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What You Show Know About Ceramic Paint Coatings

For most of the automobile’s history, wax was how you took care of your paint. Carnauba wax, specifically, was the Holy Grail, valued for its hard, clear finish. But you may have noticed a new kid making the rounds – ceramic coatings. Or more accurately, nano ceramics.

Ceramic paint coatings first appeared in the professional detailing market in the early 2000s. They were used primarily by professional detailers because of their high cost and specialized application requirements.  By the early 2010s, ceramic technology had evolved to the point of being more accessible to general consumers. Today most popular car care brands offer DIY-friendly ceramic coatings for at-home application.

But what do we know about this newcomer, and is it all hype and fiction? Or is there something to it you should embrace?

Liquid ceramic?

Nano ceramic technology uses a liquid polymer fortified with small ceramic particles that chemically bond with the vehicle’s paint. Silane and siloxane, the polymers that typically form the base of ceramic coatings, contain silicon atoms. These have strong bonding properties, especially with impervious surfaces like automotive paint. Together with cross-linking agents, they enhance the overall durability and longevity of the coating.

What stays behind is a durable, transparent layer that acts as a protective barrier, preventing paint damage from UV rays, acid rain, bird droppings, and road salt. The term “nano” refers to the microscopic particles present in the ceramic coating, allowing for a very thin application.

Advantages of ceramic vs wax

Ceramic coatings offer significant advantages over conventional car care products. These include greater durability, UV protection, scratch resistance, and moisture sheeting. Wax, for instance, may last for a few weeks to a few months, but a ceramic coating can last for several years with proper maintenance.

Ceramics provide superior resistance to chemicals and contaminants, especially acidic substances, bird droppings, tree sap, and other environmental pollutants. The hard surface created by a ceramic coating also makes it more resistant to penetrating scratches.

The hydrophobic nature of nano ceramic means that water and other liquids bead up and roll off the surface more easily. This not only keeps the vehicle cleaner for longer, but it also makes it easier to clean when washing.

Machine polishing a 1963 Corvette coupe

Any downside?

While ceramic coatings have found a loyal following, there have typically been two main reasons people have avoided them so far. Aside from the usual fear of something new, these are cost and ease of use. But those objections are losing ground as time goes on.

As ceramic protectants have become more mainstream, the cost has come down. Eastwood now offers a ceramic version of its detailing spray that costs around $16, roughly half of what similar products have traditionally cost.

They’ve also become easier to use, requiring less stripping and other preparation before application. This comes at the expense of long-range durability, but even these easier-to-use ceramic products still vastly outperform conventional wax’s longevity.

One other consideration for some carnauba purists is depth. It’s true the ultra-thin layers of ceramic coatings may not look as deep as wax (despite an indisputable shine). However, applying a high-quality, pure carnauba wax on top of ceramic-coated paint can provide the best of both worlds if depth and durability are both priorities.

Users should also be aware that removing nano ceramic coatings can be more challenging than removing traditional waxes or sealants. This is especially important for a body shop to to know should your vehicle ever need paint repair. Much of the ceramic protection may be sanded off during the bodywork phase, especially with consumer-grade products. However, professionally applied ceramic finishes may require a combination of alkaline chemicals, aggressive clay treatments, and machine compounding to completely remove the ceramic layer.


  1. Article has now been amended to address removal of ceramic for painting.

  2. For Dave, who asked about ceramics and the 3M self healing mask: Install the 3M Clear Self-Healing Mask on the vehicle first, then put the ceramic coating on the wrap.

  3. yes, eastwood should address removal, as per the aforementioned reasons. refinishing and blending panels with ceramic coating.

  4. This is why I always read the comments, because someone always knows more than I do. Since it wasn’t mentioned in the article, I would not have considered the removal process as something to consider, but now I would. Also, if body shops are going to charge more to repair because of the increased prep time labor and materials, will insurance companies be charging more on cars that use a ceramic finish? Sounds like it could be justified, but wouldn’t know until there was a repair.

  5. I use ceramic coating on the black/gray plastic exterior parts of vehicles. IE. mirrors wheel flares etc. . Works GREAT and maintains a good color. I use Cerra coat. $50.00 for a small bottle.
    As for on painted surfaces NO! Reason is if re-painting or blending is needed you are going to have to remove the coating. Bodyshop nightmare. I have been doing body and paint on hobbyist vehicles for 30 plus years, So, I do have alittle experience.

  6. Can Ceramics affect a respray? Can it affect the adhesion properties of paint? Is there any special techniques to remove the coating before painting? A blank-slate stripper wash and sanding?

  7. Applying is wrong. It should read buying

  8. OK I am in the process of applying a new truck. I need to protect the front of the truck with something. I like the idea of ceramic coating, but can I put the 3M clear self healing mask over top of that I do a lot of highway driving And get a lot of stone chips across the front of my vehicles. Unless you have something better I can use to prevent the stone chips.

  9. Good article for the ceramic coatings, but when the downsides are mentioned, the article leaves out the most important one… the steps required to remove it if you are doing any paintwork. Eastwood prides itself on catering to the hands on do it yourselfer. If someone is doing a blend on a panel they are repairing, if not FULLY removed, the ceramic coating will assure paint failure. It doesn’t just wipe off with wax and grease removers, cleaners, or even light scuffing. Perhaps that can be addressed in a future article