Why Automotive Graphene & Ceramic Coatings Can’t Prevent Water Spots

Learn why graphene or ceramic coatings can't prevent water spots caused by water containing high levels of minerals.

By Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare.com

Let’s get the suspense out of the way, automotive graphene or ceramic coatings can’t prevent water spots from forming on vehicle surfaces.

Also, ceramic coatings are not wizard-like magical barriers, force fields, or pixie dust to prevent all vehicle surface problems.

That being said, ceramic coatings do offer far superior protection to surfaces than any previous technology, specifically waxes and sealants. And its not even close.

In almost every category ceramic coatings rule for non-impact paint protection, including:

  • Durability
  • Protective Characteristics
  • Ease of Maintenance
  • Aesthetic Enhancement Gains

Most automotive ceramic or ‘graphene’ ceramic coatings feature extreme hydrophobics, or water behavior, to combat many surface issues. This is the ability of a surface to quickly and effectively shed water.

While coatings are a valuable and helpful protective ally in the fight against topical contamination and hard water damage– they are by no means a magical savior.

Science Proves Why ‘Graphene’ or Ceramic Coatings Can’t Prevent Water Spots

Ultimately, the protective capabilities and effectiveness of ceramic nano coatings are dependent on the substrate composition they adhere to. Generally this means automotive paint systems, specifically vehicle clear coat.

One of automotive paint’s greatest strengths, the ability to handle high levels of heat, creates a huge problem for vehicle owners and detailers– water spot damage.

The Science Behind Why Automotive Paint & Ceramic Coatings are Vulnerable to Water Spots

Automotive paint is susceptible water spots because its engineered as a thermally elastic structure. The elastic properties of automotive paint allows it to expand and contract with the demands of varying temperatures- most importantly heat.

Heat for automotive paint is generated from both the environmental (sun and season) & the mechanics of the vehicle (engine, brakes, tires, etc.) during operation.

If automotive paint was not engineered for thermal elasticity to then it would fail rather quickly. Without a means to deal with heat, paint would become brittle and eventually break, creating micro fractures– leading to failure and delamination over time.

A functional characteristic of thermal elasticity is a porous structure. Therefore, automotive paint’s extremely porous structure leaves it vulnerable to contamination or damage from the minerals contained within, or transported by, liquids.

The resin system (the binder and backbone) of any ceramic, or graphene oxide (rGO), coating is the main mechanism providing ‘protection’ vs. mineral deposits. However, applied coatings generally do not act as a spackle and plug up automotive paint’s porous structure. Instead, quality coating formulas work within the paint’s structural matrix and add an enhanced layer of protection.

Additionally, coating chemistry particles are so small (nano scale) that they cannot fully take over and replace the physical characteristics of automotive paint.

Ceramic or ‘Graphene’ Coatings are designed to work WITH Automotive Paint’s Characteristics — NOT in their place.

The Problem with Many Graphene or Ceramic Coating Marketing Claims About Water Spots

The main issue with some automotive coating marketing images, messages, and/or promotions are the claims they present to the public about coatings and water spot prevention. These claims are either direct stated and or heavily implied.

Generally, this marketing language will often claim, promise, or strongly infer that graphene or ceramic coatings will prevent mineral deposits, and their associated damage, from occurring on painted automotive surfaces.

Claims about coatings and water spot prevention are simply False.

Because, NO COATING can.

Why not?

Because: Science

The scientific fact is:

The minerals (mostly calcium & magnesium) contained within water will deposit themselves into automotive paint, if they contact hot paint or are allowed to sit on paint long enough.

This is because the primary factors that create water spotting are much greater contributing factors to water spot creating than the coating on the surface.

The primary factors which influence automotive water spot creation are:

  • the creation variables of water spots
  • the vulnerability of vehicle surface substrates to water spotting

The cause of automotive water spots is simple uncomplicated science, yet the information is seldom discussed. This is likely because many ceramic coating manufacturers and businesses prefer to market coatings as a surface solve-all type of solution– WHICH THEY ARE NOT.

Regardless of:

  • marketing claims
  • advertising campaigns put forth by detailing chemical companies and or detailers:

Automotive ‘Graphene’ or Ceramic Coatings Cant Prevent Water Spots.

The combination of a coating’s, chemical protection, film build thickness, and hydrophobic properties cannot guarantee full protection against vehicle surface water spotting.

This is becauseall protective aspects and characteristics of a coating are dependent on the substrate they adhere to. 

Ceramic Coating Hydrophobics Help Protect Against Automotive Water Spots– THEY DON’T PREVENT THEM 

Hydrophobic properties (aka water behavior) allow automotive ceramic coatings the ability to:

  • help vehicles surfaces stay clean for longer periods of time
  • enable surfaces to quickly and more easily shed water
  • facilitate very quick and simple car or vehicle washing

These beneficial attributes of coatings grant vehicles many positive aesthetic enhancements and functional lifestyle benefits. For a deeper look into the science behind hydrophobics, please reference the OCDCarCare article: How Ceramic Coatings Work: Detailing Hydrophobic Science Explained.

The positive attributes of a ceramic coating’s hydrophobic properties (contact angle and slide angle) primarily occur when a vehicle is in motion. This is because moving air pushes the water off of a coated surface.

Essentially, hydrophobics assist gravity to more easily move water or contamination off surfaces as fast as possible. This eliminates minerals and contaminants from chemically anchoring to paint systems and causing potential damage.

But, even the best coating, featuring the most extreme water behavior, cannot combat mineral deposits if a vehicle sits still and water dries on surfaces.

Gravity greatly enhances the ability of water and contamination to slide off vertical coated panels. However, horizontal panels, those parallel to the ground – which are frequently flat or concave – are not so fortunate. Horizontal panels, especially on a stationary vehicle, are immune to the effects of gravity and have no means of shedding water. Therefore, horizontal panels are always susceptible to water drying on the surface, injecting mineral deposits directly into the paint system.

Therefore, it is CRICITCAL to NEVER allow standing water to sit and dry on vehicle surfaces.

Final Review: Why Ceramic Coatings Can’t Prevent Water Spots

In conclusion, due to the contemporary formulations of automotive paint, ceramic coatings can’t prevent water spots.

However, automotive ‘graphene’ and ceramic coatings, depending on their chemical composition, offer some the best modern protection for vehicle surfaces against contamination and water spotting. This is due to their increased solids content, chemical protection capabilities, durability, and hydrophobic properties.

Ceramic coatings can’t prevent water spots because coatings only work with automotive paint. They cannot replace the base chemistry and characteristics of the automotive paint systems they bond to.

So, while ceramic nano coatings are our best non-impact paint protection technology to date, they are NOT a solve-all savior of surface protection.

Ceramic or ‘Graphene’ Coatings should NEVER be sold as a method of water spot prevention, by automotive detailers, to uneducated vehicle owners.

So while some ceramic or ‘graphene’ coating manufacturers may even outright claim their products prevent water spots.

The science tells us not to believe the marketing speak promises of over-hyped protection.

The proof is in the science and in the information explaining the practical aspects of how coatings function to protect paint and vehicle surfaces…

Information some coating manufacturers either don’t understand themselves or don’t want you to know, understand, or investigate.

“ALWAYS Keep Learning to Strengthen Your Passion & Your Business.”

© Christopher Brown – OCDCarCare Los Angeles

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Christopher Brown