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The invention of ceramic coatings in the early 2000s was one of the most significant innovations in the history of detailing. After decades of advancements in traditional wax products, car owners and detailers finally had a completely new choice for applying a layer of protection over paint and clear coat. And the case for ceramics was, and still is, pretty compelling.
High gloss ceramic coatings provide longer-lasting protection against water spotting, chemical impacts and soiling than traditional wax products. Some professionally applied coatings even come with multi-year or lifetime warranties. Compared to traditional carnauba-based waxes that last a handful of weeks to a couple of months, ceramic coatings steal the show in terms of their durable, hydrophobic properties. When people started learning about this incredible level of protection, ceramic coatings started to take on mythical status as preventative maintenance.
Why do ceramic coatings work so well? How do they last so long? And what should you do to keep your ceramic coating performing like the first day it was applied? Let’s take a look at the science.
In order to better understand ceramic car coatings, it’s helpful to bust a few myths. Ceramic coatings are not bulletproof. They are not some magic force field around your car or truck. They’re not impervious to all damaging elements. They will scratch. And they do require upkeep to help them look and work their best. So, it’s best to learn how to wash and care for your ceramic coated vehicle right from the start.
Essentially, a ceramic coating is a durable, but not impenetrable, sacrificial layer that goes on over the top of your car’s clear coat. It forms a chemical bond with the surface of your car that helps to keep it in place through rough weather, chemical exposure and car wash after car wash. Once on your car, the role of a ceramic coating is to endure the beating that your clear coat would otherwise take. Understanding all this helps you realize that even your ceramic coating will suffer damage. In fact, that’s what it was designed to do. But cleaning and caring for that coating can make a big difference in repairing the damage and can make it last even longer.
Some people may think you don’t need to wash your car after applying a ceramic coating, but this far from the truth. A ceramic-coated car repels water and sheds dirt and debris more easily than an uncoated car, helping it look cleaner for longer, but it will still get dirty, and it still needs to be washed.
Washing a car with a ceramic coating is a little different than washing the bare clear coat or a waxed surface. The recommended techniques are the same – no automatic washes, gently hand wash and dry, etc. – but the products you use should be different.
For instance, you’ll likely use a gentler car wash soap. Because ceramic coatings stay much cleaner than their counterparts, you don’t need to use a super aggressive car soap to do the job. And, because ceramic coatings can scratch, we recommend hand washing your car using a pressure washer, a premium microfiber wash mitt and a car wash soap that has been formulated with a high volume of lubricating agents. This combination will help you wash away soils while minimizing the risk for scratches and swirl marks.
To take your wash one step further, we recommend using Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Car Wash & Wax. This gentle, lubricating wash and wax was designed specifically for ceramic coatings. It not only safely and effectively cleans the surface of your coating, but it also applies additional ceramic polymers to help repair any damage to your coating as you wash.
Whether you paid a professional detailer to apply your ceramic coating or did it at home yourself, you’ve poured a significant investment of time or money into it. To help your ceramic coating last even longer and look its best, we recommend using a wax or coating spray as a topper. Our testing shows even professionally applied coatings that cost thousands of dollars work better when they’re maintained and touched up with a product like Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Spray Coating or Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax. So top off your coating for longer lasting, better water beading performance!
Ceramic coatings can make an incredible difference in the upkeep of your car exterior, but just remember that they do require some special, but easy, maintenance. After your ceramic coating is applied, it will need time to harden and cure before it can do its job. During the curing process, the coating can be somewhat vulnerable to the elements, so you’ll need to keep your car dry and protected during this initial period.
The cure time for various coatings varies a great deal. Some professionally applied coatings take up to a week to cure, meaning your car may need to be in a dry, climate-controlled garage during that time. Consult with your detail shop or the manufacturer of your coating for specific instructions.
Our Hybrid Solutions ceramic coatings cure within 24 hours. We recommend applying a second coat after the first 24 hours and allowing that layer to cure for an additional 24 hours. Once you’ve done that, you’re all set for up to 12 months of ceramic protection!
Whichever route you go – DIY or pro detailer – just don’t forget to wash your ceramic coating and top it off every now and then.
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