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Wax v Sealant v Coating – what is the right Protection for you?

In Detailing Products

By system on Monday, 21 March 2016

With new products, adverts and different terminology appearing nearly every week now, it is very hard to understand what is true, a little over-inflated or completely false. Let alone what may be right for you and your car, or a complete waste of money – so here is an article to provide industry insight and hopefully give you some clear and helpful information.

Firstly what is right for you (and your car) may not be the best option for your friend, colleague or neighbour; we like to ask a few questions first to try to find the right solutions to best suit you:

• Is your car a daily driver?

• Does it live in a garage; during the day and/or night?

• Will you be washing it? (we hope so!) How often?

• How frequently do you want to reapply the protection: wax/sealant/coating?

• What is the colour of your car and what type of look or finish do you want?

From these few questions we can build up a picture of the lifestyle your car will enjoy or endure and be able to offer real solutions that fit your needs.

To expand on this and try to explain why it is hard to estimate how long a certain product might last on your car take a couple of examples:

- If your car is driven 10,000kms per year, lives in the garage or under cover day or night, you wash it weekly and use some maintenance products like spray wax or quick detailer – ‘Product A’ could easily last 12-16 months.

- However if your car is driven 30,000kms per year, lives outside all day and night, only washed every month or two then it obviously comes under a lot more ‘attack’ from the environment, so the protection is going to deteriorate much more quickly – the same ‘Product A’ would probably last 6 months or less, without topping up.

Now a little information to try and catagorise products generally:

Wax – we use the term “wax” as a product containing a large percentage of natural components such as Carnauba Wax, Montan Wax, Beeswax etc. These are usually a paste form and as such found in a small tub (rather than a bottle). Waxes have been around in one form or another for many years and a lot of show car guys and pure enthusiasts would say that they deliver the best look you can get on paint, especially on dark colours. The depth and intensity are unrivalled and wax gives the paint a ‘natural glow’ improving with subsequent layers or coats. A good natural wax can last anywhere from 2-6 months on a ‘daily driver’ (however some Hybrid Waxes offer longer durability). The leading brands of premium waxes are Dodo Juice and Swissvax to name a couple.

Sealant – we term this as a synthetic or man-made product that is usually a liquid, usually polymer based and found in a bottle. These were created to provide more options and generally more durability than the natural waxes. They are easy to apply and remove, and most guys might say that the look is more ‘glassy or reflective’ than a wax. Good sealants can make light colours like silver (lots of metallic flake) really ‘pop’ and look dripping wet. A good sealant can last anywhere from 4 months to 12 months on a ‘daily driver’ (combination sealants offer longer durability). Sealants typically offer more water sheeting than the water beading tendency of waxes. One of the leading brands of polymer sealants is Duragloss.

Coating – this is a relatively new concept and term, usually tied together with a term such as Nano / Glass / Ceramic / Quartz and many more. These are very different to waxes and sealants and good ones are created from a molecular level (very high technology). Unfortunately a lot of companies are just adding these terms to regular polymer sealants to make them sound more attractive or newer. Real coatings will be in very small bottles think 30-50ml as they are very expensive to make and you will only need a very small amount to fully coat a car. The main selling point of these is the extended durability with some coatings lasting anywhere from 12 months to 36 months on average. Coatings generally offer a ‘glassy look’ similar to some polymer sealants but with more gloss on some occasions. They are generally more resistant to the climate, chemicals and other factors but can still have contamination build up on top. They are harder to apply than waxes or sealants, requiring that the paint be perfectly clean with no oils or residues at all, and they do have a longer curing period once applied, some of these can take 2-5 days to fully harden. Some of the leading names in coatings are GYEON Quartz and Nanolex

As stated above it is hard to give precise durability of products but as a guide:

- If your car is driven 10,000kms per year, lives in the garage or under cover day and night, you wash it weekly and uses some maintenance products like spray wax or quick detailer then a wax could last 6-9+ months, a sealant 12-18+ months and a coating 36-48+ months.

- If your car is driven 30,000kms per year, lives outside all day and night, only washed every month or two and do not use maintenance products then a wax may only last 2 months, a sealant maybe 6 months and a coating perhaps 18 months.

We always try to quote a genuine range or the ‘worst case’ scenario for product durability so you are not disappointed – beware other brands that have huge statements like ‘lifetime warranty’ or ‘lasts 10 years’ there is nothing that lasts this long in the market – full stop! Otherwise why would the billion dollar automotive or paint companies not have these products already…