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  1. #1
    Senior Member Coach Steve's Avatar
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    Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Is it possible to polish a ceramic coated vehicle to remove road film and light swirls without compromising the coating?

    How much does the coating degrade on its own over time from the elements, driving, etc.?

    This industry has overhyped and overstated the abilities of a ceramic coating to the point that it leaves some pro detailers having to educate their customers on what is true and what is fiction.
    There probably are coatings that will last as long as they claim but what is the finish going to look like 2, 3, 5 or 8 yrs down the line.

    Many customers I've had conversations with about coatings are under the impression that ceramic coatings are the be-all, end-all to car care. They are under the impression that it will remain pristine and unscathed, immune to light scratches, scuffs, etc. They also believe they no longer have to worry about bird bombs, tree sap, etc. And, they in this mindset due to the misinformation they've gotten from advertising and detailers who have made these very statements.

    I had a conversation with a potential customer yesterday who was calling around getting estimates for a ceramic coating who was shellshocked at the prices he was hearing. $1100 for prep and $400 for the coating was the average price. I then explained that the paint correction he was paying for was not a one time thing as well dispelling other myths he had heard.
    This is just one person I've had this kind of conversation with who was frustrated by the differing claims and promises being made about what they can honestly expect from a coating. I'm really disappointed by how much wrong info is being circulated by some "pros" in this industry and also by the ridiculous prices many are charging for a product that, if we're being completely honest, requires more maintenance and is more difficult to correct when needed than waxed and sealants.

    I realize this post is not going to be very well received but it's time someone called out those who are misrepresenting the abilities of ceramic coatings.




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  3. #2
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Misinformation is an understatement IMO. As an example, you can read all about 9H and 10H(?!) coatings available for sale, and it's just not true. 10H is the hardness of a diamond. Do you really think a coating is as hard as a diamond?

    There are some really smart guys on this board, and you never hear them talking about hardness. I think that's why.

    Several of the manufacturers are selling 2in1, or 3in1 products that claim to polish a coating without removing it. I'd guess a product like that, and a soft pad, would work well without removing much of the coating, but you have to accept any mechanical action on the coating will remove some of it. If those coatings were 9H or 10H, how could they be scratched in the real world?

    You'd probably need a scanning electron microscope to determine how much of the coating is abraded away by polishing, and I'm not sure any AutoGeekers have one of those.

    Me? I'd explain to the customer how a quality ceramic coating can cut down on maintenance, but it still needs to be maintained - just not as often or as involved.

    g

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  5. #3
    Senior Member Loach's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Imagine that, $1100 for prepwork, $400 for the coating, and a single hardwater sprinkler bombing with the car in the driveway just undid everything. Or a single $5 tunnel wash, or a $15 service center wash. What happens when Spotless doesn't come close to removing the hard water etching? What happens when it significantly compromises the hydrophobics of the coating? What do you tell the customer that paid for full correction when a single wash completely swirled the surface through the coating?

    It takes a good detailer to fully understand the benefits and limitations of the type of products they're working with, this requires extensive testing. And it takes a good detailer to understand the limitations of the customer's budget, and their ability to maintain the type of service being provided in order to move them towards the best recommended course of action. The customer gets zero utility from a 95% correction service when they're going to take it through a swirl-o-matic in a few weeks.

    As a result of my personal testing, coatings are the most durable protectants by a very wide margin compared to most if not all of the waxes and sealants I've tested. They have degraded at a much less significant rate in the elements or while driving. But in terms of utility, what exactly am I missing out on with something like Sonax PNS maintained regularly with BSD, compared to CQUK maintained regularly with Reload? As much as I love coatings, my maintenance schedule removes the extra utility that the coatings provide me.

    Coatings are not impenetrable, they have some great strengths but also notable weaknesses. I don't believe it's possible to remove light swirling without significantly compromising the coating. So when something does go wrong and you have to go heavy to attempt to correct it, a reapplication of the coating is needed. But they also don't need full correction to adhere to the surface, the oxidation needs to be removed but the customer shouldn't be required to accept a 95%+ correction rate as a prerequisite to have the coating applied. Unless that's what they're looking for and they have the reasonable ability to maintain that finish, it's not a block against swirling at all.

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  7. #4
    Senior Member BudgetPlan1's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by giuseppe pepperoni View Post
    Misinformation is an understatement IMO. As an example, you can read all about 9H and 10H(?!) coatings available for sale, and it's just not true. 10H is the hardness of a diamond. Do you really think a coating is as hard as a diamond?
    The Ďhí hardness can be measured in 2 different ways, leading to confusion and exaggeration.

    The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a scale characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material.

    The Pencil Hardness test employs various graphite pencils of varying hardness to determine the h-hardness measurements. Since even the hardest pencil is still made of graphite (Mohs hardness of 1-2) it seems possible (to me anyway) that even a 9h coating (as measured by the pencil test) is really, comparably, at most a 2h hardness and thus quite easily scratched.

