DIY Instructions: How To Apply A Ceramic Car Coating
A new car starts to show its age quickly as its surface gets scratched and stained by dirt from the road, dirty rain, and even automatic car washes. While a coat of wax can protect a car’s paint for a little while, it doesn’t last very long. Nowadays, ceramic car coatings have become a popular alternative to wax and paint sealants because of their durability and strength.
A ceramic coating is a liquid polymer that forms a bond with your car’s paint. It is designed to protect the car’s exterior from damage and to keep it looking brand new for up to several years. A ceramic coating also makes it much easier to keep a car clean, since it is more resistant to damage from dirt, debris, and chemicals than a traditional wax coating or paint sealant.
A ceramic coating can add a great deal of value to your vehicle for a relatively low cost, especially if you apply it yourself. The following DIY guide will provide step-by-step instructions for applying a ceramic coating to your car.
How A Ceramic Coating Works
Sometimes referred to as a “nano coat,” a ceramic coating utilizes nanotechnology, meaning that the liquid is composed of smaller-than-microscopic particles suspended in a clear resin. When applied to a car, the particles form an invisible, impermeable layer that fills in any pits or swirls and bonds to the car’s paint. This second skin doesn’t wash off or break down completely, although it will need to be reapplied every few years in order to optimize its benefits.
Benefits Of Using A Ceramic Car Coating
A ceramic coating offers benefits that wax and paint sealants just can’t match. The following are some of the main reasons why more and more car owners are using this product.
Protection From UV Radiation
For one thing, a ceramic coating provides protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation. When UV rays hit the surface of an uncoated car, they can cause the paint to oxidize, meaning that its molecules start to break down. The result is paint that becomes dull and loses its color. Once paint begins to oxidize, it is very hard to restore it. However, a ceramic coating can significantly reduce oxidation by decreasing a car’s exposure to UV radiation.
Protection From Stains
A ceramic coating also protects the surface of the car from acidic chemicals that can etch into the car’s paint or stain it. Bird droppings, for example, are highly acidic and a common cause of paint damage, especially when they are baked into the car by the sun. Other staining substances include tree sap, road tar, which can melt and coat the underside of the car as it’s thrown up by the wheels, and various industrial contaminants that the car can come in contact with. With a coating, a car is far more resistant to stains and etchings from harsh chemicals.
Ability To Repel Water
A ceramic coating is considered hydrophobic because it is resistant to water. When water hits a coated car, it will form small beads and roll off quickly. This makes it difficult for dirt, dust, or debris to adhere to the surface of the car. This feature also makes it easier to wash the car; the car will not be as dirty to begin with, and anything on the car will be very easy to rinse off. In addition, by repelling water, a coating protects the car from developing water spots, which are caused by the mineral deposits left when water evaporates.
A Brighter Shine
One of the top reasons why car owners opt for a ceramic coating is to get a glossier finish. The coating is a highly reflective material that will shine in the sun, increase the reflectivity of the paint, and add depth to the paint color. Many owners choose a ceramic coating because they want to beautify their car with a treatment that lasts.
No Need For Waxing
A ceramic coating completely eliminates the need for waxing. If the car is properly prepared before the ceramic coating is applied, the coating will bring out the maximum gloss in the paint and give more protection from water, dirt, and chemicals than a coat of wax can provide.
A Long-Lasting Result
One more reason why ceramic coatings have become so popular is that they last much longer than any other type of treatment. Because the coating forms a chemical bond with the car’s paint, it doesn’t wear away or chip off. You can expect a ceramic coating to provide a high level of protection for your car’s paint for several years, especially if you keep the car clean.
Instructions For Applying A Ceramic Car Coating
It is not difficult to apply a ceramic coating at home, but the process does require careful preparation. It’s important to start with a clean, dry car with an unblemished surface. The coating itself should be applied by hand in small sections, and you need to make sure to apply a consistent amount of the coating all over the car.
Finally, the coating will need to be protected from the elements while the coating cures. After that, the coating has to be maintained so that the car will look its best and the coating will last as long as possible. The following instructions describe each step in detail.
Step One: Wash The Car
A ceramic coating should only be applied to an absolutely clean car, and washing with water and shampoo is just the first step. If the car already has a layer of wax, or if the car is unusually dirty, it may be necessary to apply a degreasing chemical before washing. A degreaser will remove existing wax and break down substances like tar and sap and other contaminants.
After degreasing, it is still important to shampoo the car with purified, mineral-free water, gentle soap, and a sponge or microfiber towel. Make sure the car is completely dry before moving on to the next step.
