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Protection, What is it? Is my car protected?

I am writing this blog to hopefully clear up a few misconceptions on protection. This is to try to clear up what is around the internet or in training sessions passed on by people who in essence do not understand what they are talking about and are just passing on what someone else is saying; Or a manufacturer saying something just to sell a product.  We will go through, What can be protected? How do I know if it’s protected? And the differences in how it’s protecting.  And what can I do to protect my car?

What can be protected?

Every surface on your car, can be protected. Everything, paint, plastics, glass, metals, composites and fabrics.

How do I know if a surface is protected?

This is not as simple as may seem, what is openly considered as protection from the majority of people I speak to is something referred to as beading. To more experienced people Sheeting is a more favourable attribute, or another sign that your car is protected.

What is beading?

Beading is a hydrophobic property that naturally occurs on the lotus flower. Hydrophobic means water hating, this essentially means that water will not like to stick to a surface, and in the case of beading form a bead, and roll off the surface. There are many angles of beading that determine the hydrophobicity or the surface, for us in the detailing industry the higher the contact angle the better, in relation to beading. To test if your car is beading, the best way I have found is to use a fine mist sprayer, spray water onto the paintwork and see what happens.

Video courtesy of Paul Dalton at Miracle Detail

What is Sheeting?

Sheeting is another hydrophobic property, instead of the water beading up into little balls and running off. Sheeting is a behaviour of water running off the surface of the paint in one go. Typically what is considered better sheeting is water running off the surface faster. The best way I have found to test water sheeting, is running water through an open ended hose over the surface.

Video courtesy of Detailed Designs Auto Spa Car Detailing

The first common misconception of protection is, if the car is not beading or sheeting there is no protection. this simply may not be the case. Reasons being if the car is dirty, this will stop the hydrophobic layer working properly and will not show much at all. If you think that your car is not beading or sheeting properly wash the car, if after washing you see it still is not working right. it may have been dirtier than you first thought, in which case use a stronger wash method to throughly clean the surface and re test. A problem we come across with just analysing beading and sheeting as a matter of protection is Coatings, I have a brief write up of coatings over on this blog. Now Coatings unlike using in essence a very weak bond to the surface like a typical wax or sealants, work very differently. They are much harder to remove than your typical wax or sealants by the way they bond to the surface, think of it like a thick in comparison to waxes or sealants, glass like layer. That is very hard and very strong. Claimed durability of waxes can range from 2 weeks to 6 months. sealants 2 months to 12 months. Coatings can go much further than this, typically in the range of 6 months to 5 years. Will these coatings show beading up to those directions, highly unlikely, due to the buildup of contaminates like pollen, road tar iron deposits and the like. So if it’s not beading or sheeting how do i know if it’s protected? It comes down to its very difficult without very specific lab equipment, but to try and help your understanding, if we go back to the glass like layer that has bonded to the paint. You cannot just simply wash this away, it needs to be physically removed by force typically by a machine polisher or wet sanding. there still is that protection offered to the paint from damaging UV from the sun. Road grime that can tarnish the surface or your paint will tarnish the coating instead. So even though it looks like the Coating may stop working because it is no longer beading or sheeting, it is still protecting.

So we now know what beading and sheeting are, but do they provide any protection?

yes and no, they provide protection in regards to because they in essence provide a self cleaning effect, you can use less harsh a chemical to remove the road grime from the surfaces, this stop premature degrading of the surface, and helps maintain the look of your car. But beading or sheeting does not provide any protection from UV, now that’s not to say that whats in the rest of the product will not provide protection from UV, that’s for the manufacturers and chemists to decide what goes into the blend. but that is all beading and sheeting shows you directly through just that, because all they show is that high surface tension is present.

Manufacturers, what are they selling me?

The reality is only they know, we come into the world of marketers here. Here’s a quick tip, if something sounds too good to be true from either a price point or what they are saying without going into too much detail, it probably is. Marketers will allow the brands to sell anything within the law, and unfortunately the law doesn’t help us on this part. A good classic in the industry, is 100% carnauba wax. Because what does that mean? by volume in other words everything in the pot os carnauba? well if it was the product would be harder than concrete and completely un usable, if you wish you can buy a pot of 100% carnauba from me, it’s called Dodo Juice Flat Earth and it costs £9.95 for 30 ml, it makes a good novelty paperweight. Or does 100% carnauba mean that all the wax content is carnauba, if it was it is not a well developed wax, as almost all car waxes have other waxes in the blend to change the characteristics of the wax.

What can I do to protect my car?

First and foremost talk with a professional and see what they recommend, protection should be a very personal thing as it is all a compromise. As any of a wax, sealant or Coating may be suitable for you. This will be determined on, how often you use the car, how you maintain the car. how you want the car to look. and ultimately how much you want to spend on the car. Treatments can be anywhere from £5 up to how far you want to go. The most expensive paintwork only treatment we at worthy detailing offer is, Kamikaze Myabi Coat, and that costs £150 for one layer on a small car.



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