Here Is Why Water Can Destroy Your Ceramic Coating – And How To Prevent It

Ceramic coating involves the application of a chemical polymer solution to your car’s paint to protect the clear coat from damage.

This layer protects against dirt, grime, UV radiations, bird droppings, and many more.

Therefore, it should be resistant to water damage, right?

Quick Answer

Water can destroy your ceramic coating because water interferes with the curing process. Moisture prevents the coating from completely hardening, so getting a new ceramic coat wet can render it useless. However, water cannot damage a fully cured ceramic coating. 

Read on to discover more about water damage on ceramic coatings and the steps you can take to prevent it.  

What Happens if a Ceramic Coating Gets Wet?

A popular method used by ceramic coating installers to popularize the product involves demonstrating to customers the water-resistant qualities of ceramic coating. 

Watching water bead off a ceramic coated car can convince a car-owner to get his car covered with this wonderful waterproof sealant.

Unfortunately, some installers fail to mention that the ceramic coating needs to cure before subjecting it to water. 

Quick Answer

If a ceramic coating gets wet during the curing stage, it will be destroyed. Water interferes with the chemical bonding between the ceramic coating and clear coat, rendering the ceramic coating useless. Water doesn’t affect a fully cured ceramic coating, and it simply beads off.

It takes 2-3 weeks for a ceramic coating to set entirely. Keep your car away from rain and car washes during this period to prevent water damage. 

Curing involves the formation of chemical bonds that fuse the clear coat to the ceramic coating. It hardens the ceramic coating, making it impenetrable. 

If water penetrates before complete boding, the impurities in water weaken the bonds between the clear coat and ceramic coating.

So, essentially, water washes away the ceramic coating before it fuses with the car. 

The most crucial period in the car’s curing stage is the first 24 hours. I recommend leaving your car at the garage for 24 hours after application.

Leaving your vehicle in a garage should be a no-brainer if the weather forecast predicts rain.

How To Prevent Ceramic Coating Damage Before Curing

Ceramic coating is more vulnerable to water damage before it cures. It takes about three weeks for the ceramic coating to strengthen, and there are steps you can take to ensure that curing happens smoothly. 

Here’s how to prevent uncured ceramic coating damage:

  • Apply coating enhancement.
  • Avoid parking under trees. 
  • Avoid car washes.
  • Clear pollen, sap, or bird droppings quickly. 

So, let’s look into these tips and talk about how to protect your shiny new ceramic coating from becoming a pointless waste of time and money. 

Apply Coating Enhancement

Applying coating enhancement is the best way to protect the uncured ceramic coating from damage.

You might be inclined to cut costs after paying for expensive ceramic coating, but paying for coating enhancement will prove worthwhile. 

Coating enhancement protects your ceramic coating even after curing. It’s a must-have product for any car owner with a ceramic-coated car.

Moreover, coating enhancement protects ceramic coating as it cures, keeping it safe from water damage. 

If you must use your car immediately after getting a ceramic coating, have the technician apply coating enhancement just in case you encounter showers. 

Coating enhancement seals the ceramic coating, preventing water from seeping through and causing damage.

It has hydrophobic qualities that repel water, allowing the ceramic coating to cure without any interference from moisture. 

Your technician will help you pick the best coating enhancement brand for your ceramic coating. 

Adam’ Ceramic Coating Spray Kit

This ceramic coating from Adam’s is a great addition to any ceramic coated car. As a kit, it also comes with microfiber towel and application pads. There is nothing more you need, so click the link below and grab a kit for yourself.

Don’t combine ceramic coating and wax – wax won’t bond to ceramic coating and will likely degrade it.

If you can’t afford coating enhancement, leave the ceramic coating to cure naturally. 

What if you opt-out of applying coating enhancement and get caught out by the rain?

There’s a chance that you can save the ceramic coating if you act fast.

You need to get water off the surface as quickly and gently as possible. 

Use clean towels to wipe off any water droplets on the car. It would help if you did this gently or used a dabbing motion to prevent damaging the already vulnerable clear coating. 

If you notice swirls after wiping the water, consult your clear-coat technician on the next steps.

Avoid Parking Under Trees

You should keep your freshly-ceramic-coated car away from any stubborn stains that might require you to wash the car.

