Hi there! If you are here, chances are you might have been wondering about questions like 'What is Ceramic Coating?', How much does Ceramic Coating cost?' or 'How long does Ceramic Coating last?' or then again, you just wanted to know what the best way is to protect the paint on your metallic friend over there!
There are a lot of questions that are circulating around ceramic coatings. And they are all important and need to be addressed. That is why we're here!
But ultimately - Is Ceramic Coating worth it?
We are here to answer all those questions and more. But before that, we will tell you what ceramic coating is and why it has become so popular. We are here to educate you on why you should choose Ceramic Coating over other forms of paint protection. We also will go into all the basics, such as what paint protection is, and even a level deeper into what car paint is at its core and why we need to protect it.
We shall provide you with the free service of teaching you how to choose the best Ceramic Coating for you, and we will go into great detail when explaining the best techniques on how to use Ceramic Coating in a DIY fashion in your own garage and how to use it effectively to bring out the best results Ceramic Coatings offer.
But let us not go too wide here because, especially if you are new to exterior automotive detailing, all this information might be a tad bit overwhelming and might come out a little confusing.
We know all of this was a bit confusing for us when we were getting into all of this all those years ago. We will take baby steps here and try to paint a clear picture so that at the end of the day, you know everything you need about the Ceramic Coating industry and will come out of this with more answers than questions.
Let us dive into the basics...
First and foremost - What is Ceramic Coating?
Short answer - it is a long-term form of paint protection that will likely outperform any wax or sealant out there. It is a chemical solution based on Silicon Dioxide that bonds onto the clear coat of your car's paint, hardens to a glass-like finish with usually a 9H toughness rating, and serves as a sacrificial layer that protects your car's paint from the elements, offers resistance to mild damage such as scratches and in some cases, even rock chips. They have superior hydrophobic qualities and can be applied with minor training, even in a DIY fashion.
And on top of all that, if treated as per instructions, it can last you several years.
What does 9H mean?
9H is a toughness rating based on graphite pencil hardness. Toughness is resistance to scratches and cutting, while hardness is resistance to stress and indentations. It is a measurement technique to determine if the surface will suffer scratching damage before the pencil suffers chipping damage.
The pencil hardness test scale goes from 10B ( softest ) all the way to 10H ( hardest ) pencil strength. It is being measured by attempting to scratch the Ceramic Coated surface by dragging a graphite pencil under a 45-degree angle. If the coated surface suffers no damage, it will get the rating of the pencil used.
Some Ceramic Coatings claim to have a 10H toughness rating.
You can read about 9H in more detail here.
How strong is 9H?
It is strong enough to give the paint an impressive scratch resistance depending on the hardness rating of the material cutting the surface. But usually, if the Ceramic Coating does have a 9H or 10H rating, the protective layer will prevent scratches or swirl marks that the paint would normally suffer without the Ceramic Coating.
Long answer - oh boy! Where do we start? First and foremost, read the 'short answer' first because this will expand on that. Now let us explain a few basic things about car paint and different forms of paint protection so we have an easier time in the future, and you might learn a thing or two. If you find yourself knowing all there is to know about car paint, you can skip this section.
But if you don't, you might even be able to expand our lecture with new information that we might have missed! The idea of this blog is to educate, and educate, we will!
What is Car Paint?
To put it into simple terms, car paint is this as follows - you have the bare metal that gives the car its structure. But now you have to protect that metal somehow from corrosion, outside elements, scratches, and more. To protect the metal, a primer coat is sprayed onto the metal, which will serve as the bonding agent between the metal and the color. Primer is usually light grey in color, but it can differ.
You won't see it as it is below the next two layers being sprayed on top of it. After it has been picked and when the primer has dried, the color is sprayed on top of it.
And to top the whole process off, a clear coat, the thickest layer of the three, is sprayed on top of the base color to protect the color from the elements such as water, UV radiation from sunlight, minor debris, wind, scratches, etc.
So to summarize, from top to bottom, we have:
clear coat (gloss transparent)
base color (can be any color)
Once it all has cured and bonded, you are left with a solid protective structure that will protect the vehicle's body and give it its distinctive appearance and shine.
So when people use the term 'car paint', they are referring to those three layers above sitting on top of the metal or plastic body of the car. If someone is trying to point out the color and only the color, they will usually use the term 'base color' to avoid confusion.
Just keep in mind that there are different types of car paint and finishes, but that topic is so large that we will leave it for another blog post where we will go into detail about all of it and how it interacts with Ceramic Coating.
The car paint, as described above, will be present in 95% of cars out there and almost all cars coming out of the factory. If a different type of color differs from this specific 3-layer structure, it is usually an aftermarket option.
After learning all this, you might ask yourself, "Hey, if this is so nice and works in perfect harmony, why would I ever want to mess with it?". Well, we are glad you asked!
Like most things in nature, car paint will deteriorate over time due to oxidation, outside damage, the elements, etc. And it doesn't matter how nice your car looks when brand new. At one point, the paint will dull out, the clearcoat will start to flake off, and the damage could go all the way to the car's metal layer, causing it to oxidize and cause corrosion.
Since most cars have panels made out of steel or iron sheet metals, the oxidation will cause corrosion in the form of iron oxide to form, also known as rust. Steel is an alloy, but it is just iron infused with some carbon ( about 99% iron, 1% carbon ) for extra strength. It will also rust as easily. If the car is made from Aluminum, corrosion will be found in the form of Aluminum Oxide, which is much less reactive than Iron Oxide. Fun fact: If a car is made out of aluminum, it cannot rust!
That means it will form a thin layer of corrosion on top and stay that way - it will not spread further. Plastic will not cause corrosion, but it will dull out over time, getting that whiteish look to it, and will, after prolonged exposure to the sun, it will lose its elasticity and start forming cracks.
We must open up the next topic of interest to find an answer to all these problems.
What is Paint Protection?
Paint protection, as the name implies, sits on top of a car's paint and has one job - protecting that paint from the environment.
Now that you know how car paint is formed of layers, you can think of Paint Protection as another layer that will sit on top of the clear coat. That layer will be there to protect the layers below it from harm, but sometimes it also boosts the appearance of the car paint overall, so consider that as a bonus.
There are different methods for forming that 4th layer on top of the clear coat. To answer that, we will dive a bit into what types of paint protection there are on the market, and after explaining the differences between those, you might have an easier time choosing the best one for you should you feel so.
But we are here, already knowing the answer, to tell you how Ceramic Coating is the unmatched winner out of the bunch and will go to great lengths to explain why!
See you in the next post, where we will rumble about all those paint protection methods available to us and which one to use. Cheers!