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Saturday, February 13, 2010

My perspective on current paint protectants

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Let’s talk car wax. To the average joe, waxing a car is equivalent to making a car shiny.

“ Hey Joe! Let’s toss the ‘ol pigskin around the park”
“I can’t man, I gotta wax the car. Got a hot date tonight!”

*Sorry for the non-halal dialogue, pigskin refers to American football*

I guess this is also the reason that many OTC(Over-The-Counter) car waxes have some form of cleaners in them, this makes life easier for the average joe.

Let’s take Meguair’s NXT2.0 for example, what is technically a synthetic sealant is named Tech Wax and contains cleaners strong enough to remove ingrained dirt from the paint.

This is just my own hypothesis but I’m guessing that Meguiar’s realize that most people do not know the difference between a wax and a polish. Hence, NXT Tech Wax 2.0 is the go-to product to making a car shiny.

Let’s say I have a product that will outlast and give far better protection than NXT 2.0 but it has to be applied on a perfectly clean surface, i.e. free of bonded contaminants, ingrained dirt and polishing oils. I then put this product up for sale at any auto parts/hardware store. I will also give this super durable product ultra-fancy packaging boasting claims of extreme durability and protection. With big bold statements such as “Will outlast Meguiar’s NXT 2.0!”

And just to get people to buy it, I name it something-something-wax. Chances are, people will buy it if it is competitively priced against NXT 2.0. However, they were expecting it to shine up the car as well as protect the paint. So they give their own cars a good hose down, wash with a bucket and sponge, dry with an old chamois lying around and apply my super-out-of-this-universe-product. I will expect them to face difficulties buffing off the product because of over-application or because the paint wasn’t prepped. Even if they did manage to buff it off, it wouldn’t last because it doesn’t have a clean paint to bond to. So, it will not live up to its claims of outlasting NXT 2.0. The product doesn’t sell well after a while and it eventually passes its shelf life and is thrown into the garbage bin.

I’m just trying to illustrate the term wax from an average Joe’s point of view.

Now let’s talk about paint protectants. I started my detailing hobby mostly using Meguair’s products, the original NXT Tech Wax blew me away at that time, as I slowly researched into it, I too found that its durability is not really up there. So I bought and tried several different paint protectants 'till today and here is my current perspective on today’s car waxes and sealants.

There are many different types of paint protectants out there, even a spray detailer will add some form of protection to the paint.

Several properties differentiate a paint protectant from another.

These are:
-Ease of use
-Durability
-Protection
-Filling ability/shine/gloss
- Cleaning ability

I will be focusing on the first three properties, which are ease of use, durability and protection. It seems that there is a trend of compromise between these three properties.

I shall call it the Triangle Dilemma.

Allow me to illustrate with my poor Microsoft paint skills, we have a triangle scale; on each end is the three aforementioned properties.

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After using certain products and listening to experiences from other detailers, I came to my own conclusion below.

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The first triangle shows most OTC car waxes/sealants. Think Meguiar’s NXT2.0, its ease of use is simply great. If you applied a bit too thickly, it still comes off with ease. If applied properly, comes off like butter.
However durability is not really there, and by durability I mean water repellency after a few weeks/months.
Protection is mediocre to good. This product category is suitable for the average Joe as they can easily use these products to shine up their ride and have some decent protection on the paint. No fuss, no mess, no hard rubbing, simple and easy.

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The second triangle actually illustrates a specific product I have been using, Duragloss #105 Total Performance Polish.

Its ease of use is lacking a little compared to NXT 2.0 because if you applied DG105 the same as you did with NXT 2.0, you might have difficulty buffing off. It has to be applied so thin that it is almost invisible. Once you know this, then application and removal is a breeze.

