Will a Ceramic Coating Make My Vehicle Look Fantastic?
We really do get it. You want your vehicle to look as good as the day you bought it, and you’re always open to a bit of experimenting with most anything to make it look that way.
You’ve tried all the basic, indispensable stuff like daily washings and monthly waxing and buffing to rid of those scratches, stains, dirt, grime and what-not. And yet despite your best efforts, your vehicle’s paint still looks dull, stained and dingy.
So, you hear about something else, something different. A product that could change this narrative. A remedy that will make your vehicle look fantastic day in and day out with no more than routine maintenance. Something that’s a one-time application to guard against the everyday threats of chemical etching and oxidation.
Know what? There is!
Let us introduce you to ceramic coatings.
The almost magical potion for vehicles that has been popularized in recent years. Perhaps you’ve even heard of it. Maybe from that buddy who had it applied to his Sebring orange Chevy Corvette and who can’t stop going on about how great it works and how amazing his car looks.
But what about all the naysayers? Those vehicle aficionados that cast doubt on its dependability. Is there any truth in what critics have to say about ceramic coatings? Is it really the best available solution for preventing dirt and grime sticking to your vehicle?
Let’s spend a bit of time clearing up the issue. What’s the truth about automotive ceramic coatings? What are their benefits? And what are their limitations? What will be best suited for your vehicle?
What exactly is a ceramic coating?
Have you ever used a non-stick cooking pan in the kitchen? Well, the technology implanted into these daily cooking pieces is a bit different but is, in effect, the same notion. A ceramic coated pan is implanted with a microscopic layer of protection that prevents food from sticking to it while you’re cooking. A ceramic coating for your vehicle’s paint performs in a similar fashion. It’s the second layer of skin that protects the clear coat of your vehicle’s paint.
Automotive ceramic coating employs nanotechnology, with molecules so small that they’re invisible to the human eye. When it’s applied to a vehicle’s surface, it’s implanted onto the clear coat of the paint and fills all the microscopic pores, peaks, and valleys in the paint. This delivers a totally smooth and even layer of protection that makes the surface exceptionally water-resistant (or hydrophobic), resistant to scratches, chemicals, UV light, road grime, bug splatters, bird droppings, and more. Moreover, since this protection is so hard when it cures, it actually helps to reduce swirl marks – which improves the surface appearance for years.
A “hydro-what” surface?
Before we go any further, the word “hydrophobic” refers to “tending to repel or fail to mix with water.”
A bit of history: Essentially, this nano technology utilizes a ninth century Mesopotamian trick in which pottery-makers created a metallic Nano glaze made from copper, silver salts and oxides that created a glittering effect on pottery that up through the Renaissance, made it distinctive for its ancient, shimmering luster.
Okay, what exactly are the chief benefits of ceramic coatings?
Take anything that contains chemical compounds and you’re looking at a resilient solution. Same goes for a ceramic coating, which is both permanent and easier to clean once applied. Other than the obvious, here are a few more reasons to have a ceramic coting applied to your vehicle.
Protection from harmful UV rays.
- You can only imagine the damage that the sun’s harmful UV rays can do to your vehicle’s paint job. Ceramic coatings will protect your vehicle’s paint from oxidizing, preventing it from fading and wearing a dull look. This is absolutely critical if you park your vehicle outside.
- Now, let’s talk about the longevity of ceramic coatings. These coatings last longer than car wax and polish, paint sealants or spray-on ceramic polish or protectant products that are constantly popping up at your local big box store. In fact, high quality ceramic coatings can protect your paint for up to five years before needing replacement. They are also highly resistant to mud, dirt, dust and other crap, which keeps the care cleaner – longer.
Protection from chemical stains and etching.
- Another danger for your vehicle is chemical staining from naturally acidic contaminants. By creating a chemically resistant surface, a ceramic coating can keep some contaminants from bonding to your vehicle’s paint. The result is that your vehicle will be more resistant to staining and etching, provided the contaminant is removed in a timely matter. With air pollution rates in the city of Pittsburgh, a ceramic coating can be a huge relief.
Repels rain, mud and dirt.
- Unlike wax or factory paint, the ceramic coating does a better job of protecting the exterior of the vehicle. As mentioned, the ceramic coating has hydrophobic properties and will make water and rain bead like crazy instead of a pool on the hood. Mud and acid rain splashed on the care slide off the smooth surface without leaving a stain. The same goes for snow, bird droppings or ice as they roll off the vehicle without sticking to the surface.
Ease of cleaning.
- As we’ve just noted above, one of the significant features of ceramic coating is that it’s hydrophobic, which is a fancy way of saying it repels water. When a vehicle has a hydrophobic ceramic coating, water will bead on the surface and slide off more easily. This means that mud and grime will have a more difficult time bonding to your vehicle’s paint and when you wash your car, contaminants can be removed with a lot less effort.
