Last updated on September 15th, 2020 at 10:01 pm
We all want our car to keep the same smooth, glistening paint from the day we pick it up at the dealership brand new. And if you’ve paid thousands of dollars for a brand-new paint job on an older car, you’ll definitely want to keep it that way. Unfortunately, it seems like everything out there is trying to ruin the paint on our cars. Between nasty bird droppings and road grime, we don't even notice the damage UV rays and chemicals trapped in rainwater do to our paints glossy finish.
Regular detailing with a high-quality wax and polish can help, but the process can also damage finishes over time and requires a big commitment in time and energy. If only there was a product you could easily apply to your car’s finish that would stand the test of time against the harmful world we live in!
Ceramic coatings can offer enhanced protection for your car’s finish. A ceramic coating creates a bonded seal to the surface of your paint that prevents damage from UV rays, dirt and grime, and yes, even bird droppings. Some ceramic coatings claim to protect against light scratches or claim to prevent water spots and swirl marks. With hundreds of products on the market today, it can be very difficult to decide which product is the right one to protect your car.
All of these products require that certain steps be taken for a superior finish. Your vehicles paint should be in the best shape possible. When professional detail shops apply a ceramic coating, they first claybar and polish the vehicle to produce a clean, smooth surface.
We have a great write-up on the process for preparing your paint and applying a ceramic coating that will help you understand some of the real benefits of ceramic coatings, while dispelling some of the myths that less-honest companies make in an effort to get you to buy their product. Put simply, ceramic coatings are good protection, but are not a silver bullet to prevent scratches, swirl marks, rock chips, or water spots.
At a minimum, you should make sure your car is thoroughly washed. You will want to use a product to decontaminate your paint. Commercial products are available online and at your local auto parts store. You can also mix isopropyl alcohol with water -about 10%-25% alcohol by volume- to make a simple cleaner that will remove wax and oil from your paint.
We researched products from dozens of companies to assemble this list. We spoke with manufacturers about their products, combed through hundreds of reviews, and spoke with professional detailers about ceramic coatings to determine which ones are the best. We searched for products that were easy to use, gave consistently excellent results, and held up to the claims made by the manufacturers. Below we will lay out our favorite ceramic coatings and let you know what we liked and didn’t.
Best Ceramic Coating for Your Car – Top 6
1. Best Overall Ceramic Coating: CarPro CQuartz
CarPro CQuarts Quick Review
One of the more difficult to apply products on this list, the CQuartz is here because of the dazzling, mirror-like finish you can get if you put in the work to get a good application. A lot of companies advertise a “professional product”, but this really is one. Same stuff your high-dollar detail shop is using.
Most of the ceramic coating products on this list use a silicone-base and polymers for the glossy effect. CarPro uses up to 70% quartz to provide a true mineral hardness and durability found only in nature. The quartz content allows this product to repel water better than any product on the market. Water simply beads and rolls right off your car. Even dust and grime will be reduced, and the effort to wash your car will be much less.
Surface preparation, temperature, humidity, and environment are very important to getting a good application. Your paints surface should be claybar waxed and polished, then decontaminated before using CQuartz. Skipping these steps can cause permanent damage to your paint.
Most reviewers and detailers said that CarPro CQuartz is one of the better products on the market, but the surface prep is extensive and absolutely necessary. Failing to prep the paint properly can cause high/low marks called shadowing. Removing CQuartz is very, very difficult.
- True professional formula
- Gives an outstanding high-quality shine
- Provides up to 2 years of protection
- Prep work is vital
- Must be applied at the right temperature
2. AvalonKing Ceramic Coating
Avalon King Ceramic Quick Review
AvalonKing makes one of the easiest to use ceramic coating products on the market today. It goes on easy and leaves an excellent, deep, rich finish on any paint color. It can even be used over vinyl graphics and car wraps. The manufacturer says the product protects your paint from everything from acid rain to graffiti.
The DIY kit includes the coating, an applicator sponge, and a microfiber towel. Application is easy – just put two or three drops on the applicator and wipe horizontally, then vertically. Depending on the air temperature, a few minutes later, you simply wipe off excess and lightly buff to an even, high gloss shine.
Compared to other coatings, the AvalonKing ceramic coating is simple to use and provides consistent, professional quality results. The kit includes everything you will need to apply the ceramic coating, including suede applicator cloths and a microfiber towel. The coating dries to the touch in about two hours and requires 48 hours to completely harden.
