Updated: Feb 28
Is ceramic coating really worth the money? Does it truly offer significant benefits over traditional wax or other paint sealants? How does it help protect my vehicle? Is it better than Paint Protection Film(PPF)?
We’re here to help you answer those questions and more, but it will ultimately be your decision on whether or not ceramic coating is worth it.
Owning a car isn’t exactly cheap and you likely want to make that investment last as long as possible. While maintaining what’s underneath the hood should be your main priority so that your car lasts hundreds of thousands of miles, you’ll also want to make sure the exterior of your car looks great for years to come. In the past, that involved regularly washing your car and doing a coat of wax from time to time, but car detailing supplies have come a long way. Now, you can be completely overwhelmed with all the available options for polishing kits, waxes, clay bars, and other detailing supplies that are designed to keep that new car shine.
Ceramic and Graphene coatings are just 1 of many products that help protect the exterior of your vehicle. Such as waxes, paint sealants, and paint protection films. Ceramic and Graphene coatings would fall in to the higher section of protection. Surpassing waxes and paint sealants, but not quite as good as PPF (Paint Protection Films). Most paint sealants and waxes typically have a life span of 1 month to 1 year, and only provide protection from the sun's UV rays and some hydrophobic properties. And this is where ceramic and graphene coatings come into the realm of vehicle protection. Most ceramic and graphene coatings offer life spans of 1-year to 10-years and a much improved protection from the elements of environment your vehicle will see. If we were to place a scale of protection between the 4 different products, waxes would be bottom of the list, than paint sealants, then ceramics, then graphene coatings, and then top of the list would be PPF. Understanding that PPF is also the most costly version of protection and does have some draw backs or cons to it. See our blog on PPF vs. Ceramics for more details.
In recent years, ceramic and graphene coating has become the latest in car care. Take your car to a local professional detailer who does ceramic coating and you might be surprised by just how much it costs. A quality ceramic coat for your car, using products from a reputable brand such as IGL Coatings, Gtechniq, Fireball Car Care, Ceramic Pro, and TAC Systems, could cost close to $1,000 (or more!) depending on how much additional work has to be done to get your car ready for ceramic coating, such as a paint correction or a surface decontamination and polish.
What is Ceramic/Graphene Coating for Cars?
When ceramic coating first hit the market, it was mostly only available from professional detailing shops. That is still widely the case depending on where you live, but there are some off-the-shelf products you can purchase and apply yourself. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what ceramic coating actually is.
There are several different types of ceramic coatings that are now available, but if you’re looking at a professional-grade product, it’s likely being billed as a Nano-ceramic coating. Nano-coatings are highly-concentrated formulas that utilize Nano-technology to fill Nano sized imperfections, creating a extremely flat and hard layer of protection.
If you’ve researched various types of ceramic coatings, you may have heard of “9H ceramic coating,” which is a type of Nano ceramic coating. 10H is the highest on the pencil scale of hardness and it’s basically as hard as a solid quartz crystal. The pencil scale of hardness is used for ceramic coating to signify how “hard” the coating is once it’s cured. The scale ranges from 0 to 10, and the “H” indicates the hardness of that grade. That means authentic 9H ceramic coatings will not be damaged from a 9H pencil.
What Are The Benefits of Ceramic/Graphene Coating?
In a way, you can look at ceramic coating as a much more premium alternative to wax, but it’s more than just that. The protective layer it forms is extremely hydrophobic, helping keep water off your car’s surface. It also serves as a protective barrier from the sun’s harmful UV rays, oxidation, and other contaminants that may stick to your car’s clear coat or paint.
Nano ceramic coatings also have the benefit of offering some level of scratch protection. Since it’s forming a hard shell on the surface of your vehicle, the probability of getting light scratches does decrease.
In summary, ceramic coating creates a barrier on your vehicle, reducing the chances that it’s damaged by the environment or even accidental scratches. That means your car’s finish stays looking new and with less maintenance.
How Long Does Ceramic Coating Last?
There is no simple answer to this question, for one main reason: it depends on the product you use. If you’re using spray coatings, that you can buy off the shelf, expect it to last three to six months. Naturally, its durability is affected by your environment and how often your vehicle is properly washed. Other DIY Nano ceramic coatings will claim to last anywhere from 1 to 2 years, depending on the product.
Professional ceramic coatings will also vary, based on the service offered by the detailer. Basic protection will typically last up to 5 years, while 10H coating can offer up to 10 years of protection. Some companies offer lifetime protection on their ceramic coatings, by adding multiple coats of durable 9H or 10H product to your vehicle. Again, this all comes down to how much you’re willing to pay and how often you’re caring for your car with proper washes.
The life expectancy will also vary on how the vehicle is maintained once the coating has been applied and had time to cure. Most manufactures recommend at least doing a maintenance coating and decontamination wash once a year.
How Much Does Ceramic Coating Cost?
Since there is now a wide range of offerings for ceramic coatings, prices can vary wildly depending on what you’re shopping for. Ceramic spray coatings are the most affordable, and you can typically find a bottle from a reputable brand for around $20. Keep in mind that some of these products are hybrid ceramic coatings, which isn’t exactly the same as actual ceramic coating.
