It is critical to ensure that the finish is in great condition and properly prepared before applying any ceramic coating, ceramic spray coating, or sealer of any sort. Creating the optimal environment for coating application offers the best bonding and longest-lasting results, and it's easier than you think.
Why is prepping for ceramic coating important?
The better your surface is prepared, the longer your ceramic coating will endure, and the better it will repel any contaminants. It is that simple!
Washing a car will only remove a percentage of the chemicals, waxes, and pollutant trash that has accumulated on its surfaces. Additional surface prep techniques must be done in order to really deep-clean an automobile and assure that a ceramic coating will function. Namely clay-baring the car's paint and then polishing.
This way you get the best possible surface and ensure the most optimal bond between the paint and the ceramic coating.
Here is the full process of prepping a car for ceramic coating in 4 easy steps!
1) Car Wash!
Begin by thoroughly cleaning your car. Mr. Pink pH-neutral Car Shampoo is an extremely good and economical pH-neutral car soap that we recommend. You must remove any existing sealants, waxes, oils, or glazes.
You also want the car to be free of any, or at least most, dirt, grime, and minerals that may have accumulated on its surface. Only when the surface has been thoroughly cleaned will your ceramic coating be able to effectively bind to your paintwork.
If the residue is left on the surface, it will function as a barrier between the ceramic coating and the paintwork, preventing a strong connection and appropriate adherence.
If you would like to learn more about why using pH-neutral car shampoo is important, read this article.
2) Clay Bar!
After you've completed washing the car, you should immediately begin the clay decontamination procedure.
Using a freshly cleaned surface will only help make the clay bar or clay mitt you're using more effective, so don't go on a cruise just yet! If the contamination beneath your ceramic coating is not adequately cleaned, it will remain there for years!
That contamination would inflict permanent damage if left uncontrolled.
PRO TIP: Make sure to lubricate the surface before you use a clay bar on it. Clay baring a car creates a lot of friction and you do not want to burn through the clear coat, you just want to remove the embedded contaminants. If your clay bar or clay mitt kit didn't come with lube, then using soapy water in a spray bottle works best.
3) Compound and Polish!
This is the stage that most do-it-yourselfers fear. And, to be honest, they should. A difficult project is paint repair or polishing paint to eliminate swirl marks and other flaws. If you cut too hard, the clear coat will be completely removed.
It's not that difficult, believe it or not. Many detailers, even prosumers, overthink the procedure by combining different polishing compounds with different pads. In reality, there are hundreds of different combinations of polishing liquids and pads that may be used to eliminate paintwork flaws.
While you could polish a whole car only by hand, it would take you ages, plus your hand would hurt so much after that "workout" that you'd be calling in sick the next day. And have a buff hand. While having a buff hand is probably nice for the ladies, you cannot really beat a machine when it comes to polishing a car.
Using a hand polishing machine you will save so much time, your hand won't hurt, and even though some might say otherwise - you would have MUCH more control over the whole polishing process, once you get a hand on how to use the polishing machine.
This might be a bit obvious, but make sure to have your pads and polishing liquids at hand before you start the process.
After the surface has been thoroughly washed, clayed, and polished, the next step before beginning the coating process is a washing wipe-down using a degreaser to remove any remaining oils, waxes, or silicones that were left from the polishing process.
In short, you need to degrease the surface of the car since the oils would prevent the ceramic coating from bonding with the paint. For optimal results, use a clean, lint-free quality microfiber towel.
You are now ready to apply your ceramic coating to the flawlessly clean and residue-free surface! All that is left to do now is to start ceramic coating your car!