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Layering Coatings: How Much is too Much?


Applying Modesta Coating

There has definitely been a shift in the detailing industry in the last 5 or so years towards extensive protection when a car is newly purchased. This move has been, for the most part, positive. Consider for a moment how expensive cars are now. In 1999 a BMW E36 M3 had a MSRP of $39,700 and now, if you want 2017 BMW f80 M3, the MSRP has ballooned up to $64,000 for a bare-bones model. Maxed out, one will spend close to 6-figures on a new M3.

It’s fair to say that protecting such expensive purchases makes complete sense. But sometimes this attitude can turn into a ‘more is better’ concept. Some detailing professionals also believe more to be better and have begun suggesting that the more coating layers you have added to your car the better the protection will be. My personal opinion is that there is nothing inherently wrong with layering. Layering can provide a thicker barrier on the paint and additional refractive properties that enhance how the paint looks.

But what’s the cost? Is there a possibility that layering can be taken too far? This video demonstrates a possible outcome of extreme layering.

What do you think? Can layering be taken too far? Can you have too much of a good thing? We’d love to hear your .02!

Jean-Claude Corcoran
Jean-Claude Corcoran
Detailed Designs Auto Spa
Atlanta, GA

24 comments on Layering Coatings: How Much is too Much?

  1. Kevin D. Hannum says:

    Nice write up & video to go along with it! How many layers would you say is too much? Or, does that depend on the coating & vehicle’s paint, etc? I usually do 2 coats. Thanks in advance!

    • I think this is more about understanding the concept of more is not always better(to an excess) and that users/professionals should use good judgement. To directly answer your question though…2 coats is nice in my opinion.

  2. Hey Jean Claude – very good points made in the video!

    It would be very interesting if you could take some paint thickness readings of the flexible coating layer that you had on top of a piece of bare metal to get an idea of the thickness of that piece.

    Per the internet, an average human hair seems to be about 80-120 microns thick. If the flexible coating layer in your video is a similar thickness to a human hair, or even half the thickness of a human hair, it would be the equivalent of 20+ layers as the thickness of most coatings falls between the 1-2 micron range per manufacturer claims.

    I am personally not real big on layering coatings as we only do 1-2 coats on most vehicles and I don’t see any added benefit much past that, but I believe it would be quite difficult to build up a thick enough layer to cause any real issues. Thoughts?

    • Zach,

      We know not all coatings are the same. But I have tested as many as I could and have observed how they cure in testing cups. Some have so much solvent that evaporate that I doubt one could ever realistically layer the product in a way that would be “too thick”. But some do cure into solid pieces that absolutely could become too thick. I won’t get into the different coatings as many are very wonderful products regardless of how they cure when compared to others.

      I see coatings as beneficial for their longevity, ease of cleaning, chemical resistance and gloss enhancement. One does not have to have 10 layers to accomplish this in my opinion. And if someone does think more is better, this is evidence that that is not necessarily the case with layering coatings(depending on the product).

      I am a fan of a few layers as there is no founded concern for a few layers being too thick and yet one may end up with more gloss/piece of mind.

      • Agreed… I too like to pour coatings into small measuring cups and observe how some completely harden and others completely evaporate. It is very interesting to me, to say the least.

  3. Bob says:

    This is the first video where I’ve actually seen the cured coating as a tangible object. I would have never guessed that a coating could flex that much. Very informative and cool.

  4. Kurt Faymon says:

    Interesting topic, even more so with the video of dried coatings. Almost reminds me of the old Zaino days when a bragging point was just how many layers of Z people would put down.

    There has to be some point of diminishing returns, that point perhaps being the synergistic properties of the coating being layered. Wouldn’t it eventually get to the point, perhaps time dependant with regards to curing, that a new layer will not bond to the previous layer? Or bond as well?

    I have seen some entities promoting a high level coating service of 10 or more layers; would think that unless the coating is specifically designed for that type of use it would get to a point of diminishing returns, if not outright pointless-ness.

    That said, I just dropped 2 coats of Kamikaze Miyabi and then 1 of Kamikaze ISM on a new Honda Civic that will receive very little attention going forward and will spend 8 months of the year parked outside. I was first thinking 2 coats of each product until the vendor said that the 2nd coat of ISM would not bond well to the 1st and it wouldn’t be worth the trouble and might actually be detrimental to the final results. Guessing they know that from experience so in the particular case of that product, multiple layers are actually detrimental.

    Will be interesting to see how the 3 layer Civic holds up to rigorous use and likely neglect as the seasons pass.

    • I think your observations are pretty fair.

      But I will say that some coatings have a window of time for layering and again, I am not saying that layering is bad or it can’t be better than a single layer of coating. It’s all about balance.

