ceramic coatings

How to choose between a Wax, Sealant or Ceramic Quartz Coating?

Chapter 2 -Not all paint protections are the same. 

Project Detail  Sydney & Melbourne focusses on prestige car detailing and customisation, but unlike many others we enjoy sharing our knowledge so that all enthusiasts or car owners can benefit from know how to better take care of their car.

Project Detail has a running series of articles designed to inform and educate the car owner on paint protection. Part 1 of our series can be found by clicking here.

In Part 2,  we are going to cover the main differences between a wax, sealant and ceramic quartz coating to give car owners a good overview on the 3 protection options and type that suits individual car owners the best. In Project Detail, we offer all 3 types of Paint Protection.

It is important to understand that 'Paint Protection' can be a wax ... it also can be a sealant and most definitely some type of coating. The importance, is knowing the key differences between the variations.

Choosing between the types of paint protection can be overwhelming for car owners and usually have thousands of unanswered questions, we are here to help. One of the most common questions we get asked at Project Detail is what is Paint Protection and what is the main differences between Wax, Sealant and Paint Protection Coating. To simply put it, it depends on what is the vehicle's purpose and results you are looking to achieve. 

1953 Allard J2X, finished with a Teflon based sealant after a multi-stage Paint Correction. 

1953 Allard J2X, finished with a Teflon based sealant after a multi-stage Paint Correction. 

Wax

Swissvax is a premium range of waxes.

Project Detail is an authorised applicator.

Project Detail is an authorised applicator.

Waxes are the most traditional form of waxes. Although there are thousands of variation of waxes, they are usually only two types of waxes. 

Natural Wax
Natural wax are usually more expensive and they provide a warmer, deeper finish. They are usually referred as Carnauba wax, which derives from the copernica cerifa plant in Brazil. These natural waxes usually have a percentage of carnauba. The carnauba content can either be in a pure form, or mixed with oils or petroleum products to certain degrees. Carnauba content and how pure it is plays a huge role in how much they cost. Natural waxes are usually the most expensive waxes. They usually comes in a paste format. 

Synthetic Wax
Most of the car waxes on the shelf in auto stores are usually synthetic waxes. How are they different from natural wax you may ask? Synthetic wax are design to do the exact same thing with natural waxes, but instead of using natural content such as carnauba, they are made from non-organic chemicals. They usually comes in a liquid or spray format. Advantage being it's a easier to apply compared to natural wax and it is usually cheaper compared to natural wax. 

Sealant

Sealants are the second generation of paint protection and they are well known to last longer and providing a better protection solution as compared to waxes. But in terms of how good the finish is, natural wax outperforms sealants from its warmth and depth. Sealants are considered a ground-breaking technology in the past until ceramic quartz coatings are introduced. There are two main types of paint sealant

Polymer Sealant
Vast majority of the sealants you can find on the shelf of your local auto store are usually a polymer sealant. A polymer sealant is made up of tens of thousands of synthetic particles that are linked together. When a polymer sealant cures, it is basically forms a 'plastic' shield on the vehicle's paintwork - glossy and slick. The best kept secret in the detailing world would be applying natural wax on top of a polymer sealant for a extremely deep and glossy finish. 

Note - Many dealerships in Australia, that sell a form of paint protection is more then likely a Polymer Sealant.

PTFE/Teflon Sealant
PTFE based sealants works exactly like a Polymer sealant, but with a different kind of polymer. You'll find non-stick PTFE coating for pans and other cookware. It is very non-reactive, partly because of the strength of the carbon–fluorine bonds. Research shows that PTFE technology works excellent on car's paintwork and it fills or 'hide' paint imperfections well for those who are not going through an extensive paint correction but rather wants it to look good for a day or a pre-sale presentation to potential buyers. Although it generally won't last as long as polymer sealant, it provides a glossier finish as compared to polymer sealants and are generally more expensive compared to polymer sealants. 

Ceramic Quartz Coating

Superb & Stunning  -  Audi RS3 Coated with a Ceramic Quartz Coating.

Superb & Stunning  -  Audi RS3 Coated with a Ceramic Quartz Coating.

