Since the first SiO2 coatings or more commonly termed ceramic coatings, initially it was only used for professional uses due to the complex chemical interaction and difficult application processes. These limitations meant that only marine applications were common and the automotive side was rare at best. Several years later the chemical blends have improved and the products are now more mainstream and available to the retail buyer.
Even with the much-improved application process, there are many brands with differing levels of quality available making the choice of hydrophobic coating for cars a daunting decision. Caution must be urged when researching this subject, especially with social media, where poor reviews are rare with posters staying quiet rather than provoking a backlash from anonymous keyboard experts. Clearly kits worth hundreds should be avoided for first-timers as this would be foolhardy and a potential waste of money. In a different way coating kits costing the same as a cup of coffee should be avoided as trusting this not to be a paint stripping scam would be a mistake.
Also before deciding on a ceramic coating remember they are not a miracle cure:
- Car coatings do not fill swirling or scratches. These need to be taken care of prior to application.
- The surface must be completely decontaminated and oil-free.
- Application is labour intensive and requires a certain skill level and dedication to complete.
- Greater care must be taken with personal protection with gloves and breathing equipment required.
- A Poor application can result in time-consuming correction to restore.
- A curing period is required where the coated surface must be protected from water and contamination
- Any microfiber used in the coating process must be discarded after use.
For those who feel that their personal skill level is not sufficient to tackle the coating application process, the professional option may suit them more readily. Trusting this to a professional detailer will probably provide the best outcome if not more expensive in the short term.
If you are sufficiently talented and can safely complete a full decontamination and correction polish of your car with a filler-free compound then applying modern ceramic coatings could be for you. The benefits of choosing a ceramic coating over wax or sealant are many;
- Increased protection durability over waxes and sealants.
- Increased gloss and finish over waxes and sealants for longer.
- Ease of maintenance cleaning.
- Wax can still be applied to enhance finish however durability may be reduced.
- It can be layered in vital areas to provide additional protection.
- Greater resistance to chemical contamination including winter road salt and iron fallout
- Long term beading and or sheeting characteristics
- Swirl resistance due to hard surface properties of the coating
The decision to choose a hydrophobic car coating should not be taken lightly and all aspects of the process should be considered. Whether professionally done or tackled as a gifted enthusiast the results of the correct application cannot be denied.