Ceramic Coatings: what they do and don’t do

Ceramic coatings are touted as being one of the greatest upgrades you can do for a vehicle’s paintwork. While we agree that an installation can certainly pimp your ride in a way no other paint protection product can, it’s important to understand its limitations.

Most suppliers will – quite naturally – extol the virtues of ceramic coating. However, while it can be an excellent decision in the right situation, it’s not suitable for all vehicles. At Radical Autoworks, we’re all about providing honest info to allow owners of prestige vehicles to make an informed decision about the best way to protect their precious ride’s façade…

All About Ceramic Coatings: the pros, the cons and everything in-between

While we don’t want to teach you to suck eggs, let’s quickly go over exactly what a ceramic coating is. As the name suggests, it contains microscopic elements of ceramic – known as nano-particles – that, when applied to a paintwork (or over a car wrap) bond seamlessly and invisibly to the surface below. The dries into a crystal-clear, rock-hard layer that accentuates the shades and colours beneath it, making the vehicle shine in a way that no amount of waxing or polishing can ever achieve.

The best quality coatings, such as those supplied by Gyeon Quartz will, if correctly applied, add a level of paint protection that lasts for many years.

Dispelling the Myths: the truth about what adding ceramic coating does

Done right, ceramic coating brings many attributes. However, it’s not a miracle product, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty and tell you what ceramic coating can’t achieve. After that, we’ll get to the fun bit and tell you why we think it’s a must-have upgrade for many of the coolest motors on the road today…

  • Ceramic coating doesn’t mean you never need to wash your car again. If only, we have to say. While it does make maintenance easier (more about that in a mo.), you are still going to have to get out the shampoo on occasion.
  • It can’t prevent all types of paintwork damage. Again, while it does an awesome job of paint protection, it can’t stop big stone chips, damage from automatic car washes or damage caused by that (insert description of your choice) who scrapes or scratches your parked car and doesn’t have the decency to leave a note with their contact details.
  • It can’t correct paintwork in poor condition. However, minor paint correction needs are part of the process of a great installation. Just be aware that if it’s not done correctly, the coating can exacerbate the look of any paint anomalies.
  • Ceramic coating won’t completely eradicate water spotting. Sure, it reduces it, but it can’t prevent it completely.

OK, so now we’ve told you what the stuff can’t do, let’s get down to the important facts about what it can!

·      Ceramic coatings for protection: One thing that’s awesome about the product is its protection against environmental and chemical damage. UV ray fade, bird strikes, acid rain… The product creates an excellent barrier against paintwork damage from these types of damage. 

·      Minor physical damage: General road debris, small particles and bugs will have a tough job getting through the best ceramic coating. 

·      It’s hydrophobic: This means that water and liquids are repelled away from the surface, beading and sliding away. While this doesn’t mean, as we mentioned above, that there’s no danger of water spotting, what it does mean is that your regular car maintenance will be dramatically reduced. Which leads us neatly onto…

·      It makes it a breeze to keep your car looking fab! Ceramic coating eliminates the need to wax. While you will still need to hand wash your pride and joy on occasion, the process will be reduced to the rinse-shampoo-rinse-dry sequence. Leaving you way more time to do what you should be doing – driving – instead of spending valuable cruising time waxing on, waxing off…

·      It also makes the paintwork shine like never before: The ceramic particles catch the light, causing it to refract at angles that bring a vibrancy and depth of colour like you’ve never seen before.

·      Great ceramic coatings increase a car’s value: This is because the factory paint remains in better condition for way longer than if it was unprotected. Selecting a top-of-the-range coating, such as the just released and warranty-backed Gyeon Infinite Base Type 1, is by far the best type of product to choose. Boasting superior protection, hydrophobicity and self-cleaning properties, it’s so select that it can only be installed by providers that the company has certified to do so (more on that coming soon… sshhhhhh).

But do be aware that the preparation of the vehicle is as crucial as the choice of coating and installation itself. Cleaning and clay barring goes without saying, as does meticulous paint correction. The coating should be applied in a semi-sterile environment at a regulated temperature, before being allowed to cure for well over 24 hours. 

This makes the choice of installer one of your most important considerations. Correctly applied ceramic coating will bring you all the advantages we’ve mentioned. But done badly? Well, let’s just say that it certainly won’t have the aesthetically pleasing and vehicle enhancing attributes that you hoped for. You can get cloudy patches, smudges and smears like wax that you didn’t quite polish off. The problem if its done wrong is, once it’s dried, it’s very hard to remove your mistake.

Ceramic Coatings: the key points (for those skim-readers amongst you)

So, there you have it. Ceramic coating can be a highly attractive option, as long as you understand its limitations.

  • You must choose a high-quality product and have it installed by an experienced professional
  • It can enhance the look and value of a car
  • It reduces washing and cleaning needs but doesn’t eliminate them entirely
  • It protects the factory paintwork to an extent but can’t prevent severe knocks and scrapes.
  • Provides excellent protection against environmental factors, including UV ray paint fade.
  • Creates a superior shine that can’t be achieved by other means.

It’s also worth mentioning that ceramic coating can be combined with PPF (or clear bra for our American cousins) f required. If you’re serious about beautiful paintwork, then the skilled Radical Autoworks team will be delighted to talk to you about your options. From PPF to detailing, car wraps to ceramic coatings, we’re just an email or phone call away.

