F.A.Q. - Automotive
What is a ceramic coating?
Let’s start with the word ceramic.
A ceramic is a solid material comprising of an inorganic compound of metal, non-metal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. Many ceramics can contain carbon or silicon. Now getting this ceramic component into a clear thin film is another piece to this equation. Most of the Nano-ceramic coatings today utilize silica. With nanotechnology available, coatings consisting of silica as a backbone, with other elements, have been designed to self-assemble on a surface to create a thin film with many new surface characteristics. Self-assembly is the most common term in use in the modern scientific community to describe the spontaneous grouping of particles (atoms, molecules, colloids, etc.) without the influence of any external forces. In order to get materials on a surface to assemble and become a hardened film, a sol-gel process is most times utilized. This is basically taking a mixture of the particles in a carrier liquid which later evaporates off into the gel which then hardens into the glass-like substance with the desired performance characteristics. the principal mechanical characteristics and structures of polymer composites are being re-evaluated, with an emphasis on bioinspired materials and structures. Simply put, there are structures in nature that can be mimicked by creating these structures on the surface. An example most commonly associated with these type of silica coatings is the Lotus effect or self-cleaning effect. This is much the reason that a coated surface will stay cleaner longer and even release dirt with little energy. The hardening of the coatings will all be based on its design and is associated with the coating’s mechanical properties. Optically these coatings used for protection are clear or transparent which makes them desirable for any surface.
In a simple version, these coatings use Nano or micro sized particles of silica mainly mixed with a binder (glue) which are then assembled into a glass like structure once applied to a surface. The coatings can chemically bond and some even mechanically (much stronger) bond to the surface for a very long time. Durability is measured in years not months.
How long does an application last?
Paint on car can be polished well to refine the surface giving us the ability to create a very smooth finish. Automotive paint is also less porous than gel coat on a boat. Typical life span of a great looking, great performing coating will span anywhere from 3-5years on a vehicle on the road every day. Maintenance is still necessary to achieve that result. Even if a company promises a 7-year guarantee this is not typical for vehicles going through 7 years of everyday driving and years of car washes. Ceramic DNA Automic 9H has been proven in the real world to last between 4-6 years depending on conditions and use. For those weekend drivers you will most likely see higher durability results if not a permanent one. Coatings on plastic and trim can last about 2-3 years before needing a simple top off, sometimes longer on harder plastics.
Can I apply the product myself?
You certainly could if you wanted to take the time to do the prep and install properly. Most vehicles average between 8 and 20 hours of work depending on what you are going to prep and coat. You may not achieve the same results as a professional facility, but you could still stick a coating to the surface and get a better protection than taking time for just waxing. Prep is very important, the older the vehicle the more prep you will have. You would also want to have the car indoors to properly cure for 24 – 48 hours. With our facility we can allow for proper cure while keeping the vehicle out of the weather outside.
What is the downtime for application?
You should plan for a vehicle to be down for 3 days to allow for the install and a minimal cushion of time for cure. If a vehicle can sit for the week without a problem, it’s much better for the finish itself.
How much does it cost?
Pricing always depends upon what package you end up choosing for your vehicle.
Automotive: Pricing for our different coating packages runs between $1000.00 and $2500.00. Paint correction is part of the price if needed, options like wheel and glass coatings are available and add to the total price. On vinyl wrapped vehicles, ceramic coatings will cost $600 to $800 for treating the areas wrapped. Adding in wheels and glass will increase the price.
What are the benefits of ceramic coating versus waxing?
Immediate benefits are the non-stick surface creating fast and easy cleaning. You will not have to apply wax to any surface after the application. Unlike wax that leaves white discoloration on plastics from rubbing into the edges during application, ceramic coatings are clear and can be applied to the plastics to bring out a “beyond brand new” look. Coatings can be applied to 100% of the surfaces unlike conventional wax. Surfaces show beyond brand new and have a unique mirror like finish. Rainstorms will clean 80% of the vehicle during frequent rain season. The car will look detailed after a wash every time with no drop off. Bugs will breach wax but not coatings. True protection.
Can’t I just wax more often to get the same result?
No, coatings are a different technology all together. A coating is much more durable, functional, and serviceable. Waxing every month would be much more expensive than having a coating installed. Even if you wanted to wax it every month, you would still have areas black plastic trim, glass, rubbers, and wheels that would be left unprotected. Ceramic coatings are the way to have maximized protection over a long-term period.
Will it stop stone chips?
No this will not protect against impacts from stone or gravel. However, it can help against abrasion from washing and detailing. Paint protection film is the best option for impact and even the film can be coated once installed to create a non-stick surface most films do not have.
Will a ceramic coating crack or peel off over time?
