You may think it absurd to pay $2,000 for a glorified wax job on your vehicle, so let’s break it down so that you can better understand what’s involved and what it costs.
A ceramic coating is the best long term paint protection you can buy. They are a revolutionary alternative to waxes and sealants, which only last a few months at best. On average, the coating protects your vehicle for five years, and some even protect for the lifetime of the vehicle. A
This is a UV resistant, water resistant, chemical resistant, scratch resistant, highly durable coating that chemically bonds to your vehicle’s clear coat. The coating maintains the properties, plus maintains a high level of gloss for the life of the coating, provided you take care of it properly. This makes a ceramic coating much more valuable than a traditional wax coating.
Installing a ceramic coating is labor intensive and generally takes 1-3 days. Here are the steps:
- Hand wash exterior and wheels and tires 1-2 hours
- Chemical decontamination of embedded microscopic metals (like brake dust and other highway metals). 30 minutes
- Clay bar to remove deeply embedded grime that you typically cannot see. 2 hours
- Masking trim in preparation for paint correction and/or paint enhancement. 2 hours
- Paint correction – removal of most scratches, swirl marks, oxidation and holograms. 4-6 hours
- Paint enhancement – polishing to obtain clarity and depth of shine. 4-6 hours
- Panel prep – removing any leftover polish from the vehicle in order to have native paint for the coating. 45 minutes
- Apply the ceramic coating – some coatings require multiple layers with anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours between layers. 3 hours per layer
- High spot mitigation – it’s almost impossible to avoid high spots, so an inspection of the vehicle in proper lighting will reveal high spots that must be removed. 1 hour
As you can see, it takes anywhere from 12-20 hours to properly install a ceramic coating.
Training and Certification
The training required to become certified by a ceramic coating manufacturer is intense. It is typically a 3 day course that includes product knowledge and hands-on coating on real vehicles. A professional ceramic coating installer commands a very high wage for their training, expertise and experience. Not any detailer can install a professional grade ceramic coating, so be sure to ask about their certification(s).
Most professional grade ceramic coatings come with a manufacturer’s warranty and the cost of the warranty is factored into the cost of the coating, which typically cost hundreds of dollars for a 50 ml bottle. The warranty is typically a limited warranty and requires that the owner of the vehicle maintain the coating according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, and that the vehicle be inspected annually by a certified installer.
The reason a ceramic coating costs so much is because of its high value and the high labor hours required to properly install the coating. Additionally, most professional grade ceramic coatings come with a limited warranty. When you add it all up, the investment is not trivial; however, the value of a permanent layer of paint protection is well worth it.
About the Author
Ken Chance owns Dripping Auto Pros, and is certified by three ceramic coating manufacturers. This allows him to recommend the best coating for your vehicle based upon the way that you use your vehicle and how long you typically keep them. Ken resides in Dripping Springs, Texas. He may be reached at email@example.com, or, 512-829-7000, or at www.drippingautopros.com