dependent on them. But if you do your own research and choose a high-quality do-it-yourself ceramic spray, you can apply a perfect ceramic coating in no time. The trick is to know what you need.
The main thing to take into account if you want to do the job yourself, is you must be willing to do the prep work. If you don’t take the time for this, you won’t get the best possible results.
One of the best ways to prep your vehicle is to perform a clay bar detail on your exterior surfaces to remove any excess contaminants. This will give your ceramic spray the perfect surface to bond with.
Here’s a good video on how to do a clay bar detail, even if you’ve never done it before:
We recommend sticking to one line of products since generally these are made to be used together, hence why DIY kits are so popular. If the brand you select doesn’t offer full kits, car wash products, clay bars, etcetera, then choose high-quality products.
Since we’ve shown you that ceramic sprays and DIY kits are a totally viable option, we’ll now walk you through the steps to apply a ceramic kit yourself, as well as how to use some of our favorite sprays.
How Do I Apply Ceramic Coating?
Now we are getting into the fun stuff! Who doesn’t like that feeling of putting in some work, using that elbow grease, and then stepping back to see the final result?
You may think this sounds like it’s going to be way too difficult, too many steps, and that you might be afraid of royally screwing it up. But what is the process of applying ceramic coating all about actually?
Let’s go through two different types of products to show you how some DIY kits work as well as one of our favorite ceramic sprays.
Adam’s Polishes is a company we have both used and reviewed for you! Their Ceramic Coating Kits are said to last 6-8 months. Since you’d have the kit, you can touch up with their Boost Spray if necessary. For $119 they have a UV Ceramic Spray Coating Kit which includes:
- 12oz Surface Prep Spray
- 12oz UV Ceramic Spray Coating
- 12oz Ceramic Boost Spray
- 3 Microfiber Towels
We also recommend purchasing a microfiber applicator!
Since you may have already looked into ceramic coating applications before reading this, you may be thinking one of two things:
1.) This seems like way too long of a process.
2.) This seems too easy for it to really work.
We are going to debunk both of those myths for you!
As a general rule of thumb, regardless of what paint sealants you are using, you’ll want to start off with the same steps to get the best results.
Step 1: Wash Your Car
Prep your vehicle first by washing it. For best results, we recommend using the same line of products. To put it simply, lines of products are generally designed to be used together and will in turn yield the best result. You want to start with the cleanest surface possible. Try to get rid of as much dirt, tree sap, pollen, grime, dust, etc. Remember to use the two-step solution when washing your car.
Step 2: Clay Bar Treatment
What is it and why should I use it? Many people and experts out there recommend using a clay bar treatment after washing and drying your car. For the ceramic coating to really bond to your car’s surface, you need to clean up any mineral deposits, imperfections and contaminants in your existing clear coat.
This will help make your ceramic coating last longer and look flawless! This step can also help remove any additional contaminants, and it’s recommended to use before any type of polish or carnauba wax treatment.
Remember, ceramic coating isn’t going to fix your paint, but will help protect it. So, it’s a good idea to do whatever possible to get your car looking its best before applying a ceramic coating.
Step 3: Surface Prep Spray
Since we chose to use Adam’s DIY Kit as an example to walk you through this product, for step three you’d then use the 12oz Surface Prep Spray.
Very important! This step stays the same regardless of what products you use.
The surface prep spray is an Isopropyl Alcohol solution that will remove any trace of polish residue, cleaning residue, etc, think of it as a primer. You prime before you paint to get the best result, right? Same concept here!
Step 4: Apply The Ceramic Coating
It’s very important to have your car well protected during this process. If you washed your car outside, make sure it has had time to cool down. Ceramic coating must be applied in a cool, dry and shaded area.
Using the microfiber applicator or folded microfiber towel, you can choose to spray the ceramic coating directly onto your vehicle or add it to the applicator first if you’d rather work in smaller, more controlled sections.
Different types of ceramic coatings will give different directions on how exactly to apply. Some will say to use small circular motions, some would indicate more of a criss-cross or cross-hatch fashion. All in all, what matters most is to follow the instructions!
Always keep multiple microfiber cloths nearby as you should continue to use a clean cloth to avoid over-saturating the area.
Wondering what is the importance of working in small sections when applying ceramic coating? Working in small sections is important for a few reasons, and you’ll want to work panel by panel. This is because after applying the ceramic coating and working it into the area, you’ll have to wait a minute or two (as per instructions), and then buff the area to see if any more work is needed.
