October 18, 2023 4 min read

What goes into Making a Coating and Why

Creating a detailing sealant or coating involves a combination of science, technology, and craftsmanship. In most circumstances, sealant or coating products are designed to protect and enhance the appearance of various surfaces, such as vehicle paint, glass, plastics, metal and even some fabrics. What sets inferior sealants or coatings apart from ones trusted and proven products comes down to extensive research and development time put into them. Moreover, companies that sell inferior products or rebranded products commonly do not know the formulations or chemicals put into the product that they sell often leaving the guessing work to the customer where they eventually find out that they wasted their time and hard-earned money.

The development of a good sealant or coating product isn’t easy or everyone would be doing it. There are many core components and processes that must all work together to formulate and make a sealant or coating product, which includes extensive research, development, and testing. Fortunately, for companies like TopCoat®, there’s over 20 years of experience backing their products, which has afforded them to have a long time to perfect formulations in their sealant products. There are not many companies in the vast detailing industry that can make such a claim. 

The core fundamentals that go into making a good sealant or coating include research, base ingredients, functional additives using today’s advanced technology, quality control, testing, manufacturing, packaging, and application instructions or education. Below we break down each element and why it’s essential to creating a worthy and trusted coating, instead of one that may contain unknown chemicals lacking the proper elements to provide lasting or safe protection on applied surfaces.

Key components and elements involved in making a sealant or coating:

Research and Formulation: The development of a new detailing sealant or coating begins with extensive research on raw materials, chemical compounds, and the latest advancements in surface protection technology. Chemists and material scientists often work together to formulate a product that meets specific performance criteria, such as durability, hydrophobicity, UV resistance, and ease of application. All these elements are essential to formulate a product that is able to compete on the vast detailing market. If you ever find a product that doesn’t use all these elements, you may want to reconsider your purchase.

Base Ingredients: The base ingredients of a sealant or coating play a critical role in its performance. Commonly used base ingredients include the following: 

  1. Polymers: Polymers form the backbone of the sealant or coating, providing adhesion and durability. Common polymer types include acrylics, siloxanes, and silanes.
  2. Solvents: Solvents are used to dissolve and disperse the polymers and other additives evenly. They facilitate easy application and aid in the curing process. Eco-friendly formulations aim to reduce or eliminate harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the solvents, which is essential in preventing potential damage to sensitive surfaces or allow application on a wide variety of surfaces. 
  3. Crosslinking Agents: Crosslinkers help strengthen the polymer network, enhancing the coating's resistance to environmental factors and wear. Having a formulation that lasts a long time is helpful as consumers do not want to waste or spend valuable time in reapplication process.

Functional Additives: To disclose specific characteristics to the sealant or coating, various functional additives are incorporated into the formulation, such as the following, which are found in TopCoat® products:

    1. UV Absorbers/Stabilizers: These additives protect the surface from UV degradation, preventing fading and oxidation.
    2. Hydrophobic Agents: Hydrophobic additives create water-repellent properties, causing water to bead and roll off the surface, reducing water spots and contamination. Additionally, hydrophobic additives help to resist other elements and keep them from sticking to the surface, which aides in keeping a coated surface cleaner longer – sometimes over several months or more than a year using a high-quality coating.
    3. Fillers: Fillers improve the hardness and scratch resistance of the coating, creating a protective barrier over the surface. Usually, fillers can include self-healing or self-leveling properties when activated by sunlight to further enhance surface coverage and reduce micro-scratches.
    4. Gloss Enhancers: Gloss-enhancing additives help achieve a deep, reflective shine on the treated surface.
    5. Anti-Static and Anti-Surface Tension Agents: These additives reduce static charge buildup, minimizing dust and dirt attraction. Also, by reducing surface tension using advancements like MycroGlide technology found in TopCoat® products, you reduce the risk of scratching surfaces and application of the coating is faster and easier.

Quality Control and Testing: Throughout the development process, rigorous testing is conducted to ensure the sealant or coating meets the desired performance standards. This includes testing for adhesion, durability, chemical resistance, and hydrophobicity. Accelerated weathering tests are also performed to simulate the effects of UV exposure and other environmental factors over time. Finding a company like TopCoat® that has over 20 years of experience in the industry is a huge bonus to ensuring that you’re using a product that has been through extensive quality control and testing process. 

Manufacturing and Packaging: Once the formula is finalized and passes quality control, the production of the detailing sealant or coating can begin. Large-scale manufacturing processes involve mixing and blending the raw materials under controlled conditions. Afterward, the product is filled into suitable containers and labeled for distribution. Companies like TopCoat® have a close eye and direct hand in their manufacturing and packaging process because they are formulated, based, and manufactured in the same location in the United States.

Application Instructions, Education, and Customer Support: The final product is packaged along with detailed application instructions, in addition to high-quality products having direct live-person support. Manufacturers often provide educational material to help users understand the correct techniques for applying the sealant or coating effectively and safely. If the company you are purchasing a coating or sealant from does not have good support or access to speak to a live person, you may want to reconsider your purchase. 

Creating an effective detailing sealant or coating is a delicate balance between science, technology, and artistry, aiming to provide long-lasting protection, offer aesthetic enhancement for various surfaces, and back your product with detailed instructions and live customer support access.

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