More and more consumers are becoming aware of the dramatic vehicle paint protection benefits that ceramic coatings can offer. Although widely used in industrial applications for decades, ceramic coating technology has only been available for about 20 years in formulations designed specifically for automotive use.
Unfortunately, the detail industry tends to be gimmicky in the marketing of some of its products. But with Proje’, you can rest assured that our ceramic products, when properly applied, will offer the protection and durability that is generally recognized across the industry as “premium”.
How do Ceramic Coatings Work?
The Proje’ ceramic coating products contain nano-ceramic particles that fill in the microscopic imperfections in the vehicle paint surface. By doing so, the ceramic layer makes the paint surface more microscopically smooth, which dramatically increases the surface repellency of foreign substances and liquids like water, thus the reason that ceramic coatings are so hydrophobic. Foreign substances like dirt, bird droppings, tree sap, industrial fall-out, car wash chemicals, acid rain, and weather-related contaminants simply cannot adhere to the ceramic-coated surface, nor can they penetrate the ceramic.
That super-smooth surface, even though it is achieved at the microscopic level, creates a macroscopic visual effect of a more solid and deeper clear layer, yielding a deeper shine and more glossy appearance. Moreover, when properly applied, the nano particles in the ceramic cross-link at a molecular level and they also stick to the paint molecules, making them very difficult to remove.
Everyone agrees that the final result of using any ceramic product is a vehicle surface that has a deeper shine, higher gloss, and better protection than any traditional wax or sealant product. (For a more in-depth description of how ceramic coatings work, please see the blog entry entitled “Introduction to Proje’ Ceramic Coating Line”)
The Three Types of Ceramic Coating Products
There are three main categories of ceramic products: Serum-type curable coatings, “spray-and-wipe” ceramic-infused coatings, and ceramic-infused maintenance products.
Serum-type coatings offer the most durable and long-lasting benefits. For example, Proje’s 9H Professional Ceramic Coating is our most durable and is designed to last up to 5 years when properly maintained. (This “maintenance” is where the vehicle owner comes in—more on that later!) For the consumer, a professional application of Proje’s 9H Ceramic is probably going to be the most expensive. Your professional installer might also offer Proje’s Gold Label Ceramic Coating, which is designed to provide one year of protection. Although installation of Gold Label will likely be quite a bit less expensive than the 9H Coating, Gold Label will need to be reapplied annually to maintain its effectiveness.
Installation of the serum-type coatings is best left to the certified professional, since they are characterized by the need for a specialized application procedure, as well as a critical curing period after application to ensure that the coating reaches peak protection performance. Improper installation of a serum-type coating can lead to premature failure as well as unsightly “high spots” and blotchiness on the paint surface. These defects are permanent unless professionally removed.
For the consumer or “do-it-yourselfer” (DIYer), Proje’ offers ceramic-infused “spray-and-wipe” coatings, which do not require special procedures and are relatively straightforward to use. These products, when properly and regularly used, offer many of the benefits of a serum-type coating without the onerous installation procedures and potential pitfalls of incorrect installation. Examples from the Proje’ line include:
- After Wash Ceramic Spray Coating, and
- SiO2 Quick Coat.
It is important to realize that, although these products are ceramic-infused, and do leave behind a coating that offers short-term benefits that are similar to curable coatings, they cannot offer the longevity and exceptional strength of curable coatings. Nonetheless, these products, used consistently and regularly, will offer excellent protection and gloss. Moreover, they offer the budget-minded consumer the opportunity to take advantage of most of the benefits of ceramic coating without the expense of a professional ceramic application. (Please see the blog entry entitled, “Ceramic Coating Installation for the DIYer”.)
The third category of ceramic products available from Proje’ are ceramic-infused maintenance products These are designed for use on a vehicle that has already been coated, either by a professional using a serum-type curable coating or by the DIYer using one of the spray-on/wipe-off products mentioned above. The options in the Proje’ line include:
- Ceramic Soap (car wash soap with a light ceramic infusion)
- Show Shine (a “spray-and-wipe” quick detailer with a light ceramic infusion)
These ceramic maintenance products can also be used by anyone who likes to wash or wipe down her or his own vehicle, thus taking advantage of some ceramic benefit while performing normal cleaning and shine maintenance.
Know What You are Paying For
The term “ceramic” is becoming more and more pervasive in the car care industry. It is important for the consumer to understand exactly what is being done to her or his vehicle when sold on a ceramic coating product application. Here are some examples of misguided or downright dishonest uses of the term “ceramic coating”.
“Ceramic” sold at the car wash. It is not uncommon to see the word “ceramic coating” used at the automatic car wash. The car wash industry is cashing in on the profitability of the ceramic craze by offering wash options that include the application of a “ceramic coating” in the wash tunnel. These products come out of the arches spray liquid or foam onto your car as it proceeds through the wash tunnel.
It is true that some of the chemicals used have a ceramic infusion that may offer one or more weeks of protection that is higher in quality than typical car wash protection additives. Nonetheless, paying for the ceramic coating option at the car wash, even when done on a weekly basis, cannot substitute for the high-quality and durable protection of a serum-type or even spray-and-wipe ceramic coating.
The Shifty Detailer. Unfortunately, as in any service industry, the detailing community includes some bad apples that try to get away with false advertising by applying a simple spray-and-wipe ceramic coating product while charging for the much more sophisticated serum-type coating application.
To avoid this, go with a professional detailer who has been certified by Proje’ for application of its serum-style coatings. Also, ask the professional to show you exactly what will be used on your vehicle. If it is a true serum-style coating, the product will come in a small glass bottle (30-100 ml), NOT a big spray bottle full of liquid.
Dealership Ceramic Programs. Automotive dealers are also getting in on the “ceramic” act by offering ceramic coating application during the new car selling negotiations. These programs are typically sold in the “F&I” (finance and insurance) department of the dealership and are added onto the payment program for the car, under the guise of “you won’t even notice the extra amount on your payment plan.”
Often, these programs claim to have the benefits of the highest quality coating application at a premium price (several hundreds of dollars), along with a “warranty” against paint damage. Unfortunately, most dealerships are using simple spray-on/wipe-off ceramic coatings that simply cannot offer more than a year (at most) of durability. If you want the real durability and protection afforded by a serum-type ceramic coating, insist on seeing the actual product, or simply forgo the dealership offer and take your new vehicle to a certified Proje’ installer.
When purchasing such a program, the consumer is buying no more than an insurance program for the paint. The dealer knows that almost nobody ever files a claim. Certainly, one could argue the value of such an insurance policy, however, your paint will not look that great after a year or so, and even if you try to file a claim against the warranty, it is a long and arduous process to fight for a repaint of your car.
Ceramic coatings offer superior protection and stunning appearance enhancement for vehicle paint. The consumer can choose the longer-lasting and stronger benefits of a professionally installed serum-style coating, or the ease-of-use of ceramic-infused products for DIYer application. Watch for future installments of this blog that go over the DIY application process, as well as appropriate maintenance of a ceramic coating installation.