How much does a ceramic coating cost?
The title of this post is, by far, the most common question I receive.
Unfortunately, pricing a ceramic coating package is not as simple as taking the cost of a product, adding a percentage to cover costs and some profit and assigning a figure.
The main purpose of a coating is to protect the vehicle and make it easier to wash and dry while providing unmatched gloss. In order to properly achieve this, the paint must be brought to a level that allows light to reflect cleanly in a mirror-like fashion. Swirls, marring, scuffs and other defects, no matter how minor, take away from this. If a coating is applied over an imperfect surface, those imperfections will not only be magnified, they will be sealed in for as many years as the coating lasts. For this reason, a minimum of a full one step polishing must be performed prior to coating the paint. This one step, depending on the size, color and paint hardness, normally takes from 6 to 8 hours including the wash and decontamination steps taken prior to ever plugging in the polisher.
A vehicle that is several years old and/or has seen regular visits to an automatic car wash will require another step before finish polishing; compounding. The compounding step takes a more aggressive pad and more aggressive polish to remove significantly more clear coat than the final polishing step. Compounding removes most paint defects that cannot be caught by a fingernail in an efficient manner. Once complete, defects are removed, however, the paint usually appears hazy and always shows less clarity in its reflection so a finish polish is then required. The compounding step adds about 4-6 hours to the overall process and must be done with care to avoid removing too much material. There are instances where chasing some defects is not worth the diminished paint thickness and your detailer should go over these prior to the job being started.
Now that the paint is polished and shows bright, clear reflections, it’s ready to be coated...
No, it’s not ready to be coated yet!!
After paint correction and before coating application, the paint must be free of any oils leftover from process. This is done by using a chemical specifically designed for the job. The product is applied to the surface and wiped off using multiple microfiber towels. Once this step is completed, it’s done again to ensure no spots have been missed.
Ok, now it’s time to coat! The coating is applied to one small section at a time, by hand, and allowed to “flash.” Flashing is the process where the carrier solvent evaporated and leaves behind the coating itself. The flash time varies by product with IGL coatings usually in the 2-10 minute range depending on the product, temperature and humidity. As the coating flashes, it gets leveled with microfiber towels (MANY microfiber towels) so that the surface of the coating is perfectly smooth and glassy.
Once the entire vehicle is coated, an inspection must be done to ensure no high spots remain. Those that do are addressed immediately because if they aren’t, they will have to be compounded or even wet sanded later on and reapplied.
The vehicle is then left to cure for 2-12 hours.
Once the base coat cures, the second coat is applied in the same manner and then undergoes the same careful inspection.
The vehicle is then left to cure for at least 4 hours.
Once the second cure is completed, a polysiloxane sealant is applied. This sealant goes over the ceramic coating and provides protection against water spotting for the first week or two while the actual coating undergoes it’s final, permanent, cure.
The vehicle is left for another 4 hours and only then is it ready for its owner.
Depending on the size of the vehicle, how it’s been cared for, it’s age, color, mileage and the coating or coatings the customer chooses, this process that takes up to 48 hours and costs anywhere from $700 to over $2,000.
It’s never an inexpensive job, however, ceramic coatings represent the best value in paint care. Over time, it’s the most economical way to keep your vehicle looking great.
Your paint will stay cleaner for longer.
The days of waxing every 6-8 weeks are over. The amount of time it takes to wash and dry the vehicle is cut in half.
Additionally, every time you wash the vehicle it looks as if it was just waxed!
I hope you’ve found this entry valuable. I want to bridge the gap between getting a quote for a coating and knowing just how much has been considered when determining the price you have received.
*please note, references to cure & flash times only pertains to products in the IGL Coatings line as this is the only coating line I carry.
Until next time,
Owner, M Reflections Auto Aesthetics
Proudly offering ceramic coating and detailing packages to all of Connecticut including Hartford CT, Rocky Hill CT, Wethersfield CT, Middletown CT, Cromwell CT, Newington CT, West Hartford CT, Avon CT, Simsbury Ct, Farmington CT, Avon CT, Glastonbury CT, Windsor CT, Enfield CT, Manchester CT, New Haven CT, Old Saybrook CT, Essex CT