Its durability is simply great, putting Zaino Z2 aside; this baby outlasts many liquid sealants on the market(EDIT: I may have drawn the durability line a little bit too far >.<). Here comes the compromise, the protection factor. Although it will still repel water strongly, you will notice that water spots can still accumulate and etch into the paint surface. High surface tension is not an absolute indicator of protection. Even so, I use this product most often now because of those two properties that it excels in, ease of use and durability.

The third triangle illustrates many paste waxes on the market.

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Think Meguiar’s M16 professional paste wax. Its user-friendliness is definitely incomparable to many liquid waxes out there, but it is easy to use once you get the hang of it. I assume that protection is better than sealants because there is a thicker physical layer on the paint surface. That means any contaminants have to etch through a thicker layer of protection before reaching the clearcoat.

However, the compromise is in its durability. A paste wax does not bond to the paint like a sealant does. It basically just ‘sits’ on top of the paint, instead of grabbing on to the clearcoat with razor sharp claws like a sealant does(cross-linking?). I must remind you that these are just my ASSUMPTIONS, there may be truth in them, but I cannot guarantee them, so do read what I say with some critical-ism.

Now the last triangle is what interests me the most and is uncharted territory for me.

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This triangle illustrate paint coatings. You’ve probably heard of stuff like Nano Coating, Glass Coating, Quartz Coating, etc. etc.
These stuff are finicky to use and application has to be done right to achieve maximum product performance.

An example is Pompanazzi Real Quartz Coating. A detailer once showed me a tiny bottle that was used to store the coating, the product inside has dried up and I was shocked when I saw what was inside the bottle. The liquid coating has actually solidified and creates a rattling sound when the bottle is shaken. Your normal liquid sealant will probably dry up into a dry paste or turn powdery. But this stuff was solid, I didn’t feel it, but I could see it was as solid as plastic.

Now I am only speculating the durability and protection factor on the triangle but I am pretty sure it is not like your average paint sealant. Its ease of use however is terrible, it is very oily during application and takes days to cure and harden! Thanks to DrayFX from http://www.drayfx.blogspot.com/ for this information. You can view his write-up about the Pompanazzi HERE. This is why I rated it very low on the ease of use scale.

Other paint coatings that I’m aware of include G’Zox Real Glass Coating, Hi-Mohs Coat, Nanolex and G|Techniq.

That pretty much sums up about what I think about current paint protectants. As a product increases its ease of use, it will have to compromise in either durability and/or protection and vice versa.

I wonder how soon it will be until we can have a paint protectant that ignores the Triangle Dilemma and excels in ease of use, durability and protection.

What do you think about the waxes and sealants that you are using at the moment?

p.s. Thanks to vx55 for his ideas and input on this topic!

6 comments:

Matias 1:59 AM  

Hi Kenneth good article. In which of those triangles would be collinite 476s in? Is the same as NXT 2.0?

Keep up with the good work!

Greetings from Argentina

Kenneth Tang a.k.a Fishbonezken 1:34 AM  

Hi Matias,

Many thanks for your kind words. For Collinite 476s, I would probably rate it the same as Meguiar's #16. Its ease of use is not as easy as NXT 2.0.

So it would probably fit the third triangle, extending a little bit more on durability.

:)

Izso 3:33 PM  

Ummm... I didn't know how to use my Soft 99 sealant thingy so I don't use it.

I just wash, polish, wax with NXT2.0 and I'm done. Guessing I'm doing it wrong though. LOL

Kenneth Tang a.k.a Fishbonezken 10:17 PM  

@Izso,
No no no, it's correct the way you use it.
Which Soft99 sealant?

Izso 7:33 AM  

Got many types meh? O_O

I think it's called fusso.

Kenneth Tang a.k.a Fishbonezken 8:53 AM  

Haha sorry, they have many cleaner waxes but sealant only the Fusso range I think, excluding the paste stuff.

If yours is just a sealant, not the Fusso Powerful Cleaner & Sealant, you can apply it on top of NXT 2.0 after it has cured. Preferably the next day, or at least 1 hour. Longer the better.

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