Ceramic coatings have been popular in the detailing industry for a few years now. However, they have quite the reputation of being difficult to apply, risky if applied incorrectly, and hard to upkeep to ensure that you retain that glass like gloss and impeccable water beading protection. While all of these are true, we are going to do our best to walk you through a step by step process in how to not only apply our incredible ceramic coating, the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating, but also maintain it for years to come. We even put together a money-saving kit so you can get all the products we discuss in this ceramic coating guide without having to shop around!
Before we get into the guide itself, we wanted to just take a bit of time to go over all the advantages of our Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating. If you are not super knowledgeable about ceramic coatings, it may be difficult to figure out what makes any one coating better than another. Here are a couple of the most important factors that you'll need to look out for:
Hardness rating This is how resistant a ceramic coating is to scratches, swirls, and other types of defects. A coating's hardness is usually ranked using the Pencil Hardness Scale". The Pencil Hardness Scale ranges from 10H (hardest core) to 10B (softest core). The pencil you are probably most familiar with, the #2 pencil, is rated at HB, which is right in the middle of the scale. When ranking a coating's hardness, they will make a line on the coating after it has fully cured starting with the pencil with the hardest core. If that pencil scratches the coating, they will move onto the next pencil with a slightly less hard core until they find the pencil hardness that does not scratch the coating. That pencil's hardness rating is then assigned as the hardness rating of the ceramic coating.
Contact Angle This will determine how hydrophobic (which is essentially how likely water is to bead on the surface) a coating is. When a surface is hydrophobic, it causes the water on its surface to retain surface tension rather than spreading out across the surface. The contact angle measures the angle in correlation to the coated surface a bead of water will get to before the water's surface tension breaks and the water is dispersed. The higher the contact angle, the better the water beading is. Here is a diagram that might help.
Flash time This is how long it takes for the carriers" (the conduit that the coating uses to house the protective material during storage and application) to evaporate. Once those carriers evaporate, you will want to wipe off or flatten any excess protective material to ensure a smooth and glossy finish. Often you will be able to tell the carriers have evaporated because the surface will look iridescent (think of how an oil slick looks on the pavement). The temperature of the paint surface and of the space you are applying it in will affect the flash time of a coating. With higher heat and humidity, the flash time will be shorter. In air-conditioned garages, the flash time can be much longer. The reason a longer flash time is more beneficial is that you can cover more area at a time before having to wipe off, hence making the coating process faster to get done!
Thickness - This is the thickness of a single layer of the ceramic coating. It is usually measured in microns. Generally, the thicker the better as that means that the coating will provide a thicker layer of protection.
Temperature resistance This is the highest temperature the surface the coating rests on can get to before it starts to damage the coating. Because a car left in the sun can get extremely hot, it is very important to make sure a ceramic coating can stand up to that heat.
Duration of protection This one is pretty self-explanatory, it is just how long the ceramic coating will last on your vehicle. The duration of protection ceramic coating provides is usually measured in years. This is really the main selling point you will see with most ceramic coatings.
Now that you know which factors are important to consider in a ceramic coating, where exactly does the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating fall? Here is how the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating ranks in all of the factors we listed above:
Now that you have a little more background on what makes the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating so great, let's get into how you can apply it without fear and keep it lasting for years to come!
Prepping the paint
The first thing you need to do is make sure that the surface is properly prepped for the coating. Because ceramic coatings lay over the top of your paint, if there is any contamination or dirt resting on the surface, it will either prevent the coating from adhering to the surface OR the coating will lock it in and prevent you from removing it after the fact.
The main thing you will want to make sure you do is to decontaminate your paint. This step will remove any dirt, mud, embedded contaminates, or iron particles that may be on your paint surface. These particles will prevent the coating from adhering to the surface and will affect the overall performance of the coating. You can check out these other guides we have on how you can effectively wash, dry, and decontaminate your car!
Once your paint is completely clean and contaminate-free, you will want to make sure that the paint is free of any swirls, scratches and marring. This is where paint correction steps in. The paint correction process is very important, because you want to get the paint as perfect as possible, because the coating will lock the look in for at least the next three years. Check out our Dual Action Polisher Guide for more information on paint correction.
Now that the surface is swirl and defect free from the paint correction steps, you will want to make sure that there are no oils or polishing residue left on the surface. Because Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic coating forms a bond directly with your car's paint, any oils on the surface will prevent the coating from adhering to the paint in that spot. Even something as benign as a car shampoo would often have oils or lubricants in it to prevent scratches, so it is imperative that these are removed prior to application. Thankfully, this is simple enough with the Wolfgang Perfekt Finish Paint Prep!