Candy-like gloss finish.
- Next, let’s talk about gloss – that wet shine that we all love and enjoy. Regular car waxes have a warm appearance that gets dull when left out in the open. If you want your paint to pop with gloss, you’ll want to add a ceramic coating that enhances the reflective properties of your car’s paint, adding to its depth and clarity. If you have an old vehicle, a ceramic coating will make it look new again. Or, if you have a newer vehicle, you’ll keep that showroom finish for a long time.
Okay, how does ceramic coating stand up to the tried and true method of waxing?
Wax is one of the most widely known sources of protection for vehicles, but compared to ceramic coatings, wax has a much shorter shelf life and involves far more maintenance. In fact, since car wax doesn’t last more than three months on average, you need to get the vehicle re-waxed a lot more than you may like. Ceramic coating, on the other hand, is more durable and a good coating, with proper maintenance, can serve you for a few years before replacing it.
Many of the more common forms of car waxes are composed of either bees’ wax, paraffin wax, mineral wax, synthetic wax or carnauba wax. While these waxes can be picked up at your local big box store and applied by the end user, the vast majority fail to protect the vehicle the same way a ceramic coating can.
Moreover, many of these waxes even contribute to scratching and swirling as they are often improperly applied using poor techniques or dirty equipment. When you take your vehicle into a ceramic coating authorized detailer, you’ll rest easy knowing that the vehicle gets the proper conditioning and detailing services to brave any road.
In fact, the biggest difference between waxes and ceramic coatings is the amount of protection that one provides over the other. With a ceramic coating your vehicle gets a semi-permanent layer of protection that bonds with the paint on the molecular surface. That protective layer is tougher than any soft wax and can withstand ultra-harsh treatment both from the terrain and the elements. Waxes might look great for a few weeks or months, but they require constant maintenance to obtain the desired results. With ceramic coatings, you’ll need just one annual inspection at an authorized dealer.
Okay, we believe that a ceramic coating will make your vehicle look its finest . . . however, despite the claims of some manufacturers, no product can do “everything.” There are still some myths and incorrect information when it comes to this advanced protection. So, it’s also important to be aware of what a ceramic coating doesn’t do.
- Protection from water spotting. After the application of a ceramic coating, water-based contaminants will bead on your vehicle’s surface and eventually slide off. But they still contain natural minerals and soluble particles that will stay on the surface after the water has evaporated. Ceramic coating can’t rid of the water spots produced as a result, and removal will require a far more hands-on approach.
- Though often advertised as scratch proof, ceramic coatings are only scratch resistant, which is still hugely effective against minor scratches from bushes, small brush-ups with bikes or even people passing by. However, they won’t protect your exterior from rock chips at highway speeds or someone keying your vehicle.
- Stop the need for a car wash. You’ll still need to regularly wash your vehicle. A layer of ceramic coating does not give your vehicle superpowers to auto-clean itself. While we’re still waiting for a miracle product to do that, for now, let’s focus on the bright side of ceramic coating.
What about maintenance?
To keep your ceramic coating looking great for years, you’ll need to keep it properly cared for. Overall, a ceramic coating is not difficult to maintain, considering all the benefits. Most importantly, you’ll need to wash the vehicle at regular intervals to keep contaminants off the surface. Don’t let the vehicle go unwashed for more than two weeks at a time, as this will speed up the deterioration of the coating.
Should you apply a ceramic coating yourself or get it done professionally?
Unless you have a lot of experience with detailing, we would not advise that anyone apply ceramic coating themselves. Especially if you have no idea how to go about it. In fact, some brands of coating require an authorized dealer to apply it to uphold their durability guarantees.
So, what’s all this mean?
Simply put, it’s important to be well educated about a product prior to making your decision about whether it’s right for your vehicle. Is a ceramic coating a great solution for preventing dirt and grime from sticking to your vehicle? No doubt. Will ceramic coating benefit your vehicle and add value? Certainly. Are ceramic coatings a miracle, one-stop solution for all your vehicle’s exterior problems? Certainly not.
At DoubleTake, we employ Pinnacle Black Label Diamond Surface Coating. It is a ceramic coating that creates an extremely glossy, impermeable layer of protection on your vehicle’s paint, glass and wheels. With Black Label Diamond, treated surfaces will be well protected against the harmful effects of nature that daily drivers are exposed to. This includes UV rays, airborne contaminants, acid rain, road salt and other common pollutants.
In case we haven’t mentioned it, a ceramic coating will add value to your vehicle. At DoubleTake, we are a leading installer of ceramic coatings for the Pittsburgh and surrounding area. Want to learn more or schedule an appointment? Stop by our shop and talk to one of our vehicle-detailing specialists.