LAST UPDATED: April 24, 2019
Best Ceramic Coating for Cars: Protect Your Car with a Glossy Finish
Read about the best ceramic coating for cars and how they protect the car
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON April 24, 2019
If you’re tired of your car wax because it breaks down every so often, then the ceramic coating is exactly what you need. The liquid polymer or quartz bonds with the car paint and gives it a lasting shine. It’s also easy to maintain, doesn’t require many trips to the car wash, and gives the car better protection. What is the best ceramic coating? We have the answer to that question right here.
This is a great replacement for waxes and sealants since it leaves ten times more shine and protection in comparison. It’s an instant buff formula that protects the paint body from environmental damage and leaves a smooth finish.
It has a relatively low tag price and contains 30 percent silica. Once applied, it can last for a year with proper maintenance. Leaves an appealing “wet look” shine.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Ceramic Coating for Cars
- Repel rain, mud, and dirt. Unlike wax or factory paint, the ceramic coating does a better job of protecting the exterior of the car. The best car coating product has hydrophobic properties and will make water and rain bead instead of a pool on the hood. Mud and acid rain splashed on the car slide off the smooth surface without leaving a stain. The same goes for snow, bird droppings, or ice as they roll off the car without sticking to its surface.
- Prevent UV damage, rust, and oxidization. For the most part, leaving your car in the sun for too long tends to cause the car’s paint to fade and even crack. The ultraviolet rays of the sun have a destructive effect on the car’s surface. Many ceramic coating brands prevent this damage as well as other forms of erosion such as rust and oxidization.
- Cost effective. Since car wax doesn’t last more than three months on average, you need to get the vehicle rewaxed a lot more than you may like. Ceramic car coating, on the other hand, is more durable, and a good coating with proper maintenance can serve you for a few years before replacing it. In the end, you save more money with nano ceramic coating than wax or paint sealant.
- Improved protection. With a ceramic coating for car paint, your car gets a semi-permanent layer of protection that bonds with the paint on the molecular level. That protective layer is tougher than the soft wax and can withstand ultra harsh treatment both from the terrain and the elements. In effect, you’re not just protecting the car paint, but also protecting the body of the car itself against scratches, chemicals, and anything else that gets thrown at it.
- Glossy finish. Regular car waxes have a warm appearance that gets dull when left out in the open. Compare that to the sharp candy appearance of a ceramic top coat. It gives the car a high-gloss finish that doesn’t fade under the sun or with the passage of time.
Types of Ceramic Coating for Cars
Epoxy or polymer is a widely used type of ceramic coating that bonds with the factory paint coating of the car. That bond is permanent as the paint and the polymer become one layer that is tougher and more resistant to damage. It’s the reason why you can’t just wash away a layer of ceramic coating. The only way to remove the polymer coating is by polishing.
Quartz coatings are, by design, harder than other types. Quartz or silicon dioxide coatings reach high levels of hardness that aim to armor the vehicle against debris and scratches. They preserve their fresh appearance and shiny look even after years of use and abuse.
Hybrid coatings are a combination of quartz and polymer. That type, which claims to have the best of both worlds, is supposedly harder and creates a protective shell around the vehicle. However, there’s no evidence that hybrid coatings offer any extra protection than other types of coating.
Ethos Car Care is a US-based company that puts more focus on high-quality and locally made ingredients to make products that deliver. The company made its formulas from scratch and built the products from the ground up. Other ceramic paint protection products include the Ethos Ceramic Refresh.
As a leader in car detailing and ceramic coating products, CarPro was established in 2009. From the start, it has used nanotechnology to achieve advances in both fields and set itself apart from the competition. Besides the company's flagship Cquartz, there’s also the CarPro Reload Spray Sealant and the CarPro FlyBy30 Windshield & Glass Coating Kit.
In 2008, the company was established in Turkey to work on nano-spinning techniques. In 2012, it changed its focus to protective nanocoatings and changed its name to Artekya. One of its top products is the Nasiol ZR53 Car Ceramic Coating.
Ceramic Coating for Cars Pricing
- Under $40: At this price range, you can get a product with a little above-average quality but with little durability. Most products that sell under $40 will not last more than a year.
- $50 - $100: You can pick a good-quality 9H ceramic coating with a professional finish at this price range. Durability won’t be an issue as one coating can stay around for up to five years.
- Over $100: Top-tier products sell around these price ranges. If you’re looking for a ceramic coating that will last the lifetime of the car, be ready to pay the price tag that comes attached to it.
Durability describes how long you can expect the ceramic coating to keep protecting the car’s body and looking as new as the day it was applied. Some high-end ceramic coatings have durability that last as long as the car’s lifetime. An affordable and good-quality product will give you anywhere from two to five years of good service.
