Ceramic Maintenance: Why, When, and How

Ceramic Maintenance: Why, When, and How

Learn what symptoms to look for in your coating, why it’s important to properly maintain your ceramic coating, how you can do so, and how often you should keep up with maintenance.

Ceramic coatings are the ultimate in protection for your vehicle’s finish. Outlasting any natural waxes, synthetic sealants, and achieving the highest gloss levels, ceramic coatings protect against micro-marring, swirl induced washing, and make water bead like crazy on the surface. You’ve already made the investment into your vehicle to go through and perfect the paint on your car and protect with the top tier in products, but once you applied this durable coating, you can’t just walk away and forget about it.

Although superior to conventional waxes, ceramic coatings do require general upkeep from time to time to keep them performing like the day we applied it. In a way, it can weaken over time and your investment can be jeopardized through lack of upkeep. In this segment, we’ll teach you what symptoms to look for in your coating, why it’s important to properly maintain your ceramic coating, how you can do so, and how often you should keep up with maintenance.

Coating Degradation

First, let’s start with what can be degraded over time, starting with loss of beading. Water beading is the ultimate sign of a well protected vehicle and simply appealing to the eye, and rightfully so. Boosting hydrophobic properties through a ceramic coating can drastically reduce the chance of water spotting, dirt contamination, and overall buildup because it simply cannot stick! The hydrophobicity of the coating allows the water to bead right off, taking anything up with it in it’s path to create a self cleaning effect. One of the unique characteristics of a ceramic coating is how the surface energies have all to do with how liquids behave on the surfaces of your vehicle, keeping the activity low allowing the liquids to have endless room to run. Here’s the catch, just as the energy is low from a ceramic coating, it can become increased through industrial fallout, surface contaminants, dirt and grime— Basically, any unwanted items clinging to the surface create an obstacle course for water to stick to and ultimately take away from the longevity of your ceramic coating— Adding SiO2- infused products to the surface reintroduces the same chemistry back to your surface to rejuvenate the coating, instead of starting from scratch and wasting time and money.

Loss of Gloss

Next, let’s talk about gloss— that wet shine that we all love and enjoy. After spending a weekend claying your paint to a silky smooth finish, and perfecting your paint to have zero-flaws, the freshly applied ceramic coating is the icing on the cake to all of your hard work. Once fully cured, your vehicle’s finish has unbelievable amounts of gloss and depth and it’s shocking how your car hasn’t been freshly painted with the results you witness. What causes such a phenomenon? Light. The definition of gloss is the shine or luster on a smooth surface— The key word in being “smooth”. Gloss is measured by shining a beam of light at a fixed intensity and angle on to the measured surface— the amount of light reflected back at an equal but opposite angle is what is the human eye is able to see. During the testing process for ceramic coatings, we set our bar high at 95GU (Gloss Units), anything lower isn’t worthy of the Circle-A. When we roll out freshly coated vehicle out in the sun for the first time, the sunlight has a perfectly smooth surface to reflect the light and give a brilliant, mirror-like shine. Having a uniform angle gives us the wet look we are all after. Over time, your paint can go from a brilliant shine to just an okay look, this is because the surface becomes bumpy and un-evened through contamination. Just like the water beading decreases from the obstacle course, the same contaminants take away from the surfaces ability to shine. Through carefully removing contaminants during the wash process and maintenance practices, your coating can maintain its ultra-high level of gloss. Using SiO2-infused products ensures that the chemistries being reintroduced during the maintenance practices bond properly with the current coating and enhance slickness. By doing so, the SiO2-infused products repair the worn down sections of your coating and rejuvenates the beneficial properties of the coating, restoring the perfect angle for the sunlight to show the shine.

Durability & Longevity

Now, let’s talk about durability and longevity of coatings. The above characteristics are the most commonly seen symptoms of a degrading coating, but you truly cannot measure it’s thickness unless you’re grabbing your microscope and a paint thickness gauge during each wash! What we can understand and use safe washing practices to avoid is the known fact that coatings get slightly worn away with each time you wash your vehicle through abrasion— meaning that any time your wash pad or microfiber wash mitt touches the surface its abrading it at the microscopic level. Time after time, this practice can take a toll on your finish and your coatings longevity. For instance, your vehicle is in a torrential downpour a month after the ceramic coating is installed… the water beads effortlessly and your chance of water spots etching into the clear coat is almost nonexistent. Now, fast forward 8-9 months of washing with standard Car Shampoo or Ultra Foam Shampoo routinely… that same situation may bead water still but the thickness of the coating isn’t nearly what it used to be upon application, thus making you’re water spots etching into the clear coat a little too close for comfort.

So, how can you avoid this degradation from happening? How can you extend the life of your current coating without starting from scratch? Reintroducing SiO2 technology to the surface. Let’s say you drive your coated vehicle to a car show and hit a puddle or two on the way, instead of using our standard Waterless Wash and two Waterless Wash towels, keep the towels and use the Ceramic Waterless Wash as an alternative. By doing so, you’re safely removing the road spray and grime, and adding protection to the finish in once simple swipe. Take your daily driver for example on the weekend for a quick detail after a family vacation, instead of using our standard Car Shampoo or Ultra Foam for maximum suds, our Wash & Coat is specifically formulated to reintroduce SiO2 back to the surface during the wash. During the wash process, the suds will grace the panels and safely remove the grime from the surface, but once rinsed the water sheets off instead of beading away— this is perfectly fine! The reason for this sheeting behavior is because the SiO2 introduced through the washing process will continue to cure over the course of multiple hours. By using proper maintenance practices and boosting the properties of your coating, the longevity of your coating gets rejuvenated each time you touch your vehicle. Finally, you’re probably asking yourself “How often should I maintain my ceramic coating?” The answer is a bit more complicated to answer in simplicity since each vehicle is different than the next. In most cases, we recommend revitalizing your coating in some shape or foam every 2-3 months for optimal results.

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