Regular dust (which you shouldn’t wipe off before curing) is okay, but you should avoid sticky substances like tree sap. 

Tree sap isn’t only difficult to remove but can also interfere with the ceramic coating’s curing process.

Also, since you won’t be able to wash it off, it could get permanently stuck to your ceramic coating. 

So, avoid parking under trees for a month after coating for the best results. Ceramic coating takes 2-3 weeks to cure, but stay away from wooded areas for 30 days to be on the safe side. 

Avoid Car Washes

No matter how eager you are to test the beading qualities of the ceramic coating, don’t wash your car until the ceramic coating cures.

As mentioned above, impurities in water interfere with the chemical bonding that cures the ceramic coating. 

Dust buildup for a couple of weeks after getting your ceramic coating shouldn’t worry you.

Dust won’t interfere with the bonding process, but any attempt to wash it off will. 

You should also avoid wiping the car with a dry towel as it may damage the uncured ceramic coating. 

If you can, use another car as the ceramic coating cures. It’ll ensure that the bonding happens uninterrupted.

Clear Pollen, Sap, or Bird Droppings Quickly

Dust can remain on your car’s surface as you wait for the ceramic coating to cure, but you need to clear pollen, sap, and bird droppings quickly.

They can interfere with the curing process or form stubborn stains that prove hard to remove. 

Water and soap will damage the ceramic coating. Therefore, use a ceramic cleaner to get those stubborn stains out.

Your technician will recommend the one to buy, depending on your type of ceramic coating. 

It can be difficult to avoid pollen, but you can prevent tree sap and bird droppings by refusing to park under trees.

If you can, try to stick to parking garages for a while after you get your car coated.

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Do Ceramic Coatings Wash Off?

Ceramic coating is a great way to take care of your car’s paint job. Before ceramic coating cures, you need to keep the vehicle as far from water as possible. However, after it cures, its protective qualities are incredible. 

Quick Answer

Cured ceramic coatings do not wash off since they are impervious to water once they bond to your vehicle. That’s why water beads off of ceramic coatings. However, when the coating is uncured, it may wash off. 

Over time, however, ceramic coating degrades. However, it doesn’t crack, fade, or lose color. 

You might have noticed that some cars seem to have peeling skin. That’s likely an effect of poor application of paint protection film (PPF).

PPF is a polyester layer that’s stuck on your car using adhesive. Low-quality films, substandard application, or aging can cause the layer to start peeling, which doesn’t look good on a vehicle.

The ceramic coating chemically bonds with your car’s clear coat. It degrades gradually depending on your ceramic coating maintenance practices, and if you take care of it, it won’t flake off or chip. 

Signs of ceramic coating degradation include:

  • Fading gloss – You’ll notice the shine of the ceramic coating fade gradually.
  • Increased water retention – The hydrophobic qualities of the ceramic coating decrease over time. As it happens, you’ll see the car gradually retain more water. 
  • Damage to the paint – The ceramic coating has worn off entirely when you notice paint damage. Consult your technician for a ceramic coat revamp once you see the first two signs.

How To Increase the Longevity of Your Car’s Ceramic Coating

The longevity of your car’s ceramic coating depends on two things. These are the quality of the ceramic coating and your maintenance practices. You can prolong the life of a ceramic coating if you adhere to proper maintenance practices. 

The following practices will increase the longevity of your car’s ceramic coating:

  • Hand wash using pH-neutral shampoo. 
  • Use coating enhancement regularly. 
  • Remove harmful contaminants quickly. 
  • Subject the car to annual checkups.

Let’s explore the above in greater detail. 

Hand Wash Using pH-Neutral Shampoo

After the ceramic coating cures, stick to handwashing to clean the car.  

The ceramic coating protects your vehicle from contaminants, so you don’t need to use high alkaline shampoo. Using high-alkaline shampoo will accelerate ceramic coating degradation. 

Avoid machine washing like the plague after you’ve installed ceramic coating. Machine washing brushes and rags are highly abrasive, and the soaps are highly alkaline, which will reduce the lifespan of your ceramic coating. 

Some coating garages consider the ceramic warranty void if you machine wash the car (more on best car washing practices below). 

Use Coating Enhancement Regularly

Coating enhancement helps replenish the ceramic coating, thereby increasing its longevity. 

