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Car Paint Protection, Paint Sealant, and Ceramic Coating: What’s the Difference?

Advancements in automotive paint have created finishes that can last up to a decade in perfect conditions, but perfect conditions are not always possible. Extended exposure to sunlight, harsh environments, and acid rain can wreak havoc on your car or truck’s paint. Paint protection options are available to make sure your car looks great year after year.

There are four primary options for preserving your car’s finish: waxes, car paint sealant, paint protection film, and ceramic coatings. Each has its advantages and unique protective qualities. This article will explore each option and help you determine which is best for your car or truck.

Paint Protection Waxes

Automotive wax is the most common form of paint protection. Beginning in the early 19th century, horse carriage owners applied wax to the carriages to protect the paint from daily wear. In the 20th century, companies began formulating different waxes to protect automotive paint.

Today’s natural car waxes are made from carnauba or beeswax. Carnauba is the longest-lasting, but all waxes share the same basic properties. All car waxes act as a protective layer on top of your car’s paint. Because it is easy for the average consumer to apply, it is a very popular option. But car wax breaks down after a few months and requires reapplication several times each year.

Car Paint Sealant

The next level of protection for your car or truck is paint sealant. This is a synthetic product applied to your vehicle’s painted surfaces. It results in a high-quality shine and offers advanced protection from the sun’s UV rays, tree sap, and other harmful environmental elements. 

Sealants are designed to chemically bond to the surface of your car. Because of that bond, they last much longer than car wax and provide better protection.  Paint sealants can be applied like a standard car wax paste, or they can be sprayed onto your car’s surface. Spray-on sealants can be applied quickly. High-quality paint sealants can provide paint protection for up to one year.

Paint Protection Film

One of the most popular advancements in protecting a car’s finish is protective film. Atlantic Custom Wraps specializes in applying paint protection film to any part of your vehicle. 

Paint protection film is a transparent vehicle wrap on the body panels of your car. This urethane film protects the car from minor scratches, road debris, and rock chips. STEK film, Atlantics film of choice, is top coated with ceramic as well as self-healing.

With this approach, you have different options based on your needs and budget. You can choose to apply the film to the front panels to protect against rocks that fly up from the road. You can also apply the product to the sides of your car to protect them from door damage.

Applying paint protection film to your entire car gives you the ultimate protection against UV rays, harsh weather conditions, minor scratches, and rock chips. You can protect vulnerable areas or your entire vehicle. Most paint protection films  are warranted for five to ten years, Atlantic only uses the ten-year film.

Ceramic Coatings

Ceramic coatings are thick, durable synthetic material that bonds with your car’s paint to provide excellent protection. The nanoparticles inside the compound seal the tiny pores in your car’s paint. Once the solution cures, your car’s finish is protected beneath the synthetic layer. 

The high-gloss shine of ceramic coatings makes them very popular. They are semi-permanent and perform better and longer than waxes or sealants. However, a ceramic coating does require regular maintenance, and WILL NOT protect against minor scratches and rock chips.

 Use Multiple Products

For ultimate protection, you can use multiple products in layers. A sealant can be applied as a base layer, followed by a protective film. Or you can use a ceramic coating to protect the finish and a car wax to preserve the shine.

Combining various products can preserve your car’s finish for years. When considering this approach, it’s important to talk with an auto detailing professional to make sure you layer products correctly.

Choosing the Right Protection

Depending on how you use your car, each of these paint protection options has benefits and drawbacks. Car wax is a great choice for car owners who want to maximize the shine of a paint job. Because it breaks down quickly and in warmer temperatures, it’s best used on cars that spend a lot of time in a garage. 

If you drive your car every day and it’s exposed to the elements on a regular basis, paint sealants are a good choice. They can take more extreme weather and temperatures and last longer than traditional car wax.

Ceramic coatings are more durable than sealants and provide excellent protection with minimal maintenance. If you park your car outdoors, this is a good choice for your vehicle. If you want to protect specific parts of your car or combine an extra layer of protection, paint protection film is a good option. This invisible film can withstand minor hail damage and regular abuse from rocks and other road rubble.

Protect Your Investment

Your car is a major financial investment. If making sure it looks great for as long as you own it is a priority, paint protection is a must. There are many options available, and each has its advantages. For more than 30 years, Atlantic Custom Wraps / Montes Pinstriping Company has helped customers with high-quality paint protection for cars and trucks. We can help you decide on the best option for your car and budget. Contact us to make an appointment with one of our automotive experts.

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