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
- 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.