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.