6 Must-Know’s before DIY Ceramic Coating
Mistakes can be constructive and rewarding, but some can have significant consequences in our life, financially, materially, etc.
Regarding the ceramic coating, applying it and obtaining the desired results offers a very satisfying experience. Still, to achieve this, you have to follow more rules than installing wax or a sealant.
Before considering installing ceramic on your car yourself and without wanting to be discouraged, on the contrary, let's see together 6 points to respect so that everything goes as well as possible.
Before we dive deeper, make sure you check out our 3 at-home MUST HAVES! from Amazon Here:
The DIY ceramic industry has diversified a lot, offering many products. Some exceed customer expectations and others much less. This is why it is crucial to research and learn about the world of ceramics, like here on your detailing site, thanks to our free articles. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be and avoid risks and other pitfalls.
If you choose ceramic based on price, you will likely get a cheap counterfeit product and have difficulty applying it. Conversely, selecting the most expensive product does not always mean choosing the best outcome. The same goes for ease of use, warranty, etc.
We can remember that you will avoid unpleasant surprises by focusing on major brands and, above all, do your research.
- What is the condition of your car's paint?
Ideally, you have a new car, almost without any defects; a very slight correction or not is necessary. But, it's already not impossible that your new vehicle has a factory-applied sealant.
The condition of your vehicle's paint is the most important factor. For example, it is an ideal blank canvas to work on if the paint's surface is clean, free of debris, swirls, micro-scratches, marks, contaminants, or preservatives.
On the contrary, if an existing product protects your vehicle's finish, shows damage, signs of discoloration, etc. You must correct or have these surface defects corrected. This is the biggest problem that hobbyists can encounter.
A DIY ceramic (do it yourself), whatever its formulation, is designed to protect the surface, not to repair or hide imperfections or damage to the paint surface. If the paint is scratched, the ceramic will amplify this damage. If the paint is dull, it will not improve the luster. All remaining products (wax, sealant) must be removed for a ceramic to adhere to the surface.
So, before you even consider installing ceramic tiles yourself, be sure to carefully and objectively observe the condition of your car's paintwork.
Ask yourself all the possible questions:
- Is there wax or sealant on my vehicle?
- Does the car have PPF film or vinyl film?
- Are there any marks on the surface (swirls, scratches, spots)?
- Is the paint discolored?
- Is the varnish damaged?
If you can answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, the following points are for you. If the answer is "no", then your car may be ready for ceramic protection.
- Are you comfortable with the prep work?
Regardless of the existence of ceramics of different qualities, preparation work is essential to achieve optimal results.
Here is the process in 4 steps:
- Washing: the car must, of course, be spotless, thanks to the two-bucket washing method. You will need a "stripping" or decontaminating (therefore effective) car shampoo during this wash. It is a detergent formulated to break down fats, oils, and other synthetic ingredients in paint protection products (wax, sealer).
- This product also removes insect guts, bird droppings, tree sap (or prefer a dedicated product like Koch Chemie Eulex ), and other surface contaminants.
- The idea of washing is to remove as much as possible.
- Mechanical decontamination with a clay bar: when the car is clean, it must be decontaminated.
- The clay bar (with its lubricant of your choice) helps remove microscopic and encrusted contaminants in the layer of varnish.
- Paint correction: this is a recommended step. The paint must be corrected enough to eliminate visible defects (micro-scratches, swirls, etc.). You can hire a professional detailer for this step.
- IPA degreasing: the most straightforward step in preparing a car before installing ceramic protection. This consists of using a clean, quality isopropyl alcohol product and microfibers and wiping down all surfaces.
- We recommend a mixture of, for example, 30/70 with a 99% IPA and distilled water (there is no 100% version).
If you feel ready for these preparation steps, then you can move on.
- Do you have the patience to install a car ceramic?
To obtain a good result, you have to take your time and apply the ceramic panel by panel.
The size to be coated and the "cure" time (hardening of the product) are crucial elements to ensure optimum longevity and durability over time. Rushing or skimping on the product will NEVER result in a happy ending.
If you are not 100% comfortable or predisposed to take the time to do the job well, then perhaps you should consider using a more accessible product, such as SiO2 based protection. For excellent results in a sprayer, for example, a more diluted version is easier and faster to apply.
If you have the time and feel you can do it, then continue with the following steps.
- Do you have the ideal place to lay the ceramic?
The application of a not so simple product, such as ceramic, comes with specific rules to follow:
- It should not be applied to a hot surface.
- You cannot apply it under direct sunlight.
- The vehicle should be kept indoors or away from dust, pollen, or humid conditions for at least 24 hours after applying the last coat.
Youu must have an enclosed (but ventilated) space or a garage to apply a ceramic coating. If you don't have this type of place, find one. Maybe a friend or family member has one.
If windblown contaminants contact the ceramic or your paint, they will get stuck in the shield, and removing them will be next to impossible.
We take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of wearing a breathing mask, even if we see many YouTubers not wearing one, or even gloves sometimes.
- What is the best product for you?
You essentially have three solutions (excluding films) to protect your car:
- Sealant (or sealant)
Sealant and wax:
It is the most common type of protection and the most popular protection in automotive detailing. It is a product to be applied manually, from natural Carnauba wax to synthetic wax. Wax or sealants (synthetic) typically provide six months of protection; they must be removed and reapplied.
Some excellent products:
This is the next level of protection. With this type of product, you apply it as you would with a spray or aerosol wax. However, this protection will require at least 24 hours to harden and "cure".
This type of ceramic product will generally last 3 to 6 months. However, unlike wax or sealer, you can overlay layers without removing the old one before applying a new one.
Some quality spray ceramics:
This is the highest level of protection globally (at writing) for car paint (and other surfaces).
The quality nano ceramic is highly concentrated. The main problem with this type of product is the quality. Some ceramics are formulated with only 50% SiO2 or silicon dioxide (some products offer up to 84%), the main ingredient that forms the protective hardshell with superior hydrophobic properties.
With this type of protection, you are safe for 2 to 5 years. However, if you want even more protection over time, refer to a pro who will apply professional ceramic.
- What is your budget, and how long will you keep your vehicle?
If you plan to change your car every 3-4 years, as many do, and you're on a budget, the ceramic coating option is a smart option.
However, if you plan to keep your vehicle for a long time and prefer to have professionals do the job for even longer-lasting results (and maybe better, depending on your experience), then find a professional detailer.
You have to determine your choice based on your situation.
If you choose the ceramic coating, prefer a big brand product (CarPro, Gyeon, Gtechniq, etc.). Not only are these products comfortable to apply, but they also provide excellent results.
In any case, the preparation work is essential!.
Do you have questions? The “Detail Doctor’s” technicians located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, answer all your questions.