As you apply the ceramic coating, it will begin to cure and create a hazy rainbow effect. This is when you must start step 5 in conjunction with step 4.
Step 5: Buffing
The last step of the application process is buffing. The reason for buffing is you should remove any additional oils that might be resting or that have settled on the surface of your car.
The more meticulous you are in this step, the better your results will be. Now, since ceramic coating sets rather quickly, you’ll want to take the time to buff while applying as discussed in step 4.
You’ll sometimes see a rainbow effect as described by Adam’s Polish. They recommend that you buff to a high shine within a minute or two of application. This is why it’s so important to work in small sections and not get trigger happy.
A lot of people will say to go panel by panel, but by splitting each panel in half, you can enable yourself to avoid rushing and focusing on great results. If you choose to spray the ceramic coating onto the towel first, you’ll have to work a little faster as this means the ceramic coating will begin to cure in the air.
Step 6: Curing
Wondering what curing is and what role does it play in ceramic coating? By definition, curing is “a chemical process employed in polymer chemistry and process engineering that produces the toughening or hardening of a polymer material by cross-linking of polymer chains”.
In simple terms, this is the step where the ceramic coating hardens and binds to your vehicle. While you’ll notice that this starts to happen immediately, it’s generally recommended to let your car sit for one to two days after application. This guarantees the coating has completely cured to the surface.
Step 7: Continued Care And Maintenance
Depending on the kit or products that you purchase, you’ll have the option to perform touch-ups as needed over time.
This is where products like the “Ceramic Boost” from Adam’s step in. Your car doesn’t get dirty evenly. Parts of it will dull and fade faster than others and you’ll want to touch up as needed.
Again, it’s best to use the same line of products as they are meant to be used together. Using a product like this can add around 3 to 6 months of added protection against paint damage to your ceramic coating. This is a simple spray-and-wipe process and can be used as needed.
Ceramic coating won’t eliminate the need to wash your car, but will reduce the time between washes. If you really want to make your ceramic coating last as long as possible, we recommend washing your car every two to three weeks.
**Adam’s UV Ceramic Spray Coating Kit says it will last 2-3 years**
Are All Ceramic Coatings Applied This Way?
Not all ceramic coatings are applied the same way although they generally follow the same steps. What differentiates ceramic coating applications is the products that you choose to use and your vehicle’s specific needs.
If you are using a UV protection ceramic coating, you may have an extra step. Remember, not all ceramic sprays/coatings are the same! So think about what you really need, and the elements you want to protect your car against. You should also check the product’s application process before deciding for one.
As you probably know by now, the Nexgen Ceramic Spray is our top-rated product and, as it’s very user-friendly, we are going to walk you through how to use a ceramic spray like this.
The Nexgen Ceramic Spray provides the fastest application available on the market today. Like other sprays, it’s best to apply Nexgen in a cool, covered area. Since Nexgen is a professional grade seal and has one of the highest SiO2 formulas, a little goes a long way! This spray uses a quick, three-step process that’s shown and outlined on their website.
With Nexgen, there’s no need to purchase an additional boost, saving you both time and money as opposed to other products. Nexgen’s ease of use and glowing reviews prove they are a top choice for professionals and DIYers alike! Their price is hard to beat and their customer service is top of the line.
Check out these great videos from a professional detailer showing the application process, and the results one month after using Nexgen Ceramic Spray:
Check out these two videos to see how easy the application is, and understand the longevity and strength of this product after a single application!
How Long Will It Take Me To Apply Ceramic Coating?
This is another area where there’s a HUGE difference between doing it yourself or taking it to a professional. You’re probably sitting there thinking to yourself “ok so, how long is this going to take me?” This will depend on the size of your vehicle, your products, and your level of perfectionism.
Let us walk you through what is the time difference between having a ceramic coating applied by a professional vs. applying a professional-grade ceramic coating by yourself.
If you are taking your car to a professional to have a ceramic coating applied, on average, it would take 2 to 3 days. This may vary depending on what type of package you choose, as professional detailers generally have different ones. These packages generally add different layers of ceramic coating onto your car, claiming to make the coating last longer.
