What’s the best ceramic coating? SiO2 vs SiC vs Graphene

What’s the best ceramic coating for your vehicle? Everyone has their own opinion and marketing tricks. There’s also a lot of bad information on the web. Siramic Detail is here to make everything crystal clear without all of the marketing tricks and gimmicks. This article will take you through some of the most popular types of ceramic coatings and a quick run down on the basic function of each. We will start with the most well-known and work our way into the newest version. All ceramic coatings undergo a chemical reaction that causes bonding with your vehicles paint. Coatings require special prep work to ensure that bonding process is properly executed. Without proper and thorough prep work, the chemical reaction that causes bonding won’t be fully executed and can lead to poor bonding and/or coating failure.

SiO2 Ceramic Coating

The SiO2 (silicon dioxide) ceramic coating is the most well known and widely used version of ceramic coating. It achieves a hardness of up to 9H (highest verifiable rating) on the hardness scale. SiO2 coatings typically provide a slicker surface and deeper/richer color than other coatings. Almost every ceramic coating on the market is SiO2 based and there’s a reason – it works. Each brand will vary in its active chemical concentration and resin formula which can affect lifespan and performance from brand to brand. SiO2 Coatings all serve the same purpose – protect the paint.

The SiO2 category includes brands like Holy Grail Ceramics, Ceramic Pro, GTechnique, Modesta, Feynlab etc. When applied properly, SiO2 interacts with the clear coat and forms a covalent bond with the paint creating an additional layer of protection that adds a few microns of thickness per layer. Some brands can be layered multiple times to increase thickness.

Our research along with top industry scientists have shown that SiO2 based coatings provide the strongest bond currently available due to the chemical makeup of the active ingredient. The SiO2 coating adds a harder, thicker shell on top of your vehicles clear coat. If it were to obtain any sort of damage or blemish, it can be polished off and reapplied without losing any clear coat thickness. We typically recommend SiO2 Based coatings for the rougher user. It is also great for one who is looking for a deeper, richer color over mirror gloss.

SiC Ceramic Coating

The SiC (silicon carbide) ceramic coating is not widely used among ceramic coating companies. It has been the mainstay of Opti-Coat since the company’s start and more companies are adopting the SiC resins lately. SiC coatings provide more of a mirror finish than the SiO2 coatings. This gives you more reflection and less color depth (because you see the reflection, not the car). SiC can achieve a hardness of 9H as well. When properly applied the resin interacts with the clear coat effectively changing a layer (a few microns deep) of the clear coat into SiC.

The SiC coatings don’t necessarily add any thickness to the clear coat. Essentially this type of coating makes your vehicles existing clear coat harder and more resilient to the elements. If the coating incurs any damage or blemish, it can be polished out, however, you will lose clear coat thickness. We recommend SiC based coatings for our clients who are able to baby their vehicles. SiC is also great for those care more about seeing reflections than color depth/richness.

Graphene Coatings

The latest invention in coatings is self-healing and graphene coatings. Graphene coatings typically aren’t as slick as either of the perviously mentioned coatings. They provide the mirror finish similar to the SiC based coatings. The graphene coatings bond very similar to the SiO2 coatings and can achieve up to 9H hardness. Graphene coatings typically range somewhere in the 6H-8H and have some very wide differences. Let’s start with graphene. Graphene coatings that are currently on the market contain less than 1% active ingredient. Why? The active chemical in graphene coatings is currently obscenely expensive due to the mining process required to obtain it. This is cost-prohibitive to producing full strength graphene coatings.

According to leading scientists in order for graphene coatings to be effective (as advertised by the manufacturers) the active ingredient content would need to be at a minimum of 30%. While graphene coatings are a great in theory, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome in order for them to perform as advertised. Especially over the course of the advertised 5-10 year life span. At the time of this writing (Dec. 2020), Siramic Detail is able to get graphene coatings for our clients. We do not, however, recommend installing them due to the lack of research done and scientific proof available to verify their performance and lifespan. If you would still like to have a graphene coating installed, we are able to take care of your request.

Self-Healing Coatings

Self healing coatings apply and adhere similarly to SiO2 coatings and provide the mirror finish of SiC coatings. However, when heat is applied, the coating becomes more viscous allowing it to self-level thereby “removing” light swirls from the finish. These coatings are generally 5H-7H on the hardness scale providing a softer finish than the SiO2 and SiC coatings. Because of its more viscous properties the self-healing effect is actually a self-leveling effect. This means that any time there is a line or swirl introduced into the coating, it will self-level, “removing” the swirl. When this happens, the area surfing the line or swim becomes thinner. So every single time you get a line or swirl in the coating, your coating becomes thinner, reducing its ability to “self-heal” and thinning the protection layer in the surrounding area.

Due to this thinning of the area surrounding the swirl or line and the limited ability to repeatedly self-heal, we don’t recommend installing a self-healing coating. There is no official “count” as to how many times the coating can “self-heal” but it is proven that there are only a finite amount of times it is able to perform its “magic”.

What we recommend and why

At Siramic Detail we have access to any of the coatings mentioned above. If you have a specific preference, let us know and we can get it for you! Most of the time we recommend and install Holy Grail Ceramics SiO2 based coatings. HGC has a higher active ingredient content than the competitors mentioned in the Sio2 category. Through our own testing we have also found it out performs, lasts longer and requires less maintenance than other ceramic coatings.

We choose the SiO2 coatings because we prefer adding layers of protection and thickness to the clear coat. The richness and depth of color they provide draws more attention to the beauty of the vehicle. The Holy Grail SiO2 coating enhances the look of the car and the paint. This allows you to see the car, not just the reflection. SiO2 coatings have been out long enough to prove they are able to stand the test of time even with the roughest of users. The super high solids content found in Holy Grail Ceramics is why we recommend HGC to most of our clients.

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