Ceramic coatings are essentially paints comprised of micro spheres (i.e., synthetic polymer). When dried, ceramic coatings form a hardened layer that reduces corrosion and reduces the friction coefficient on the substrate on which it is applied. Consequently, this makes ceramic an attractive coating solution for many industries.

Ceramic coatings are used in the oil and gas industry, manufacturing processes, and the aerospace and defense industry such as engine components, windshield glass of aircraft, and other uses.

According to the experts, the global ceramic-coatings market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 7 percent through to 2025.

Ceramic is also being used extensively in the automobile and transportation industry because of its anti-corrosion properties and resistance to abrasion and heat. For example, ceramic is used in manufacturing of catalytic converters, spark plugs, windshields, mirrors, brakes, and lighting.

Ceramic coatings are also used for providing a finished polish look on the exterior body of cars and is said to be slowly replacing traditional waxes.

Ceramic coatings for car paint provide a semi-permanent layer of protection which bonds with the paint on a molecular level. Ceramic coating protects paint from scratches, chemicals, and dirt and grime.

The literature describes ceramic coatings by type, coating method, and end use.

Figure 1 – Ceramic liquid

One type of ceramic coating for cars is the liquid or gel version. As shown in Figure 1, the product comes in a small bottle and requires personal protection equipment as well as a multi-step process and specific procedures for surface preparation and application.

Some companies, such as Ceramic Pro, have a network of certified installers to apply their 9H ceramic coating products.

Figure 2 – Hydrophobic and oleophobic properties

Some liquid ceramics have both hydrophobic (water hating) and oleophobic (oil hating) properties. Liquid ceramic provides superior durability (9H), which is measured in years whereas the downside is gels require considerable abrasion to remove them.

Figure 3 – DIY ceramic products

Another type of ceramic car coating is the DIY products that are now readily available at auto parts stores and online. Products for paint and glass include ceramic wax or top coat and mist-and-wipe products such as Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Detailer.

Ceramic wax can be applied as a layering process and provides paint with enhanced gloss, depth, and wet look.

Mist and wipe products are meant for use in between applications of ceramic hybrid or liquid wax to remove light contaminants and dust and enhance the hydrophobic water beading protection.

One of the principal components in ceramic car coatings is silicon dioxide (SiO2) which is an oxide of silicon most commonly found in nature as quartz.

Figure 4 – Car wash ceramic

Ceramic wax and products like Meguiar’s Detailer can provide between six and nine months of protection.

Another type of ceramic is the type applied in automatic car wash facilities. These products usually come in a five-gallon container and are described as a highly hydrophobic formulation that includes a ceramic polymer.

Reportedly, the sealant contains positively charged ions that are attracted to the negatively charged painted surface which creates the hydrophobic coating that repels water.

As with other products, ceramic protects from UV and oxidation and makes it more difficult for grime and dirt to stick to the car surface. Manufacturers claim protection and shine can last for up to 30 days.

Generally speaking, ceramic car coatings do not contain hazardous ingredients. U.S. safety data sheets (SDS) do not list active ingredients. However, such information can be found published in other countries (e.g., the Dutch version of SDS).

Bob Roman is president of RJR Enterprises — Consulting Services (www.carwashplan.com). You can reach Bob via e-mail at bob@carwashplan.com