DIY vs. Professional Ceramic Coating: What You Need to Know

DIY vs Professional Ceramic Coating

Applying a ceramic coating to your vehicle’s paint can provide exceptional protection and shine. When considering a ceramic coating, you have two options: do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional detailer. Both have their pros and cons regarding cost, results, and effort. This guide breaks down the key differences to help you decide which route is best for your ride.


Cost Comparison: Saving or Splurging?

The most obvious distinction between a DIY ceramic coating kit and a professional application is the cost. Detail shops charge $1,000-$5,000 to properly prep, coat, and maintain a vehicle’s paintwork. The coating products alone retail for $100-$300 per bottle. While still an investment, buying a consumer-grade ceramic coating and applying it yourself can save hundreds, if not thousands, compared to the pro route.

Keep in mind that the DIY option requires you to put in significant effort. When tallying up the hours spent prepping and learning how to apply the coating correctly, your labor also factors into the overall cost. The question becomes: Is it worth spending your valuable time to save money upfront? Or is the extra cost of professional ceramic coating services worth it for convenience and peace of mind regarding the results?


How Long Will It Last?

When applied correctly, both consumer and professional-grade ceramic coatings provide exceptional protection for your car’s exterior that can last for years. However, pro-applied options tend to be more durable for a few reasons:

  • Training and Experience: Professional detailers study proper decontamination, preparation, application, and maintenance techniques to get the most life out of ceramic coatings. DIYers lack this level of hands-on education.
  • Product Quality: Ceramic coatings designed for professional use utilize higher-grade chemistry and technology to deliver longer-lasting protection, often double the durability of consumer versions.
  • Multiple Layers: Shops often double up by applying two or more coats to ensure complete coverage and longevity. Doing multiple coats effectively on your own is extremely difficult.
  • Maintenance: Pro detailers offer maintenance packages, including periodic inspections, topping, and renewal when the coating eventually wears down. DIYers have to stay diligent to properly maintain their coating.

Shine & Protection Levels

ceramic coating shine and protection levels  

A professionally applied ceramic coating undoubtedly provides a surface gleam and defense against the elements that consumer-applied options struggle to match. Trained detailers know how to fully correct paint and activate the coating’s chemical bonding potential. The products also offer higher water beading, glossiness, and scratch protection capabilities.

However, hobbyists can still achieve excellent – albeit slightly inferior – shine and protection from DIY ceramic kit options. The key is taking the time to properly wash, clay, polish, and prime the paint beforehand. Using high-quality applicators and avoiding shortcuts also helps optimize the coating’s performance. While not on par with pro shops, patient and meticulous DIYers can produce lasting results.


Ease of Application

For detailing professionals, applying ceramic coatings comes second nature. For novices tackling the process solo for the first time, properly prepping and coating a vehicle presents a steep learning curve and a serious test of patience. Be prepared to watch tutorial videos, read product instructions thoroughly, and set aside a full weekend to take your time. Rushing through the process often leads to spots, high spots, or haziness that compromise the coating’s performance. Mistakes mean starting over again.

Alternatively, hiring a trusted professional detailer or shop to apply the ceramic coating takes all the work out of your hands. Yes, you pay more for the convenience, but the peace of mind and assurance of proper application may justify the added cost for many car lovers.


DIY Ceramic Coating Tips

If you decide to apply the ceramic coating yourself, keep these preparation and application tips in mind:

  • Wash the vehicle twice with pH-neutral soap first
  • Clay bar paint to remove surface contaminants
  • Use an orbital polisher to correct the paint and enhance the gloss
  • Wipe down with alcohol-based cleaner before coating
  • Apply in a clean, dust-free area with sufficient lighting
  • Work small sections at a time for even coverage
  • Let the coating fully cure for at least 24 hours

The Road Best Traveled

Whether to have a professional detail shop or “do it yourself” comes down to your budget, skill level, expectations, and time investment. With proper preparation and patient application, consumers can achieve excellent protection and shine with DIY ceramic coating kits. Yet for those wanting convenience and premium results from longer-lasting pro-grade formulas, hiring an authorized detailer may prove worthwhile.

Companies like Feynlab offer quality consumer ceramic coatings that provide a happy medium of affordability and performance for car lovers willing to roll up their sleeves. As with caring for a vehicle’s paint itself – a little effort goes a long way.

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