Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Hillsborough, New Jersey
Well, I thought I'd jump in with my 2 cents since Carbuff (Atwell) has mentioned me and since this is what I do for a living.
First, it's the compounding/polishing that give the paint it's shine. We call that "Paint Correction". In simplest terms, compound/polish is like sand paper except they are very, very fine grits. What causes car paint to lose its shine are usually "swirls" which are thousands/millions of minuscule, very fine haphazard scratches causing an uneven surface on the paint. What these "swirls" do is "refract" the light as opposed to "reflect" the light. Refracting the light scatters it in all directions which causes the paint to look "milky" and it loses that deep gloss which is what we all want to see.
So when we compound/polish, what we are actually doing is "sanding" the surface to make it flat and smooth as possible so the light will reflect. The flatter, smoother the surface is, the shinier it will be.
Secondly, waxes, sealants as well as ceramic coatings are only "protectors" which is why we call it "Paint Protection". For all 3 variants, the key is to have these protectorants to lay down as flat and smooth as possible to maintain the shine you work so hard to get. In some cases, these protectorants can add some depth to your shine but your paint has to be corrected as best as possible to attain this added value.
In case some of you want to know, depending on the use, wear and tear and storage of your vehicle (and these are just some overview averages):
Waxes can last from 2-4 months Sealants from 6-8 months Ceramic Coatings from 1-5 years
Now when it comes to Ceramic Coatings, as most people have pointed out, the major cost factor is in the prep. Why you ask? Because the coating you are putting on is going to seal over any imperfections in the paint and will stay visible as long as the coating lasts. Not something I want my client to see all the time for a couple of years if you catch my drift.
Swirl Marks. What are they? Where do they come from? They come from you. You wash your car? You scratch your car. You dry your car? You scratch your car. You touch your car? You scratch your car. You can't get away from scratching your car but what you can do is minimize the scratching. If you grew up like me in the 70s and 80s, when you went to wash your car, if was most likely with Joy for dishes and a sponge. That was the worst possible thing you could do. DONT USE A SPONGE! (Atwell!!).
And lastly, I always chuckle when we call it "paint correction" because most of the time, we are correcting the clear coat which IS paint but it's clear. Only on older cars, before the 1990s, there was single stage paint and no clear coat. When I do the older cars, my pads get filled with "paint" that I am "sanding" off and it's quite visible where with clear coat, you don't see any color.
Now if anybody wants to go into Color Theory and discuss why we see what we see, I will be more than happy to discuss but not on this thread nor this forum nor on this media! That is something that is needed to discuss face to face!
Well, that wasn't 2 cents, was it? More like a buck fifty.
2011 Persian Blue Elise RS