  5. Frank says:

    I have an issue, with the last job, I did to my own vehicle, it is a black 016 Viper ACR, I first polished the car, really getting the paint perfect. I than applied, two coats of Kamikaze Miyabi, second coat the next morning, after the first coat. And after,about two months, after this process, I notices, that the upper sections of my doors, fenders, and quarters panels, had a lot of swirls. I am very careful with my car, I never ever wipe it down, I use the two bucket car wash system, using a microfiber wash mitt. I blow the car dry, with an electric leaf blower, I also use the spotless water system while washing. I did apply the Miyabi top coat, using a good quality microfiber towel, from the rag company. And I am just trying to figure out, what method I used went wrong, can the coating break down? Or is it just a problem with the wash mitt, or microfiber towel. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

    • Andrew Prenitce says:

      Due to having soft paint on my Aston Martin and my 92′ Mustang 5.0 (one is black and the other is navy blue) I have run into these issues especially on the Mustang. Somehow between the paint correction to perfection phase, and the coating application you likely introduced swirls. Maybe the coating applicator or ISP used to remove the oils. But…. bottom line I follow the same procedures you do for washing. So always wondered how myself, even after re-polishing and re-applying, it happened. Mike Phillips through the phone talked me through the what might be happening. The really soft clear coat may be fine after the polishing, however when applying the coating you introduced micro marring which when the coating cured it amplified the marring. Also, its is possible the upper doors were not corrected perfectly in the first place. They are difficult. Plus those spots catch your eyes the most. There is the possibility of marring being introduced while washing through the mitt. Here is why—- when washing you typically will apply more pressure along the tops of fenders and top of doors. Also for the quarter panels you can easily drag debris all over the place. It only takes one wash with a spec of sand to completely marr a panel. Using MF wash mitts this can be done and even using a 2-bucket system isn’t foolproof.

      1. For this application drop the 2-bucket rule. Use only one bucket. Then use 10-14 MF towels to wash with. NEVER dipping the towel into the bucket again, and never washing upwards on panels. I use 2 for the hood, one for roof, one for windows. I use one towel for each door top areas. Then one separate one for the lower valance. I think you get the picture. This way not one area can get debris moved over it as long as you are careful. Then wash the MF towels for the next wash. I typically will use one of them after washing to wash the wheels (that have a coating) then throw that one away. This has almost prevented any marring on the vehicles. Then the Metro Blaster prevents getting any when drying. I also, DO NOT use any type of spray wax or spray detailer on the vehicles. This only increases the opportunity to imprint marring. So, if it needs wiping then I just wash it. I hope this helps to a degree, but yours is a rare issue and it took me 6-months to finally get possible answers to the problem. Still not foolproof, but definitely has been working well.

    • Hi Frank,

      A few things. What was your decontamination steps for the paint correction, before you coated? What I mean to say is, how did you remove the polish oils and residues in preparation for the coating after correcting? A lot of folks do not strip oils and residues before coating and this prohibits the coating from an ideal bond with pure clear coat. If a coating does not bond with the clear coat, it will wear away at a greatly accelerated rate.

      If you did get an ideal coating to clear coat bond, I can’t say much more as I do not represent that brand. But I will say that coatings will wear over time no matter what. Something is going to wear when there is friction(washmitt and shampoo rubbed on paint). Introducing more debris and dirt accelerates that as well.

  6. Steve K says:

    Great post Jean-Claude! I have pondered this for awhile now. Living in the northeast, we see a wide range of temps. 2 years ago, in N.J., we had 18 days in February that were below 0. In the summers we can get up into the 90’s. I wondered how that would make the coatings react.
    I do two coats and leave it at that. Great points to ponder!

  7. Felix says:

    I’d think for the most part one coating would work great w/ the right application. I like sealants over coatings myself.

    • One layer can be acceptable for many. Layering waxes and sealants over coatings can be neat, but it can also introduce a surface that is more receptive to gathering dust if silicones are in the products used. Sometimes a pure coating that is clean is best.

      But for someone wanting a super slick surface, putting a layer of wax on a coated car is pretty awesome. So I can see someone going either way and being happy.

      • Kurt says:

        I fell into this OCD-ish compulsion (waxes and sealants over coating) after first coating our cars last Spring (2004 black Corvette, 2016 black WRX, 2007 black Mazda3…beginning to see a pattern here? All coated in single layer of WG Uber Ceramic). While the Vette I left alone, kinda as a ‘constant’, the others at various points where topped with:

        – Collinite 915 Paste
        – Pinnacle Souveran Paste
        – Wolfgang Fuzion Paste
        – Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant (both Spritz and Sealant itself)
        – Dodo Juice Purple Haze Paste
        – Kenotech Showroom Shine QD
        – WG Detail Spritz QD
        – WG Uber Rinseless in QD dilution
        – Dodo Juice Back to Basics QD

        Each ‘convinced’ me that they added something when, in reality, all they added was a masking agent for the ‘self cleaning’ abilities of the underlying coating. As I notice the ‘naked’ Corvette staying cleaner for longer periods of time in comparison to the other cars I was ladling other products on, I (and my credit card) grew weary of both applying the products and having to put more effort into keeping the ‘topped’ cars as clean as the Corvette. All the cars were driven in all weather conditions (perhaps the Vette even more so) so the results kinda showed me that adding to the coatings was certainly requiring more work (and providing less ‘shine’) than a simple coating itself.

