Ceramic treatment: the truth behind the promises
One of the most notable changes in detailing in recent years has been the popularity of nano protection or ceramic treatment.
Everyone is always interested in products that make their lives easier and ceramic protection can do that. A ceramic paint ceramic:
Will indeed facilitate the cleaning of vehicles.
It will give them a better appearance for a long time.
Will reduce maintenance time, as it is not necessary to use traditional waxes or sealants several times a year.
Best of all, the benefits of a ceramic treatment can last for years rather than weeks or months. Everything looks good in the best of all worlds, doesn't it?!
This article is in line with our article on myths about ceramic treatments.
The bidding war
The competition is fierce between the different brands of ceramic protection and everyone is trying to make a place for themselves.
To complicate matters further, it seems that new companies are flooding the market every day with more and more products and they all claim to be the best.
Unfortunately, some companies and retailers have used moderately ethical methods to sell their products and/or services.
These methods often involve distorting the truth in order to make sales.
What is problematic is that while these misrepresentations may result in increased sales in the short term, they will eventually have a negative effect on the entire ceramic protection industry in the long term.
So here in this article we will clear up some of the nonsense, sometimes relayed by amateur detailers, to help you better understand ceramic treatments and what they can really do for you!
You can buy excellent ceramic protection
You'll never have to wash your car again!
It sounds suspicious at first glance, but many consumers are still in this belief and come back to reality when their car ends up dull, covered with water marks, stains, bird droppings, insects, etc.
Nano-protectors offer a harder protective layer and do not require as much maintenance as a vehicle that has not had a ceramic treatment, but this does not mean that the car does not need maintenance.
In fact, many of the best protection features are based on keeping the car clean and properly washed regularly.
We recommend washing your car at least twice a month and more often if the vehicle is particularly dirty.
Hardness: what does it mean?
Many brands prefer to focus on the hardness index, such as 9H.
Some even include it in the name of their product to attract attention (even though most practitioners have no idea what it means). Most of them don't even explain what 9H really means.
The test used to determine the hardness of the protection advertised for each ceramic treatment is called the "Pencil Hardness Test".
This test consists of a variety of pencils of different hardness, from the softest to the hardest, depending on the composition of the pencil. With the aid of a pencil, a line is drawn on the surface to be tested.
If no scratch is visible, the test is repeated with a harder pencil until the surface is scratched. A ceramic treatment with a hardness of 9H does not show a scratch with the hardest pencil.
This is very different from the MOHS Mineral Hardness scale, in which minerals are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the softest and 10 is the hardest.
In the past, advertisements have shown a hardness of 9H MOHS, but this was simply not feasible.
If a ceramic coating had a mineral hardness of 9H, the only substance capable of scratching the surface would be one with a hardness of 10H or higher.
For reference, a diamond, one of the hardest substances on the planet, is rated at 10H.
In this spirit, if a ceramic was really 9H mineral hardness, it would not be possible to scratch the car with a key and you would certainly not be able to create swirls with a dirty towel (unless you break diamonds and sprinkle them on your towel).
Once the ceramic is applied, it can be scratched and swirled in the same way as the varnish on a paint job.
Therefore, avoid reading too far into the hardness claims listed with a particular coating. These are advertising arguments.
No more need to polish your car!
Say goodbye to micro scratches and swirls! You know the song... If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Unfortunately, this is another completely false statement that is used to attract customers. Although ceramic treatments theoretically offer a small resistance to slight "marring", they certainly do not protect against scratches or swirls, and improper washing/drying will cause swirls and micro scratches on the ceramic protection.
In general, we recommend polishing and protecting a vehicle with ceramics every 2-3 years to maintain optimum shine and sharpness.
A well-maintained vehicle should only require very light polishing, never a real correction, regardless of the type of protection applied.
No need for a protective film, nano-protectors are resistant to stone chips!
That would have been so nice!
Car paint protections are much too thin to have a chance to resist a pebble impact. On the other hand, if you have a transparent protective film, it's a pretty strong layer against impacts. Clear bra films and paint protectors play totally different roles in the protection market and one cannot replace the other, but they can complement each other very well.
A protective film is the best choice for protection against flying debris and small impacts. Ceramic treatments protect against environmental contamination. We recommend applying a protective layer on top of a protective film to enjoy the best of both worlds. A base layer for protection against stone chips covered with ceramic for more beauty and easier maintenance.
Retailers trust manufacturers and customers to provide them with factual information about the products and services they offer. When false information is spread, it creates expectations that no product will ever be able to meet.
If a customer has spent a lot of money to have his vehicle serviced and is given a miracle coating that guarantees that he will never have to wash or polish his vehicle again, because it will remain spotless and scratch-free, he is sure to be quickly disappointed.
While this may not seem important, when you have 100 customers who all have a bad opinion of ceramic paint treatments, because the product did not live up to its claims.
These unhappy customers will share their bad experiences with their friends and family and some will write about it on the internet.
In the end, these 100 dissatisfied people will be turned into 100 times more, which will benefit no one.
Whether it's paint protection, ceramic or even tire polish, make sure you know the capabilities of the products you use and be honest and open when discussing them with your customers.
Does a ceramic treatment protect against scratches?
Although the main advantage of ceramic treatments that is highlighted is long lasting protection, many people ask the question "Does a ceramic treatment protect the paint from scratches?
The answer to this question is yes, in a sense, but marketing arguments are often exaggerated. No ceramic protection will prevent stone chips, scratches, keystrokes, etc. from occurring.
A car paint coating is almost twice as thick as the thickest ceramic coating and the only way to prevent damage is for the sacrificial layer (ceramic or protective film) to absorb the impact.
The 10H hardness claim is a bit misplaced and it is not specified at what scale, so many people think of the better known Mohs scale, which would mean that it is as hard as a diamond. Although this is surprising, it is tested on the pencil hardness scale, which means it is as hard as the lead of the most durable pencil. This information is very important because the claims make it a bit misleading.
So how does a ceramic treatment prevent scratches on paint?
In a very specific way. A ceramic coating will make the paint surface extremely smooth and create high contact angles with water (beading or water pearl).
This allows dirt and debris to be less ingrained in your paint, so you need less effort to remove it, and less chance that the debris will damage the paint when it is removed. In short, less debris will stick to your paint as a whole, reducing the risk of scratches.
So, does a ceramic treatment prevent scratches? Yes absolutely, BUT it simply helps. Ceramic treatments remain an amazing protection option for your vehicle, but they have their advantages AND limitations.
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