PAINT PROTECTION DIFFERENCES
So for this topic, we're going to talk about paint protection. As technology advances, paint protection has come a long way. There was once a day when you had wax. That's it. Wax. You waxed your car every few months and that was all there was. Now we have carnuba waxes, polymer sealants, teflon sealants, ceramic coatings, clear bra, etc. It seems like every dealer or detail shop has protection packages to offer and they all seem to be called different things. So, whats te difference? What do they do? How do i know what is best and what isn't? Well hopefully i can clear this up for you. We can break this down to four basic categories. Wax, sealants, ceramic coatings, and paint protection film (PPF or Clear Bra). We have a ton to cover here, so lets get to it!
Let's talk about wax. This is the most common and generally used term in the industry. But in all actuality, in the higher end market, it's old technology. Generally speaking, wax is made from the wax that falls off the leaves of palm trees. This wax comes in a few different forms, but its all the same concept. The palm trees create this naturally to protect their leaves. Well, a long time ago it was discovered that this could be melted down and blended, then applied to automotive paint. THis used to be the golden standard. You can find wax anywhere. At your local parts store for $20, all the way to very high end, bespoke waxes costing over $1000 per pot. Generally, the differences will be the base carnuba itself, as there are many different types, and their carnuba content percentage. High quality waxes start at about 70% carnuba, and go up from there. But, in a whole, carnuba does not provide great protection. The high carnuba content waxes hold up a bit better than others, but they still offer little in the way of protection. So what do i mean by that? Carnuba in itself is great for UV protection, but it does not hold up to chemicals. And it has a very low melting point. This means a typical drive through car wash, or very hot summer days, is all it takes to jeopardize the protection. Dont get me wrong, wax is not bad, it's just not up to par with today's options. However, bespoke waxes do still have their own warm look, and it is still widely used on show cars. At G3, we do not even offer carnuba wax to our customers anymore, as there are better options for you.
SYNTHETIC PAINT SEALANTS
The next level in protection is synthetic sealants. Unlike wax, which is made with an organic base component, synthetic sealants are man made. This is important to know. To where waxes are made from the carnuba from a tree, sealants are made with one thing in mind, and that's protection. They can use a lot of different base compounds, most common is a polymer, and you'll here teflon as well. The key advantage is, since they are designed in a lab, they generally hold up significantly better than waxes. They hold higher melting points, stronger resistance to chemicals, and UV rays. With proper care, you can get a pretty safe six moths out of a synthetic sealant. Now, there was a time when sealants were hard to apply, didn't really add any gloss or give a good look, but as technology has advanced, so have sealants. They even come in spray form for easy application, give wonderful gloss and great protection. This is why at G3, we don,t even offer wax anymore. Sealants are a great option and generally budget friendly, offer good protection on a semi annual basis, and look great. You can get sealants applied at nearly any detail shop, or purchased and applied yourself. At G3, Gtechniq liquid crystal sealant is applied standard with any exterior detail, with the option to upgrade to Polish Angel Master Sealant.
CERAMIC/ GLASS COATINGS
Ceramic coatings are the latest and greatest in automotive protection technology. You'll mostly hear them called ceramic or glass coatings. They get their name from their chemical base. The majority of coatings use SI02 or (Silica Dioxide), which is a ceramic quartz found in glass.They use a high solid content meaning when applied, instead of creating a light film on the surface such as waxes or sealants, they create more of a shell on your finish. This creates a paint gauge measurable barrier between the elements and your vehicles finish.
There are a lot of benefits to choosing ceramic coatings over your typical sealant. First, they do last significantly longer. With proper care, coatings last years, instead of months. They are very easy to clean and maintain, as well as they stay cleaner, longer. As fa as actual protection goes, this is by far the biggest benefit. They have much higher resistance to chemicals, meaning they wont strip off when exposed to road grime, tar, salt, de-icing agents, acids, etc. They hold up to much higher heat temperatures and even give your light resistance to wash induced swirls and marring. This means the coating takes the abuse, leaving your finish protected. Its much easier and safer to polish and touch up a coating if necessary, than to keep chewing away at your clear coat. All in all, ceramic coatings are in deed the best form of protection for your vehicle, but dont fall for the traps.
You'll see people advertising bold claims. " Here is our ceramic coating, super hard, scratch proof, never wash or wax your var again!". This is false. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. You still have to wash your vehicle properly. The coating still needs decontaminated and topped every so often. And, you will still pick up light swirls, etc. They're not impenetrable force fields. Honesty is the best policy. If you want more info on the coatings we offer, please check out our PROTECTIVE COATINGS page and WHY GTECHNIQ article.
PAINT PROTECTION FILM
Paint Protection Film also known as PPF or Clear Bra, is a thick film installed on your vehicle to defend against rock chips and impacts. Years ago, you'd see these films turn nasty yellow and crack. And that was because the adhesive used would yellow and harden. As technology has advanced, so have these films. Now a days, the films wont yellow out or crack. They have come far in the way of looks as well. They are almost invisible. And finally, they offer good self healing characteristics as well. So when they pick up swirls, heat applied like hot water, the sun, or heat gun will remove swirls. Clear film is a great option for high impact areas such as the bumper, hood, mirrors, or even the whole vehicle. Paint protection film is best applied when new. And when it gets beat up it van be removed and replaced instead of repainting. We also recommend applying protection to the film to prolong the life of the film.
At G3 we use Suntek films, as you see on the Porsche below, this vehicle had the bumper and half the hood and fenders wrapped. The film is optically clear!
In closing, there are many forms of paint protection. Wax is the most commonly used term, but it isn't the best choice for protection. Synthetic sealants offer good protection and are budget friendly, but have to be reapplied on a regular basis. Ceramic coatings are the longest lasting, glossiest, and most durable protection currently on the market. And paint protection film is designed soully to prevent chips from rock impacts, but should still be topped with some form of protection. I hope this article was able to clear up some questions, and help you grasp a better understanding of the protection being offered, and how the rank. So you can make an informed decision that fits your needs and budget. I did the best i could to keep this short, if you still have un answered questions, feel free to drop us a line!
-Chuck Gutscher/ Owner & Detail Specialist