Ceramic quartz coating, or often referred as a nano coating, is a ground breaking improvement in the automotive industry, it has existed for many years with a recent spike in popularity and brands in the past few years. It uses Silicon Dioxide or SiO2 (aka Ceramic/Quartz/Liquid Glass) that cures into a hard glass that provides superior protection. It severely outperforms sealants in every single way. The 4 main advantage of a coating is: Gloss, Longevity, Physical Resistance and Hydrophobicity. A good coating applied properly by a detailer with appropriate prep work, it could last anywhere from 2 to 5 years and it eliminates the need to wax or polish your car again. Did we mention it has self-washing effects from the hydrophobicity in the coating. Even so, natural waxes finishes better than a coating due to its carnauba content. Although there are plenty of coatings to choose from, there are two types of coating: Consumer and Professional-only coating. 

Consumer Coating
Due to coating's complexity of application, we do advise car owner's to do extensive research about coatings and how to apply them, because once the coating is applied and cured, it can be only be removed via abrasion only. A consumer coating is a simplified and easier to apply version of a professional-only coating, targeted to weekend warriors and car enthusiast that are keen to apply a coating by themselves. A consumer coating usually have a lot less SiO2 content, more user-friendly, a lot easier to apply and usually a shorter lifespan as compared to professional-only coating.

Professional-Only Coating
Professional-only coating are usually coatings that are not available to purchase to the public and are exclusively available to selected detailers. Selected detailers usually have to attend a training session to properly learn how to apply the product professionally to prevent any errors and quality control. Each individual professional-only coating has its own unique way of preparation process to optimise the best results from each application and usually paint correction is needed to remove existing imperfections such as swirl marks and minor scratches. The main difference between a consumer version and a professional-only coating are mainly the SiO2 content and the solvent a coating carries. The higher the SiO2 content is, the more difficult it is to apply and precautions has to be taken into account. 

Pro Tip: SiO2 percentage has becoming a marketing hype in the industry. So if you see a consumer coating claiming to contain 80% or more SiO2 content in a single part and you feel that it's too good to be true? Then it probably is. A Professional-only coating usually contains anywhere from 75% to 85% SiO2 Content.

Menacing Mercedes Benz C63S Estate protected with a Ceramic Quartz Coating.

Menacing Mercedes Benz C63S Estate protected with a Ceramic Quartz Coating.

Porsche 911 (997) Carrera 4S in Black - Coated with a Ceramic Quartz Coating.

Conclusion

  • Wax (Natural or Synthetic) provides a deep, warmth finish, however it usually only last about 2-3 months. It is best suited for show cars on car events or those wanting the best shine. See our Swissvax Wax range for more information.
  • Sealants provides a better protection and longevity compared to wax, but it doesn't provide natural wax's warmth and deep finish. It is best suited for car owners that are looking for a affordable paint protection solution.
  • Ceramic Quartz Coating provides a superior protection and longevity compared to sealants and increased gloss levels close to waxes, cost of getting it professionally applied by a detailer will be higher due to extensive preparation required such as paint correction. This is best suited for daily cars, and car-lovers that wants the best value in the long run. 

If you would like to know more about the paint protection options Project Detail offers, click here.

We hope this article helped you on choosing the best paint protection option for your car. For any enquiries, feel free to contact Project Detail by clicking here.

Paint Protection Quartz Coatings

Chapter 1 - Glass Coatings 101

Ceramic Quartz Coating undergoing Infrared curing at Project Detail Sydney.

Beginning this week, Project Detail is beginning a series of article based around facts, debunking fiction and generally providing overall advice regarding Quartz Coatings (aka glass coatings or ceramic coatings) or Paint Protection as it's being currently offered in Sydney and Melbourne.

To start of the series, we wanted to lightly introduce the ideas central to Quartz  coatings. Overtime the articles will introduce more complex information and begin to address some of the controversy related to glass coatings and paint protection.

Toby, from Project Detail Melbourne and myself from Project Detail Sydney will be giving our input, I hope that these series of articles achieves its ultimate goal by arming you the client, with as much information to make an informed decision as possible when deciding on paint protection options from your current detailer or just looking on the market. 

What will be discussed in these articles are very transparent and there may be detailers or businesses in the industry which may be upset. But Project Detail believes the customer has a right to make the right choice for their vehicle while being informed. Because of the level of misinformation surrounding coatings, Project Detail would like to dispel some of these rumours if we can.

Introduction to Coatings

Round water beads on a hydrophobic coated surface.

If you've have a moment, be sure to check out our overview of protection options by clicking here. It contains some brief information which ties in together with that we are covering here today and touches onto waxes and synthetic sealants.

