What Is A Ceramic Coating?

What is a ceramic coating and what does it do for your vehicle? There’s a ton of bad information and opinions on the internet about ceramic coatings and their purpose. In this article we will discuss the facts and take you through a pros and cons list of both wax and ceramic coatings. By the end of this article you will know which one is the best protection for your vehicle.

Carnauba Wax

Wax has been around for decades and for the longest time it was considered the standard for protecting your vehicle from fading, UV damage and oxidation. There are many different types of waxes available in different forms and concentrations. Spray waxes are the entry level and usually are the least concentrated. Generally speaking spray waxes need to be applied once every week to maintain any level of protection. Next on the list is the liquid waxes. The liquid waxes have a slightly higher concentration of wax in them allowing for a slightly longer lifespan of 1-3 months. Usually the highest concentration of carnauba can be found in paste waxes. The paste waxes advertise a lifespan of up to 1 year but in reality begin to break down much faster. In the Texas heat their life span can be as short as 3-6 months.

Wax Pros:

  • Low initial cost to apply
  • Fast application, so you can be in and out more quickly
  • Can be applied frequently

Wax Cons:

  • Low melting point means it begins to break down when the cars surface temperature reaches approx. 150 degrees. This can happen almost every day in the Texas Summer months.
  • Short life span. During the hot Summer months you may need to reapply wax as often as every 2 weeks to maintain adequate protection.
  • More expensive investment in the long run. Having to reapply so often can get expensive in the long-run
  • Does not provide protection from bug splatter staining and bird dropping etching. Chemicals and acids in bug bodies / bird droppings can cut through the wax in as little as an hour when combined with the Texas sun.
  • That great look fades over time.
Bug splatters can cause permanent damage even through the most robust wax.

Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coatings have been around for over 15 years but are just now starting to get noticed by the majority of people. Ceramic coatings are specifically designed to protect your vehicle from oxidation, UV damage, fading, bug etching, bird dropping etching, chemical etching and other environmental hazards. There is no ceramic coating that will protect your vehicle from rock chips, they simply aren’t designed to do that. If you’re looking for rock chip protection you need to see our paint protection film section here.

There are 2 different types of ceramic coatings on the market at the time of this writing. The first is either SiO2 or Titanium based. With these coatings the active ingredients are suspended in a solvent and then applied to the surface. During the application process the active ingredients form a covalent bond with the vehicle leaving the active ingredient bonded to the surface. The other is SiC (Silicon carbide) based. For this coating there aren’t any solids that are applied to the surface. The resin in the SiC coating creates a chemical reaction that changes part of the clear coat into the SiC, increasing its hardness and hydrophobic properties. While ceramic coatings do increase the hardness of your paint, they do not prevent scratches. Ceramics help reduce the amount of swirling and scratches that may be incurred by improper washing or abuse. A coating is still able to get swirling especially if you take it through a drive through car wash – even if your car is not coated, please avoid the car wash beaters of death.

Ceramic Coating Cons:

  • can take 1-3 full days to install depending on your package selection and condition of your vehicle.
  • coatings have a higher initial cost due to the labor that goes into the prep and application as well as the increased product cost.
  • coatings aren’t like waxes, they don’t sit on top of the paint. They require a chemical reaction to bond to the clear coat. If the prep process isn’t done properly, the bond won’t form correctly and the coating won’t last.
  • there are a large amount of installers who don’t understand the chemistry behind the coating so they have good initial results but the coating doesn’t last for the reasons mentioned above.

Ceramic Coating Pros:

  • Coatings are more robust against chemicals and acids. Where bug splatters and bird droppings can etch through a wax, they can’t cut into the coating due to it’s chemistry.
  • No more waxing. You can have a permanent coating applied once and with proper care, you never have to wax or polish your vehicle again just hand wash your vehicle and you get a freshly detailed look after every wash.
  • Coatings provide a deeper gloss, mirror finish and slick-as-glass feel that lasts for as long as you have the car.
  • Available in a range of life-spans: 1 – 7 year coatings and lifetime warranties are available.
  • Lower cost in the long run, when you get a permanent coating, you’re done, no more waxing, no more polishing so you don’t have to continually pay to get your vehicle waxed.
  • Easier cleaning and stays cleaner, longer. Less washing and less time spent in the hot sun scrubbing on your vehicle or fewer trips to the car wash!
Ceramic coatings protect from bug etching, preventing the bug splatters from doing permanent damage to your car’s clear coat.

We hope this article has helped to clear up the truths about ceramic coatings and waxes for you. Our goal is to provide clear information so you can make an educated decision about what’s right for you and your vehicle.

At Siramic Detail we always try to find the right options for each client, vehicle and application. Whether you have a short-term vehicle that you want to keep looking nice, a “drive it until it dies” vehicle, or a car you love more than your family, we’ve got the right solution for you. If you have read through the article above and are still uncertain which option is correct for you, give us a call. Our certified detail staff can take you through all of the options and make recommendations based on your situation. Contact one of our locations to get a free consultation today!