Ceramic coatings, paint protection questions and answers

Ceramic paint protection for cars

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is George from Melbourne Mobile Detailing and Paint Protection and on a daily basis I get asked a lot of questions regarding ceramic coatings. So I thought it would be a great idea to share some of my opinions and thoughts for people to gain a better understanding of what to expect and not to expect from a coating. Hopefully  you will gain enough knowledge to help during the selection of which product and installer is right for their needs

What is 9H scratch resistance?

We have all heard of these terms thrown around “Improved scratch resistance” Or “9H hardness” but what do they really mean?

Well basically there’s an abrasion test in which pencils of different hardness (1 being the softest and 9 being the hardest) are used to grade how susceptible a surface is to scratching. They use these pencils to scratch the surface to measure how resistant it is to damage.

To give you a better understanding most automotive clear coats have been rated at a hardness or scratch resistance level of 4-6, which in theory (depending on multiple variations) means that they will resist scratching up to the hardness of that particular pencil number.

In the other hand many ceramic coatings claim improved hardness levels of up to and sometimes exceeding 9, or 9H pencil strength. This does not mean the surface wont scratch nor will it be bullet proof all this means is that that a certain pencil strength will and in the perfect conditions will not scratch it.

In the real world if you put your coke can on your bonnet and it slides off – it will more then likely scratch your ceramic coating, which is where the protection factor comes into it as you would prefer to scratch your ceramic coating then scratch your clear coat which in some cases cannot be repaired other than a respray of the affected panel.

Bullet proof coating stone chip resistance?

A straight up wobbly! There is some resistance to stone chips but not a tested measurable one from a ceramic coating stating it will stop stone chips and I personally have not seen any manufacturer post any proof by way of independent testing. Some stones are razor sharp and if one hits your car at 100km/hr which sometimes causes enough damage to crack your windscreen or dent your bumper how will it not chip your paintwork?

Chemical resistant paint protection

Another common term is “Improved chemical resistance” now having a coating will certainly offer a much greater resistance to an almost nonexistent chemical resistance of clear coats. Take for example bird droppings and how quickly they can leave a nice little etch or even worse burn through your clear coat and remove a nice chunk of paint

This claim is true and most ceramic coatings will not allow chemicals to penetrate through and damage your clear coat. But once again, they are not bullet proof. If you’re going to allow bird droppings to sit on your car for weeks because you have a ceramic coating – you might be in for a little surprise

Are their really self healing coatings?

Yes there is some truth to this and as time goes on so does technology improve. Ceramic coatings have shown to self repair themselves on a very minor scale and normally under extreme heat. Don’t think that a scratch will just disappear instantly and in most cases the scratch can be too deep to repair itself

Thermoplastic polymers differ from thermosetting polymers in that they can be re melted and remolded. Many thermoplastic materials are addition polymers; e.g., vinyl chain-growth polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene

There are a few differing polymers used in detailing paint coatings although these have been designed originally to maintain their elasticity and move with the substrate they are applied to

a) Thermoplastic polymers may be reshaped by heating the surface, this type of polymer is used in ‘self-healing’ products although can only be heated and cured only a few times

b) Thermosetting polymer (thermoset) is a polymer that is irreversibly cured from a viscous liquid prepolymer or resin. The process of curing changes the resin into an infusible, insoluble polymer network, and is induced by the action of heat or by mixing with a catalyst.

Once hardened a thermoset resin cannot be reheated and melted to be shaped differently.

Paint protection warranties

Many coatings boast warranties from 2-5 years.. Some even claim lifetime if you apply an obscene amount of layers or if you pay for annual inspections. First off, if an installer is using the words “lifetime warranty” make sure you get it in writing and thoroughly read through the fine print which will indicate the requirements of maintaining that warranty.

If you have nothing in writing, then you have nothing, sorry but it needs to be said. Many warranties will require periodic check ups, or applications of booster products, which will be at your expense. Missed a quarterly check up? WARRANTY VOIDED! And then there’s those pesky denial of claims due to improper maintenance. They can always turn around and claim you did not maintain it properly and the warranty is now voided. My best advice is to choose an installer that is open and happy to explain the application process and how these coatings work but is also willing to offer ongoing support and can also maintain the coating for you, that way they have to stand by their product and for the most part will not blame you for improper care.

I find it important to note that you should choose a product and installer who applies a coating that does not require the application of booster products, if you really think about it. How permanent can it be if you need to re-apply product periodically? Just some food for thought.

Never need to wax your car again!

This is true, the ceramic coatings are like waxes and sealants on steroids. There is usually no need to wax or seal over unless you just want to. The ceramic coatings will do just about everything better than a wax or a sealant can, and for longer. There are some ceramic coatings that require a re-application of a booster product on a periodic basis, these are usually part of the requirements for maintaining the warranty.

How much should I pay for paint protection?

Ceramic coatings are fairly expensive compared to waxes and sealants mostly because they require surgical prep work in order to bond and cure properly. This process can be time consuming and very tedious.

You can generally judge the quality of the installer by the prices they charge for their service. The less expensive the service is, the higher the chance that there will be cut corners in prepping your vehicle for coating. Although this is not universal, there are many high quality installers who offer lower prices depending on the season and how busy they are at the time of booking.

Always do your research, not only on the installer but on the product they are using. Online reviews can help you better understand the quality of the installer. Product review, Facebook, and Google all have business review section

Is an applicator offering you a ridiculous amount of layers? Walk away!

Are they telling you they need to spend 3 days on your brand new car and an abundance amount of hours just so they can charge you extra? Walk away! …

Its easy to gauge, if you really listen to what you are being told

Is a ceramic coating the right choice for me?

Everyone who owns a vehicle that they care about and want to maintain should have a professional installer apply a ceramic coating.

It may not be affordable to everyone, but we all could use this type of protection.

Having a ceramic coating applied should be a commitment on your end to break the bad habits of improper care and to educate yourself on how best to keep the coating in tip top shape.

Your installer should be able to give you all the advice you need on proper maintenance, and which products and techniques are best to use to clean it.

Author: Melbourne Mobile Detailing

Owner and operator of Melbourne Mobile Detailing (MMD) in Melbourne for 9 years and since then MMD has grown large enough with a huge customer base to cover many other detailers in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs dealing with paint protection, odour removal, sticker removal, car detailing, truck cleaning, boat/marine cleaning and aviation detailing in and around Melbourne

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