If you’re serious about protecting your car and keeping it looking its absolute best, you’ve probably seen something about ceramic coating. This isn’t your grandma’s pottery though, and it’s one of the higher priced services that you might encounter. What is ceramic coating, and what does it cost?
What Is Ceramic Coating All About?
Car care of all forms unquestionably makes your vehicle last longer. Like an engine oil change prevents wear and inhibits corrosion inside the engine, treatments on your car’s paint can keep it looking great and protecting it from contamination and corrosion. The most common forms of exterior paint protection over the years have been polishing and waxing, but that’s slowly moving in a different direction.
With polishing, a microscopic layer of paint or clear coat is worn away to create a smoother finish. It’s essentially sanding the paint, and there’s only so much material to work with before the car needs to be repainted, especially for cheaper cars with fewer coats of paint. Plus, there’s always a danger of burning the paint with high-speed polishing.
And with wax coatings, a thin film of the liquid material is applied over all the painted surfaces. It’s then left to set, harden, and dry, before a hazy film is wiped off afterward. It’s like applying a seal on the paint – a wearable barrier – but it’s short-lived. Waxes need to be applied twice a year, or sometimes as often as every eight weeks – to keep up the protective layer.
Ceramic coating is a much longer lasting protective coating for your paint. It’s a chemically applied process that creates a barrier between your car’s painted surfaces and the harsh environment around it. The material contains resins that bond to your paint and is applied much like wax. It needs to be applied to a completely clean, polished or corrected paint job or it traps all the debris and impurities against your paint. If you apply ceramic coating to a dirty car, it doesn’t last as long. And to be honest, you’re not going to be very happy with how it looks until the coating comes off.
How It’s Applied
Ideally, ceramic coating would be applied to a new car every time. It takes the most difficult part of the process out of the equation or, at least, makes it less time-consuming – paint correction. Once it’s on the paint, nano bonds lock the coating onto the painted surface, so if there’s any glue, road grime, or scratches, they’re still going to be visible. But used cars can get a ceramic coating applied too. It entails hours of painstaking detailing, cutting, and polishing to get the swirl marks and scratches out.
Application depends on the product once the paint is cleaned and prepped. Some are sprayed onto the paint and spread with an applicator while others – typically the higher grade products – are sparingly put onto the applicator and wiped onto the paint. Once it turns hazy, it’s time to wipe it off. Application is best in small areas since its flash time, or drying time, is only a few minutes.
For optimal results that last a very long time, multiple coats are often recommended. It’s best to wait at least an hour between coats, almost like painting a room in your house.
…But Does Ceramic Coating Work?
Properly prepped and applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ceramic coating absolutely does work! You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s chosen high-grade ceramic coating that didn’t like how it’s turned out. Some of the benefits completely change the way you think about car care such as:
- Ceramic coating is hydrophobic. What that means is it resists water and dirt adherence. Your car stays cleaner for longer, and water tends to bead and run off better than polishing and waxing your car.
- It resists scratches better. Products are rated on the Mohs hardness scale. The products with a higher number, like the Ethos Graphene Matrix Coating, have a 9H rating, indicating they’re best capable of preventing scratches from happening.
- Water spots are minimized. For the water droplets that end up drying on your car, the hard-to-remove water spots are almost non-existent.
- It lasts a very long time. When you use top-quality products and it’s applied well, ceramic coating can last anywhere from one to five years or even longer.
- It protects against environmental junk. Bird poop, tree sap, acid rain, UV fading – they don’t harm your car’s paint because the ceramic coating protects against etching. If stuff sticks, it usually cleans off easier too.
- Your car is shiny for longer. The wet, just waxed look sticks around a long time. Wouldn’t you think that helps with your car’s resale value too?
You need to be a stickler for details if you’re going to do it yourself. If you don’t have one to three days to get the job done right, it’s best to get it done professionally. Otherwise, these benefits just aren’t going to be as prevalent.
How Long Does Ceramic Coating Last?
How long ceramic coating lasts is dependent on two major factors – the product you choose and how well it’s applied. Some companies advertise a two-year guarantee while others range up to five years. However, you still need to take care of your car in order for it to last. Any rough abrasions can rub through the coating, and you’ll still need to wash your car when it does get dirty. If you treat it right, you’ll get years between applications.
How Much Does Ceramic Coating Cost?
Are you looking to apply ceramic coating yourself? If you’re a car care DIY guru, then you’ll be able to skate by with just purchasing the materials you need. Between high-quality ceramic coating treatment, applicators, and the detailing products you’ll need, you might be into it for only $100 to $200, depending on the size of vehicle.
But if you prefer to have a professional work on your car, even for washes and detailing, then the price will be quite a bit higher. On a new car, prices tend to range from $1,000 to $2,000, but luxury models could be more than that. For a used car, prices are higher since paint restoration needs to happen first. With detailing, cutting and polishing, and any other treatments, used cars can range from around $1,500 to $3,500.
If you plan on having an exotic car like a Lamborghini or Rolls-Royce ceramic coated, prepare to pay a premium. Shops that are willing to work on these cars charge upwards of $5,000, and it’s not unheard of for costs over $10,000!
Is Ceramic Coating Worth It?
It helps prevent scratches. Stuff doesn’t stick to it as easily. Water just beads off. Ceramic coating is a brilliant product, but it does cost more than your run-of-the-mill detailing job. Is it worth it to get your car ceramic coated? If you plan on keeping your car for a long time, it probably is.
Think about the cost breakdown in car care. What’s the difference in cost between ceramic coating your car once every three years, on average, or applying wax three times a year? The application cost is probably a wash, so it comes down to the prep cost. As long as your car doesn’t need intensive paint restoration prior to having the ceramic coating applied, the difference is likely not that much.