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Removing Ceramic Coatings

After years of faithful service, even the best ceramic coatings require replacement.

Ceramic coatings are the most durable form of protective vehicle coating. Unlike traditional waxes and sealants, ceramic coatings form a molecular bond with the clear coat, rather than just sitting on top. While they are insanely durable (up to 5 YEARS – read more on that here), nothing lasts forever and you will eventually need a new coating.

So, if the bond is so incredibly strong, how do you remove a ceramic coating when it’s time for a new one? Removing an existing coating is the first step in getting a fresh new coating, so we’ll break down the process below.

How to Remove a Ceramic Coating

Whether a vehicle is receiving a ceramic coating for the first time or the 10th time, the exterior needs to be prepped and cleaned down to a perfect layer of clear coat. Anything on top of the clear coat will interfere with proper application (including an old ceramic coating). 

Here’s how we get rid of an old ceramic coating before applying a new one:

  • Polishing: When using the right type of buffer and the right polishing compounds, it is possible to remove a ceramic coating through polishing. This is arguably the safest and most effective way to remove a coating, so it’s a go-to for any shop. The added benefit of polishing off an old layer of coating is that you can continue polishing to prepare the paint for the new coating.
  • Clay + Dust Remover: Experts only! A normal clay bar can not remove a ceramic coating on its own. However, if combined with an abrasive such as iron dust remover, it is possible to get rid of a ceramic coating this way. This process is risky, and should only be undertaken if required and only by experts.
  • Strong Chemicals: One of the major benefits of ceramic coatings is how resistant they are to chemical damage, so you may be surprised to learn that we can use chemicals to strip off an old coating. Although resistant to the type of chemicals your car would experience day-to-day, ceramic coatings do technically have a chemical vulnerability: incredibly strong alkaline products. These chemicals are exceptionally noxious and dangerous (handling them requires the use of respirators and thick gloves) and very unlike anything your vehicle would encounter in the real world.

The best part about removing an old ceramic coating is revealing the perfection that is underneath. Ideally, the coating has done its job and protected the paint for however many years it has been applied. Hopefully the car owner hasn’t waited too long to replace the coating.

When your ceramic coating has done its job and its time for a new one, just bring it by the local experts. Island Detail and Color is an all-in-one detail and paint shop, so we can handle the entire process of coating removal, paint prepping, and new coating application seamlessly. Just give us a call to chat to one of our experts.

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