I’ve always looked at ceramic coating as a wax on steroids. It’s not a wax at all – it’s a silica-based product, so it’s technically glass, but it provides many of the same benefits as a wax and does an even better job. It prevents bird droppings, bugs, tree sap and the like from sticking to your paint, and makes it easier to wash and remove water spots. Plus, since the coating bonds to the paint at a molecular level it’s considered semi-permanent. Ceramic coatings can last several years, and if you want to remove them it actually requires abrasives.
Early on, I believe the marketing around ceramic coatings was very misleading. In order to justify astronomical prices, companies spread the myths that these coatings could be an alternative to PPF. They were hyped as a true protective coating, multiple times the hardness of a clear coat, that would protect against chips and scratches. In reality, while these coatings are much harder than a standard clear coat, they are still much too thin to offer real protection against impact.
Ceramic coatings protect against types of damage caused by foreign substance bonding to the paint, and also provide UV protection. In contrast, paint protection film is a true physical barrier that protects against physical impacts like rocks and prevents damage by absorbing and spreading that impact force.
But coatings are not “PPF light” where paint protection film automatically makes a coating unnecessary. In fact, it’s better to look at – and sell – them as complementary products. Many of the benefits coatings give to paint also apply to PPF. Putting a UV-blocking coating on top of PPF makes the film last longer and keeps it from yellowing as easily, which can otherwise be a problem, especially on white cars. A coating can also help to keep dirt out of the crevices and from sticking to the edges of the film. Its hydrophobic properties make PPF much easier to clean, just like they do with paint. Matte PPF is getting very popular, and if you apply a ceramic coating over matte PPF it makes the color even deeper and richer. And the coating is so thin that it doesn’t interfere with a film’s self-healing properties. PPF + Coating truly gives you the best of both worlds.
Coatings are also available for the interior now, and have similar benefits. A ceramic coated dash repels dust, and coated leather or upholstery resists staining from clothing dyes (ever seen a white leather seat after an encounter with new blue jeans?) and spills.
Coatings companies used to over-promise and under-deliver, were overpriced and didn’t live up to the hype. But we’ve come a long way from those early days, and now there are many more options on the market. With more competition, prices have come down considerably and the marketing has become more honest and realistic. Coatings are now accessible to everyone who wants their vehicle to look better and be easier to maintain