Driveway washes and a basic wax aren't the end of the road these days. Today, companies market numerous sealants, protective paint coatings, and "ceramic coatings" to enhance a paint's gloss and protection.
Here to cut through the jargon and get straight to the facts is our favorite explainer extraordinaire, Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained. His video takes us inside Xpel, a leading company in protective finishes and ceramic coatings, to tell us everything there is to know about how the products work. Most importantly, we learn what to expect from them, and what they will not fix or protect against.
First, it's good to know what a ceramic coating is. Think of the product as a semi-permanent wax or sealant, which lasts four years, per Xpel. The ceramic coating is applied with a small applicator in perfect conditions—the exterior paint must be totally clean, prepped, and free of swirl marks or scratches. The silicon-based product from Xpel features a liquid carrying nanoparticles that create an inseparable bond with the paint. It's nearly impossible to wash the product off and would require heavy polishing, compounds, or even wet sanding to remove. It can also be applied to windows.
While protective paint coatings will protect against scratches, swirl marks, and any other sort of road rash, a ceramic coating will not. In fact, it's best to have both. Jason's fun experiments in the video showcase the differences. Jason's personal Subaru Crosstrek received a full protective paint coating, but only one side of the hood got the ceramic coating. The bucket of mud shows the difference; while the mud chunks and dirty water sit in place on the side with the protective coating, the nasty muck almost entirely rolls off of the side with the ceramic coating. Now it should make sense why having both is a major benefit.
For maintenance, it's even better, since most of the time drivers won't encounter buckets of mud. For example, when it rains, the ceramic coating's properties deter dirt from sticking to the paint surface. Instead, it's attracted to water. When it rains, water droplets will absorb dirt and roll away as the driver cruises along. However, your car can still get water spots with a ceramic coating. They haven't come up with a cure for every ill that befalls paint.
We'll allow Jason to take it all from here. Dive into the world of ceramic coatings by clicking on the video above.