A decade ago, there were only two ways of protecting your vehicle’s paintwork: waxes and sealants.
The difference between them is in how long they last. Carnauba, which is a natural wax, is famed for being able to impart a warm glow to paintwork.
However, it is less durable compared to a synthetic sealant.
Now, although sealants last longer, their shine is a “colder” one. Till today, many detailing enthusiasts still prefer using carnauba wax instead of a sealant to protect their rides.
Although waxes and sealants are relatively durable, neither of them can outlast a properly applied ceramic coating.
Generally speaking, ceramic coatings are solvents filled with silicon dioxide and other ingredients, which differ from brand to brand.
When applied, the solvents evaporate, leaving the silicon dioxide and other ingredients to bond with the paintwork. After the coating dries, it must be buffed to create an even shine.
Ceramics offer extreme durability and can be scratchproof – to a certain degree. Some brands say their coatings have a hardness level of 9H on the Mohs scale.
When ceramic coatings first started gaining popularity, they were still expensive, costing over $1000 to apply to a regular saloon. Nowadays, you can find detailers offering the same service for a fraction of that.
A professionally applied ceramic coating takes a lot of time. The surface preparation, application, buffing and curing could easily take one or two days.
In comparison, getting your vehicle waxed and polished (or sealed) takes anywhere from a few hours to half a day.
CERAMICS – MORE THAN JUST COATINGS NOW
Apart from their hardiness, ceramic coatings are also extremely hydrophobic. When properly applied, water rolls off the surface much faster compared to waxed or sealed surfaces.
My experience with an Si02 product was very compelling. After washing my car and rinsing it, I sprayed it on and gave my vehicle a final rinse. The hydrophobic effect easily lasted two months – even without re-application.
This has led many companies to start making ceramic-based products. There are now car shampoos, waxes, sealants and quick detailers that are marketed as “ceramic” or “Si02-infused”.
Indeed, two of the most popular brands in the market – Meguiar’s and Turtle Wax – now have ceramic product lines.
This has made ceramic technology more accessible to everyday users. Not everyone wants to spend money sending their vehicle to a professional groomer. Many car owners just want a cost-effective product that’s also easy to use.
WILL TRADITIONAL PRODUCTS DISAPPEAR?
Now that ceramic-based products are everywhere, it is certainly possible.
But this trend is just taking off. So, to me, it is more likely that ceramics will be incorporated into even more products, which in turn will become even easier to use.
“Easy to use” in this context means easy to apply and/or remove. It’s a bonus if there’s a nice scent or no odour.
However, there will always be a market for carnauba-based products – even if it becomes a niche one. Companies that make them can always find customers among hardcore detailing enthusiasts.
But that number is small compared to regular folks who want products that keep their cars cleaner and shinier for longer – for minimal cost and effort.