Ease of Use
Since not all car owners are DIY gurus, one thing to look for in the ceramic coating product is easy application. Even if you have no prior experience with coatings or special skills beyond knowing how to wash your car, you should still be able to use the coating with relative ease. A good product shouldn’t require extra tools or equipment to use it, either.
Level of Hardness
The coating industry describes paint hardness as the ability to resist damage and scratching. As such, the harder the coating, the better it is at doing its job protecting the car and its exterior. A ceramic coating with ‘9H’ in the name means it has diamond-level hardness.
- Weather: Depending on how much sun your vehicle gets, a ceramic coating might be needed. This is especially true of cars that get parked in the sun for long hours. Due to the damage caused by UV rays, these cars would require the extra protection of a layer of ceramic coating.
- Car Age: As the car ages, so does the paint layer. You shouldn’t use a ceramic coating on an old car where the paint is chipped or has become thin. The chemicals in the coating will interact with the bodywork, which could damage the body of the car.
Best Ceramic Coating for Cars Reviews & Recommendations 2020
As our best overall pick, the Color N Drive Car Ceramic Coating Kit comes in a box with a spray bottle, an additional bottle, two coated sponges, two microfiber towels, and gloves. That’s all you need to apply a professional-looking coating to your car. Each bottle has enough to coat two cars.
The glossy finish is deep and the resulting coating has a 9H level of hardness that protects the car body against scratches. The coating is self-cleaning, as it repels dust, mud, and rain. With proper maintenance, one coating can last for five years, which is as durable as any DIY ceramic coating can give you.
On the downside, and despite the 9H hardness, it doesn’t protect the car against stone chips. The box doesn’t include a clay cleaning kit, which is needed for new cars. The instruction manual is rather ambiguous.
The Mothers CMX Ceramic Spray Coating follows the same design philosophy as many affordable spray-on waxes: Quick and simple is always better. Coming in a small bottle with a contained spray pattern, this ceramic coating reduces a lot of the time and work normally required to apply a ceramic coating to your vehicle. If you're familiar with how to apply a spray-on wax, the process will be largely the same with this product.
For the most part, the best quality of the finished layer is the hydrophobic results since the coating does a good job with water beading. This is thanks to a combination of silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide in its formulation that also creates a protective barrier against the elements. The product works fairly well on its own, but we recommend using it as a booster of an existing sealant for longer-lasting results.
Finish results can be somewhat varied depending on the application process. For example, the coating tends to leave little white beads on the flat surfaces and in the crevices of the vehicle that can be hard to remove if you don't deal with them quickly. Wiping it off in segments (once to a haze and a second time after the haze disappears) helps. However, you may need to reapply it after a few months if you use it as a stand-alone product.
When you’re looking to have a top-quality ceramic coating for your car but aren’t willing to pay top dollar, Ethos Ceramic Wax 9H is the answer. Besides its low price, it gives a sleek, shiny finish that combines the two worlds of ceramic coating and wax in an easy to use package.
To use this product, no general DIY knowledge or prior experience in applying coatings is necessary. The coating is non-stick and water-repellent, which makes cleaning the car a breeze. You can also use it on motorcycles, fiberglass, stainless steel, and windows with good results.
Durability is one of the drawbacks of Ethos Ceramic Wax 9H. At best, the coating will only last 12 months before you would have to apply another layer. Any plastic or rubber surfaces that get in contact with the product turn white as they’ve aged overnight.
Some products have so many features and offer a lot of quality that you can’t just ignore them. CarPro’s Cquartz Kit is one of those products that demand you stop and check them out. It’s all about the quartz in the formula. When it hardens, this coating gives the car a glossy armor-like surface.
It repels water, oil, and bird droppings with high efficiency and doesn’t give you a lot of hassle when you clean the car. This extra hardness resists chemicals, scratches, and pressure. It has average durability; one coating will protect the car for two years.
One of the issues about using this product is the preparation time the car needs before you apply it. It’s not for the total beginner either. You need to know what you’re doing to get professional-looking results.
With a high price tag, the Migliore Strata Coating is easily one of the more premium ceramic coating options available on the market. If you're looking for just a simple ceramic coating you can apply quickly, this won’t be your cup of tea. However, if you want a true showroom-worthy coating, this will get you pretty close depending on your skill and experience level. As a combination ceramic coating and car sealant, durability and longevity are where the Strata Coating excels the most.
The trick to the ceramic coating is learning to use it sparingly. Applying too much can lead to a noticeable haze or streaks along the larger surfaces of the vehicle that are difficult to remove completely. Beyond this learning curve, however, sparing use is actually an advantage since it will make the bottle last longer for multiple applications or for larger vehicles.