When applying a do-it-yourself ceramic spray, you can coat your entire vehicle in 10 minutes or less, depending on size. When you add in the prep work of washing and then clay bar detailing, it can take a couple of hours. This is still much less than the several days it will take a professional detailer.
However, do yourself a favor and don’t rush this process! Take the time to do it right, and you won’t be disappointed with the results. Worst-case scenario, if you take one day every couple of months, the payoff is still well worth it.
What Surfaces Of My Car Can Ceramic Coating Be Applied On?
Ceramic coatings and ceramic sprays can be applied to all the exterior surfaces of your vehicle. They are safe for all painted surfaces, headlights, trim, fiberglass, vinyl wraps, wheels, glass, chrome and even the liner of truck beds.
Let’s break down each of these surfaces so you can see better what is the benefit of using a ceramic spray or coating on every surface of your vehicle.
Since ceramic coatings are hydrophobic, they are optimal for use on your windshield as they’ll make water literally bounce right off. Raindrops will bead and roll off of both your car’s surface and your windshield. Adding a ceramic coating here will also help protect it from bird droppings, bug guts, tree droppings. It can even help build an extra layer of protection against rock chips.
Since this is a clear layer, it won’t affect visibility. You’ll still be able to clean up your windshield as usual and can also use boost sprays as needed. In conclusion, cleaning your windshield will be easier than ever. Plus, you won’t have to clean it as often!
Ceramic coatings will help protect your headlights. There’s nothing worse than driving on the highway and ending up with a million dead bugs stuck to your headlights. No one likes scraping dead bugs off of any surface, let alone having to crouch down and scrape them off of your freshly washed car.
It’s also extremely frustrating to see water spots on your headlights after rain or a quick wash. Ceramic coatings will work on headlights just like they will on the windshield, and even on your plastic trim. They’ll also help prevent oxidation and corrosion.
Plastic trim, like headlights, are magnets for water spots and dead bugs. This is very true for dark cars as water spots and any other elements become extremely noticeable.
Wondering what is the role of ceramic coating in protecting trims? Just like how ceramic coatings protect other surfaces of your car, they’ll do the same for the trim. Plus, they can be applied the same way.
When you are applying ceramic coating to the trim of your vehicle, notice how it will give off a little sheen, almost making it look brand new. This is just another added bonus!
Ceramic coating will mostly help protect your wheels from dirt/mud and debris. Brake dust is the number one enemy to keeping your wheels clean, and it’s not easy to remove. Wheels are also tough to clean due to all the small grooves and tight areas.
Since ceramic coating will help stop brake dust from bonding to the surface of your wheels, they’ll naturally become a breeze to clean.
“Can I apply a ceramic coating to chrome?” is a question that comes up a lot in regards to motorcycles and exhausts, intakes, manifolds, etc.
The answer is yes. We’ll also add that ceramic coatings and sprays can be applied to aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron and carbon steel as well. The reason to use ceramic coatings on these surfaces is to protect them from high heat corrosion and deterioration.
Truck Bed Liners
Ceramic coatings are NOT scratch-proof! This is a very common myth and one that we want to reiterate to you. Although ceramic coatings can help protect against small scratches, they won’t make your truck bed invincible. Your liner will be protected and have the same result as your trim.
There are products out there claiming to protect the bed of your truck. However the inevitable might still happen and it will get scratched up. However, adding a ceramic coating will definitely help protect your liner just like it will all other areas of your truck.
Vinyl Wrapped Cars & PPF
You CAN apply ceramic coating to vinyl wrapped cars and over PPF, although it’s not really recommended to put it over PPF. Vinyl wrap is a film that’s applied over the panels of your vehicle. Some people choose to add a vinyl wrap for an extra layer of protection to help prevent rock chips.
Applying a ceramic coating over a vinyl wrap is possible. However, it won’t be as good as if it’s applied solely to your car’s surface. Remember, since ceramic coating is a clear coat, it won’t alter the color or overall look of your vinyl wrap.
Simply put, ceramic coating isn’t going to hurt any part of your car, truck or motorcycle. It can really only help. As long as you take the time to select the right product for your vehicle’s needs, you’ll be perfectly fine! This brings us to our next point, how do you choose which ceramic coating to use?
What Is The Best Value Ceramic Coating?
Lucky for you, we have reviews for many different ceramic sprays to help you take the guesswork out of the selection process. Since ceramic sprays are the easiest to use, we think it’s important to highlight some of the best products on the market.
