Ceramic Coatings have seen a huge surge in popularity over the last number of years in the detailing world, and for good reason. There are many benefits of using Ceramic Coating on your car, which I’m not going to cover in this post as I have discussed the topic at length in a post I did a little while back.
If you are a beginner in the world of coatings, you can check out one of my previous posts on the subject HERE. This is a good place to start if you are not familiar with coatings and the technology behind them.
One question I seemed to get asked a lot on this blog is “Should I apply a ceramic coating myself, or is it better to get a professional to do it for me?”
Up until recently, my normal recommendation would be to have a professional do it for you.
There are several reasons for this.
Historic Benefits of Getting a Professional to Install a Ceramic Coating
1. Preparation is Key
One of the most important aspects of Ceramic Coating is prepping the paintwork. Preparing a car for Ceramic Coating installation involves full decontamination of the paintwork ( Clay Bar, Fallout Remover Etc )
Once the car is fully decontaminated, the paintwork needs to be compounded and polished to remove any defects such as swirls or scratches. This step requires special tools that not everyone might own, such as a machine polisher. I would never suggest that someone install a ceramic coating without making sure the paint is in the best possible condition before application.
This preparation step alone can take from 1-3 days depending on the existing condition of the car’s paintwork, and not every amateur enthusiast has this much time to prepare for a DIY ceramic installation.
2. Access to a Covered Work Space Away From the Elements
It is always advised to apply Ceramic Coating indoors in a controlled environment where there is no risk of a swing in temperature or a rain shower during the application of the Coating.
As you may or may not already know, Ceramic Coating as a “Cure Time”. This can vary from product to product (1-2 Days ), and during this time it is very important to keep the car dry to allow the coating to harden properly.
If it rains on your car while the ceramic coating is curing, it can cause you many problems with the coating, and the application will be ruined.
Many Professionals use infrared lights to speed up the drying process for their customers.
3. Ceramic Coating is Semi-Permanent
Unlike a traditional wax or sealant, Ceramic Coating is Semi-Permanent ( Some of the products lasting up to a claimed 10 Years ). Due to this nature of the product, if you make mistakes or something goes wrong during the application. It can be VERY difficult to fix.
4. Warranty / Comeback
Following on from point 3 – if a professional is responsible for applying the coating for you, you have some come back if the product fails after a short length of time or if something goes wrong during the installation they should cover you.
This minimizes the risk with the coating.
Ceramic Coatings for Amateur Home Installation
As a result of the popularity of these Coatings, there has been an increased demand for products that beginners can install themselves at home on their driveway without the risks I have mentioned above.
Although there has been many “Ceramic” themed sealants and sprays released to the market such as the infamous Meguiars Hybrid Ceramic Wax, Adams Ceramic Spray Coating or The Last Coat. These are not “true” Ceramic products – although still a great way to dip your toe in the water for the absolute beginners.
The good news is that in 2020 and Beyond, there are some exciting new products available to the everyday amateur detailer, to allow them to experiment with a true Ceramic Coating on their car while keeping some of the associated risks involved to an absolute minimum.
Let’s Take a Look at what is available.
Best Ceramic Coatings for Beginners in 2020
For those of my readers who want to try out a true Ceramic Coating this year, and you are unsure about your abilities when it comes to application. Below are the products I would recommend for a first time install.
Availability: Available Now
Protection Duration : 6+ Months
CQuartz Lite was designed for those that aren’t ready to take the plunge into the industry-leading strength of professional strength coatings but wish to enjoy some of the many benefits that only CQuartz coatings offer. CQuartz Lite bridges the gap between the less effective traditional sealant technology and CQuartz Ceramic coatings.
CQuartz Lite is a great option for professional detailers as an entry-level coating or for the enthusiast who wants to try their first ceramic coating.
This product only requires about a 4 hour drying time, so it is perfect for someone looking to install a coating on their driveway and does not have access to a sheltered area.
Availability: Jan 2020
Protection Duration: 6-12 Months
Meguiar’s M788 Deep Crystal Ceramic Paint Coating is a true Ceramic Si02 coating that is designed to be very forgiving during the application, while still delivering the durability, protection and water beading you would expect out of a ceramic coating.
This specific formulation reduces the chance for high spots and is so user-friendly that you don’t have to be a certified installer to purchase or install
Availability: Available now
Protection Duration: 6-12 Months
Gyeon Q² CanCoat is a very easy to use quartz coating aimed squarely at detailing enthusiasts looking to upgrade to silica-based paint protection for the first time. Indeed, the fundamental aim underpinning the development of Gyeon Q² CanCoat was to formulate a more accessible and user-friendly quartz coating, i.e. one that would be reasonably priced and extremely easy to apply.
Gyeon has achieved this by downgrading and simplifying the formula used to make Gyeon Q² Pure and packaging it in a simple spray bottle. In doing so, they have retained most of the performance benefits associated with silica-based coatings (i.e. impressive looks, excellent durability and strong self-cleaning properties) and eliminated most of the factors that have the potential to trip up novice users (i.e. fiddly applicator systems, short drying times and long curing times).
Should You Apply Ceramic Coating to Your Car Yourself?
As I mentioned at the start of this post, my go-to answer for this question was nearly always that you should get a professional to do this for you if you don’t have experience with coatings.
However, given these new, more forgiving coatings are on the market, it does give the amateur enthusiast a chance to apply a coating to their car, with less risk.
My new recommendation is that they should start off with some of the products I have listed above.
There are several benefits to applying one of these coatings yourself.
As professional coating installation is quite expensive, you will save a significant amount of money by applying a coating yourself at home. This is assuming you are also going to carry out the necessary prep work yourself ( decontamination, polishing etc ).
This is a good learning experience on coating applications and will allow you to work up to more heavy-duty coatings with less risk. By diving in at the deep end with some of the more permanent coatings, you are asking for trouble unless you know exactly what you are doing.
If like me, you take pride in looking after the appearance of your vehicle, you will feel a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that you have applied the coating yourself.
DIY Ceramic Coating Summary
I think it’s a great thing that these easy to use Ceramics now exist, and they present great opportunities for amateur detailers to gain some knowledge and experience in their application, before moving on to something more advanced/long term.
These coatings are pretty good value, all things considered.
This year I plan on doing a how-to guide for applying one of the products listed above and will show you each of the steps on how to use them, so keep an eye out for that post.
Have you tried to install a Ceramic coating on your car at home already? If so, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below so as always please feel free to reach out.
Until Next Time,
About the Author – Darren O Hara
Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out new products.
Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.
You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork