How to Wax Your Car
How to Apply Car Wax, Paint Sealants, and Paint Coatings
The fourth and final step of detailing your car the proper way consists of applying a car wax, paint sealant, or paint coating. Carnauba waxes, polymer paint sealants, and ceramic paint coatings act as a sacrificial barrier that protects a car’s paint from everyday contamination buildup. All of these “Last step products” will not only protect the paint from the elements but it will make future hand washing more convenient. Dirt and debris will have a harder time clinging to the paint and drying the paint becomes much easier due to the hydrophobic properties of the LSP. Depending on what type of LSP is being used the time between reapplication can range anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Choosing the Right Paint Protection Product for Your Car
Carnauba wax is tried and true form of paint protection that has been the LSP of choice for anyone who takes their car to shows. What carnauba wax lacks in durability it makes up for in the looks department. On average you can expect one to three months of protection from a carnauba wax depending on if it’s in paste or liquid form. While paste wax isn’t always as easy to use as liquid wax it will typically offer extended durability due to the increased percentage of carnauba in the wax formulation. When it comes to achieving dripping wet paint a layer of freshly applied car wax is as good as it gets.
Polymer Paint Sealants are perfect for daily driven vehicles as they offer protection typically ranging from four to six months. There are even a few paint sealants that offer durability of up to twelve months. The difference in how glossy the paint is when comparing polymer paint sealants and carnauba waxes is not night and day but the durability certainly is. Some paint sealants even offer durability of up to twelve months. Polymer paint sealants are always in liquid form and the easiest form of LSP to apply by far. Depending on what type of sealant is being used it may or may not have a cure time. Some products simply need to be applied with a foam applicator and the excess product buffed off with a microfiber towel within a matter of seconds. Not everyone has the time to wax their car multiple times a year and just one application of a paint sealant can offer just as much protection.
Out of the three different types of paint protection ceramic paint coatings hands down offer the highest level of protection. Their resistance to water spots and hydrophobic properties are light years beyond traditional forms of paint protection. Depending on driving conditions a ceramic paint coating typically offers two to three years of protection. One thing that really sets paint coatings apart from car waxes and paint sealants is the fact that they are semi-permanent. The ceramic particles form an extremely strong bond to the paint and they can’t be removed using all-purpose cleaners. The only way that a ceramic paint coating can be removed is through abrasion from road debris or a paint correction. Paint coatings are more resistant to marring than car waxes and paint sealants which makes them an excellent choice for anyone looking to maintain a showroom shine.
Regardless of what type of LSP is being used it’s highly recommended that a quick detailer is used after performing a hand car wash. Quick detailers help boost the slickness off an LSP between reapplications. There are many choices when it comes to quick detailer products and some will offer more slickness than others. This extra performance comes at a premium price though. A liter of diluted rinsless wash product being used at quick detailer strength will cost a few dollars while a premium quick detailer upwards of twenty dollars a liter. Many car care manufacturers produce specially formulated maintenance products that were designed to work synergistically with the carnauba wax, polymer paint sealant, or ceramic paint coating. These specialty quick detailers often are capable providing enhanced slickness for multiple months.
Step 1 – Apply a small amount of LSP to a soft foam applicator and begin to apply an layer thin layer to the paint. Use both vertical and horizontal arm movements when applying the LSP to ensure complete coverage. It’s crucial to pay close attention to the recommended cure time don’t to prevent difficult removal. Depending on the LSP the excess product may need to be buffed of before moving to the next panel or it may have a longer cure time that allows for product to be applied to the entire car before buffing is required.
If a car wax or pant sealant is being used then a dual action polisher can be used to help facilitate the process. As long as the product is applied using a non-abrasive foam buffing pad is being used at a low speed it’s completely safe. Setting the buffer speed to three is typically a good speed that will efficiently spread the product without causing it to prematurely dry on paint.
Step 2 – Begin to buff off excess product using a short nap microfiber towel or suede microfiber towel. Long nap microfiber towels tend grab the LSP and make removal more difficult. Sixteen inch towels folded into quarters is the perfect size for single handed use. By folding the towel into quarters there is eight different towel surfaces to use one side becomes loaded with product. When the LSP builds up on the towel it can no longer effectively remove additional product from the paint and it begins to cause streaking. After all of the panels have been initially buffed it’s time to perform a second wipe down using a clean microfiber towel.
Step 3 – The third and final step is very important to ensuring that the maximum durability is achieved. Regardless of the LSP being used there is a certain period of time before the paint should be introduced to water. Some products require upwards of twelve hours of cure time before it’s introduced to moisture. In the case of ceramic paint coatings some manufactures even recommend that the car is not washed within a week of application. If the LSP is introduced to moisture or chemicals prematurely the bond to the paint may be compromised.