So you have your preferred Ceramic Coating and you are wondering how you can apply it to your car's paint the right way. What technique do you have to use to apply the Ceramic Coating so you get the best results? Is it hard to apply Ceramic Coating? Can I apply the coating myself? All common questions when you haven't used the coating before.
But before you start googling 'Ceramic Coating near me' know that we are here to teach you how you can do it all yourself. Everything you need to know from start to finish is in this detailed guide.
The first thing you need to apply Ceramic Coating to the paint of your car is to prepare the surface. It needs to be clean, scratch, and chip-free. You get this by detailing the car unless it is a new vehicle of course.
You can click here to learn how you can prepare the surface of your car before applying any kind of paint protection to it.
After the surface has been prepared you need the following:
ceramic coating kit
(disposable) latex gloves
4-6 clean and dry microfiber towels
rubbing or isopropyl alcohol
* if the product is not suited for glass or plastic surfaces and you are worried you might cover those by accident, then use masking tape to mask the edges of those areas, otherwise, you will not need it
If the car has been degreased already, you don't need rubbing or isopropyl alcohol.
Ok! If the car's surface has been prepared and it wasn't degreased by any chance, now is the time to do it. You want to use alcohol instead of water and soap because water, especially tap water might contain minerals that will leave micro scratches on the paint or leave watermarks if not dried off properly. They can be difficult to remove. Instead by using isopropyl alcohol, you will remove all oils or grease or polishing residue that might have been left on the paint from touching the car or any waxes that were leftover or anything really. Alcohol evaporates really quickly leaving a clean surface without any smudges or water spots. You want the surface mint clean so you ensure maximum bondage when you coat your car.
Put on your latex gloves and we are ready to start!
We use latex gloves because you have oils on your hands and fingers naturally. If, by accident you touch the paint or even when handling the applicator, grease or oils might prevent the coating to cover the surface you are currently working on evenly. We want to avoid that!
In the Ceramic Coating kit, you usually get a 50ml bottle that contains a transparent liquid - the Ceramic Coating of choice. It usually also comes with an applicator block. That is basically a sponge. And with it comes a suede or microfiber applicator towel. Small, but big enough to wrap the towel around the applicator block. The reason you do this is the same as with sanding. You ensure even spread when applying the coating, as opposed to just using a towel that is guided with your fingers, you might get an uneven coverage or finish.
If by any chance the Ceramic Coating came without an applicator block and or an application towel - no worries! You can use a sponge ( use the soft side only or even cut off the rough side to avoid scratching the paint unintentionally ) and a microfiber towel instead. Just wrap the microfiber towel around the sponge and follow the guide.
Should I use Ceramic Coating on plastic or glass surfaces of my car?
Read the instructions that came with the product. If they say the Coating is safe to use on plastic or glass, then use it, otherwise avoid such surfaces and stick to the car's paint only. If it does not say, presume it is not safe to use on either plastic or glass.
If you are worried that you might get some Ceramic Coating on the plastic or glass surface of your car unintentionally, use some masking tape to secure that area.
The first thing to do is - read the instructions! Not every Ceramic Coating is the same and the application steps or methods might differ from other products. It generally instructs you to apply the coating on an area and buff it off after 1 minute for instance.
Now that might be 20 seconds, might be 5 minutes, or might be when rainbow-colored streaks appear, or even when it gets a bit hazy. Those times might differ depending on the temperature, humidity, and ventilation. After you have buffed it with a clean microfiber towel to a glossy finish, that is it. Now you usually have to let it sit for the next 24 hours so it hardens. It is usually not recommended to use the vehicle before those 24 hours so the hardening goes uninterrupted without any foreign materials disrupting that process. That time might also vary depending on the manufacturer.
The ceramic coating will usually fully cure within the next week or so. Also, that time can be different depending on the product used. During the curing process, the outer layer has hardened and it is recommended not to use the vehicle until it completely cures for perfect results.
But in our opinion and experience, it is safe to use the vehicle during the curing process. We would, however, deter from washing the car or taking it on some offroad adventure or even maybe avoid highways for that time. Nothing will happen, probably, but just to be sure the coating is not damaged until it is rock solid and is bonded with the car's paint. Some products will require a second coat, usually, some 1-3 hours after the first coat has been applied. If so, just follow the same instructions above after you have finished with the 2nd coat of Ceramic Coating.
Since you are reading this guide, chances are you are a beginner and have coated one or two cars so far or even perhaps have never worked with Ceramic Coating at all. That is ok. The important thing is to work in small areas. For instance, do not try to cover the entire hood of the car at once. Because by the time you have covered half or two-thirds of the hood you should already start buffing off the coating to avoid streaks or haziness.
If you do mess up and end up with streaks or high spots once the coating cures, here you can find out how to get rid of them in detail.
So once you have read the instructions and have a general idea of how to section the car's surface in smaller parts you can open the bottle containing the Ceramic Coating. Get your applicator block with the application towel wrapped around the block and pour a few droplets onto the towel to get a full line on it to enable maximum application range.
It will darken on the towel as if normally wet so you know how much and where you have the liquid already.
