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How to prep for ceramic coating

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.

We will teach you how to prep for ceramic coating so that you get the best results!


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 ensure 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.

washing car with a foam cannon

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 economic pH-neutral car soap that we recommend. You must remove any existing sealants, waxes, oils, or glazes.

You also want the entire vehicle 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 bind to your paintwork effectively.

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.


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 (use clean water and detergent/dish soap) in a spray bottle works best.


3) Compound and Polish!

After the clay bar treatment comes the stage that most do-it-yourselfers fear. And, to be honest, they should. Repairing or polishing paint to eliminate swirl marks and other flaws can be daunting. If you cut too hard, the clear coat will be completely removed, but you won't repair the problem if you cut too little.

Believe it or not - It's not that difficult! Many professional detailers, even prosumers, overthink the procedure by combining different polishing compounds with different pads. In reality, hundreds of different combinations of polishing liquids and pads may be used to eliminate paintwork flaws.

While you could polish a whole car only by hand, it would take 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 beat a machine when polishing a car.

Using a hand polishing machine will save so much time. Your hand won't hurt, and even though some might say otherwise - you will 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 ensure your pads and polishing liquids are at hand before you start the process.


4) Degrease!

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 car's surface 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!

If you would like to go into more detail on which tools to use for the full ceramic coating process ( preparation + application ), then we suggest you read this guide!

Car Surface Prep We Recommend — GYEON PREP Pre-Coating Surface

gyeon prep

Ceramic Coating prep work is a daily activity in our shop, and we've tried (hopefully) all of the methods and products out there. While there are a number of good ways of giving the car a final prep before the actual ceramic coating product, or paint protection film, sometimes (a lot of the time), you just want to give the entire vehicle one final clean to ensure there are no contaminants that would potentially ruin the coating job.

In our opinion/experience, the GYEON Prep solution does a marvellous job of completely cleaning the surface, leaving it spotless. After treatment, the surface will become anti-static, meaning that dust won't be attracted to the paint. All oils/grease/lubricants will be completely removed. And best of all — there will be no streaks left!

It is very easy to use. Just spray the GYEON Prep onto the surface you're working on (do a few squits, not just 1-2) and let the solution work its magic for about half a minute. After that, wipe the area dry with a clean microfiber cloth and inspect it. Use straight wipe movements; avoid circular motion when wiping. It's best to work in sections/panels, so that you can more easily keep track of your progress.


What to do before applying a ceramic coating?

Before applying a ceramic coating, thoroughly wash the car with pH-neutral shampoo, decontaminate the paint with a clay bar, polish to remove imperfections, and degrease the surface to ensure optimal bonding.

Do you need to polish before ceramic coating?

Yes, polishing is essential before ceramic coating to remove swirl marks and imperfections, ensuring the coating bonds effectively to a smooth surface for the best protection and shine.

How do you clean a car before ceramic coat?

Clean a car before ceramic coating by washing it with pH-neutral car shampoo, using a clay bar for decontamination, and performing a final wipe-down with a clean microfiber towel, using a degreaser to remove any residual oils or waxes.

Should I wax my car before applying ceramic coating?

No, do not wax your car before applying ceramic coating. Wax residues can prevent the ceramic coating from bonding properly with the paint surface. A thorough degrease should follow polishing to ensure a clean surface.

Final Words — Prep For Ceramic Coating

This is a pretty quick guide on how to prep the surface of a car for ceramic coating or other forms of paint protection. If you want a longer, more detailed text, you can check our more comprehensive guide for surface prep in our article "How to prepare a car for Ceramic Coating?".




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