12 July 2016

What is a Ceramic Coating?

This will be the first of a few posts going into the science of paint protection and coatings. At OCD, we don’t believe in F.U.D (fear, uncertainty, doubt) marketing. We think it important to give our clients and potential clients unbiased information. We will begin by discussing some basics on paint coatings.

The term ceramic coating gets thrown around a lot, and of itself doesn’t describe the distinctions/outcomes of different coatings and the chemistry involved. Every paint protection/coating system out there describes itself as a ceramic coating, and this term has been used by some to imply that their product is no different to another, under the general banner “Ceramic coating”.

Ceramic, in this context, means synthetic – from Wikipedia;

“A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid material comprising metal, nonmetal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds”

Contrast this to wax, which is organic. Another way to consider organic vs inorganic is derived from nature vs not derived from nature, or containing carbon vs no carbon, although some simple compounds containing carbon are considered inorganic. These includes compounds such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbonates, cyanides, and carbides – which is relevant to us, as the major component of OptiCoat is Silicon Carbide, or SiC.

Contrast SiC to Silicon Dioxide, or SiO2, which most other coatings are made of. OptiCoat is the only coating on the market which uses Silicon Carbide. Fun fact, the McLaren P1 also uses Silicon Carbide, on its brakes, as it’s one of the hardest substances known to man.

Both SiC (Silicon Carbide) and SiO2 (Silicon Dioxide) have advantages and disadvantages, and depending on individual requirements, we use different coatings. The major difference is that SiC based coatings chemically bond to the paint. Silicon Carbide forms during this bonding process. This is why OptiCoat truly is a permanent coating.

The above also explains why OptiCoat is not a product that is layered with itself. Upon application and full curing, the OptICoat becomes one with the paint, and takes on the properties of the substrate. Many coating companies make absurd claims about thickness. Do not fall for this, as thickness has little, if anything to do with how well a coating works.

SiO2 coatings, sometimes known as glass, or quartz coatings, consist of nano particles of Silicon Dioxide suspended in a resin. SiC on the other hand, works in a very different way, as it crosslinks with the clear coat and reaches maximum gloss in 7-14 days, and then remains this way for the life of the paint. In comparison, most SiO2 coatings require regular application of top up products to maintain their appearance. However, a select number of premium SiO2 coatings provide a very distinct look which may be desired by some clients, and require little in the way of maintenance. These are the only type of SiO2 coating we use, and these are made in Japan. Talk to us to find out whether a Silicon Carbide or Silicon Dioxide coating is best for your needs.

Ultimately, a coating is only as good as the technician applying it, and the quality of preparation performed. Each coating system has a unique preparation and application method, which needs to be mastered, and should only be applied after the paint is thoroughly decontaminated and the clear coat levelled. Applying a coating on less than perfect paint will only highlight its flaws. Talk to your detailer about what work they will be performing before applying the coating.

Feel free to comment with any questions, and let us know if there are any specific topics you would like us to cover in future posts.