The Difference between Wax, Sealants and Ceramic Coatings

With new products, information and different terminology appearing everyday it is very hard to understand what is good, bad or even right for you and your car – so here is an article to break down the barriers and hopefully provide some clear and helpful information.

Firstly what is right for you (and your car) may not be the best option for your friend, colleague or neighbour; we like to ask a few questions first to try to find the right solutions to best suit you:

• Is your car a daily driver?

• Does it live in a garage; during the day and/or night?

• Will you be washing it? (we hope so!) How often?

• How frequently do you want to reapply the wax/sealant/coating?

• What is the colour of your car and what type of look or finish do you want?

From these few questions we can build up a picture of the lifestyle your car will enjoy or endure and be able to offer solutions that fit your needs.

Now a little information to try and catagorise products generally:

Wax – generally we term a wax as a product containing a lot of natural components such as Carnauba Wax, Montan Wax, Beeswax etc. These are usually a paste and as such found in a small tub. They have been around in one form or another for many years and a lot of show car guys and pure enthusiasts would say that they deliver the best look you can get on paint, especially on dark colours. The depth and intensity are unrivalled and wax gives the paint a ‘natural glow’ improving with subsequent layers or coats. A good natural wax can last anywhere from 2-6 months on average (however some Hybrid Waxes can now offer longer durability). The leading brands of premium waxes are Dodo Juice and Swissvax to name a couple.

Sealant – we term this as a synthetic or man-made product that is usually a liquid, probably polymer based and found in a bottle. These were created to provide more options and generally more durability than the natural waxes. Usually very easy to apply and remove, and most guys might say that the look is more glassy or reflective than a wax. Good sealants can make light colours like silver (lots of metallic flake) really ‘pop’ and look dripping wet. A good sealant can last anywhere from 4 months to 12 months (usually combinations provide the extended durability). Sealants typically offer more water sheeting than the water beading tendency of waxes. One of the leading brands of polymer sealants is Duragloss.

Coating – this is a relatively new concept and name from the last year or so, usually tied together with a term such as Nano / Glass / Ceramic / Quartz and many more. These are very different to waxes and sealants and good ones are created at a molecular level (very high technology). Unfortunately a lot of companies are just adding these terms to regular polymer sealants to make them sound more attractive or newer. The real coatings will be in very small bottles think 30-50ml as they are expensive to make and you really only need a very small amount to complete coat a car. The main selling point of these is the extended durability with some coatings lasting anywhere from 12 months to 36 months on average. Coatings generally offer a ‘glassy look’ similar to some polymer sealants but even more glossy on some occasions. They are generally more resistant to the climate, chemicals and other factors but can still have contamination build up on top. They are harder to apply than waxes or sealants, requiring that the paint be perfectly clean with no oils or residues at all, and they do have a longer curing period once applied, some of these can take 2-5 days to fully harden. Some of the leading names in coatings are Nanolex from Germany for real Nano Coatings, GYEON from Korea for real Glass/Quartz coatings.

Now to qualify some of the statements and times offered above; firstly durability – why do we state such wide ranges for this? Well if your car is driven 10,000kms per year, lives in the garage or under cover day and night, you wash it weekly then a wax could last 6+ months, a sealant 12+ months and a coating 36+ months.

However if your car is driven 30,000kms per year, lives outside all day and night, only washed every month then it obviously comes under a lot more ‘attack’ from the environment than the first example, so the protection is going to deteriorate much more quickly. In this situation a wax may only last 2 months, a sealant maybe 6 months and a coating perhaps 18 months.

We always try to quote a genuine range or the ‘worst case’ scenario for product durability so you are not disappointed – beware other brands that have huge statements like ‘lifetime warranty’ or ‘lasts 10 years’ there is nothing that lasts this long in the market – full stop. Otherwise why wouldn’t the billion dollar automotive or paint companies have these products…

So hopefully this has answered some of your questions about Protection for your paint and taken some of the mystery around names and terminology of these products. However as always we are here to help so please feel free to call, email or visit us to discuss the very best solution for you and your car.