We’ll take these four topics into consideration when choosing a ceramic spray: longevity, strength, value, and customer service.
When it comes to what is the best value ceramic coating for cars, Nexgen Ceramic Spray has really caught our attention. This is a product we believe everyone should have on hand.
To learn even more about different companies selling ceramic sprays, be sure to check out our full ceramic coating rankings. In these, we compare the most important factors across all major brands.
Below are a few notes and highlights from some of our favorite products. You’ll also find the three brands that rank highest in terms of longevity, strength, customer service, and value.
- Contains 13% SiO2 – which, as you know from reading this, is the number one ingredient to look for when choosing a ceramic spray. This is higher than any other product of its kind on the market.
- Will leave your car with the beautiful “wet look” that anyone strives for when applying a ceramic spray.
- Lasts 4 times longer than any other spray on the market.
- Is safe and easy to use on all parts of your vehicle.
- GREAT value – each bottle (priced at $19.95) will last you anywhere from 4-6 coats depending on the size of your car.
- Overall rank – 38/40.
- Best selling ceramic spray on Amazon.
- High level of longevity (not as long as Nexgen, but it’s easy to get with Amazon shipping.)
- Decent strength formula, ranking at an 8/10 – higher than most ceramic sprays.
- Has been on the market for a while, making them a trusted brand.
- Overall rank – 33/40.
- Very easy to use. There’s also access to many application videos on their website making them extremely user friendly.
- Products are reasonably priced.
- DIY kits make applying ceramic coating and sprays foolproof.
- Overall rank – 32/40.
What Is The Best Time To Start Using Ceramic Coating?
It’s never too soon to start using a ceramic coating of any type on your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, Razor, 4-wheeler, or any other vehicle you can think of!
To be quite honest, the earlier you start using a ceramic coating, the better. Some people apply a ceramic coating the day they purchase a new car. This is actually the best way to do it!
By caring for your vehicle from the beginning, you’ll prolong its exterior longevity right away. What’s more, you’ll save yourself some time since ceramic coatings help extend the time between car washes.
If you drive your car a lot, live in an area with lots of smog, sun, rain, or any harsh conditions, then we recommend applying a ceramic coating ASAP.
Think of it like this: what is the point of walking around outside when it’s raining holding a closed umbrella? Do you wait 5 minutes under pouring rain and then open your umbrella, or do you open it right when you step outside? If you protect yourself from the rain immediately, why wouldn’t you do the same for your car?
People often ask, “what time of year should I use ceramic coating?” Well, you don’t want to apply ceramic coating in direct sunlight or when it is too hot. You want to get this done when weather conditions are mild.
Since ceramic coating creates an extra layer of protection, take that knowledge and use it LITERALLY! You protect your skin from the sun in the summer, right? You protect yourself from rain in the spring and snow in the winter, right? So, do the same for your car! Do yourself and your car a favor by being proactive instead of reactive.
In terms of when to actually apply a ceramic coating or spray, experts recommend starting the process in the morning. This allows your car to cool down from any driving or use from the day before. Then when you are finished, let it sit overnight and apply any touch-ups the next morning.
It’s also a best practice to let your car sit for a few days if possible before jumping back on the road. If you don’t have a few days, then it’s not the biggest deal. Only know waiting a bit will extend the life of your new ceramic coating.
What Is The Difference Between Ceramic Coating Or Car Wax?
At best, a high-quality wax will last you, at a maximum, 2 months. The length of time right there is enough to show you that ceramic coating is better than wax.
Wax basically just sits on the surface of your car. It doesn’t bond to the paint as ceramic coatings do and also needs to be applied much more frequently than ceramic coating.
For best results, you’d have to reapply wax every 4-6 weeks. This means you’d be waxing your car up to 12 times a year instead of about max 4 times our favorite ceramic spray, Nexgen.
Wax is most often used if you are wanting to show off your car short term, like a photoshoot, car show, etc. On the other hand, a ceramic coating is in it for the long haul and is meant to help protect your vehicle from everyday wear and tear.
The process of applying wax can end up taking you longer than applying a ceramic coat to your car. Not only do you need to wash your vehicle, dry it and prep it. After applying the wax you are going to need to buff if. And I mean BUFF IT. You are going to put way more muscle into this than applying a ceramic coating.
The strength, longevity and value of a DIY ceramic coating really knock wax out of the ballpark.
