With the sheer number of grooming products available to consumers, there’s never been a better time to get into detailing your car than it is now.
Decades ago, the only way of protecting your car was via a paste wax. It did the job but was tricky to apply, as getting any on plastic or rubber trim resulted in unsightly white stains. Plus, if you accidentally used too much, removing it took a lot of elbow grease.
Today’s products are easy to apply and remove, and typically smell nice or at least inoffensive. However, there are so many types that first-timers can be left bewildered.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of waxes, sealants, ceramic coatings and graphene-based products to help you decide.
Comes in: Liquid, paste and spray forms
Pros: Waxes, especially those with a high carnauba content, still offer the “warmest” shine, especially when compared to ceramic coatings, which have a “cold” finish. Many waxes, especially the high-end ones, also smell nice, making you want to keep using them.
If you want your car’s paintwork to look more natural, opt for carnauba waxes over the other alternatives.
Cons: Waxes usually don’t last as long as ceramic coats, synthetic sealants or graphene-infused products, so you’ll have to re-apply them more often. You can use a spray wax for greater convenience, but it may not last as long as the liquid or paste-type.
Comes in: Liquid and spray forms
Pros: Typically lasts longer than a wax and is easier to apply as well. Some sealants may not even require buffing – just a quick spray and wipe is enough.
A sealant is well-suited to a car owner who likes detailing, but doesn’t have a lot of time for it, as the product is easy to use and confers a longer protection period than a regular or spray wax.
Cons: Sealants don’t offer the ‘warm glow’ that traditionalists want, though the finish they impart can be shinier and/or glossier than that of a wax.
Comes in: Liquid form
Pros: Acknowledged by many detailers and car owners as one of the strongest ways to protect your clear coat. When properly applied, cured and maintained, the coating can even last several years.
As an added bonus, ceramic coatings are scratch-resistant to some degree. In addition, they are also hydrophobic, which helps keep your car clean(er). Ceramic-coated windows improve outward visibility in the rain as well.
Cons: A professionally applied ceramic coating takes at least a day, or perhaps even longer, depending on the brand’s specified curing period. Costs vary among detailers as well, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks.
Due to its hardy properties, an improperly applied (too thin or too thick) ceramic coat can only be removed using a mechanical polisher. After which, the entire process of prepping, applying and curing must be repeated.
On a minor note, the ‘cold’ but seriously shiny finish of a ceramic coat may not be to everyone’s liking.
Comes in: Liquid, spray and paste forms
Pros: As a material, graphene is extremely strong, hard and light – think tennis racquets. When added to waxes or coatings, graphene supposedly adds strength, slickness and hydrophobic properties.
Graphene-based products are claimed to be stronger and tougher than regular waxes and sealants, and depending on the brand, may offer even better chemical resistance as well.
Graphene also helps keep surface temperatures cooler, so that after it rains, there will be fewer water spots on your paintwork.
Cons: Graphene infused waxes, sprays and coatings are still relatively new to the detailing scene. Some users swear by it while others say that conventional ceramic coatings are still the best way to go. Our take? It’s probably not a bad idea to try them out. Go for something from a big-name or popular brand, which should at least guarantee that the product will be relatively easy to use.