Professionals know that coatings are the name of the game in modern detailing.
The technology is changing and improving rapidly, with more and more product offerings coming on the market all the time. Car owners are becoming increasingly aware of the options they have when they come into the shop.
Ceramic coating is lucrative — but labor-intensive
Automotive ceramic coating is a money maker. It is a high-ticket service, mostly because it can take a lot of time and effort to install. Automotive ceramic coating should be preceded by a paint correction service, which adds revenue and profit to your bottom line — but also increases labor and time.
As a professional detailer, time is money, so you want products and tools that will decrease the time and effort you spend on automotive ceramic coating and therefore increase your profit.
You want applicators that reduce product waste and apply ceramics evenly for easy leveling and a perfect finish. You want towels that are paint safe and will not re-introduce defects to surfaces you have already corrected.
How the Saver Applicator can help
We developed a car wash and polish applicator sponge, which we call the [Saver Applicator] (patent pending) because we kept hearing complaints from ceramic coating installers about how standard microfiber applicators waste expensive ceramic liquid.
Detailers love the convenience of a soft foam pre-wrapped with soft microfiber, especially when compared to manually wrapping a foam block with a small piece of suede microfiber. But the combination of the high absorbency microfiber and the absorbent foam means that expensive product is wasted in the foam core.
We went to work and developed a solution that includes a hydrophobic plastic layer between the microfiber surface material and the inner foam core. Some detailers have reported a 50% reduction in product use depending on the coating and its liquid viscosity.
BUT reducing waste isn’t the most important benefit.
The Saver Applicator simply does a better job applying ceramic coating to the surface of the vehicle.
Since the liquified coating is prevented from soaking through the microfiber and into the foam, the product doesn’t gum up like it does with standard microfiber applicators. This means that the product is applied to the surface more evenly and makes the leveling step of the application easier and more efficient. This saves time and effort and leads to a better final product.
The [Saver Applicator] saves time and effort and increases efficiency.
What type of Saver Applicator do you need? It depends
Different coating products have different viscosity levels and create different amounts of friction on different surfaces.
It is safe to say, there are a lot of variables at work. This is where experience and product testing become vital.
We have two types of applicators, Terry and Suede. The “Terry” applicators have a medium microfiber pile, and the “Suede” have no pile — they are smooth. Each style of applicator is available in three sizes: Mini, Thin, and Thick.
Most detailers, for most coatings, prefer the Terry style [Saver Applicators]. They create less friction when wiping and they provide a bit more “cushion,” providing a place for any debris that gets in the pad to be pulled away from the surface, preventing scratching.
The “Thin” size applicator is the most popular, because it has a larger surface area, for faster application and better contouring to curved surfaces and panels.
The “Mini” applicator is great for tight areas, like wheels. It is a similar size and shape as the foam pieces that many coating companies provide with their liquid.
The “Thick” applicators provide plenty of surface area, are easy to hold, but do not contour to curved surfaces as easily.
Some detailers prefer to stick to one size applicator for all applications, and others use a different size for different application surfaces.
What comes after application? Leveling
The second step of automotive ceramic coating application is the leveling (or removing excess product). This is an essential step that ensures that the coating doesn’t have high or low spots that reduce clarity and longevity.
We get a lot of questions about which towels are best for this process, and the truth is that there is no one “best.” There is only a balance between cost, effectiveness and efficiency.
Many detailers want to use the least expensive towel possible because the towels are single use only, discarded after the coating left in the towel hardens. But most detailers recognize the value of using a higher quality towel for this step.
The last thing a professional detailer wants to happen is for the towels they are using to scratch and micro-mar the flawless coating that they just spent hours perfecting. This has happened to many detailers who use cheap, inexpensive towels.
What type of towels do you need?
When end it comes to leveling towels, installers typically have one of three preferences.
- Low Pile Coating Towels
- High Pile Coating Towels
- Two Towel (or Multi-Towel method) - Both High and Low Pile Towels
This preference is largely determined by how the coating being applied reacts during the curing process. So, again, it depends on testing and matching the towels with the chemicals you are using and your technique/process.
One common difference between types of towels is yarn quality. The vast majority of installers prefer a 70/30 blend towel with an ultra fine yarn.
The last thing you want is for the towel you are using to level the surface to scratch the perfectly corrected clear coat.
It is worth the extra cost to save the time and effort you’d need to go back and fix your work after using a lower quality towel.
Many installers use a two-towel leveling method. These installers use a low pile towel for the initial leveling and a high pile towel for the secondary finishing wipe.
How many uses can you get for each towel?
Many detailers want to know if they can re-use their coating towels.
The simple answer is: NO.
The coating will harden in the towel, making the fibers rough and reducing their absorbency.
Some detailers immediately dispose of their towels after their first coating. Others re-purpose the towels for dirtier (and less delicate) jobs like wheel or engine bay cleaning.
Many coating installers are finding that they can get multiple uses out of their coating towels if they immediately toss the towels into a water and Micro-Restore (or an APC) in a bucket. This prevents the coating from curing in the towel fibers, effectively “suffocating” it, and preventing it from making the fibers hard and hydrophobic.
You should allow the towels to soak in the bucket for a few hours (at a minimum) until they are laundered (separate from your other Microfiber Towels and products).
As you can see, there are a lot of tips and tricks, and we have some great microfiber products which will help you apply coatings in the most cost effective and time-reducing manner.