You may have heard that preparation for ceramic coatings is the most critical step in the application process. You are right. This holds true for all sealants. This is why Marine Nano Shop has developed a proprietary system of compounds, polishes, soaps and decontaminates to accompany its flagship HD and Pro Liquid Crystal Armour formulas.

If you were under the impression that you can apply the ceramic coating over gel coat or paint that has just been compounded and waxed, you’re wrong. The wax has to be stripped. Especially, if its a new boat that has just been delivered from the factory. What does the manufacturer use to release the mold? Wax! From the factory, the pores of the gel coat are contaminated with mold release wax. Any wax or prior sealant has to be stripped in order for the coating to bond well. In addition, swirls, holograms, and fine scratching will need to be rounded off and polished down to get the ultimate finish.

Below, we will outline a few situations you may find yourself in. We will attempt to guide you through the preparation process so you can have a better understanding of the logic and workflow.

Test Spots, Test Spots, Test Spots

We cannot emphasize enough, especially if you are a professional detailer or an up and coming detailer who is trying to learn the trade, that test spots are very critical in determining how you are going to approach any job. You will be able to determine how many steps you will need (time and cost) to get the ultimate finish and this will also allow you to quote the job accordingly rather than guessing what you’re going to need.

The objective of compounding is to remove dirt, grime and other microscopic contaminants from the pores of the gel coat or paint. The objective of polishing is to round off/refine microscopic scratching so that it’s not visible to the human eye.

Heavy Oxidation Situations

In 90% of your test spots, we recommend starting with a medium cut compound, rotary buffer with a wool or waffled foam compounding pad. This will give you a benchmark on your cutting ability. In many cases, a couple of passes with the medium cut like Reboot may yield great results. Our compounds were designed to save you time and money. That translates to using less material, fewer steps and better, longer lasting results.

When the medium compound isn’t cutting it, gear down to a heavy cut like Revive. If you are still not happy and your not getting a mirror like finish, then wet sanding may be in order.

When wet sanding, start with a higher grit first rather than the lowest. In many cases, 1500 wet may work. If not, go to 1000 or possibly 800 wet. or 800 dry.

Medium to Light Oxidation Situations

Reboot followed with Ignite will work 90% of the time in these situations. It’s our most powerful and effective combination and will deliver outstanding results with rotary and random orbital machines. A combination of our Buff and Shine pad collection need to be configured correctly based on the whether the paint is soft or hard and will require a lighter pad with more aggressive material or a more aggressive pad with lighter material. Regardless, making adjustments to these combinations will be effective on almost any finish you are faced with.

Ceramic Coating Preparation for a New Boat from the Factory 

We personally can attest to working on boats that have been delivered right off the factory line. They often come in really rough shape. Unfinished gel coat, deep scratching, and overspray just to name a few, we have seen it all.

In addition to addressing the issue just mentioned, the remaining wax from the mold will have to removed as well. This is why we recommend at least polishing to exfoliate and open the pores of the gel coat. This will give the coating a chance to bond well and improve the performance of the coating. If the wax is not removed, then the coating will only be as good as the wax.

A quick two-step buff and polish with Reboot and Ignite would be the best way in our opinion to remove the wax. To test if the wax has been removed - do a water test. If the water is still beading, then there is still wax. If not, move forward to decontamination.

Decontamination - The Most Important Step of Ceramic Coating Preparation

After the compound and polishing step(s), it is essential that the gel coat or paint be washed with a degreasing soap like Dawn to strip and remove the oils left over from polishing. Once the boat has been washed down, use Surface Wipe (wax and grease remover - 100% virgin solvents) to remove any film or streaking left over from the wash.

You are now ready to apply the ceramic coating!

June 05, 2020 — John Watkins