Step Two: Use A Clay Bar Detailer
Washing may not be enough to remove all impurities from the surface of the car, such as paint overspray, dirt and dust particles, and industrial pollutants. That’s why we recommend using a clay bar detailer. Detailing clay is a tacky resin compound that removes any bits of contamination that are embedded in the car’s surface, leaving it very smooth.
It’s important to use the clay bar with some type of lubricant that will let the bar slide over the exterior of the vehicle, picking up contamination as it goes. Failure to use a lubricant could result in friction that might actually cause damage to the surface of the car.
Step Three: Use An Iron Remover, If Necessary
A clay detailer will remove many different types of contamination, but it can’t remove iron particles that have become embedded in the car’s exterior. Most cars have some degree of iron damage due to brake dust and rail dust, as cars are generally transported from the manufacturer to the dealer by rail.
To remove iron contamination, it’s necessary to use a spray-on product specifically designed to dissolve iron. Spray it on the car from top to bottom and wait for it to start running red, which indicates that iron is dissolving. The product’s instructions will stipulate an amount of time to wait before rinsing. It’s important to make sure that the iron removal product you choose is safe for your vehicle.
Step Three: Wash The Car Again
It’s a good idea to re-wash the car after detailing with clay and applying an iron remover. Wash thoroughly by hand, as before, to remove any chemicals or residue that might remain on the car. This time, though, you don’t need to wait for the car to dry before moving on to the next step.
Step Four: Polish The Car
Washing and detailing can remove contaminants from the surface, but they can’t do much to improve surface damage, like scratches or swirl marks caused by improper washing techniques. That’s why we recommend polishing the car before applying a ceramic coating. It’s best to start with a finishing polish, the least abrasive polish, and only use a more abrasive product if necessary. Note that some products will leave a residue on the car that will make it difficult for the coating to bond, so make sure to choose a polish that is safe to use before adding a coating.
While it’s possible to polish by hand, a polishing wheel is more effective because it heats up the outer coat of paint, allowing it to soften and seep into cracks. A soft buffer is another non-abrasive tool that creates a smooth and glossy surface.
Step Five: Apply The Ceramic Coat
Once the car is clean, polished, and completely dry, it’s time to apply the coating. A ceramic coating is a liquid substance that can be sprayed on the car or applied (a few drops at a time) with a small towel or sponge. A DIY kit will include the appropriate materials for applying the liquid.
The coating should be applied to just one small section of the car at a time, and it should be rubbed into the paint with a damp cloth until the surface is smooth and even. As you move from one section to the next, try to make sure you’re using the same amount of coating and rubbing it in evenly so that the two sections are level. The coating will dry quickly and harden into a protective shell. It can be difficult to make sure that all sections are level, and one tip for improving leveling is to apply a second layer of coating in the opposite direction.
Step Six: Wait For The Coating To Cure
While the ceramic coating is curing, the car should be protected from rain, snow or high humidity for 48 hours. The heat of the sun can speed up the curing process; however, leaving the car outdoors is risky. If at all possible, park the car in a garage while the coat dries so that it will be safe from rain, sprinklers, bird droppings, and anything else that might mar the surface.
If the car gets dirty, wipe off the material right away so that it doesn’t have a chance to seep into the coating. After two days, it will be safe to expose the car to moisture, but the coating will not be fully cured for several weeks. During that time, the car should not be washed with any kind of detergent.
Step Seven: Maintain The Coating
Once a car’s ceramic coating has fully cured, maintenance is very simple. The car only needs to be washed occasionally with high-quality, pH-neutral soap and water and a gentle microfiber cloth. Make sure to wash the car in the shade, since water droplets can magnify the power of the sun and overheat the car’s surface. You can also apply a maintenance booster product every three to four months. Although a ceramic coating is not permanent, if it has been properly applied and well maintained, it should last from two to three years before needing to be reapplied.
What A Ceramic Coating Doesn’t Do
A DIY ceramic car coating can do a lot for a car, but it isn’t a solution to every problem. Bear in mind that even though ceramic coatings have a high scratch-resistance rating, they can still be scratched or dinged with sufficient force. A ceramic-coated car can still be damaged by flying rocks and parking lot collisions, for instance. And while a hydrophobic ceramic coating minimizes the risk of water spots, they can still form. It’s also important to maintain the coating by washing the car by hand with a gentle soap since automatic car washes can damage even a coated surface.
Applying a ceramic car coating requires some time and effort, but the majority of car owners are very satisfied with the results. Not only does a coating protect and beautify a car, but it also increases the car’s resale value.