Some technicians advise that you apply coating enhancement after every wash. However, using enhancement every three to four months will work fine. 

Silicone dioxide sprays are the best coating enhancers out there. However, your technician can advise you on the best coating enhancement for your vehicle. 

Remove Harmful Contaminants Quickly

Contaminants such as bird droppings, sap, and bug splatters are highly acidic. 

If left on the car, they can rapidly degrade the ceramic coating. To minimize the spread of the contaminants, blot the stain rather than wipe. 

This biological study on the effect of bird droppings on car coatings found that bird droppings catalyze the degradation of car coatings. It’s therefore crucial that you remove acidic contaminants hastily. 

Subject the Car to Annual Checkups

Take the car to the garage annually to have the ceramic coating assessed. 

The technician will give the car a thorough wash to remove any accumulated decontaminants. They’ll then apply coating enhancement to provide the coating with a new lease of life. 

The technician will also inform you whether you need to reinstall the ceramic coating. 

How Soon Can I Wash My Car After Ceramic Coating?

For some car owners, it’s near illegal not to have their car washed at least once weekly. If you’re such an owner and have opted for ceramic coating, you’ll have to bend your rules just this once. 

Quick Answer

You can wash your car two weeks after the application of ceramic coating. After two weeks, the ceramic coating should have bonded fully with the clear coat. 

From there, you can wash your car as frequently as you please. However, you need to adhere to some rules to ensure the coating’s longevity. 

How To Clean Your Car After Getting a Ceramic Coating

Washing your car after getting the ceramic coating is slightly different as you need to take care of that precious coating. 

Adhere to the following rules when washing your vehicle after getting a ceramic coating:

  • Use pH-neutral shampoo. 
  • Avoid machine washing.
  • Use a microfiber towel to wash and dry.

Let’s explore the above rules in greater detail.

Use pH-Neutral Shampoo

Ceramic coating degrades fast when exposed to alkaline shampoo

To ensure the longevity of your ceramic coating, use pH-Neutral shampoo. Additionally, ensure that the soap you use has no wax – wax doesn’t bond with ceramic coating and collects dirt if applied on the ceramic coating. 

Avoid Machine Washing

Machine washing isn’t for cars with ceramic coating. 

The abrasive brushes and rugs degrade the ceramic coating faster than usual. Furthermore, machine washing utilizes high alkaline soaps that aren’t good for your ceramic coating. 

Use a Microfiber Towel To Wash and Dry

A microfiber towel is gentle enough not to degrade your ceramic coating and abrasive enough to remove dirt. 

After washing, dry the car using a dry microfiber towel. Ceramic coatings have hydrophobic qualities that allow water to bead off. However, some droplets may remain on the vehicle. 

If you allow them to dry, they may create water spots on the car, mainly if the water contains minerals. 

Additionally, ensure that you wash the vehicle away from direct sunlight. The heat from the sun facilitates water evaporation, increasing the chances of water spot formation.

This YouTube video by Ceramic Pro shows the best ways to wash a ceramic-coated car:

Here’s a summary of the rules you should observe when washing a ceramic-coated car

Time (after ceramic coating)Wait for at least two weeks after coating to wash the car.
DetergentUse pH-neutral shampoo.
LocationAnywhere without direct sunlight. 
TimePreferably in the early morning or late afternoon to reduce heat interference.
MethodUse hand washing and avoid machine washing.

Key Takeaways

  • Ceramic coating can get destroyed if it gets wet before curing. 
  • Use coating enhancement to protect a freshly ceramic-coated car from water damage.
  • Ceramic coating doesn’t wash off after it fully cures. 
  • Wait for at least two weeks to wash a vehicle that has been ceramic coated. 
  • Avoid machine washing when cleaning a ceramic-coated car. 
  • Use pH-neutral soap to wash a ceramic-coated car. 


SeniorCare2Share: Can Car Get Wet After Ceramic Coating?

Dr. Beasley’s: Expecting Rain After Ceramic Coating Application? Try This

E90POST.COM: My freshly ceramic coated car got rained on!

Dr. Beasley’s: How to wash car after ceramic coating

ScienceDirect: An evaluation of an automotive clear coat performance exposed to bird droppings under different testing approaches 

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