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  1. #1
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    Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm wondering if someone can help me understand the logic behind ceramic coating "toppers" that are supposed to add additional gloss or slickness.

    My question is - how do these toppers bond to a ceramic coating? If a ceramic coating rejects chemicals and liquids, I don't understand how a topper is able to gain any appreciable bond to the ceramic coating. I have a tough time ethically pushing these products to customers due to my lack of understanding.

    Thank you,
    Derek

  2. #2
    Senior Member BudgetPlan1's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    It's really a personal choice, many very smart/experienced folks don't top coatings with anything. As for myself, a little bit about toppers/boosters, all theoretical with no solid foundation in anything other than ‘what I think…’

    Why use a booster/topper? Dunno, but perhaps…

    1. The elements that provide the durability and chemical/environmental protection of a base coating do not provide/are not compatible with the more entertaining aspects folks associate with a ‘good’ LSP.

    Things like slickness, exciting water behavior, beading, added gloss. In other words, the base coating provides the functional aspects, the booster the aesthetic aspects. Gyeon Mohs, Gtechniq CSL for example are some pretty tough customers but the visible water behavior is visually not that entertaining, hence the Skin topcoat in the Mohs-based Syncro kit and the ‘preferred’ CSL +EXOV4 application combo.

    On their own, Mohs and CSL are more hydrophillic as opposed to hydrophobic and that’s just not as visually entertaining as when topped with a more hydrophobic top layer. While Skin and EXO are ‘kinda coatings’ like CarPro Gliss, Feynlab Topcoat and TAC Topcoat, the concept of topping a coating via dedicated ‘topcoat’ or booster is, to me, kinda the same. The base coating, for whatever reason, can’t encompass all characteristics people recognize as ‘quality’ behavior of an LSP.

    2. Sacrificial layer or protecting the protection. Better to contaminate a top layer than the more expensive base coating.

    3. Revenue generation. More products needed to maintain the base coating benefits, real or perceived. “You spent all this money on getting it coated, what’s a little bit more?” Kinda akin to changing oil every 3500 miles instead of following mfg recommendations of up to 10k intervals. Better safe than sorry?

    4. Just following directions. Most mfgs reccomend some kinda maintenance topper, necessity of it being irrelevant. Again, better safe than sorry?

    There’s plenty of well-respected coating aficionados who coat and let it ride…with excellent results so topping is definitely not necessary in all cases. May as well throw ‘personal preference’ on the list as well.

    Glassparency, the latest trend in glass coatings...if I’m not mistaken (and I certainly could be) they require maintenance/refresh every 3 months to stay viable…planned topping?

    I dunno, really…interesting topic but at the end of the day, gotta do what works best *for you*. If that involves toppers/boosters then so be it. If not, no harm, no foul. Variety is the spice of life.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    Thank you for the well organized reply. Much appreciated.

    My main goal here however is to try to gain a technical understanding of how toppers can actually bond to a ceramic coating. Just using basic logic, one would think a ceramic coating would inherently repel or weakly bond with any sort of liquid topper application. If I ever push a product to customers, I want there to be zero chance of a knowledgeable customer doubting what I'm selling them. Integrity is a huge part of who I am, so I'm hoping someone here can provide a solid explanation.

    Thank you!

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  6. #4
    Senior Member Loach's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    I'm not a chemist, so the actual method by which the toppers adhere to the coating substrate or even clearcoat or other waxes/sealants, that's beyond my area of expertise. What I can do is show you that they do work and not all of them work to the same extent. I like to think of the coating as a substrate, different than clearcoat in its thickness and behavioral properties absolutely, but like clearcoat it will still accept a wide variety of topcoat protectants and gloss enhancers. And for some of those toppers, the coating substrate can actually be a much better substrate to prolong the durability and effectiveness of the topper much better than with bare clearcoat.

    Coatings do wear out and become weathered over time, they lose some gloss, slickness, hydrophobicity, that's inevitable. Those properties can become clogged, whether it's a diminished performance from intense UV exposure, hard water accumulation, acidic tree gunk, road grime, physical abrasion, etc. But many coatings will be very receptive to spray toppers in being able to prolong, revive, or maintain the base layer properties of the coating. Or, as in the case of CSL + EXO, you can have a heavier topcoat product that does exactly what BudgetPlan explained, create a two layer system that combines the strong protective capabilities of CSL, with the high level of hydrophobicity and self-cleaning that EXO can provide. The two together which will create a system that easily outlasts the performance of CSL or EXO by themselves. BudgetPlan has done a significant amount of testing that dives into the synergy of the two coat system that proves this.

    I did a recent video of the performance of Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Detailer on different base layer coatings and protectants, this is a way to visualize the performance impact in the long term of how to revive the properties of the substrate using a spray topper, and to show that coatings can be revived to a very high degree of their initial performance even when they're showing significant signs of degradation.