There are also wax applications that have been infused with SiO2 and ceramic properties that are a bit more expensive, typically under $50. SiO2 is silicone dioxide, and when infused in a polymer matrix, it delivers some of the characteristics you’d expect from ceramic coating. Again, some of these hybrid ceramic waxes aren’t true ceramic coatings, but offer better protection and durability than traditional wax.
Things get a bit interesting if you’re shopping online for 9H ceramic coating. We recommend sticking to reputable brands, such as Adam’s Polishes, which offers a kit for around $85. Avoid no-name brands and if the price seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Many of the more affordable products likely won’t live up to their claims, especially when it comes to durability and how long the coating lasts.
Now, if you are willing to pay the money to get ceramic coating done by a professional, it won’t be cheap. There are several different factors that professional detailers consider when quoting a job, including the size of the vehicle, the condition of the vehicle, the color of the vehicle, and the type of protection you want. As a result, prices can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you choose to go this route, we recommend getting full details on exactly what you’re paying for. Are you getting a professional grade coating? How many coats are they applying? Are there any guarantees on how long it will last? How much maintenance is involved for aftercare? If you have multiple detailers near you that offer ceramic coating, it’s always a good idea to get quotes from
Types of Ceramic/Graphene Coatings:
DIY Spray Coatings & Hybrid Waxes: Price Range $30-$100
Pros: Easy to apply, affordable, hydrophobic, good protection
Cons: Most of these products aren’t actually ceramic coating, but offers similar characteristics.
Life Expectancy: 3 months to 1 year
DIY Ceramic/Graphene Kits: Price Range $50 - $150
Pros: Actual ceramic coating, creates a protective barrier on your car’s finish, better protection than spray coatings and waxes
Cons: Needs a lot of prep work, experience, and knowledge—you need to know what you’re doing!
Life Expectancy: 6 months to 2 years
Professional Grade Ceramic/Graphene Coatings: Price Range $750 and up
Pros: Professional-grade product, extremely durable, can last a long time, keeps your finish looking new. Will have higher gloss and slickness than DIY kits.
Will have increased UV blocking prevent oxidation and sun fade.
Increased scratch resistance
Increased Hydrophobic properties.
Increase ease of cleaning and maintaining the exterior of your vehicle
Cons: Price varies depending on your vehicle and where you live. Most of the time you have to be certified by the manufacture to install the coating. Which means being trained by them or another establishment before gaining access to the coatings
Life Expectancy: 5 years to 10 years
Do I Need a Professional To Apply Ceramic Coating?
This largely depends on how much you’re willing to spend on your car and your level of expertise using ceramics. While there are lots DIY options out there, always keep in mind that these are typically cheaper and of lower quality than the product a professional uses.
There’s a reason why you can’t purchase some of the more premium products that professional detailers use. Professionals are required by manufactures to go through training and certifications before being able to even gaining access to purchase the premium coatings. This is because of the level of difficulty it takes to apply, remove, and inspect the coating afterwards. Plus most ceramic manufactures hold high standards on what a vehicle's paint condition should be before applying a ceramic coating.
Another factor to consider is how experienced you are when it comes to detailing your car. Do you know what flaws to look for prior to applying ceramic coating? Are you capable of correcting your paint? You’ll want a good foundation to work with, since ceramic coating is creating a barrier on your car’s surface. Flaws underneath the coating will still appear if they aren’t first properly corrected.
If you’re happy with the level of protection spray coatings offer, those products are designed for easy application. Ceramic coating wax can also be done from your driveway or garage, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
What Is The Difference Between Ceramic Coatings And PPF?
Ceramic coatings are designed to be a replacement for waxes and paint sealants. They offer protection from the sun's UV rays, protection from water, protection from chemical containments, and some protection from scuffs and scratches. The biggest benefit from Ceramic coatings is the final look you receive afterwards.
Ceramic coatings are truly the top of the food chain sort of speaking when it comes to gloss, shine and overall visual appearance. If you love the shine your vehicle has and or want to improve your vehicles shine, then a ceramic coating is the direction you should look into.
Paint Protection Films, also known as PPF, is designed specifically around protecting your vehicle from rock chips and scratches. Even though it does offer protection from the sun's UV rays and protection from chemicals. It is also going to be 4 to 5 times more costly to have added to your vehicle.
One of the draw backs from PPF is the orange peel effect. The effect is when something is applied to the surface of the vehicles paint that is not completely smooth and has a look of a orange peel. There are some PPF manufactures who have spent their time and efforts to develop PPF that doesn't have this, but as a result, you will still have an increase of the effect afterwards.
PPF over time it will age and begin to fail. Cracks will form, and it will turn yellow, even if the manufacture says 10 years guarantee, it just means that you'll have 10 years before it happens. Ceramic coatings, when they begin to fail are non visible to the eye. There is no cracking, color change or peeling. The product is so small in size that it just fades away as you wash your vehicle.
Want To Learn More?
We welcome guest to stop by our shop and meet with us in person. We will be happy to show you around our shop and introduce you to the options that we have to offer. Such as combinations of Ceramic Coating and PPF together on 1 vehicle.
Our business carries professional ceramic coatings from IGL Coatings, Gtechinq, ArtDeShine, and Fireball Car Care. We also provide product for the DIY clients from Fireball Car Care, Extreme Solutions, Geyon and Carpro.
If you wish to learn how to apply a coating properly we also offer classes for all types of experienced persons, ranging from beginners to experts.
Stop by our shop and allow us to provide a full list of details to best service your vehicles needs.