By Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RIT
Curable ceramic coating application can be highly profitable for the professional detailer, especially
when compared to traditional detailing finishes using waxes or sealants. It is a fast-growing segment of
the detailing industry, and Proje’ offers a line of ceramic products that allows the professional detailer to
offer several levels of protection for the customer, regardless of their budget.
This blog series “Ceramic Coating for Pros” is designed to help educate professional detailers on the
appropriate steps in application of curable ceramic coatings, like Proje’s 9H Ceramic Coating and Gold
Label Ceramic Coating, which are generally recommended to be used by professionals only.
Nonetheless, the do-it-yourselfer who feels comfortable with performing car care is welcome to utilize
the information herein.
The Key to Success: Prep
Anyone who has experience in house painting, or for that matter, vehicle painting, knows that the
preparatory steps are the most important—and sometimes most time-consuming—part of the process.
This is also true with ceramic coating applications. The prep process can be broken down into four
2. Removing surface contamination (fallout, etc.),
3. Paint correction as necessary, and,
4. Final pre-application wipe-down.
The Wash Process. Rinse and wash the vehicle per industry best practices. Rinse off the vehicle first.
Then you can use Proje’ Vital Car Wash Soap either in a bucket (with a Bucket Grit Guard!), or with a
Proje’ Foam Cannon. Utilize a Proje’ Microfiber Car Wash Mitt to gently agitate the vehicle surface,
removing loose dirt and grime. Then fully rinse the vehicle.
It is actually NOT recommended to use Proje’s Ceramic Soap during the prep wash for a ceramic
application, because we want to minimize the use of any product that might repel the coating. (We can
use this product after the coating is applied as part of the maintenance of the coating.)
The condition of some vehicles may require the use of Proje’ Water Spot Remover or Decon Iron
Remover, should there be heavy water spotting or heavy concentrations of iron oxide deposits. Follow
the directions on the bottle label for safe and effective use. In some parts of the country hit by extreme
weather, hard water, or de-icing chemicals used on the roads, these extra decontamination steps are
almost mandatory in the prep wash.
Once the vehicle is fully washed, chemically decontaminated, and rinsed, it can be dried using Proje’s
Ultimate Drying Towel or DryPro Microfiber Drying Towels. Then be sure to blow out the cracks and
water-holding seams with compressed air or a leaf blower. We definitely don’t want any water drips
surprising us during the coating application!
Removing Surface Contamination. This is anything that remains on the paint surface after washing and
chemical decontamination. Based on personal preference or vehicle condition, choose between
Traditional Detail Clay or the Proje’ Clay Mitt. Of course, we need a lubricant while using either one of
these products. Some technicians choose to use car wash shampoo as the lubricant before the final
rinse and dry, either by re-foaming or with a wash mitt and fresh bucket of Vital Car Wash Soap.
Others prefer the increased precision of claying a washed and dried vehicle using Proje’s Throwback Clay
Lube as the lubricant. Wipe away the leftover residue with DryPro Towels.
Paint Correction as Necessary. This is where the process gets tricky and subject to time-related issues.
That’s not because Proje doesn’t have a great line of paint correction products. It’s more because of the
difficulty determining a balance between what the customer wants, what the vehicle needs, and what
the technician is willing to do for the amount charged.
Unfortunately, there is a common tendency among professional detailers to spend too much time
making paint look perfect, often times despite the fact that the customer never requested or expected
this level of service.
The subject of paint condition must be broached with every coating customer simply because once a
curable coating (like Proje’ 9H Ceramic Coating or Gold Label Ceramic Coating), whatever imperfections
are in the paint, although maybe slightly less noticeable, they are sealed in under the coating! There are
many approaches to doing this, but a simple one that has worked for me with the daily driver customer
is this: I simply ask the customer to walk around the vehicle with me and ask him or her if there is
anything about the paint appearance that they don’t like.
If the customer says, “no, it looks fine to me”, then that gives me a free pass to continue with the
coating process without extensive paint correction, although I might decide to perform a quick step of
polishing using Proje’ Revive Final Polish or Leveling Polish. No need to “chase perfection” in this
case—99% of these customers are going to be absolutely thrilled by the final result afforded by a quick
polish and ceramic application process.
If the customer is a self-admitted perfectionist or the vehicle is a special project, you may need to
negotiate more than one step of paint correction to bring the vehicle paint to the condition that the
customer is requesting. Make sure that you charge for the time required to do this.
Final Pre-application Wipe-down. If you have worked at all in a body shop, you will recognize this step
as being similar to the use of “wax and grease remover” just before painting. I like to think of the
ceramic application process as akin to surgery—everything must be kept “sterile” and contamination-
Thus, once the vehicle is fully washed and decontaminated, and the paint has been brought to the
condition that you and the customer agreed, it is time for the final wipe-down to make sure that the
paint surface is completely free from all contaminants that might prevent the coating from properly
adhering. For this, we will use Proje’ Prep Spray.
Work on the vehicle one section at a time by misting the Prep Spray liberally on the paint surface, then
wipe it completely dry with a clean microfiber towel. It is important to make sure the area is completely
dry and streak-free. You may need to use two towels to accomplish this. Incidentally, I recommend
having dedicated towels for this step, towels that are only used for this purpose and washed separately.
The vehicle is now ready to receive the Proje’ curable ceramic coating of your choice.
Professional level curable ceramic coating installation can be profitable, but needs to be approached
with care, using best practices and a systematic step-by-step approach to vehicle prep, application, and
maintenance. Stay tuned for future blog entries covering the remaining steps in successful coating
Prentice St. Clair, CD-SV, RIT has been providing training and consulting for the professional automotive
detailing industry since 1999, as well as detailing services to the motoring public many more years than
that. Prentice holds many certifications within the detailing industry, and is a Recognized Industry
Trainer through the International Detailing Association. Considered one of the industry’s leading experts,
Prentice has been inducted to the IDA Detailer’s Hall of Fame.