Hi there from Ceramic Coat Expert! Our mission is to, first and foremost - educate others on the topic of Ceramic Coatings. What they are, how to test them, how to review ceramic coating products, how they work, and how they compete with each other since there are so many.
It can sometimes be confusing which product to pick because they all market themselves as the best, the most durable, or they claim to do something seemingly ridiculous even.
But if you are new to Ceramic Coatings or Automotive Paint Protection, there is simply no realistic way for you to know what is authentic and what is a hyped-up, very well-marketed product.
Also, keep in mind that most of these companies develop one amazing product that serves one specific purpose and does it extremely well. That is how they build their reputation in the Automotive Detailing Industry.
And when they grow to a reasonable size based on that one product - the only logical thing is to expand with products that serve in all kinds of areas in the Interior and Exterior Detailing Industry.
And, well, we cannot expect all these new products that have just flooded the market to perform as well as the gateway product that has risen them to power. It is simply logical thinking even. The customers are the ones that suffer because of that because you cannot really do your research on the specific product and get an 'honest' review that did not come from unsponsored people that have tested that product themselves. That is where we jump in - at least when it comes to Ceramic Coatings!
That is why we do Reviews on products we have tested ourselves in real-world conditions, and we give you the results as we see them right there and then.
The most important thing to note is that we are not and never will be sponsored by a Car Paint Protection manufacturer or company because we want to do unbiased reviews because we feel that the money we might get from a sponsor is greatly outweighed by our reader's loyalty and trust. And the only way to keep your trust, we believe, is by giving you the truth. So if you read something you do not like, well, at least you know it is as it is.
The second reason is that we are in the paint protection business, and we want to use the best product we can find for the money our customers are paying. It is important for us to grow and maintain our reputation, so we would like to feel safe knowing the product works as we tell it to our customers so that neither they nor we get an unpleasant surprise. No one likes surprises unless it's Christmas.
Ok, so how do we review ceramic coating?
The product we are currently using as our best Ceramic Coating in jobs that we offer to customers is CarPro CQuartz UK 3.0 Kit with Reload. To see our review of that product, you can click here. Now, if we find a product that performs best for our purposes and is cheaper, we will certainly update this information and recommend that product instead.
Since we know this product in and out, we have set it as a benchmark for others to beat. This way, we can give a score mark in the form of an average grade that we formulate based on different parameters, and then after we have the grade, we will take the product's price into consideration. This way, you know the quality of the product and how much you are paying for that specific level of quality.
What does our grading system look like?
product life time when applied: A
resistance to elements: B
resistance to damage: C
resistance to chemicals: A
application difficulty: C
hydrophobic properties: A
gloss / shine: B
Average grade: B
Cost: 47.33$ / 1 fl oz
1.60$ / 1 ml
We will give the product a grade from F to A per category and an average grade for the product afterward. The overall score will give you a general idea of how the product will perform. But this way you can also always go to a specific product review and check a specific category that interests you personally. Everyone likes something specific about a Paint Protection Product that might matter the most to them.
So what do each of these categories mean exactly?
Product lifetime when applied
Almost all Ceramic Coatings promise a lifespan anywhere from 2 years all the way up to 5. There is no point really in testing this by waiting. Because in those 5 years of waiting, technology will have evolved so much that perhaps a new product will be on the market that is far superior to the one we have tested.
To go around that, we will be performing a torture test for 2 weeks where we expose the coated car to different elements to see what kind of damage and decay the Ceramic Coating suffers. This way we will get a general idea if the product is authentic and if it could theoretically hold up to what its manufacturers have promised.
Resistance to elements
By elements, we mainly refer to the sun that is blasting the car's paintwork with UV radiation thus damaging the clear coat heavily. That is why you see clear coats starting to flake off or headlights starting to yellow. It is UV radiation doing its job. Also, very high or very low temperatures can affect the paint surface. Wind and water can also affect the paint by carrying foreign particles and materials that might scratch or damage the paint.
If you want to learn how to restore headlights and protect them, check the link.
We will test this by leaving the car out in the sun during those 2 weeks and using an industrial heat gun to check how much damage a panel will suffer under those conditions after 2 weeks.
Resistance to damage
Ceramic Coating, when cured, is very hard. It gets a 9H hardness rating, usually, meaning it is able to withstand some damage. Now, this, we find, is sometimes being confused by the car becoming scratch-proof or even damage-proof or some similar wild claim. Those simply aren't true. Ceramic Coating provides some minor protection in the form of light to moderate scratch resistance and might even keep your paint safe from rock chips at lower travel speeds. It might not seem like a lot in terms of damage resistance, but those small things add up. And over its lifetime, the Ceramic Coating will keep your paintwork looking new and fresh if maintained properly.