Can You Use Both Wax And Ceramic Coating Together?
You can, but what is the reason to do it? If you are going to do this anyway, it’s best to apply the ceramic coating, give it a day or two to cure, and then add the wax on top of it.
The issue here is that the hydrophobic layer will be affected. And then, the wax will also have a hard time sticking to the clear layer you just applied to your vehicle.
There’s really no need to apply wax on top of your ceramic coat. If you put wax under a ceramic coating, then you are basically wasting your time. If you take the time to use the clay bar before application, then you are already doing yourself a HUGE favor.
Wax and ceramic coating are two different products, used for two different reasons, so it’s best to just keep them apart!
What Doesn’t Ceramic Coating Protect Against?
Let’s get one thing straight regarding what ceramic coating is supposed to do for your car. Ceramic coating is not going to make your car invincible. Before you add ceramic coating, dirt, pollen and other pollutants will gather into all of the tiny pores of your vehicle’s surface. The results? You need to wash your car ASAP.
Ceramic coating will prevent that from happening. Aka: less washing! It will protect your car from UV-Rays, small scratches, chemical pollutants, and will add a layer of gloss to the surface. However, ceramic coating isn’t going to protect against rock chips, swirl marks left behind by automatic car washes, or serious scratches.
Since a ceramic coating provides that extra layer of protection, it may help prevent more serious scratches from happening, but won’t stop them from happening altogether.
Rocks don’t hit your car slow and soft. Generally, when a rock is coming at your car, it’s flying off the tire of a vehicle in front of you. This means it’s traveling with speed and force. If rock chips are your main concern, then there are some additional products you can look into as well.
The answer here is yes and no. Your vehicle stands a better chance of defending itself against scratches with ceramic coating than it does without it. Ceramic coating can help protect against minor scratches, but won’t save you from someone keying your car.
This is a common misconception with ceramic coatings. Ceramic coatings help water to roll off of the surface of your vehicle by creating a water beading. However, there are areas of your car that are harder for water drops to roll off of. Thank gravity for that!
You might be thinking, so then what’s the point? Ceramic coating will help protect your vehicle from the chemicals and dirt that are sitting in those areas. If you notice any on your car, it’s important to remove the water spots from your car as soon as you can.
Like scratches, the answer is yes and no. Light swirl marks can be prevented with ceramic coating, but harsh ones don’t. Do yourself a favor and avoid automatic car washes for this exact reason!
Do I Still Need To Wash My Car?
Wondering what is the main thing to do when applying ceramic coating and helping it last?
Ceramic coating maintenance is a very important factor when trying to make your ceramic coating last for as long as possible. Having a ceramic coating on your vehicle will definitely cut down the time required to maintain your vehicle. It will also reduce the number of washes needed.
If you notice any droppings on your car, whether it be from rain, a tree, a bird, or who knows what else, it’s best to take care of it sooner rather than later. It will be much easier to clean that up right away rather than just before applying ceramic spray. The good news is it will take you far less time to clean your car after a ceramic coating is applied.
You’ll be truly amazed at how your car’s paint will be protected by this additional clear coat!
To maintain your vehicle’s ceramic coating, it’s best to wash your car out of the sun and heat. Also, avoid using any abrasive materials, just like when you originally applied it. Be sure to use quality wash products to extend the life of your ceramic coating. If you are using a spray, you can touch it up as needed. Microfiber cloths will also help collect any dust that may settle on the surface.
If you are out of town and need a wash, we recommend going to a full-service, hand car wash, as opposed to an automatic one. Automatic washes can cause damage such as swirls marks and scratches, and trust us, that’s the last thing you want to worry about.
What Is The Longest I Should Wait Before Washing My Car After Ceramic Coating?
Whether you have your ceramic coating done by a professional, or choose to do it yourself, it’s best to not wash your car for at least 7 days. Ideally, wait two weeks after applying your ceramic coating. After that, to help avoid any contaminants piling up on your car, it’s best to wash your car every two weeks.
As we have said a few times, do everything you can to avoid washing your car in the sunlight and out of any extreme temperatures.
The two-bucket-method for washing your vehicle is also important. If you are not familiar with this, the two-bucket-method is this – Use one bucket for soaking your microfiber cloth, wash mitt or whatever your preferred washing tool is. Then, use the second bucket to clean your washing tool after using it on a particular section or panel of your car.