For a ceramic coating that is all about extreme durability without the extreme price tag, check out the Hocossy Super Ceramic Coating. Creative descriptors like “diamond hardness” aren’t actually too far off the mark in conveying what the ceramic coating actually offers. In general, the finish coat does a good job of repelling water, resisting scratches, and combating UV damage even more than popular waxes alone.
Like many ceramic coating solutions, patience is key with this one. For the best results, be prepared to spend time going through the whole washing, polishing, and waxing process to add the extra protective and shiny layers needed. The curing time of the ceramic coat is also pretty lengthy, so don't expect to notice results right away. As it dries, however, you should begin to see a high-gloss shine, even in dim light.
The HydroSilex Recharge is a straightforward ceramic coating solution that comes in a 16-, 32-, or 128-ounce bottle. For reference, the 32-ounce bottle has enough coating for about 10 average-size cars. When fully cured (at least a couple days for the best results), the finished look has a mirror-like quality and good water beading properties. With that said, the water beading is a little less contained than traditional round-like beading that other products deliver.
Application is supposedly easy enough with the spray bottle, but we found the spray pattern to be difficult to use, given its narrow coverage. In some ways, the nozzle shoots the coating more like a water gun than anything else, making it difficult to get an even layer onto the surface of the vehicle over a large area. There is also a lot of bounceback with the pressure of the narrow jet.
Nano Bond makes a lot of claims with its ceramic coating, like a 9H hardness level, two to three years of durability, and heat resistance up to 760 degrees—all of this from a simple kit that sits firmly in the budget range of ceramic coatings. As usual with most company claims, the actual results are a bit more mixed than the marketing suggests. With that said, the product actually is a great contender for a decent ceramic coating that delivers some pretty good results.
First and foremost, this isn't the easiest ceramic coating to apply on the market. In fact, it benefits from a controlled environment, ideally in the garage away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. Proper preparation is also key, like good car washing. If done correctly, it's easy to expect a high-quality shine that delivers the traditional wet look many car owners seek.
Are you an off-roading warrior struggling to maintain the professional look of your car after passing it through a car wash? Then you should try out the Drexler Ceramic Coating, which is estimated to leave a glossy shine for about three to five years. That’s because it comes in a two-in-one package of a base coat and topcoat that’s highly hydrophobic and holds up against extreme water pressure. This two-stage coating is also weather-, UV-, and chemical-resistant.
Both coats are formulated with 9H hardness, which forms a protective barrier against scratches and prevents swirls. The product is fairly easy to apply with a cloth rag and the topcoat comes with a spray applicator. However, it’s best to follow an online tutorial or go to the company’s main website to get the application instructions—your package may not come with them.
Every DIY warrior will appreciate having everything they need for a car detailing project coming out of one box. This is what you get from the Armor Shield IX Kit, which comes packing a high-quality, one-ounce nano coat, a soft applicator sponge, nitrile gloves, and a microfiber towel. Shifting focus from the impressive presentation of the package, we are impressed that the ceramic coating is formulated with nanotechnology, meaning that you only need a tiny portion to cover an entire car.
When fully cured, the protective layer forms a professional, transparent coat that seals the pores on your vehicle's surface to protect from damaging UV rays, debris, scratches, acid rain, tree gum, and bird droppings. The coat also prevents water from permeating the surface. The professional look will last for about three to five years.
However, it requires a bit of work on your end for the best results since you need to thoroughly clean and buff your car before applying the product. Also, it’s worth noting that the microfiber towel provided is a bit rough—instead, use a plush towel for a finer coat.
- When using spray, it’s a good idea to cover the windows and panels. If you spill it, make sure to clean it before it gets dry.
- After you’re done spraying, clean the nozzle to prevent it from getting sealed shut with the dry product.
- Keep a steady hand when applying the coat. Thick spots are not easy to buff away.
- Ensure you have good ventilation. The coating is made of chemicals and the fumes are hazardous.
- Let the car dry naturally for 48 hours to get good results.
Q: How do I maintain a ceramic-coated car?
A: You still need to wash the car regularly, but avoid using strong chemicals as they may interact with the coating. You don’t need a strong car wash thanks to the dust-repellent features of the ceramic coating.
Q: Do I need to wax my ceramic-coated car?
A: No. The ceramic coating does away with the need to wax altogether. You get all the benefits of waxing plus durability and a glossy finish.
Q: How long does ceramic coating last?
A: With proper care and maintenance, a layer of ceramic coating will keep your car looking new for two to five years. Some professional ceramic coatings can last the lifetime of the car.
The ceramic coating for cars that won our top place is the Color N Drive Car Ceramic Coating Kit. It comes ready to use out of the box without prior experience necessary. The 9H coating you’ll get is both glossy and durable.
For the best value for your buck, the Mothers CMX Ceramic Spray Coating delivers a sleek product that’s easy to use and combines the best of the two worlds of ceramic and wax coatings.