The AvalonKing Ceramic Coating should last between two and five years with proper washing.
- Easy to apply
- Works on all porous surfaces
- High level of paint protection
- Excellent included instructions and communication from manufacturer
- Very sensitive to humidity and temperature
- Only available from the manufacturer
- Microfiber towel is sub-par
3. R1 Ceramic Coatings
R1 Coatings Quick Review
R1 offers a phenomenal product that is easy to apply and provides an excellent high-gloss finish. This product is one of the more expensive in our review, but a permanent ceramic coating is something you do not want to go cheap on. The extra cost is more than made up for with what you get.
Like all ceramic kits, the R1 kit includes the product and an applicator. R1 goes the extra step to make sure you get professional-quality results at home by including a bottle of pre-application surface cleaner and nine microfiber towels. They also include a bottle of Revive Spray Enhancer that prolongs the life of the ceramic coating and provides a dazzling finish.
R1 advertises a 9H hardness rating. A 9H rating is the hardest graphite out there, and it won’t scratch the R1 coating. This level of protection should be sufficient to prevent minor scratches from washing, but do not expect the coating to prevent scratches from keys or belt buckles (and don’t expect this from any ceramic product!).
R1 claims their coating will protect your paint for five years with proper care.
- High-gloss finish
- UV protectant, hydrophobic, and durable
- All-in-one kit not offered by competitors
- Higher cost
- Time-consuming application
4. Migliore Strata Ceramic Coating
Migliore Strata Ceramic Coating Quick Review
This ultra-luxury ceramic coating provides up to a year of incredibly glossy paint that is protected from everything the environment can throw at it. Migliore is a particularly good product for cars that are driven in snow and sand, which can easily strip other coatings.
Migliore’s Made in the USA formula is one of the easiest to apply on the market. Wipe on, wait, and wipe off, then buff. Unlike some other products that can cause bad streaking and damage, the Strata coating levels easily, leaving a durable, high-gloss finish.
Migliore uses a high-content ceramic formula that offers superior water-beading. The coating reduces static attraction, preventing road dust from adhering to your paint. Mud, oil, and even tar can be wiped off easily from coated surfaces.
Reviewers generally found the product to work as expected when the vehicle was properly prepped for the coating. Few professionals we spoke with had used the Strata product but raved about the company’s interior detailing products.
- Easy to get professional results
- High-bead formula prevents water spotting
- Does not hold up as long as other coatings in high heat and humidity
- Highly sensitive to temperature when applying
5. Color N Drive
Color N Drive Quick Review
Color N Drive Ceramic Coating is a popular product that provides an outstanding shine at a great price. Color N Drive has become a favorite due to the ease of application and excellent results that anyone can achieve at home.
The manufacturer claims to use a nano-bionic silane-base, which gives the coating the properties of a lotus flower. Color N Drive says their ceramic coating provides a self-cleaning characteristic that helps keep dust from sticking and water spots from appearing.
Reviewers back up the company’s claims, finding Color N Drive to provide a superior surface protectant that beads water easily and lasts through numerous washes. One reviewer even used it to protect his cell phone from scratches. The DIY kit includes the coating, a pre-treatment to ensure a clean surface, applicator sponges and towelettes, as well as a microfiber cloth for final wiping and buffing.
- Great price for the quantity
- Includes pre-cleaner
- Excellent UV-resistance
- Not as long-lasting as higher-priced competitors
- Directions are poorly written and require a youtube.com search
6. Ease of Use Pick: Ethos Ceramic Wax Pro
Ethos Ceramic Wax PRO Quick Review
Ethos blurs the line between a ceramic coating and a wax. The product is applied like a wax, wipe on, let dry, buff off -unlike most coatings that are wiped and lightly buffed- you can actually take a buffer to your car to get a really great shine after applying.
Ethos Ceramic Wax PRO is the only product on this list that can be applied and allowed to dry completely before removing. This allows the user a huge amount of flexibility when applying the coating and prevents nasty high/ low spots, hazing, cracking, and all the other not good things about badly applied coatings.
The price also makes this an attractive product, as it is at the bottom of the price point for products on this list. A major seller for this one is that it is much more difficult to damage your car’s finish using Ethos over other ceramic coatings.
- Goes on like a wax
- Provides good beading and shine
- Not as durable as other products and requires reapplication
- Does not achieve as high-gloss of a finish as higher priced products