Ceramic coatings are what everyone is talking about in the Dripping Springs, Texas auto detailing scene. We hear all kinds of information (fact & fiction) surrounding ceramic coatings, so we wanted to clear up the confusion as much as possible.
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.