    For the purposes of coating hardness, perhaps considering the pencil test a subset of the Mohs test which, although kinda a generalization may be useful for comparative purposes. The pencil test, based upon graphite testing pencils, then translates into a subset of the Mohs

    MOHS Scale with Pencil Test Subset (and yeah, I just kinda made this up based upon info I could find)
    MOHS Hardness

    1 Talc

    1.5 Graphite

    Pencil Test Subset applicable to coatings using graphite pencils

    1h
    2h
    3h Average Automotive Paint
    4h Average Automotive Paint
    5h
    6h
    7h
    8h
    9h
    10h

    2 Gypsum

    2-2.5 Fingernail

    3 Calcite

    4 Fluorite

    5 Apatite

    6 Orthoclase feldspar

    7 Quartz

    8 Topaz

    9 Corundum

    10 Diamond

    So, given that coatings are measured using the pencil test (graphite) there is no way for a coating to be any harder than 2h measured on the Mohs scale while a fingernail is 2-2.5h on Mohs

    Fingernail Ė 2-2.5h (Mohs)
    Clearcoat Ė 3-4h (Mohs equivalent 1.5h)
    A 9h coating Ė 9h (Mohs Equivalent 1.5h)

    While a coating is indeed slightly harder than the generally accepted toughness of clearcoat, the actual difference is likely very, very, VERY small and my fingernail will still goon up a vaunted 10h coating.

    So, while a mfg can claim that their 9h coating is Ďmore than twice as hardí as your clearcoat, itís really not saying much.

    Of course there are more than a few other variables that enter into the equation of scratch resistance (substrate hardness, for one) but, for me, the benefits of coating are the resistance to environmental and the self-cleaning characteristics. I stopped caring about scratch resistance long, long ago.

  8. #5
    Senior Member FUNX650's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    @OP:
    Thank You! for broaching this controversial
    subject matter in a genteel manner.

    To the contrary:
    •My approach just might be interpreted
    as being “poles apart”. As such; and IMHO:
    -The marketing of anything is full of, what I’ll
    refer to as: Profiteering. And Lies. And Hype.

    [And it’s probably best that I stop right there.]


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

  9. #6
    Senior Member PaulMys's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    I posted about this in another thread recently.

    Are coatings an improvement over waxes/sealants? Well sure, but not in every way.

    Totally agree about the Manufacturer's claims, but exaggerated claims aren't unique to coatings.

    What I find most annoying about these claims/perceptions of performance, (regardless of them being true, half-true, or outright BS) is that the users of tried and true wax/sealant products are now almost scoffed at.
    It is no coincidence that man's best friend cannot talk.

  10. #7
    Senior Member Bill D's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    They can scoff all they want, Iím still going to use Souveran and Fuzion.
    Treat it like it's the only one in the world.

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  12. #8
    Senior Member FUNX650's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    They can scoff all they want,

    I’m still going to use Souveran and Fuzion.
    ^^^Baller...



    Bob<—FK; 3M (low rent district)
    "Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk."
    ~Joaquin de Setanti

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  14. #9
    Senior Member Coach Steve's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMys View Post
    to
    Totally agree about the Manufacturer's claims, but exaggerated claims aren't unique to coatings.
    That's true but, coatings are unique to the industry in which I represent and participate as a means to pay my bills and provide my livelihood so it's with these exaggerated statements that I take issue. As a result of these inaccurate statements, I am put in a position of having to properly educate the customer on the actual abilities of the product, empathize with them on the varying and misleading information that they've been given, attempt to not look very pissed off by the outright lies they've been told by fellow "professionals", and finally, do my best to present all of this without turning a buyer into a shopper.
    It's become exhausting!

    I used to think that it was a negative thing that 90% of my business was daily drivers. Now, I see it as a good thing because I don't even bring it up with those customers because they're not ideal candidates for a coating anyway.

    The biggest issue I have against ceramic coatings as a whole is how it has caused many detailers to take the used car salesman approach to selling it. They make statements that aren't true, they promise things the product was never meant to do, and they've used it as a profit center charging obscene prices. These individuals might as well be selling AutoButler. It's the same premise.

    Yes, there are exaggerations in every induatry. However, ours is an industry that, by and large, depends on the disposable income of our customers in order to exist. They have an unlimited number of things they could spend that income on and if they feel like they've been taken advantage of or realize that the latest, greatest advancement in car care isn't quite the revolution they've heard and read it was, they're going to choose something else to spend their money on and that hurts all of us who work and have worked hard for many years doing the thing we love doing to earn a decent living.

    The questions I posed at the beginning of this thread were rhetorical btw.




  15. #10
    Senior Member Coatingsarecrack's Avatar
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    Re: Ceramic Coatings and the Misinformation of the Masses

    Everything in this industry is marketed and overhyped to some extent. Is a carnauba wax worth $100, 200, 1000 dollars. You can order a pound of raw carnauba for $20 dollars. Thatís enough to make 20 tins of fusion or souveran. I know their may be quality difference but $300 for wax?

    The thing most everything in life is derived from selling something. Doctors lawyers shoot engineers are engineering something to be sold. Thatís part of the circle of life and yes a good chunk of it will be overstated.

    But thatís the thing. Lots will buy a $200 carnauba or a $500 polisher or a $1000 dollar detail job. I bet a few guys who are known and like on this forum may even charge that much. Can we be mad if someone makes or performs a service that someone is willing to pay for? Thatís capitalism. I feel if someone is willing to pay for it, itís their due diligence to make sure their getting proper value. If not it falls on them.

    If your gonna believe in snake oil and someone sells it to them.... they both created that market.

    And personally I love me some ceramic snake oil. I wa happy rubbin hydrosilex every 6 months on my swirled car but I decided to dig in this rabbit hole. Have I wasted some money.... absolutely! But Iíve enjoyed the ride.

    I see three boats to this hobby, everyone loves a clean and beautiful car. Some just want to find the next greatest and donít mind spending too much even if slightly or a lot frivolous. Those who thrive on accomplishing that same task for 12 cents. Then their are those who think it will fall somewhere in the middle. As long as you find your happy all three are right.

    As for that customer shopping around. That was me last year. Wasnít willing to spend 1000-1500 for the correcting and coating so did it myself. Still deciding if I saved money or overspent....

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