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Should I Use a Wax, Sealant or Coating?

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Should I Use a Wax, Sealant or Coating

Waxes, sealants, coatings, oh my! Okay, now that I got that joke out of the way, I wanted to put this article together to quickly highlight protection options and to help answer the question,“should I use a wax, sealant, or coating?”. From the old-school waxes to sealants and even coatings, we carry various protection options that help anyone from professional detailers to weekend warriors. No matter if you have an entire day or if you are looking to quickly protect your vehicle, there are many products to choose from. Check out a quick overview of each protection type with some recommendations on who should use them, along with some of my favorite options for each.

Wax:

I miss the good old days of applying a new layer of carnauba wax each month. Even though waxes would stain trim pieces causing you to tape trim off before application and only last for 3-4 weeks, there was just something about the application. Maybe it was the consistency of the waxes, applying by hand panel by panel with an applicator pad, even the smell, it just brings back memories. While not being the most durable form of protection waxes are well known for their deep warm glow that makes any color paint look amazing. Recommendation: Waxes are for the detailer looking to turn back the clock, ones looking for the warm glow on their paint, and the ones looking for a product they can reapply every few weeks during a relaxing detail.

Features:

  • Easy to Apply
  • Wipe On, Let Haze, Wipe Off Application
  • Durability of 3-4 Weeks
  • Warm Glow Appearance

Favorites:

Sealant:

For years sealants have been compared directly against waxes as they are applied similarly (i.e. wipe on, let haze, wipe off), but traditional sealants will last longer (3-4 months). This combination of application and durability generally had many detailers leaning towards sealants as their protection of choice. As coatings were released, sealants however began to evolve. Manufacturers would take the sio2 found in coatings and use it as a much lower concentration within a spray on product. The result was incredibly easy to apply sealants (i.e. spray on, wipe off) that could be applied to paint, trim, glass, and more. The only downside is these products are generally less durable than a traditional sealant. Recommendation: If you are looking to save time and effort during the application process, a spray on sio2 based sealant is a great choice. If durability is your goal, traditional sealants will generally hold up better over the coarse of 3-4 months.

Features:

  • Easy to Apply
  • Spray On or Wipe On Application
  • 3-4 Month Durability
  • Glossy Appearance

Favorites:

Coating:

Coatings have become extremely popular due to their looks and overall durability when protecting your paint. They are more labor intensive to apply compared to sealants or waxes due to more prep work and application cure times, but the final look and protection provided after application can be well worth the extra effort. Coatings will generally last anywhere from 1 year, all the way up to 5 years, it all depends on the specific coating you are working with. There are even pro-only coatings that manufacturers only provide to certified installers of their brands. For these you will have to locate a certified detailer in your area. Coatings can also be applied to not only your paint, but trim pieces and glass as well. Recommendation: If you are looking for the most durable form of protection, coatings will be your choice. Coatings that last 1 year will be a little more forgiving when applying, while a 5 year coating will take more time and effort to apply correctly. Reach for these if you are comfortable applying waxes and sealants, while also finding yourself looking for the best or most durable form of protection possible.

Features:

  • Requires Specific Preparation Steps
  • Longer Application Process
  • Durability of 1-5 Years
  • Incredibly Glossy Appearance

Favorites:

All of the information above will help quickly explain what protection product is best for your situation. In short, waxes are great for the traditionalist but are less durable. Sealants are easy to apply for any level detailer, while coatings offer the most durability but do require more rigorous prep work.

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4 comments on Should I Use a Wax, Sealant or Coating?

  1. Howard O'Chocke - N8HO says:

    Will coatings stand up to the harsh wash chemicals used at drive through touchless carwashes.

    • Reece @ DI says:

      Using any harsh cleaner will have some effect on any protection layer applied. Touchless car wash chemicals can strip waxes and sealants, but coatings will hold up pretty well. If you do however use touchless car washes weekly, they can take a toll on coatings over time.

  2. Andrew Vittoria says:

    Hi. Just curious. So could you apply a coating after all the necessary prep work and once the coating has cured could or would it be advisable to then go over the coating with say a Wolfgang Fusion wax? Would there be any “added” benefit?

    • Reece @ DI says:

      Andrew – While not required, topping a coating with another sio2 based product will help combat water marks and keep the coating lasting as long as possible. With the Wolfgang Fusion Wax, this product is a carnauba based wax and not recommended for use over a coating. I would recommend using something like the Gtechniq C2V3 or CarPro Reload for best results. Check out this article for more coating care tips as well: https://www.detailedimage.com/Ask-a-Pro/maintaining-your-paint-coating/

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