Are DIY (DO IT YOURSELF) coatings a good idea?

Is it any good to apply a ceramic coating on your own?

With the recent boom in detailing and coatings, many car owners are considering taking the Do It Yourself (DIY) route. 

In this article, we are going to discuss whether DIY coatings are worth your time and energy and most importantly the RISK, if you do choose to do it yourself, what are some things you need to be aware of, and what’s our take on it.

What are DIY coatings?

DIY coatings are entry-level low concentrate, easy wipe on and wipe off coatings offered by certain manufacturers/traders. 

They are substantially lower in quality and concentration than their professional-grade counterparts but are easier to apply and user-friendly making them ideal for DIY applications. These coatings are cheap which makes them attractive for people who want to coat their vehicles without taking it to a professional detailer. 

Are they worth it?

Not all coatings are the same

There is a reason professional-grade coatings are sold only to certified professionals. They are highly concentrated and are synthesised using very strong chemicals. Professional grade coatings require specific conditions to work properly and one wrong move can inflict that is difficult or almost impossible to rectify. DIY coatings are often more forgiving and have longer flash-off times giving you the freedom to remove any defects like coating high spots or streaks or haze before it cures. 

Some professional coatings like the Maxprotect UNCR and Pro-Elite, CQ Finest Reserve, CQ Professional, Ceramic Pro require very specific temperatures and application techniques which makes them not DIY friendly, but these are some of the best automotive protective coatings out there in the world. If quality is what you’re after, then DIY coatings aren’t for you.

Preparation before the coating

In some of our previous articles, we’ve talked about how important preparation is. Preparation lays the groundwork for how the end result is going to be. Contrary to popular belief, the coating does not provide any additional gloss or shine. The increased gloss and shine comes from good preparation and correction of the surface. If a person is considering DIY coatings as a cheaper alternative, they are unlikely to invest in the tools and chemicals required for good preparation. Improper preparation leads to ineffectiveness of the coating, premature wear, reduced protection. If you coat a vehicle with a lot of contaminants and swirls, you will be locking them in with the coating. For a good coating job, preparation is key. 

One coating for the entire vehicle

Different materials and finishes require the use of coatings that are meant for that surface. Applying a coating on the surface they are meant for lets them work their magic effectively and more importantly not negatively affect the surface. Professional detailers use dedicated coatings on dedicated surfaces, it doesn’t make financial sense to buy a bottle of each type of coating for a one-time application.

End Result after the coating application

Now let’s address the elephant in the room, the result. It is very difficult to match the level of consistency and output of a professional detailer. But DIYing isn’t about getting it perfect, it’s about the satisfaction of having done it yourself. What we are trying to say is, you can’t expect the same output when using an off-the-shelf product and doing it yourself and compare the results with a pro.

Things you need to be aware of

More important than doing it right, is not to do it wrong. In recent times, we’ve had to correct a lot of “DIY Detailing gone wrong” cases. In the example below, a Tata Harrier Dark edition received a DIY coating job. 

The application was inconsistent with a lot of high spots and streaks. The customer had applied the coating and let it sit for a long time. This hardened the coating, leaving no other option but to use very abrasive chemicals and materials to remove the coating layer. Of course, we are always here to help our customers. But please don’t make things worse for yourself. Sometimes you would end up spending more on fixing a bad application than getting it done professionally the first time.  So, its better to stay away from DIY Coatings that are sold on Amazon, Flipkart etc.

Are there any good alternatives?

If trying to save a few bucks is what you’re after, then you would want to check out some sort of spray sealant or a spray-on-ceramic. In no way do these options come close to a professional coating application, but these do give you some protection and hydrophobic properties that are often short-lived. It is really difficult to mess up the application of these types of products, you would be reducing the risk of damage to the surface if improperly applied. 

Now, should you do it…

This is hard to answer. If you’re aware and are willing to take the risk of damage, have done ample research on the subject, consulted someone working in the field for product and procedure recommendations. Then more power to you, a well-executed detailing and coating job hits different when you do it on your own. If not, then getting it done by a professional is the safer bet. As you wouldn’t risk damaging the paint, and the coating will last you a long time and do its job effectively. 

An example of DIY coating gone wrong.

An example of a result from a Professional.

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