glass coatings

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. 

Should I consider Paint Protection for my car?

A lack of Paint Protection means your car is vulnerable to bird stains & swirl marks.

For most of us in Australia, when we purchase a new car we are often offered a variety of paint protection options. The level of information provided also varies depending on the brand of product and unfortunately the honest of the salesperson. These same factors also dictate the cost too.

VW Polo -  Brand new car, clear is ready to fail due to bat droppings & no paint protection of any kind.

Prolonged damaged requires Paint Correction.

Lack of protection means faded & oxidised paint.

To help you sift through the jargon and multitude of products available, Project Detail in Gladesville, Sydney will go over some of the options available for your car.

Commonly there are 3 categories of 'paint protection.' These can be defined as any product that is applied to your paintwork which offers any form of protection. All forms of paint protection will offering varying degrees:

  • UV Protection - Very important in our Strong Australian Environment
  • Hydrophobicity - Water Beading, Water Sheeting & Self-Cleaning
  • Physical Resistance - Acidic Elements (birdpoo, batpoo & watermarks), Swirl marks and light marring
  • Aesthetics - Gloss, depth and clarity

Waxes - Low to Medium Cost

Waxes are the oldest form of protection, these use a combination of Carnauba Palm Waxes, fruit oils and other ingredients. Waxes still provide the best in terms of gloss and depth. However one major downside with waxes is a lack of thickness, longevity and resistance towards longterm damage.

Synthetic Sealants - Low Cost

To overcome the short lifespan of waxes, Sealants were developed. These can last months upto 12 months maximum which is a great improvement. However, the overall looks weren't able to compare to waxes. This option is most often offered by dealerships, even with a lifetime warranty the product will not last longer than 24 months on your vehicle.

Glass Coatings - Medium to High Cost

The most recent development in paint protection. Utilising advanced chemistry, the vast majority of coatings are based on Silicone Dioxide SiO2 aka Quartz or Pure Glass. These coatings come in many different brands and there is a lot of misinformation among them. However, one thing is clear, a good glass coating is a large step ahead from waxes and sealants. The gloss provided is almost of the same level as waxes, the lifespan is often between 2 -5 years and best of all they excel in the other attributes in UV protection and Hydrophobicity.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post about glass coatings for more information.

2016 VW Mk7 Golf R in Limestone Grey - Brand new & protected with our Glass Coating protection.

What does this all mean for you?

Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, your own budget and expectations should dictate which option you opt for. One important element to consider is with waxes and sealants, regular application (quarterly) is recommended to achieve the best results.

Glass Coatings can be a cost effective solution due to their long lifespan. The top level coatings which deliver extremely well in each attribute listed above can become costly however. 

It is important to do good research and ask your detailer to find a protection product suitable for you and your car.