Now pick the hood panel to start with. Start applying the coating in a criss-cross pattern, meaning vertical lines first, from one side of the working area you've picked to the other. So a full line from one end to the other. Then do a line next to it and so on. After you have covered the area you are currently working on, you can do the same but horizontal lines ( left to right ) on the same area to ensure full coverage of the designated area.
As if painting a white wall with a brush. You'll do a full line from top to bottom, and then do a line next to it until you have the whole wall covered. At all times you see the area you have covered, and where the coating still needs to be applied. Ceramic Coatings are transparent and it will be harder to keep track of what areas you have covered so far. Just keep a mental map when applying the coating to the paint.
Once you are done with that first area of the hood, continue in the same manner on the next part, and so on. If you notice you aren't getting enough coating onto the paint upon application, then just get some more Ceramic Coating liquid onto the applicator towel again and continue where you left off.
Once you complete the whole hood panel, it shouldn't take you more than a couple of minutes, you will get a general idea of how often you need to apply the liquid onto the applicator, and how long it takes to complete a section or a full panel. Now, remember what the instructions said about when to buff off the coating. For instance, if it tells you to buff off the coating after 1 minute, then go ahead and buff off all the coating you just applied from the whole hood panel with a clean microfiber towel until you get a glossy shine. No haziness or streaks should be visible.
Some products might tell you to wait 5 minutes before buffing. In those cases, you can decide for yourself if you want to proceed to coat the next panel and come back to buff it when it is ready or just wait to be safe. It all depends on how comfortable you are with it and how quickly you are working.
Try to focus on quality ahead of speed because it is more important for it to be covered fully and if it takes a few minutes more to do the whole car perfectly it is well worth the time.
Remember that the buffing time might be affected by temperature, or ventilation, or even humidity. So make sure you have read the instructions correctly. Some products will get hazy, or even sweaty while others will get streaky or even rainbow-colored when they are ready to get buffed off. Some, on the other hand, might not react in such a way at all. That is why it is important to prepare beforehand.
I did not buff the Ceramic Coating in time! What should I do?
If you do not buff off the ceramic coating in time, it might be forgiven after a few minutes, but quickly it will become tacky and significantly harder to buff off, even leaving streaks or hazy areas that won't come off. That is not a problem if you do not panic and act quickly. Just apply some more liquid Ceramic Coating on the problematic area and buff it off immediately. Do not use water!
You can get more information about how to get rid of them in this article here.
I forgot to buff off the Ceramic Coating from a panel, what now?
If a long time has passed since you were supposed to buff an area, try the method above. If it doesn't work and it is still hazy and visible, our suggestion is to complete covering the whole car with Ceramic Coating first before doing anything with the problematic area.
What you will have to do is use compound and then polish on that the whole panel where the affected area is. So even if a small section is problematic, for instance on the hood, you will have to compound and then polish the whole hood. Sounds scary, but it really isn't, it will just consume more time.
As long you are confident not to touch any other panel ( and you cannot use masking tape now ), you can do the compounding and polishing as soon as you have finished coating your car. If you do not feel confident then wait 24 hours and do it then using masking tape on the edges of areas where the panels meet. After that degrease the panel using panel wipe, isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol and recoat the panel with ceramic coating again.
Cover the whole car using this technique and buff off the coating at regular times as per instructions. Once the whole car has been coated, you are finished. Leave the car as it is now for 24 hours so the outer layer of the coating can harden enough so it cannot be affected by outside particles, debris, or water that easily. Once it has fully cured, in about 1 week, the car will be fully protected.
It is important that while coating and for the first 24 hours that the car is not introduced to any water. Rain, washing, wiping at all. You do not water trapped in the toating or ruin the finish while it still hasn't hardened properly.
Some products might ask you to do a second coating on the car sometime after you have finished with the first. they come with 2 applicator towels or pads. So use the 2nd for the second run. Simply follow all the instructions you have when doing the first one. and then wait 24 hours.
Applicator pads used to coat your car will remain soft as long you are applying the coating on it. But if you leave it to dry for longer than 30 minutes up to an hour ( you will feel the crystalization under your fingers ) it will harden enough to make the applicator unusable. You can throw it away at this point since even washing it will not help. That is why Ceramic Coatings that require you to do two coats usually come with a pair of applicators or small suede or microfiber towels.
MEGA PRO TIP:
We have tried working with different brands. Some were a simple one-step coating, buff it off and you are finished, while others required another coat. Now, our suggestion is that in cases the product you are using requires only one layer, you apply another coat after about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Just make sure to use a different applicator for the second run because the previous one will be rendered useless after waiting for so long.
Well, that is it! Your car has been coated successfully. Make sure to keep it out of the rain or any contact with water or wind for the first full day so it forms a hard shell, so it is more resistant to outside elements. Once it is fully cured it will give you all the properties it promotes, usually.
To check some products that we have used multiple times and have reviewed for you and our opinion and score of the product, you can go to the Reviews section and perhaps find one suitable for you or even the one that you are using currently now and learn more about it there.
For any more questions, you can refer to the Frequently Asked Questions article in our Education section of the site, or if you cannot find your question answered you can write a comment with your question here or in the FAQ section and we will try our best to resolve your issue as soon as possible.
Have fun and happy coating!