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  8. #5
    Senior Member FUNX650's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    •Without delving into reasons why it can
    be hard, or not, to wrap ones head around
    the precept that Ceramic Coatings are
    engineered to work: “all by themselves“...
    -I’m just going to stay within the realm
    of chemical bonds/bonding.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    •Some examples/types of chemical bonding:
    -covalent
    -ionic
    -hydrogen
    -London dispersion forces
    -Van der Waals


    If chemical bonding should occur between
    Ceramic Coatings, and Toppers/Boosters/
    Maintenance products...then:
    -It will occur at the atomic/molecular
    level—making it very difficult to actually
    detect (and prove) without the use of
    extraordinary vision enhancement equipment.

    •Some say if this type of bonding occurs,
    it is the consequence of quantum dynamics.
    -I don’t disagree with that assessment.


    Bob
    "Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk."
    ~Joaquin de Setanti

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  10. #6
    Senior Member axel06's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    very interesting subject, I wish there was a way to really magnify the paint pores before and after a coating that would be totally cool, and then after applying the coating topper

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  12. #7
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    That'd be amazing Axle. I'll try to see if any of the more technical detailing channels on YouTube have that testing capability. I do plan on utilizing the following test that will hopefully give more clarity towards the bonding capabilities of toppers:

    1) Apply the ceramic coating I'm certified for. This particular coating I use is warrantied for 4 years
    2) Let ceramic coating cure -> Tape off half a section and add an additional topper -> Let topper cure (for testing purposes, I'm going to HOPE the topper adds some hydrophobic enhancement versus the ceramic coating section and you'll see why)
    3) To test for bonding capabilities of the topper, I'm then going to wipe the topper section with a very light degreaser, or heck maybe even just a car soap, to see if those hydrophobic enhancing qualities of the topper that I'm hoping for actually stayed. If they don't stay, I'm going to assume toppers are unable to bond to the ceramic coating and I'll never push them on customers to keep my soul in tact

    Loach, very well spoken and you can easily tell you love detailing through your video, but if I'm in the customers shoes that video raises a big question for me: How do you prove that a topper is "revitalizing" a ceramic coating and not just taking the place of a ceramic coating that's failed? If a customer asked me that question I wouldn't be able to give an honest answer.

    Very glad I joined this forum fellas. I won't sleep well until I figure this out. There's nothing that bugs me more than when I can't give a customer an honest, straight forward answer

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  14. #8
    Senior Member Loach's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    Quote Originally Posted by Autobahnd View Post

    Loach, very well spoken and you can easily tell you love detailing through your video, but if I'm in the customers shoes that video raises a big question for me: How do you prove that a topper is "revitalizing" a ceramic coating and not just taking the place of a ceramic coating that's failed? If a customer asked me that question I wouldn't be able to give an honest answer.

    Very glad I joined this forum fellas. I won't sleep well until I figure this out. There's nothing that bugs me more than when I can't give a customer an honest, straight forward answer
    Thanks, good to have you here on the forums!

    I'm able to isolate Hybrid Ceramic Detailer's performance by itself, by comparing the hydrophobicity of the areas that were never coated (rear quarter panels), to the coated sections. But I can also isolate performance by comparing the hydrophobicity of the coatings in better shape (Blackfire, CQuartz, CQUK), to the coatings or protectants in much worse shape or were completely worn off (IGL Premier, Hybrid Ceramic Wax, Mothers CMX). Considering that HCD was applied across all of the paint at the same time, any difference in performance from section to section should be attributed to the condition of the base. If all of the paint after the 2 weeks gave me an equal water behavior across the board, then I would assume HCD is just taking the place of everything by providing a nice blanket top layer. But that's not what's going on in this video, your spray toppers can behave much differently depending on the type of product that you have on the surface before topping, and how healthy it is as well.

    I think one of the things I left out of the video, was the prior condition of the Adam's Ceramic Spray Coating, IGL Premier, Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Wax, and Mothers CMX sections before topping with HCD. These were all completely hydrophilic before HCD was applied, but notice only the Adam's section was significantly revived out of these four. Again, only 2 weeks have passed since HCD was applied fresh, that amount of difference between Adam's + HCD, and Premier + HCD is a good contrast in performance for me to identify to customers the importance of maintenance for coatings, as well as identify just what some toppers can do in terms of revival when the coating has been weathered to what you would otherwise believe is beyond repair.

  15. #9
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    I think "isolate" might be a strong word here. Just too many variables unfortunately when you use a daily driver as a test bed.

    My main concern is whether a topper can actually bond to a ceramic coating and provide additional slickness and gloss than what the base already provides. I don't really understand what rejuvenating a ceramic coating means. If the coating I'm certified for loses it's hydrophobic properties within 4 years, it's considered to have failed. I can't say to the customer "wait, let me rejuvenate it!" Lol.

  16. #10
    Senior Member Coatingsarecrack's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to Understand Ceramic Coating Toppers

    I don’t think any scientist are going to show up and answer your questions and if a manufacturer chimes in... well you probably wouldn’t accept their answer.

    Why don’t you find one you feel to be from a trusted company and test for yourself.

    And a four year coating? Have you seen it last for four years? Is annual or bi annual maintenance required?


    What does warranty cover? Does 4 year coating company make a maintenance product?

    Wouldn’t swirls and environment cause issues where paint would need to be reconditioned (polished/compounded)?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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