For car owners, the search for a long-lasting, affordable protective coating for their car has been a long and fraught one. Prompted by the anguish of seeing their car’s paintwork damaged by elements harsh UV light, bird droppings, acidic rain particles, road-based sand, grit and grime and car-park scratches, car owners have been rescued thanks to the science of nano-ceramic coatings.
However, car enthusiasts are now facing a fresh dilemma. Do they ditch their regular wax treatments in favour of a more permanent nano-ceramic coating? Which is proving to be better? Does an application of natural wax or a nano-ceramic coating provide superior protection?
Wax Versus Nano-Ceramic Coatings
On the surface, the answer to this question appears to be simple. However, as with so many things car related, appearances can be deceptive!
Which option works best for you and your car depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Also, how you use the car you’ve applied the protective coating to.
Let’s look at the two heavyweight contenders for the protective coating title.
The Case For Carnauba Wax
Carnauba wax is a natural substance derived from the leaves of the Copernicia prunifera palm. It is a native of northern Brazil and is also known as The Tree of Life. The palm forms secreted carnauba to protect them from the intense heat of the sun. This allows the trees to retain their moisture content.
In car care products, carnauba wax is combined with other waxes, such as beeswax and solvents to make it pliable. The higher the carnauba content in the finished wax, the more durable it is and the better the wet-look shine is, conferring a more effective ‘lotus effect.’
Typically, over a mild summer, two layers of a wax containing 60 percent carnauba can be expected to last up to six months.
So, carnauba is a natural product and easy to work with. It provides a deep, wet-look shine, and is relatively heat resistant. It also has excellent hydrophobic properties.
Regularly applying the wax treatment and detailing the vehicle afterward takes significant amounts of time and money.
The Case For Nano-Ceramic Coatings
The name nano-ceramic coating is taken from their use of silica, a component in the manufacturing of ceramic and glass products. In nature, silica is commonly found as quartz (SiO2) and in its purest form enjoys a mineral hardness of seven on the Mohs scale (1-10).
Many people believe ceramics are opaque and white in colour. However, this is not always the case. Ceramics come in a wide spectrum of compositions and colours together with an extensive range of molecular structures.
In part, nano-ceramic coatings technology is a spin-off from N.A.S.A. and its now-retired space shuttle program. The pioneering Space Agency originally devised ceramic-based paints for use on space shuttles for their heat insulation and anti-corrosion properties.
The Modern Nano-ceramic Coatings
Modern nano-ceramic coatings exploit nanotechnology. Sustained research and development have led to the evolution of ceramic technologies into automotive care applications. This is because they offer a much higher level of protection from environmental and road-based contaminants.
In contrast to carnauba-based waxes, ceramic coatings are inorganic. This is allowing them to be manufactured with a resistance to far higher temperatures than carnauba.
When reduced to the nanoscale (less than 100 nanometres), the fundamental properties of materials transform. They become far more resistant to external forces compared to the same materials at the macro-scale.
What Nanotechnology-based Ceramic Coatings Offer
Nanotechnology-based ceramic coatings offer significant resistance to extremes of pH, temperature, ultraviolet light, and compression forces. Consequently, these coatings offer automotive surfaces protection from acid rain, sandstorms, freezing rain, harsh washing chemicals, direct sunlight, and even from degradation caused by light swirls brought about by poor washing techniques.
Nano-ceramic coatings form strong chemical bonds with painted substrates at the atomic level. These coatings cannot be removed using paint cleaners or pressure washers.
Once applied, all that is required in terms of maintenance is a regular hand wash and an occasional top up with a compatible detailing spray. Their imperviousness to chemicals and inherent hardness offer a long-lasting solution. Advantageous for those with little time or desire to spend hours applying a protective wax coating to their vehicles.
Nano-ceramic coatings provide prolonged protection from environmental, chemical, and industrial contaminants. They also help in preventing light surface marring. A nano-ceramic coating will not wash away in a dust storm as some wax treatments might. Nano-ceramic coatings are inherently extremely durable. Optically clear, ceramic coatings provide a high, crystalline shine, particularly effective on metallic paintwork where the metal flake ‘pops’ brilliantly.
The application of nano-ceramic coatings is not limited to paintwork. Nano-ceramic coatings are also available for glass, where their hydrophobic properties are of particular benefit. Treatments are also available for plastics, where their resistance to UV is very beneficial.
Nano-ceramic coatings are also being increasingly used on alloy wheels. Nano-ceramic coating’s smooth surface finish and resilience to heat, help in repelling damaging brake dust particles from accumulating.
Due to their durability, all paintwork and other substrates must be properly prepared prior to the application of the nano-ceramic coating.
Some nano-ceramic coatings are expensive. Certain products require expert skills and resources to apply correctly.
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There is no absolute winner or loser when it comes to the battle of wax versus nano-ceramic coating. The important factors are how much time you’re spending on your car and how inclined you are to maintaining it. Also, how you’re going to use your car.
For those simply looking to protect their car even if it falls into the ‘daily commute’ category, the new and highly durable nano-ceramic coatings are hard to go past and provide a near permanent protection.