Protection. Wax, Sealants, Coatings And Clear Bra.
So Paintwork Protection, Wax, Sealants, Coatings, Clear Bra.
Pretty much everyone knows you should Wax a car right? Even your cars instruction manual says to do so. So why do so many people think it is a thing of the past? Well, a lot of dealerships over the last few years have been offering lifetime coatings/Wax/Sealants so you’ll never need to wax your car ever again, or polish them. Some even advertise that you should never need to wash your car again. Well let me get this out of the way now, all those claims are false. And here are the reasons why nothing is permanent. Modern 2k clear coat (paint) is very hard so less prone to scratches, more UV resistant than older cellulose paint; and typically shinier as well. And paint itself isn’t permanent. Let’s assume paint has an average from factory of between 100-150 microns (that let me tell you isn’t very thick at all). A Wax/Sealant the actual layer that is left on the paint is so insignificant it cannot be measured not necessarily the case but we are being realistic here) a coating is typically thicker but in my experience you are talking with typical accuracies of paint depth gauges calibrated to +/- 2-3 % if you saw a difference of 1 micron are you really going to say that the paint is so much thicker than before? No, I didn’t think so. If paint is so much thicker than the protection you are applying onto it, is that really the be all and end all? Do you apply suncream to your skin once in a lifetime? of course you don’t well it is the same with paint.
If a Wax, Sealant, or a Coating is so thin what about Clear Bra? When I work on cars with Clear bra and measure to the metal, assuming the rest of the car had an average of 150 microns, the reading with Clear Bra will shoot up to 400 microns. Obviously this shows that Clear Bra is thick, so surely its permanent? Unfortunately not, Clear Bra is designed to be replaced every once in a while. Typically five years I find. The main job of Clear Bra is to protect the paint from Stone Chips, which are unsightly and can cause rust and corrosion if not dealt with, as It is designed to absorb all the damage from stones, bugs, and general road grime. So that the paint underneath isn’t harmed. After a while, you will notice damage in the Clear Bra and discoloration from the Suns UV rays.
What are the pluses and minuses to each then?
Well let’s start with typical waxes, and I say typical because some manufactures like to blur the lines between some of the ingredients in the between waxes and sealants. A Wax is typically Carnauba Wax based blended with a solvent; Carnauba is from Brazil, and once set, sets harder than concrete. In a wax blend there are generally more than one wax used, a typical wax often used is beeswax. The solvents are used to make to wax into a paste and make it useable for automobiles. The pluses to Waxes are, they look fantastic, typically give you that great desirable “wet look” shine, and are relatively easy to apply. The minuses are typically that they don’t last all that long, between four weeks to three months, and they offer the least amount of protection from Bird Droppings and UV.
Sealants are Typically man-made in the laboratory, they use syntheticpolymer technology to produce a sharp reflective gloss and better durability and protection from the elements. They can be tailor made to suit many requirements, but typically do not look as good as a quality Wax. So a sealant sort of fixes the problems that a wax has, but comes in with some problems of their own, typically the sharp gloss that is “given off” by the sealant looks a bit sterile and less “wet” than the look of a wax. This in my opinion makes them more suited to light coloured cars where maximum reflectivity is required to get the best out of the paint.
Coatings, the newest technology in the industry. So what is a coating? Referred to under many names by people, one of which are the Nano Sealants, I do not like this term as I find it is a bit broad. A Coating is a Complete different chemical makeup to the previous; they can be SiO2 (Silicon Dioxide) based often referred to as a glass coating which isn’t strictly true. Siloxane Polysilazane based. Hybrids with Sealants or Resins. All which will react very different, for the purpose of this blog I am going to be speaking on a general basis to give you a general idea of what a coating is. A Coating bonds very differently to the surface of the paint than a Wax or a Sealant, a Wax typically bonds ionically which is a weak molecular bond, refer to here for more information. Where as Coatings covalently bond with the surface of the
paint, in essence becoming part of the paints structure. These Coatings will Generally form a crystallized structure over the paint, much thicker than a wax, but thinner than a Clear Bra. Here is a bottle of Kamikaze type 02 that I accidentally split, proof that a crystallized structure will form once fully cured. As you can see this products forms a very strong layer, for the some of the best temporary protection available. Problems that can be encountered with coatings, is they can water spot due to the fact that the beading has to potential to stay on the surface longer and then a higher potential to be dried out by the sun, this can be very hard to remove, generally needing the assistance of a weak acidic solution. A way around this is to layer the coating with another product, most manufacturers have their recommendations as they want to sell more products, but some do work better than others. Good choices are Gtechniq C2, or Gtechniq EXO and Kamikaze overcoat. Adding another more hydrophobic layer of protection onto the coating layer reduces the chance of water spotting, increases the life of the coating and makes the self-cleaning properties of the coating stronger for longer, when the right product is layered.
Clear Bra, Clear bra is designed primarily to help prevent stone chips, an unsightly topic on all cars that can cause rust and corrosion, leading to paint damage causing the need for a respray. So how does it work? Clear Bra is designed to absorb everything into the film itself leaving the surface underneath in great condition, it will absorb all the damage from flies, rocks, bird droppings, sap and many other road horrors. Designed to be replaced around 5/7 years, it can be a worth while investment.
Problems you can associate with clear bra is that you can see it, is that it does eventually need replacing, which can be see as expensive. And it isn’t invisible protection and hurts the overall shine of the paintwork.
I hope this blog post has answered some of your questions about various forms of paint protection, and the text above is as correct as I believe, in an industry where things change so quickly please do not take this as gospel but to help you understand the actual process that is undertaken when you hire a detailer. All the text and pictures in this Blog is property of Johnathan Hughes of Worthy detailing. Thanks for reading and take care.
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