If you have been following the world of detailing over the last number of years (As you are on this site, I’m assuming you have been!), you will be familiar with the concept of Ceramic Coatings and how they are used in the protection of automotive paint surfaces.
The term “Ceramic” has become a sort of buzzword in the car cleaning world, with new products coming out every week claiming to contain ceramic technology. There is everything from Ceramic Shampoo’s and Ceramic Quick Detailers available to buy from several different brands. I’m beginning to wonder where it will all end.
As technology in paint protection advances, there seems to be a new kid on the block when it comes to coatings, and this is called “Graphene Coating” specifically designed for cars.
Although this seems to be a relatively new product, and you may never have heard of it before, I believe this will likely be the next trend when it comes to coating services being offered by professional detailers and coating installers.
So before those pesky marketing teams get a hold of us, let’s try to take a look at exactly what graphene coating for cars is, and how it can potentially differ from the traditional ceramic coatings.
What Is Graphene?
Without getting too technical, Graphene is the name for an atom-thick honeycomb sheet of carbon atoms.” Harder than diamond yet more elastic than rubber; tougher than steel yet lighter than aluminium”.
Apparently, Graphene is the strongest known material known to man. It almost sounds too good to be true, and some sort of Miracle material.
In simple terms, graphene can be described as a single layer of graphite. Graphite before converted graphene is a soft, flexible, extremely heat resistant mineral.
How Graphene is being used In the Automotive Industry
Graphene is the world’s strongest material, and so can be used to enhance the strength of other materials. Dozens of researches have demonstrated that adding even a trade amount of graphene to plastics, metals or other materials can make these materials much stronger – or lighter (as you can use less amount of material to achieve the same strength).
Being a carbon-based material coupled with the presence of oxygen functionalities, graphene oxide can be easily dispersed in organic solvents, water, and polymer matrixes. This compatibility as a filler with polymer coatings is crucial, as it then allows car coatings to benefit from its “miracle like” properties.
How Does Graphene Differ From Conventional Ceramic Coatings?
Conventional Ceramic coatings predominately contain Silica Oxides( SiO2). One downfall is that the conventional ceramic, silica oxide and quartz coatings are prone to water spots. Graphene claims to reduce heat on the surface of your paint so that water spotting is much less likely when compared to ceramic coatings.
Ceramic based coatings supposedly retain heat, so any water that remains on the surface can potentially become a durable, mineral loaded water spot.
Because of Graphenes honeycomb structure and chemical properties that it contains, Graphene supposedly has a very high water contact angle when compared to most ceramic coatings currently on the market.
This means any moisture in any amount will slide off much easier, leaving a lower risk of any water evaporating on the surface which could potentially cause water spots.
Because of its electrical and thermal conductivity properties, graphene can safely be advertised as “anti-static which will repel dust and other micro-particles. This can potentially reduce the amount of buildup of dust that some people seem to complain of when it comes to keeping their car clean
What Are The Benefits of Graphene Coatings?
The claimed benefits of Graphene coating are as follows.
- Water-spot prevention and reduction
- Anti-corrosion against winter road salt
- Chemical resistance below PH 12
- Enhanced Durability ( 5 Years Minimum )
- High Slickness
- Higher Abrasion Resistance due to its strength
- Wet Glossy appearance
Cost Of Graphene Coatings
One of the Major Disadvantages of these new “Miracle” coatings are the cost. I am assuming as these products are only being developed, the cost of production is still quite high for the few companies that are selling these coatings. This cost of production is inevitably passed on to the consumer.
Some of the kits I have seen online for sale are x2-x3 the price of traditional coatings. To buy a 30ml bottle of coating, you are talking in the region of €130 ($140) which is pretty damn high. For example, this one from Migliore is priced very high
Graphene Spays and Quick Detailers
Graphene is also being incorporated into many spray sealants and quick detailing products. This gives people the ability to experience graphene properties at a much lower price point.
Adams has recently released their Graphene spray sealant product which claims up to 1-year protection.
Are Graphene Coatings Worth It?
Time will tell whether these coatings are worth it. As these are relatively new products, there is been little testing done by consumers at this point. I have seen some youtube videos of people using these coatings, but their opinions seem fairly biased as I am guessing they are affiliates for some of these companies selling the coatings.
I do have a friend who is a professional detailer, and I was speaking to him and asking him his opinion on Graphene products.
He agreed with me and wanted to wait and see how things played out in the industry before we could consider using such products on his customers’ cars. For now, he was sticking with a good ol’ reliable si02 ceramic product.
For now, Graphene doesn’t offer anything spectacular over traditional ceramic products to warrant the crazy price tag. There was a time when Si02 ceramics were considered snake oil and too good to be true, but are now accepted as an excellent way to protect the surface of your vehicle.
I guess time will tell, and I will certainly be watching the market and upcoming reviews with interest.
Have you or anyone you know used any of these new graphene coatings? If so I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below, or over at the DriveDetailed Forum.
Until Next Time, Happy Detailing!
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 out new products.
Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.
You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork