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March 08, 2023 4 min read
In the automotive detailing industry, one of the most common questions that gets asked is, what’s the difference between ceramic coating and waxing (or a sealant)? In many circles of the world, people believe that the two are interchangeable, in addition to sealants being a viable replacement for traditional waxes and ceramic coating. Well, the fact of the matter is that there are many shades of grey, and each type of coating has its advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, there may be times when a ceramic coating, sealant, or wax may be the right choice for your vehicle and your budget.
Wax is usually composed of a blend of substances that can be changed in form from a solid to a liquid at ambient temperatures, where the product serves as a protective and sacrificial barrier layer between separating your paint from the environment. The most common forms of wax include carnauba and various synthetic formulations and can greatly range in pricing.
Wax is soluble and often includes many other additives that may provide a lubricant, scents, and even various colors. Moreover, waxes may be blended with other polymers or substances that claim to improve its durability. However, most wax products don’t stand the test of time for lasting anywhere near as long as a ceramic coating or last as long as technologically advanced sealants. Application of waxes can also be tricky and time-consuming as they are often limited to applying to painted surfaces or ones that have a clearcoat and can require extra buffing steps.
The difference between sealants and waxes is that sealants are often based on different chemical compounds that may be much easier to apply, do not leave behind residue, can be applied to multiple surface types, and are more environmentally safe. The opposite can be said about some inferior sealants on the market as well, which could prove to perform much worse than common waxes. The bottom line is that sealants have a more versatile makeup than wax and can be formulated to outperform waxes nearly to the level of some ceramics. The cost of sealants can vary, but on average, they provide a better value than waxes, especially for durable sealants that include technologies helping them last many months or even years.
Ceramic coating or ceramic-based paint protection products utilize many different formulations but are commonly found to have variations of silica, silicone dioxide (SiO2), or even quartz in their formula. Ceramic coatings are very different from wax as they include a curing property that is more permanent and durable than any type of wax on the market. The curing process is fundamentally a hardening process where ceramics will harden on the surface after application to provide a strong chemical bond on top of paint or clearcoat that may last for years. Many times, the hardness of ceramic coatings can be measured on the Pencil Hardness scale, with 7H being a happy medium.
Ceramic coatings offer a higher durability factor over waxes and can resist UV rays, heat, harsh detergents, and many environmental elements that cause surfaces to get dirty quickly. Best of all, the durability of ceramic coatings offers long-lasting hydrophobic properties that ward off and shed water, in addition to environmental elements that often stick to surfaces causing them to get dirty when the surface is unprotected. While waxes may have similar hydrophobic properties, ceramic coating’s hydrophobicity lasts for years instead of waxes only lasting for months or even weeks at a time.
One of the benefits of wax over ceramic is that application may be much easier and doesn’t require as much preparation as the application of ceramic. Because ceramic is more of a permanent solution that could last for years, the careful preparation of the surface is essential, which could take countless hours and careful correction and buffing. On the other hand, applying wax is more of a temporary solution to protecting your paint and may wear off in weeks.
To quickly note, the application of ceramic coatings can also be a tedious process that takes hours, even after the proper preparation has been done. This is why many technologically advanced sealants are used in place of waxes and ceramics to provide many of the best qualities of both ceramics and waxes.
Lastly, the price of ceramic coatings may greatly surpass those of wax products and sealants. Ceramic coatings may also require maintenance coatings that can also cost a lot of money. Again, this is an area where advanced sealants prove to be superior for their benefits and low-cost factors when compared to ceramic coatings and some wax products for both do-it-yourself and professional applications.
To decide which product is right for you, do some research on certain products and look at real-world reviews and experiences. Also, decide if you want to spend a lot of money on ceramic coating in addition to providing the extra time in preparation and application that is required for ceramic coatings. If the time and money isn’t something that you’re willing to spend, look into advanced sealants on the market that often perform similar to ceramic coatings. If you’re looking for a quick and very inexpensive solution to protect your vehicle’s paint for just a few weeks or maybe up to a month, some wax products may be beneficial to your situation. In either choice, make sure you select a product that is backed by a guarantee and has been proven by others.
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