Quartz Coatings are known by a variety of names, such as glass coatings or ceramic coatings. These encompass a range of products which are designed to provide protection to your cars paintwork superior to that of a wax or a sealant. These days there are many brands existing and being offered in Australia to new car buyers and current car owners.

Typically, these quartz coatings consist of two main components. They are constructed from inorganic liquid glass from the element SiO2 (Silicon Dioxide) which can vary at different percentages of volume. And the second component is the solvent which the SiO2 is suspended in.

Knowing this is important as the percentage of the Quartz glass volume is a very rough indication of how the performance of the glass coating should be. The major problem with the coating industry, there are a lot of smoke and mirrors. Many coating brands, fail to mention their SiO2 % or even worse falsify the information in order to make their product look better.

Not just Coatings? - Sydney, Richard Ma

Ceramic Quartz Coatings provide a deep, clear gloss to any polished painted surface.

In my personal opinion, Ceramic Quartz Coatings represents the pinnacle of automotive protection technology at the moment. I have had the pleasure of working with a variety of coatings in the past few years, being a prior official and approved applicator for Opticoat Pro and also Ceramic Pro. Both of these are fantastic products but what I have realised in doing research while developing Project Detail, the technology for ceramic quartz coatings are really in it's infancy.
While they have technically been around for a few years existing outside of the automotive industry, they have really made a profound impact on the car detailing scene for only a few years. Because of this, new companies  and formulations are constantly being released.

What I have found particularly in Sydney is the misconception of what is defined as paint protection. Strictly speaking, it does not need to be a ceramic quartz coating perse but simply a product of any sort that is applied to the paintwork. When we focus on this in more detail, the reason why ceramic quartz coatings make a big deal is because of their performance. Longer lasting, better gloss and improved long term water beading are some of the major benefits.

But going back to what I was saying before, technically a wax or a synthetic sealant is a form of paint protection. It is important to note that having anything on your paint is better then raw and unprotected paintwork. Especially with higher pollution levels in Sydney, treesap or bird droppings.

My honest recommendation is do some research, find out what is best for your car. How long do you plan to keep your vehicle? But realistic and see what the current condition of the vehicle is like. If there are swirl marks, water marks or other paint defects it is strongly recommended to remove these first with paint correction before applying any form of semi-permanent or permanent coating. 

If you have any questions, just contact us and we are more then happy to help where possible.

Ceramic Quartz Coatings - Melbourne, Toby Wong

Ceramic Quartz Coatings provide a highly hydrophobic surface which gives a 'self-cleaning' effect.

Quartz Coatings is a ground breaking nanotechnology that has been introduced to the automotive car care industry in the past few years.  It provides superior protection compared to waxes and sealant that bonds to your car permanently. 

Compared to wax and sealants, I can see why quartz coatings are popular because not only it provides a long term protection, it eliminates the need for regular polishing and waxing and it last anywhere from 2 to 5 years. It varies from product and maintenance schedule. Common off the shelf waxes breaks down after 4 to 5 washes, requiring re-application and most car owners I know of wouldn't realise it and their car paintwork will be exposed without any form of paint protection which it could cause paintwork damage such as clear coat failure from exposing to Australia's strong UV rays, chemical etching, accelerating the paintwork's deterioration very quickly etc. 

Based on my extensive tests on several different panels and cars, coating's physical resistance are superior when compared to waxes when comes to protecting UV rays and harsh environmental chemicals. From my tests, it resist chemicals from the pH scale form 2-11 which wax and sealants fails to resist. Coatings also provides hardness and scratch resistance to an extent. Tests has shown that waxes has a thickness of 0.02µm (microns) and coatings do range anywhere from 0.5µm to 75µm, varies from brand to brand and what they offer. A good coating would provide 2µm to 3µm of thickness. I recommend you to check with your detailer about the brand they are offering and their coating thickness. Our CS2 Titanium is a two-part coating that provides a thickness of 50µm to 65µm.

In my opinion, coatings development are similar to how technology is progressing, companies are constantly doing research and development to improve their products and their products gets better every one or two years. As products gets better, I find that application difficultly gets higher. Hence why it's important for us at Project Detail to keep improving and developing ourselves to adapt to these new technologies.

A quick demo on Mighty Car Mod's famous Mini, see how the water just sheets off the car rapidly.

We hope this first article in our series about paint protection and ceramic quartz coatings helps shed some light into this new industry. If you have any questions regarding how to protect your paintwork or if you need general advice, please contact us here.