To test this, we will be driving the car off-road daily for 2 weeks at higher speeds, so it accumulates dirt, sand, and grime and gets scuffed up by small pebbles or stones. And when washing it, we will try using sponges with circular washing techniques to see if there will be any visible swirl marks after those 2 weeks.
Read this article if you want to learn more about Ceramic Coating hardness levels and what 9H or 10H means.
Resistance to chemicals
Automotive Wax or Polymer Sealants can be easily dissolved even by using regular car shampoo. So anything too acidic or too alkaline will damage the car's paint, as well as the thing protecting the car's paint. Now unlike Carnauba Waxes or Polymer Sealants - Ceramic Coating will actually hold its own against such chemicals to a certain degree. Depending on the Ceramic Coating, each differs since not all are created the same. That can be a few car washes to hundreds. You cannot know until you try.
That is why we will test this not only by washing the car with cheap car shampoos that are not kind to your car's paint but also with much stronger chemicals that you shouldn't really be using on your paint at all. Just to replicate 2-5 years' worth of washings.
When applying Ceramic Coating to your car in a DIY fashion, the whole process might come off as a little bit intimidating if you have very little to no experience in that field. And some coatings, based on their chemical composition and their application instructions, might prove to be more difficult and less forgiving when working with.
To test this, we will simply follow the instructions for the Ceramic Coating that is being reviewed at the time and see for ourselves how difficult the process is compared to our benchmark. If it is easier to apply, it will get a favorable grade, and if it is more difficult, it will get less. The same rules apply if the whole application process is similar to the benchmarked product.
Note that regular Ceramic Coatings do not have the same application process as the new Spray-On Ceramic Coatings as these products tend t be much more easily applied, but since those are usually more of a polymer sealant in spray form with some ceramic coating elements, they suffer in other areas. So while these spray-on products might get a high grade in the application process, they usually do worse than their regular Ceramic Coating counterparts in almost all of the other categories.
Almost all Ceramic Coatings have strong to extreme hydrophobic properties meaning water is repelled from the coated surface due to the lack of attraction. This usually happens in two ways - beading and sheeting. Water beading means that all the water that didn't manage to escape from the surface leaves beads of water too small that gravity alone can pull it down from the car, but it instead needs some external force such as wind, or they have to be dried down.
The simplest way is to drive the car, and you will usually successfully get rid of most, if not all, water beads. The other way is water sheeting. That means that because of the very high surface slickness, the slip angle has been highly reduced, preventing water beads from forming. Instead, the water is pulled along the other water molecules that are leaving the surface.
And even if a water bead would form, gravity has a much easier time under those circumstances, meaning that water sheeting usually leaves a completely dry surface.
To test this, we will wash and clean the car first before performing the test, after which we will use a pressure washer with an extension that allows us to simulate rain-like coverage as well. We will then determine how hydrophobic the surface is and how dry it is after the majority of water escapes the coated surface. The drier the surface, the higher the grade.
Gloss / Shine
While Car Waxes are known for how they enhance the color of your car into a deep glossy finish, technology has come a long way since, and Ceramic Coatings that we use today can leave fine glossy paintwork when applied and buffed. Among the many Ceramic Coatings available on the market, you will find different results regarding how shiny the car becomes after being coated.
To test this, we will simply detail, paint correctly and polish the car before it has been coated to ensure maximum adhesion and a smooth finish underneath the coating. This way, we will be able to see if there is a massive difference or no difference at all once the car has been coated.
Using this value, anyone can quickly see how well the product has performed overall when tested and how it ranks among its competition. If you find two or more products with the same grade, you can go into detail to see in which area each has performed best and see what their weaknesses are as well.
Cost in USD per fluid ounce ( and $ / 1 ml )
This way, once you have a product and you know how it performs in real-world conditions, you will be able to see how much bang for your buck you are getting depending on how much you will need to spend for the product to receive its effects.
Also, the product price may change over time due to a number of reasons or can vary depending on the location you are ordering from. This is why we do not grade this category. However, every other category gets a grade because regardless of the price you pay for the product, it will always perform the same.
This way, you can simply check what the best product is based on its price point or what the best product is based on its performance and then determine how much it costs compared to similarly ranked coatings. You can find that information in our Top Lists easily.
You might be wondering why the costs per 1 milliliter. The reason for this is that usually, regular Ceramic Coatings come in 30ml bottle packaging, but it may vary depending on the company and its location. Also, Ceramic Spray Coatings usually come in bigger packaging.