        So now, all the cars are left alone save for an occasional addition (ever month to month and a half) of a synergistic coating ‘booster’ such as Kamikaze Overcoat and/or Gyeon Cure.

        I like clean cars but am not a particular fan of cleaning cars (and have an obvious affinity for the color black) so now I coat everything I can in addition to paint (Wheels [Gyeon Rim], Tires [Tuf Shine Tire Clearcoat], Trim [Gyeon Trim]) and maintenance couldn’t be easier. Once coated and ‘boosted’ periodically I actually look forward to heavy rain as the sheeting/beading of the cars essentially washes them quite nicely, except for the azz-end (where no wind hits) so ya just gotta occasionally clean it up a bit). Coatings work for me because of ease of maintenance and better lasting appearance.

        That said, I did layer the Kamikaze Miyabi (2 coats) & ISM (1 coat) on recently acquired 2016 Honda Civic for longevity’s sake as the car will be receiving little to no detail-centric attention going forward.

        • I like the cut of your jib Kurt.

          • Kurt says:

            Thanks…even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often…or in this case spends enough $$ that eventually the law of averages leads to a logical and acceptable conclusion. Less *is* actually sometimes more…less product, less effort, better results. That said, for those who truly find relaxation and enjoyment through taking care of their car, coatings are not the way to go as once ya get everything locked in, there’s not much to do/try going forward.

            Whole thing started when I picked up the new WRX last year and saw how tender (i.e. LAME) the Subaru paint was. Had to find a way to protect it, either via increased durability of a coating and/or touching the paint less while maintaining appearance.

            And so it began…learned a lot, had a lot of fun and still do friends cars ‘cuz Lord knows I have enough products in the cabinet but (for now) my cars are good to go and easy to maintain.

  8. Kern Belfon says:

    Doesn’t Layering a wax or a sealant clog the pores of the coating losing it’s hydrophobic abilities? Most coatings are self cleaning and the pores in the coatings are breathable so it sheds water and by layering a wax or sealant it will lose that ability. I could be wrong let me know if I am.

  9. Kern,

    I am grateful for the well thought out post. I can tell you are using your brain!

    Water responds to the outer-most surface. Wax, by nature, does not form a permanent bond. So “layering” wax is only doing as much good as the aesthetic benefits. We can’t quantify the longevity benefits but as easy and inexpensive as it is for a DIY’er to layer wax, what’s the harm?

    Sealants are similar in nature but last longer as a whole.

    Before I expound on the coatings, I want to know how you mean when you talk about coatings being “breathable”. I want to make sure we are on the same page.

    Thanks again and it’s a pleasure my friend!

  10. Larry Jones says:

    A special case of layering coatings— just bought a 2018 Audi Q5 with dark green metallic paint, 7 k miles as a dealer loaner/ demo. 6 months old. Paint and clear coat appear in good to excellent condition
    But I wish to do a first class detailing using the usual careful prep followed by Kamikaze Myabi ISM and continuing maintenance with Kamikaze Overcoat.

    Here is the problem— the dealership does not remember what waxes or coatings might have been applied. They peddle Simonize Glasscoat so that and /or a wax could have been applied. Not worried about removing the wax but not sure (1) how to tell if the clear coat is present and (b) best way to remove it if present. I would like to avoid a two step polish. I have a Porter Cable DA and a good selection of foam pads.

    Any recommendation for the best pad and polish combination that would remove the existing coating, if there is one + any other prep steps before applying the Kamizaze?

    Will really appreciate any expert advice!

  11. Ronnie says:

    Hi Jean Claude

  12. Ronnie says:

    Hi Jean Claude and Zach, I wanted to throw this at you about layering. After I did a complete decontamination and correction, I did one layer of GTechniq Crystal Serum Light, followed by two coats of Exo V4 (which IMO didn’t feel very slick). After waiting eight days with the car inside, I applied one coat of Hydrosilex Marine (dry app.), allowed three days to cure and then applied one coat of P&S Bead Maker (also dry). The results were impressive. Incredibly smooth, slick and hyper glossy. My question to you gentlemen, was I wasting my time and product? Will the last two steps bond or will they come off with the first wash? I’d be very interested in your professional opinions. Thanks 🙏

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