True Nano-ceramic coatings do not crack or peel off when used properly along the install guidelines. It is rare if it does. These are thin film coatings and very flexible, so the thin layer has no way to crack off or chip up unless it is overused in an improper fashion. However, there are thicker coatings out there that can “craze” which is micro-cracking in an area that creates a hazy look. Ceramic DNA does not do this and most of the quality coatings out there will not either.
Why are our products better or comparable to the other competitors?
Ceramic DNA has been installed on over 2000 cars in the last 4 years by the installer network. While we may never catch up to a company like Ceramic PRO, we have proven the system and the applications professionally and properly. WE started the company after being in the professional industry and using many if not all the coatings on the market to gain true understanding. It has only been through these applications that we have gained data to show that we can run our program with accurate projections as to durability and performance. There are many coatings coming out making big claims. Best question to ask us or any other coating company is show me what you have done not tell me. The coatings produced for us have been SGS tested for performance and produced in ISO9001 certified facilities. If you are shopping Ceramic PRO, we are comparable in quality, we made sure. Remember a lot of these coatings are new in the last 2-3 years so how could they say it last 5-7 years?
What is the warranty/guarantee?
Warranty for automotive coatings are as follows. All require annual detail inspection to hold guarantee for the consumer.
Base – 18 months
Beta – 4 years
Alpha – Lifetime
Warranties can be voided by not taking the aftercare guidelines seriously. On the other hand, coatings can be ruined by overspray and other environmental causes out of your control. One thing to be sure of though is that the ceramic coating does a great job at taking the damage, so your clear coat doesn’t have to.
Do I have to wax after I have my vehicle coated?
It is not necessary to wax any surface that has been coated. You will change the surface temporarily with wax for the worse. Remember wax traps dirt in its oily makeup. Using a silica spray like RegenX will keep the surfaces smooth and hydrophobic.
What is the recommended maintenance to get the best durability out of a coating installed?
Maintenance is so much easier with a coating. Handwashing is straight-forward, drying can be faster by 2/3 sometimes. We have created products and even towels to make wash-downs fast and easy. Our Detox soap and DryLux Ultra Plush Drying towels are tailored for this type of process.
To further protect your investment into the coating, use a silica spray like RegenX to keep the surfaces smooth and only needs to be quickly applied once a month for good results. Generally, if a boat is kept outside you should continue to use the silica spray more frequently on areas exposed to constant UV. The labor of putting on a product like RegenX is very low and you may even do so during drying. One other feature of RegenX is that is can be used on 100% of the vehicle including all materials.
Can I take my car to a tunnel wash to be cleaned? What about a hand car wash?
We strongly recommend against tunnel washes that have brushes of any kind. While it will limit initial damage, over time and within the first year the coating will be marred by those washes. Touchless wash tunnels can be ok. Hand washes are a better idea but be careful that you don’t go to the discount membership establishments where the materials used are mismanaged. Simply put if what touches your car during the wash process is some old haggard towel or mitt that has been used on 100’s of cars, you might end up with a damaged finish over time. Rule of thumb make sure you pay attention to what’s going on if you care about your car staying in great shape. Don’t be scared to ask question about what they are using. Best case scenario is to have your own Tupperware with drying towels even wash mitts for them to use and then place back in your box.
Do I have to dry my car after washing?
Yes. Water spots can come from well or city water and will eventually hinder the coatings performance when enough minerals build up on the surface. Drying is much easier because of the hydrophobic effects of the ceramic coatings. It takes less than half of the time you would normally spend after a wash. Using Microfiber fleece towels like the DryLux XL will streamline the process. Plush microfiber also leaves the surface much cleaner than a chamois and gives you more control over the entire process. One swipe drying is now possible.
How can I be sure of the quality of the install performed at DNA Surface Concepts?
Experience has not only made us great at what we do, but it has also allowed us to streamline our process. Each team member has been trained on the job by Sean Kelly who has over 10 years of experience with installs and leads in the industry. We have our facility setup to perform these installs day after day. We buy all the best and latest equipment to give us a consistent edge on our installs. Projects are treated with and organized approach. We track each job with documentation of the process as it is being done. This allows us to see how much time and materials are spent in different zones on the vehicle. We hold ourselves accountable for the work being done and treat each project with professionalism. At the end of each project we will have a total of all time and materials, what was installed in different areas, as well as how many layers were placed in each area. We run this business professionally to give you the best service, it’s our duty to you.
Can a spot repair be performed or repaint if a collision or damage occurs?
Yes, you can have repairs performed. Because repairs always require sanding prior to refinishing the coating will be removed through this process. Just be sure to let your repair technician know that he should blend out a little further to make sure the coating is far enough away from the repair area. These areas can be recoated post repair as well.