There are plenty of videos out there to help you with this if you have any questions! We recommend using a high-quality wash product for your vehicle. You really don’t need to use any products with additional components. Just a good quality car wash soap will do the trick.
Since your wheels are arguably the dirtiest part of your car, wash them separate from it, otherwise you are just wasting your precious time.
Although it will definitely take a while for you to notice any changes in your ceramic coating, continuous exposure to harsh elements such as UV rays, tree sap, etc. will begin to take a toll on your vehicle. One of the first things you’ll notice is that the glossy, wet-looking shine will eventually start to fade. The more you neglect your car and put off washing it, the faster this will happen.
Another common result of improper maintenance will be the loss of the hydrophobic capabilities. Aka water, dirt and other elements will no longer fall off your vehicle on their own.
Remember how we talked about how the surface of your car is similar to pores on your face? Ceramic coating closes those pores. But, as your vehicle gets sabotaged by harmful UV rays as well as dirt, tree sap, water and more, that protective layer begins to thin. In the end, those pores will start to clog again, directly affecting the hydrophobic properties of your coating. In short, do yourself a favor and maintain your car to protect your investment!
What Is The Best Method To Remove Ceramic Coating?
All good things must come to an end, right? Well, as with most things, if you do your research ahead of time it will be a lot easier, more effective, and you’ll avoid doing any damage to your vehicle! That is, if you take the time to remove your ceramic coating the right way.
The question remains, why do you want to remove your ceramic coating? Generally, people remove their ceramic coating so that they can apply a new one. This is likely going to be about 3 years after the initial application if you followed our maintenance steps.
Any time you are removing something, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the product you applied and see if there are specific removal instructions. This applies to any type of coating that you put on your vehicle. If there aren’t instructions given by the manufacturer, have no fear, we are going to break it down for you.
Remember the clay bar that you used before applying your ceramic coating? Guess what, you can also use a clay bar to remove it. Since your ceramic coating has had lots of time to wear off, it has had time to thin. So you won’t have to put a whole lot of muscle into it.
Have you noticed that almost every step has started with washing your car? Well guess what? Same goes for removing your ceramic coating. If you start the removal process by washing your car with a wax-stripping wash, then the coating will come off even easier.
After washing, it’s the time to use the clay bar treatment that we just discussed. You’ll be doing exactly what you did to apply the ceramic coating. So, it’s basically muscle memory at this point, right?
Once done with the clay bar, simply rinse your vehicle thoroughly. And then, use your microfiber towels to completely dry your vehicle. Your car is now basically prepped to add a new ceramic coating!
What Is The Best Place To Buy Ceramic Coating?
This is an easy one! Nowadays, most people turn to the internet for purchases and the same goes for ceramic coating products. On the list of ceramic sprays we’ve reviewed for you, you’ll find links to the products’ websites that will assist you in purchasing a ceramic spray.
The same goes for DIY kits! You can also buy many ceramic coatings and sprays on Amazon, just be wary of who you are ordering from. Some ceramic sprays are exclusively sold on Amazon which helps provide easy, fast shipping.
You can also find ceramic sprays and coating at your local hardware and automotive stores. Hell! You can even find them at Walmart. Just remember, if you are getting a price that seems too good to be true, be wary of that product. Luckily, you have our reviews to help you out!
Is Ceramic Coating Worth It?
What is this question? You bet it is! Ceramic coating will help provide the best line of defense against daily wear and tear on your vehicle’s surface. It is definitely worth the price and will help you protect your investment.
Again, why spend tens of thousands of dollars on something and then not take care of it? Ceramic coating is going to protect your car better than waxes and other sealants.
For the low cost of $19.99 for Nexgen Ceramic Spray, it’s pretty hard to make an argument against when using a ceramic spray. You can’t do any harm by adding a ceramic coating and it’s really not hard to do! Especially with so many step-by-step guides and YouTube videos out there.
Ceramic coating is 100% worth it and will help keep your car looking its best!
Why spend money every few weeks to have your car washed? Why waste your own time washing your car?
Whether you chose from our favorite ceramic sprays or decide to go for a full-on DIY kit, you are only helping your investment, and prolonging the life of your vehicle’s exterior.
If you enjoyed our post on what is ceramic coating for cars and are determined to try it out, remember to check out our reviews of many different ceramic sprays before purchasing one!