Waxes, Paint Sealants and Ceramic Coatings - What's Best?
Protecting your vehicle’s finish is crucial in protecting your investment and keeping a clean and good looking car. There are several ways to protect a vehicle’s finish, each with varying degrees of cost, performance and quality. Protectants commonly fall into three broad categories and since we get a lot of questions about them let's take some time here to explain the differences.
Wax has been around for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until around 1800 when the first wax was created to protect the lacquer like paint applied to horse carriages. It would take almost another century for the first automotive wax to be created and for people to begin waxing their newly-acquired vehicles.
Wax products will have some form of a natural wax contained as part of the ingredient list such as carnauba, beeswax, Montan, ect. Carnauba Wax is by far the most durable of the natural waxes and also the most common. Unfortunately, even the best wax is not very durable. Wax sits on top of the paint as opposed to bonding with it like a sealant or ceramic coating. Another downside is that it has a low melting point and will not stand up to most detergents, especially the ones used in automatic car washes. Because of these reasons, a traditional wax only lasts between two and six months depending on which product you have and how it’s maintained.
Wax is recommended for detail enthusiasts who enjoy the process of waxing their vehicle or prefer the natural look that it provides. It is best used on occasional-use vehicles due to how easily it can break down.
Paint sealants evolved with the popularity of clear coat finishes in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They are made from a plastic polymer which bonds with the clear coat to create a durable layer of protection that can withstand high-heat and is more resistant to chemical detergents than a traditional wax.
There are several types of paint sealants ranging from paste application to spray-on. The most durable being a paste style paint sealant that is hand applied or applied with a machine. They also make spray-on paint sealants which are convenient and take only minutes to apply, however, do not offer the same great protection as the paste. Paint Sealants typically last anywhere from two months to a year depending on which product is used and how it’s maintained.
A paint Sealant is the standard when it comes to detailing and protecting a vehicle. It’s easy to use and offers pretty good protection for most vehicles.
The latest development in paint protection are products called ceramic coatings (or Nano-Ceramic Coatings). These coatings are made from materials that are far more durable than the polymers found in paint sealants and chemically bond with the vehicle’s factory paint, creating a very durable and long-lasting layer of protection.
This layer of protection is much thicker than any wax or sealant, creating a sacrificial layer that can absorb damage and better protect the paint underneath from chemical etching, oxidation and UV damage. The thickness of the coating also gives it a great depth of gloss that’s hard to achieve with other products. These ceramic coatings will easily provide many years of protection when properly applied and can also be polished to improve their shine without impacting their effectiveness.
The downside to a ceramic coating is that they often cost more than other protectants and can be more difficult to apply or exclusive to authorized installers.
Ceramic Coatings are great as they appeal to many types of people. From automotive enthusiasts who insist on the best quality finish for their vehicle or the everyday consumer who wants a low maintenance, one-time application that will protect their vehicle for several years. Coatings are especially cost-effective when compared to the time and money associated with frequent re-applications required by waxes and sealants.
It’s important to be aware that no wax, sealant or ceramic coating can prevent scratching and damage to your cars paint. Be sure to always use proper washing techniques and products to maintain your protectant and paint itself.
If you have any questions about the different types of paint protectants available or a recommendation on what option would be best for you don't hesitate to send us an email or give one of our shops a call!
Glenview : 224.432.5462 Glen Ellyn : 630.474.9263