The whole process is very simple. Just work panel by panel, spray the panel with Wolfgang Perfekt Finish Paint Prep, then wipe it away with a clean microfiber towel. You will probably be able to complete the whole process pretty quickly.
Applying the coating
Here is where the meat of it all comes. This is going to be the part of the process that will take the most time and will require the most attention while you are doing it.
The first thing you will want to do is make sure that you are not in direct sunlight and that the car's paint is cool to the touch before you apply Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating. Ideally, you would apply it in an air-conditioned garage so you could get the longest flash time possible, but as long as you can comfortably rest your hand on the car's hood without burning your hand, you should be fine.
Because the flash time of the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating is only about 30 seconds to a minute when applying it in higher heat or humidity, you will want to work in small sections so you can buff off the coating easier. Try to work in areas no bigger than 2'x2' sections. This may take a while, but with any ceramic coating, it is better to take all day doing it than to rush it and have a less than ideal finish.
Apply several drops of Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating on to a coating applicator. Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating comes in a dripper bottle, so it will be really easy to get only a few drops onto the applicator. If you are unsure which applicators to use, the small blue microfiber applicators included in the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coat It & Keep It Kit will be the best option. These are soft, plush, shallow-napped, and absorbent enough that it will be able to keep the surface of the applicator saturated during application.
Start off by moving left to right to cover the entire 2'x2' section, making sure to overlap your passes. You will then want to go back over the section, moving up and down in the same manner. This will ensure that there are no missed spots on the section. If any spot of the section is left bare, it will be easy to spot even to the untrained eye. So, always make sure to apply Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating evenly and entirely.
Then grab a clean and dry microfiber towel, like the Cobra Sky Blue Edgeless Polishing Cloths contained in the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coat It & Keep It Kit, and wait for the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating to flash". You will be able to tell that the product has flashed because the surface will look iridescent, or a rainbow-like appearance, like what an oil slick looks like on pavement. That is how you know that it is clear to wipe the product away.
The process of wiping the coating away serves an important function, it will flatten out any high spots" on the surface. High spots" are generally just excess product that needs to be wiped off after the coating has flashed for 30 seconds.
Once you have wiped the coating off and the surface looks smooth and glassy, you are ready to move onto the next section. When working on the next section, make sure there is a little bit of overlap with the last section. This will ensure that there is no space between them where there is not any coating applied. Repeat this process over and over until you have coated the entire car.
You will need to let the coating cure" on the surface for at least 24 hours before you expose it to any moisture! If you do not allow it to completely cure, the coating will not last as long and could fail prematurely.
Boosting the coating
Once you have allowed Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating to completely cure on the surface, you will want to boost it using Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Booster. This product can be used over any ceramic coating but was specifically formulated to work especially well with the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating.
Think of Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Booster as a coating for your coating. This product has the same active ingredients as the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating, but it is less concentrated. The purpose of this is to add another layer of protection over-top of your ceramic coating and to keep it going strong.
The application process is extremely simple. You will first want to make sure that the surface is clear of any light soil or debris. For this, you can use the Wolfgang PROFI Detail Spray. This will give you the lubricity you need to wipe away any light contamination and leave the surface clean and ready to be boosted.
Once that is done, applying the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Booster is a breeze. For this product, you can work in slightly larger sections than you did with the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating, 3'x3' sections should do. Simply spray the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Booster directly onto the surface by spraying a light mist to coat the entire area. Then use a clean microfiber towel to wipe the product flat and remove any excess product (just like you did with the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating). Then just repeat that until you have treated the entire car! This will add up to 6 months of protection to the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating alone.
Maintaining the coating
Even though you now have a brand-new ceramic coating on your car, you will still want to maintain your car to make sure that that coating lasts as long as possible. Regular car washes (Wolfgang SiO2 Uber Coating Wash is a great choice!) are a MUST to prevent buildup of caustic contaminants like iron particles, brake dust, bug guts, bird droppings, and tree sap. If these things are left on the surface, they will slowly eat away at the Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Coating and greatly reduce the life span.
We also recommend regularly using Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Detail Spray to boost the shine, gloss, hydrophobicity, and clean the surface of any light dirt, dust, fingerprints and smudges.
Spray a liberal amount of Wolfgang PROFI Ceramic Detail Spray onto the surface of your paint.
Using a clean and dry microfiber towel, wipe Wolfgang Ceramic Detail Spray across the surface. Then use a second clean microfiber towel to buff off any excess product.
Enjoy the coating