Ceramic Coatings Considerations

With the popularity of ceramic coatings, a technician may be challenged with identifying and removing ceramic coatings prior to the repair process. Let’s look at ceramic coating considerations for collision repair.

Ceramic coatings are:

  • Hydrophobic (repels water) and chemical resistant product which is semi-permanently bonded to the paint surface.
  • Colorless protective coating to enhance the depth, luster, and maintenance of an automotive finish.
  • Vehicles can have ceramic coatings applied at various stages of ownership including by a dealership during the sales process, professional detailer, or as a do-it-yourself application.

How to identify ceramic coatings:

  • Ask the vehicle owner
  • "Beading" of solvent or water-based cleaners
  • Very slippery to the hand and high sheen
  • Per PPG PD-811 Ceramic Surface Coatings: "Most surface cleaners will not "wipe" the ceramic coating off the surface. A surface cleaner that will remove the ceramic coatings may damage other parts of the vehicle."

Importance of ceramic coating removal:

  • Per Axalta Recommendations For Ceramic Coating Removal: "To refinish the vehicle properly, these coatings must be removed prior to paint preparation. Extra labor and materials are required to effectively prepare and deliver a quality repair on a vehicle treated with a ceramic coating."
  • Per DEG Inquiry 18614: "Ceramic" or "Nano" coatings to vehicle surfaces may affect the vehicle preparation and refinish process."
  • Per AkzoNobel Surface Cleaning Recommendations And Best Practices: "Neglecting to completely remove the "ceramic" coating before refinishing carries a high risk of paint defects and/or paint system failure."

Methods for removal:

  • Per PPG PD-811 Ceramic Surface Coatings:
    • "Buffing the coated panels with a heavy-duty compound and a wool pad is the best practice for removing a ceramic coating."
    • "If sanding use P600-P800 grade paper. Sanding or scuffing have the potential to imbed the ceramic coating further into the surface."
    • "Inspect carefully that removal of the ceramic coating is complete including panel edges."
  • Per AkzoNobel Surface Cleaning Recommendations And Best Practices: "Using a nylon scuff pad is not recommended for the removal of "ceramic" type coatings."
  • Per our contact at BASF: "Attempt to identify the ceramic coatings and follow the product manufacturers procedures for removal. If not identified, follow BASF technical information to properly clean and de-gloss the panel completely prior to starting any refinish/repair procedures."
  • Per Sherwin-Williams Best Demonstrated Practices Ceramic Coatings: "Reclean the surface area using the wipe-on-wipe-off method. Spray the VOC-compliant wax and grease remover on the surface. If the cleaner beads up, repeat the buffing process until the cleaner no longer beads up."
  • Per Ceramic Pro: "Ceramic Pro is removable only via abrasion. Body shop solvents or paint thinners will not remove the coating as it is resistant to even the harshest chemicals."

Other considerations:

  • Per IGL Ecocoat Quartz TDS: "Surfaces coated with ecocoat quartz should be cleaned with cleaners in the pH range 3-9. Strong (mineral) acids or alkalis should be avoided and are also unnecessary as neutral cleaners are generally sufficient to clean vehicles coated with ecocoat quartz."
  • Ceramic coating should not be applied over fresh paint, curing recommendations vary by refinishing product, paint curing method, and chosen ceramic coating. Always refer to paint maker and ceramic coating maker recommendations.
  • When it comes to paintless dent repair (PDR) glue systems, Keco body repair products state: "Keco recommends removing the ceramic coating per the manufacturer’s directions to ensure tabs have maximum adhesion to paint surfaces."

Early identification and removal of ceramic coating prior to beginning the repair of outer panels will aids in a successful repair.

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