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Ceramics vs. Sealants vs. Wax

Protecting the precious paintwork of your vehicle is no longer a simple choice of which wax to use. Depending on your requirements (and budget) there are now various additional options. Good paint protection involves adding a layer between the factory coating and the elements. Today’s options can be temporary, semi-permanent or permanent and come in the forms of:

  • Car wax (temporary)
  • Car sealant
  • Ceramic coating

There’s also the option of Paint Protection Film (PPF), a valuable installation that can be applied to a complete vehicle or just the parts that are more likely to get damaged, such as the bonnet, bumpers, colour-coded wing mirror etc.

Why Use Paint Protection?

While vehicles leave the production line with a top layer of paint protection, this tends to have limited longevity and is, of course, subjected to various environmental elements. These include:

  • Stone chips
  • Bird droppings
  • Acid rain
  • UV rays
  • Tree sap
  • Scratches
  • Salt and grit

All of these eat through this original protective layer or, in the case of stone chips, crack it entirely. As the upper surface degrades, so the paint below begins to lose its lustre, scratches appear and other paintwork anomalies become apparent.

Adding a good quality paint protection not only elevates the car’s good looks, but it also increases the resale value.

The Pros and Cons of Different Paint Protection Products

As in all walks of life, paint protection comes in different grades. Going for the highest quality you can afford is key – although it might cost a little more to begin with, you’ll reap the monetary benefits over time, plus the aesthetics will be better.

Let’s look at the three options in order of results and longevity.

1.     Car wax

Long the staple of paint protection, car wax remains one of the most popular and effective methods of car care. Wax provides an element of protection to the paintwork below – albeit temporary. It has some hydrophobic properties, helping water (and therefore, dirt) bead and roll away from the surface. Wax also adds a shiny finish.

  • Pros:  The cheapest method of paint protection, easy to apply yourself, readily available to purchase.
  • Cons: Only lasts a few weeks (less if the weather is poor), laborious to apply, easy to use the wrong type.

Find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of car wax.

2.     Car sealant

This uses advanced chemical engineering to add a synthetic protective layer to the vehicle. It adheres well – with good quality sealant lasting anywhere from six months to a year. Sealants are highly resistant to chemical and environmental factors and they dry to a lovely glossy finish. They come in different types, with the most common being polymer and acrylic.

  • Pros: Easy to apply, good longevity, shiny finish. Helps minimise scratching and corrosion. Many have hydrophobic properties. Quicker to apply than car wax and some can be simply sprayed on.
  • Cons: There are many different types on the market – some have an element of ceramic technology, some make the car glossy but do little else, others protect against environmental challenges. It can be challenging to know which is the right one for your needs. Some need to be combined with other products to be wholly effective.

Get the lowdown on detailing and car sealants.

3.     Ceramic coating

Considered by many to be the ultimate in paint protection (and with good reason), installing a ceramic coating provides superior protection and a high-gloss finish for many years. Ceramic coatings use nanotechnology to add an ultra-thin, super-hard topcoat that’s resistant to virtually every type of environmental and chemical attack. The best ones last for many years – typically 5-7 – and provide a deep shine that’s impossible to achieve by any other method.

  • Pros: The best level of paint protection for cars, lasts for many years, is hydrophobic and helps reduce the amount of time needed to keep the car looking good, increases the value and resale price of a vehicle. Can also be applied over car wraps.
  • Cons: The most expensive of all paint protection products, paintwork correction should be carried out prior to installation, and needs to be applied in a semi-sterile and temperature-controlled environment.

Discover the need-to-knows about ceramic coating.

Of course we haven’t even discussed Paint Protection Film (PPF) here, but we’ll leave that for another day and a post all of its own.

Paint Protection: a summary

Car wax, car sealants and ceramic coatings are all viable and effective methods of caring for a vehicle’s paintwork. Wax is the cheapest, followed by sealants, with ceramic coating being the most expensive.

Applying car wax correctly takes a long time – allow at least a day for the correct prep, application and polishing. Car sealants are a step above wax, and there are many (many!) different types of both on the market. These range wildly in price and results, making it complex to decipher which is correct for your needs.. However, it’s essential to use the right ones, especially when detailing classic, sports and supercars, 

DIY care is, of course, possible, but the alternative is to get a professional application carried out by a car detailing company. This will ensure the correct products are used, plus you reclaim your valuable time to do something more enjoyable – because, let’s face it, it’s a pretty messy, long and boring job!

Ceramic coatings offer the highest level of paint protection. This is a permanent installation and requires meticulous paint correction prior to application. It must be applied and allowed to cure at the correct temperature and in a semi-sterile environment. This all means that a professional service is essential, otherwise you run the risk of a less-than-perfect finish, or even ruining the factory paintwork altogether.

Whichever level of paint protection you choose, it’s all about the product and application. The detailing and services on offer from the Radical Autoworks ensure the correct type is used. Whether that’s detailing with a wax, sealant or ceramic coating finish, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your pride and joy benefits from the ultimate paint protection products. Call us today to discuss your requirements.

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Supercar and Luxury Car Detailing & Protection

Bringing the best out of your classic or supercar with paint correction, PPF, and next level detailing in Dorset and surrounding counties.

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