What is the Difference Between a Wax, Sealant and a Ceramic Coating?

What is the Difference Between a Wax, Sealant and a Ceramic Coating?

We have all heard of waxes, sealants and ceramic coatings. All guarantee protection, hydrophobicity and a good looking, slick and shiny finish. But when you get down to it, what is the difference between the three types of products? Is there even a difference? Let's take a closer look.

What is a Wax?

A wax is typically comprised of naturally occurring substances, such as Carnauba and Montan. Waxes come in different grades and can be blended with other oils, solvents and polymers to create an unlimited number of new wax styles. Waxes can come in paste, liquid and even spray versions.

What are the Benefits of a Wax?

Waxes have many benefits, besides just being a very popular detailing buzz word. Thanks to the layer of protection waxes impose, waxes help to minimize against scratches, sun damage and keeps contaminants from sticking around. Also, waxing adds a smooth surface to your vehicle, which creates a shield on the clear coat keeping dirt and other contaminants off your surface as much as possible. Plus, waxes make your car look shiny! Waxes also helps to repel water and then in turn makes washing the vehicle even easier and keeps it cleaner longer.

How Often Should You Wax Your Car?

This will depend on the type of wax you are using because every wax is different. But in general, it's best to wax your car every three months or so. This number of course is also dependent on how you maintain your car.

What are the Negatives of a Wax?

Waxes have their pros, but also their cons. Waxes need to be applied often since they are natural occurring product, they wear thin and wear quickly. And if you want to keep all the benefits of a wax, you have to be sure the wax is still doing its job. And waxes can be expensive!

What is a Sealant?

Paint Sealants are made from polymers to bond with the clear coat to create a layer of protection. Sealants are meant to provide extra resistance to help minimize contaminants from embedding in your paint. They are also made to bring your sharper, deeper and glossier reflections in your paint. Sealants can also be found in paste, liquid and spray.

What are the Benefits of a Sealant?

Sealants tend to be highly resistant, protecting your car from UV rays that cause fading, as well as contaminants such as bug guts, acid rain and bird droppings. Having a paint sealant also makes maintaining your vehicle easier since a lesser amount of contaminants are sticking to it. Sealants also provide a deep depth of the paint, bringing it to a higher gloss, bringing out natural brilliance. Bonus, sealants tend to protect the paint longer than a wax.

What are the Negatives of a Sealant?

As great as sealants are, they do have their downsides. Sealants take more prep work, because the surface needs to be incredibly clean for the sealant to properly bond to the surface. Also, if this isn't done correctly, sealants can highlight imperfections. Because sealants are made to be protective, they can be hard to remove and you will need a special product to remove them when you're ready to do that.

How Often Should You Apply a Sealant to Your Car?

Once again, there isn't an exact science as to how often you need to apply a sealant to your vehicle, it varies by product. But a good rule of thumb is to apply a sealant every three to six months. Many factors can contribute to this, such as how the vehicle is maintained, where the vehicle is kept and the climate, amongst other things.

What is a Ceramic Coating?

Ceramic Coatings, also known as Nano-Ceramic Coatings. Similar to the two previous products mentioned, ceramic coatings are meant to be durable and provide long lasting protection. However, where it differs is that ceramic coatings are much more powerful than waxes or sealants. The polymers found in these coatings chemically bond to the surface, creating a thick protective barrier. This layer can prevent against etching, UV damage and oxidation. These coatings will also provide a great depth of gloss and shine! Ceramic coatings are typically found in liquid or spray form.

What are the Benefits of a Ceramic Coating?

There are many benefits to applying a ceramic coating! They apply an extra layer of protection, especially from the sun's rays, preventing oxidation and fading. These coatings also easily repel water, so it can prevent against rusting. Your vehicle will be more resistant to contaminants and will be protected against water spots. Plus, the gloss alone makes it look as though your vehicle is brand new again.

What are the Negatives of a Ceramic Coating?

While ceramic coatings help prevent scratching, they can't stop them from occurring entirely. They are also not immune to swirl marks when scratching and water spots can still happen. And the big negative is price, because of its stature and benefits, ceramic coatings can be expensive. Not to mention, they are much more difficult to apply than your average wax.

How Often Should You Apply a Ceramic Coating to Your Car?

This answer depends not only on the product you are using, but also how the vehicle is kept. Is it kept inside? Outside? Is it a daily driver? What are your climate conditions? But overall, ceramic coatings are typically designed to last up to two years, following proper vehicle maintenance.

Final Thoughts

All three of these products can work for seemingly similar reasons. But any experienced detailer knows there are subtle differences that make the difference. But when it truly comes down to it, there are three key factors to remember: length of protection, application process and water beading. These are the key differences between a waxes, sealants and ceramic coatings! Here is a easy-to-understand breakdown.

Length of protection gets increasingly longer: Waxes --> Sealants --> Coatings

Application gets increasing more difficult. Waxes --> Sealants --> Coatings

Water beading get increasingly more intense. Waxes --> Sealants --> Coatings

Whichever one you desire, make sure that you take your time and follow the instructions for each product to ensure a shiny, well protected, hydrophobic vehicle!