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Top 3 Reasons Why Ceramic Coatings Are Failing On Boats

With ceramic coatings failing all over the country, we wanted to get to the bottom of why this is happening. After speaking to many professionals who are pioneers in the industry, we were able to determine three underlying factors that were causing ceramic coatings to fail on gel coat and paint.

1.) Improper Maintenance and Wash Care 

Assuming the surface was prepped correctly, the number one reason why ceramic coatings are failing is because of improper wash care. Due to fancy marketing and false claims by other manufacturers, many boat owners and captains have the common misconception that ceramic coatings are maintenance-free or they can continue to wash with the same harsh cleansers and stiff brushes that they used before. This is false. The truth is, ceramic coatings reduce normal boat maintenance like buffing and waxing, but proper maintenance and wash care is still required.

We would like to outline what proper maintenance and wash techniques should look like on a vessel with paint or gel coat that has been sealed with ceramic coating and is kept outside, uncovered.

  • Frequency of Washing: Every 2 to 4 weeks
  • Type of Soap: Non-Abrasive - High foam content - Do not use soap with wax or other sealants
  • Type of Brush: Soft - Rule of thumb - “something soft enough to wash your face with”
  • Maintenance Spray: Every 1 to 3 months - More often in higher profile areas.

What not to do…

  • Do not use stiff, abrasive brushes
  • Do not use soap with wax
  • Do not use harmful cleaners

2.) Poor Surface Preparation of Marine Paint or Gel Coat

The covalent bonding properties of the coating are only as good as the prep work. Even though the paint or gel coat may look clean, under a microscope, it may be a different story. Paint and gel coat have millions of tiny pores that fill with microscopic dirt and grime. The objective of the prep work is to remove contaminants from the pores and refine the edges of the microscopic scratching so they are not visible to the human eye.

If the coating is not able to form a clean, covalent bond with the substrate, then the lifespan of the coating can be compromised and drastically shortened.

New boats that are popped from a mold at the factory and boats that have been waxed recently are no exception to the rule. The wax has to be stripped by lightly compounding and polishing. If not, the coating is only as good as the wax that it sits upon.

Unlike many other coating suppliers, Marine Nano Shop carries a full line-up of professional marine-grade buffing compounds and polishes for gel coat and paint. Our compounds and polishes are top of the line and can compete with premium manufacturers like 3M, Menzerna and Jescar. The formulas in our bottles are of the highest quality synthetic raw materials and contain no wax, fillers, and silicone. They were designed to save time and money by getting better results with fewer steps. Check out one of our DIY kits or if you’re a professional, ask about our professional pricing!

3.) Did Not Apply a “Marine-Grade” Ceramic Coating

In laymen’s terms, solvent-based ceramic coatings are composed of 3 materials; solvents, actives, and solids. The only difference between ceramic coatings is the flash time, quality of materials and the ratio of solvent, actives, and solids. Marine-grade coatings should contain 2 to 3 times more solid material and have solvency tailored for marine climates.

Liquid Crystal Armour HD is approximately 2.5x more concentrated than its strongest sister automotive version and boasts a longer work/flash time than any other heavy-duty coating on the market today. Professional installers know that longer work time and the difficulty of removal and leveling is important to consider when using a daily basis.

Using a marine-grade coating like LCA HD applies an ultra-hard (9H) coating that is 3-4 microns thick and it imparts a very deep and reflective shine. Other automotive coatings leave less protection and are most likely to break down and fail in tougher marine environments.

In tougher marine environments, life expectancy for a coating will be less than a vessel that it kept in dry storage and is washed by the same person after each use. In dry storage, owners could see up to 36 months. A motor yacht that is in the water, on a wash schedule and used often can expect to see up to 12 to 18 months.

The life expectancy is really a function of the itinerary for the vessel, factoring in where it lives, how much it’s fished/used and if it’s using our maintenance products and plan. Other factors and characteristics include whether it’s gel coat or paint and if so, what type, what age? A basic generalization would to reevaluate and possibly reapply after 12 to 24 months.

At Marine Nano Shop, our strategic objective is to give the consumer and or professional applicator access to this technology at a price point where there is value in substituting ceramic coating for compounding and wax. If we can do that, then leveraging nanotechnology becomes a viable alternative to traditional normal boat maintenance.