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.
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 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 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.
Learn more about why using pH-neutral car shampoo is important.
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. 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 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.
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!
Here you can learn how to ceramic coat a car in a step-by-step process!
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!
This is a pretty quick guide on how to prep the surface of a car for ceramic coating or other forms of paint protection. You can check our more comprehensive guide for surface prep in our article "How to prepare a car for Ceramic Coating?".