Can coatings damage any surfaces, now or long-term?
Some coatings use chemicals found in paint strippers or even strong solvents made to soften a surface chemically. However, because they are designed to be applied to so many surfaces coatings of today usually don’t have to many issues with damage to a surface when applied. There are certain vinyl surfaces that may react differently than others and real leather may be an issue for stronger coatings. Everything we use in DNA Surface Concepts facility is designed for what we are working with. Long-term a coating doesn’t damage any surface since they are designed to protect them instead. Stick to what is known, stick to experience.
Will coatings protect plastics from fading?
Yes, they have a strong ability to restore and enhance many types of plastics. Black, white, and clear plastics can be protected for many years. Black plastics will retain a rich new look without turning white.
Do ceramic coatings provide UV protection?
Ceramic coatings have a strong ability to reflect UV but not to absorb or inhibit. Transparent coatings do not have the ability to have UV absorbers in them without dulling the finished look. Silica is naturally UV resistant but not totally stable when stuck to a surface with a chemical binder. The good news is surface where under UV rays will be dramatically reduced or slowed down. Any company that states their coatings are packed with UV inhibitors are telling tales. We have been with handfuls of chemists and engineers over the years and get our data direct from the horse’s mouth.
Can it be applied to interior surfaces like leather and soft touch rubber?
It’s the absolute best thing you can do for an interior, especially light colors. The coating will still be flexible and provide major stain resistance, anti-fade, and abrasion resistance. Blue jean dye transfer will slow down and even when it appears, it’s possible to clean it away from the surface as it doesn’t embed into the paint. Everyday use in the driver’s seat will wear on the coating however so be sure to keep on top of maintenance or see us for a top off annually. Coatings will not prevent rips and tears.
Will the product wash off and be toxic to the environment?
No, once a ceramic coating is dry and cured the result is a non-toxic film that cannot leach. Consider how this could be eco-friendlier then wax that washes off into the waterways.
Does rain hinder or help the coat surface? Will my car have spots after it gets rained on?
Rain can be your friend. During stormy seasons, heavy rain can clean the car while sitting outside to almost 85%, so much that most will think you have been washing your car despite the foul weather. Coated vehicles will always appear cleaner longer with Ceramic DNA. Fresh rainwater will not leave spots even if left to dry in the sun. Ceramic DNA will help maintain the surfaces much better than a wax ever will.
Is the finished surface greasy?
No, the finished product will be smooth and sometimes grabby like that of clean glass. To make a ceramic coating smooth use a silica spray periodically. Because the film is cured there is no way for it to be greasy or wipe-off on your hand.
Why are coatings so expensive?
Most of the cost of a ceramic coating installation is in labor, like that of a wax and detail service. The process can be anywhere from 5-7 steps on a vehicle and the time spent in each step can be lengthy. Most times 60% of the project is prep. Each surface needs to be specifically targeted and cleaned even after the initial wash down. There are a few different chemicals involved to get a surface clean and ready for the ceramic coating. Cleanliness is everything.
Will this a ceramic coating protect against love bugs?
Yes! The unique chemical resistance properties of a quality ceramic coating will protect against acid etching from the splattered love bugs, mosquitoes, and almost any other gunk you may pick up on the road. Ceramic DNA 9H coating can withstand years of this scenario and will be especially helpful during those pre-summer months when bug season is in full swing.
Does a ceramic coating make it easier to clean mud or cow manure off?
Yes, in fact it’s a massive difference in cleanup time and effort. Truth is though, not every silica or ceramic coating can withstand this situation. Some will show performance for a few months or repeated contact with cow manure or mud, but then quickly lose the non-stick ability. There are types of coating that are more non-stick than other, and, in our case, we choose the application accordingly. The result of using the right ceramic coating in wheel wells and lower skirts on a vehicle will be fast clean with a pressure washer with almost 99% release of the contaminants. What’s left usually is a light film that can be simply wiped off with a microfiber towel that’s damp.
Will windshield wipers skip?
Ceramic coatings on glass will create a hydrophobic quality that performs very well. What happens is that the water doesn’t want to be on the surface so the wiper blade being rubber will not slide on the water like usual but on the bare glass instead. Certain windshield and wiper combination will skip when the rain or water is light on the glass. We have a special wax that can be applied to reduce the chance of this happening. Using a high quality wiper will also help. The need for using the wipers is reduced by 80-90% when traveling over 35MPH because of the hydrophobic quality of the glass coating. You may only end up using the wipers once in a while so the skipping isn’t such an issue in most cases. Better to be able to see clearly then to have the worry of an occasional skip across the windshield.