By Steve Soule
With a little base understanding behind us (previous two articles) its now time to take a look at what modern technology has brought us and how it can benefit a high value super car yet be affordable enough to use on a modern, economic daily driver car.
Ceramic Coatings are “all the rage” and potentially the most hyped up “buzz word” within the automotive finish care and protection industry. This industry started small, and with only a few players who worked to develop the technology. For the most part the development of these technologies began in the early 2000s. Now that they have been around well beyond a decade, the market is fairly saturated and still growing at a rapid pace. For the most part the technologies are all very similar, though there are those who push to develop new tech.
The primary base ceramics have been in use for years, and they are very well proven technologies. SI02(Silicon Dioxide), Ti02( Titanium Dioxide), both well known for their exceptional hardness and durability have been widely used as the solids that help create the durability and extreme lasting properties. Silicon Dioxide, a derivative of Glass, and Titanium Dioxide, a derivative of one the hardest metals known to man. Both of these are used to give ceramic coatings a hard slick surface that is extremely durable over long periods of time.
Ceramic coatings are truly amazing! Let me rephrase that, Quality ceramic coatings that are prepped and applied properly are truly amazing! They last for years, shed dirt to keep automotive surfaces cleaner, retain brilliant levels of gloss, block harmful UV light damage, and are resistant to most environmental contaminants and both high and low spectrum PH exposure. That is a short list of benefits and properties of a quality manufactured and well prepped coating. Now, its well worth discussing the things that they will not do.
DURABLE, BUT NOT MAGIC
Ceramic coatings are very hard, when compared to modern automotive paints, but they are NOT scratch proof! No matter how many times a company tries to sell this idea, it is currently not realistic. Modern coatings are simply too thin to provide a realistic level of protection from scratches or impacts. Even though they are a much more durable and scratch resistant surface, they simply do not have the film build thickness to resist scratching effectively. What they can do to help cars remain scratch free, is provide a slicker surface that is much easier to clean and therefore much more likely to remain scratch free.
DIRT SLIDES AWAY
Ceramic coatings are extremely slick with lower surface tension than modern automotive paints. Think of them like a non stick pan in your kitchen. When compared to a traditional stainless steel or cast iron pan, there is no comparison in the arena of release properties. Quality automotive coatings act very much in the same way, allowing dirt and other contaminants to be released much easier from the surface and providing greatly reduced cleaning effort and time. Translation- less time and effort spent keeping your investment clean and looking better than new.
DEPTH OF SHINE
Ceramic Coatings add depth and gloss! Much like adding clear coat paints ceramic coatings add a very thin, bonded layer of hyper clear and reflective, glass like coverage to the surface of your paint. They add depth, clarity and gloss to your paint’s surface, when prepped and applied properly! Without a doubt, this is one of the most appealing aspects of coatings and the first thing that customers always comment on. What makes it fun is the long term side of how well they can maintain this added gloss and reflectivity, and how little effort is required. It literally only needs to be washed properly to keep your car looking amazing for years, versus older technologies that require consistent reapplication to achieve and maintain comparable levels of gloss.
How long will it last? This is a question that we get asked all the time. The answer is…there are just a small number of variables, but they truly last years. The variables require a quick explanation.
Ceramic Coatings, well, true ceramic coatings are shipped to us in tiny bottles, typically 30-50 ML. They contain the above mentioned ceramic base products, in combined chemistries, with other nano technology, suspended in solvent carriers. Why is this important to note?
First of all, the solvent carrier is critical in achieving a long term, semi permanent bond. This is what allows a Ceramic Coating to bond into the clear coat paint and become a part of the paint rather than sit on top of the paint like a sealant would. This lands us at the most opportune time to explain what I am referring to when I keep saying Quality Ceramic Coating.
COATINGS VS SEALANTS
Quality Ceramic Coatings are all sold in small quantities, in small bottles! Relatively speaking. They are ceramic particles suspended in solvent based solutions. They are not water based, and nearly all are intended for hand application. They are NOT water based and sold in spray bottles!! The products that are constantly being marketed to consumers as ceramic coatings on social media and other places, that are in spray bottles are not true ceramic coatings. These products fall clearly into the sealant category. Why? Because sealant technology is a surface attachment bond where true Ceramic Coatings are bonded at the molecular level into the surface of the paint. Along with the reduced bonding of these spray sealants, we have to remember that they cannot suspend even remotely close to the amount of solid particles effectively in water. If you want to read more in depth discussions, see our articles on Ultimate Ceramic Coating’s Facebook to learn more about technologies.
To be clear, sealants are dependent on a sit on top, “grabbing” bond. Ceramic Coatings bond into the paint or other surface, filling at a molecular level and creating not only a much more complete coverage and protective system, but also a much more durable and long lasting connection.
So, even thought there is a ton of unnecessary hype and marketing surrounding the Ceramic Coating industry, there are a small number of truly proven and effective products that will protect your cars finish far better than anything we have known in the past. The key here is utilizing the best products, surface preparation and installation methods to achieve consistent and lasting protection.