Ceramic coating cost header

Ceramic Coating Cost: The No B.S. Facts

Ceramic coating is super popular in the car care world these days. But how much does ceramic coating cost? 

It can be very expensive if you have a professional detailer apply it. But don’t let that end your ceramic coating hopes and dreams. You can save yourself quite a bit of money if you do it yourself. 

If you’re thinking about having a ceramic coating applied to your car, this article will give you an idea of how much you’ll spend. Let’s take a look at your options….

Professional Ceramic Coating Cost

Having a professional apply a ceramic coating to your car is going to cost somewhere between $1,000 and $6,000. I know that’s a pretty big range. But there’s a lot to consider when coming up with a price for YOUR car. Let’s explore why.

Why is professional ceramic coating so expensive?

The main reason why a proper ceramic coating is so expensive is because it involves a lot of labor. 

In a nutshell, ceramic coating is a crystal-clear, semi-permanent coating that chemically bonds to your car’s finish.

That said, your car’s finish needs to be in its absolute best possible condition before the coating is applied.

Think about this for a minute. If your car’s finish is covered in swirl marks and you apply a layer of ceramic coating on top of it, you’ll be beautifully preserving said swirl marks under the ceramic coating for you to “enjoy” for years to come!

The process of making your paint look perfect is known as paint correction and it is often very time consuming. When performing a paint correction, a good detailer will generally give your car a proper wash, do a full clay bar decontamination, and then polish the surface to remove swirl marks and other imperfections.

After that’s done,, a good detailer will clean parts of your car that many people often overlook. They’ll clean things like your door jambs, area under the hood, and your exhaust tips…. Just to name a few.

To better understand all the steps and see how much time it takes to perform them all, check out this list by American Shine, a professional detailer based in Sterling, Virginia. Click here and scroll down to point 5 in the article.

Once all of this work is done, the ceramic coating has to be applied by hand. Ceramic coating dries quickly when it’s applied, so the detailer has to work on small areas. Needless to say, this process is time consuming and therefore contributes to the job’s overall cost.

Why such a huge range in professional ceramic coating cost?

$1,000 to $6,000 is a huge price range for a professional ceramic coating. It exists because in order to come up with a price, a professional detailer has to take several factors into consideration.

Size of your car

As we’ve discussed, the ceramic coating application process is very labor-intensive. So it stands to reason that a double cab F450 dually and a Fiat 500 will be priced differently. There’s a lot more surface to cover on the truck.

Picture of a Fiat 500 and an F450 double cab dually
David and Goliath

Age of your car

If your car just rolled off the showroom floor and you want to protect its pristine shine, a detailer won’t have to spend a lot of time on the prep stage. Things like road grime and swirl marks on your car will be minimal. 

If, on the other hand, your car is several years old and you haven’t been doing  a good job keeping it clean, your cost is going to be higher. The detailer is going to have to spend a lot of time removing grime and fixing your car’s finish before preserving it under a protective ceramic coating.

Color of your car

Picture showing paint correction before and after
Guess which side has swirl marks…

Swirl marks are responsible for most of the marring of your car’s finish. These are the very light scratches that you can see better in bright light and at certain angles. Swirl marks are caused by improper washing, commercial car washes, brushing off snow, etc.

While they’re not always visible, swirl marks do affect how shiny your car’s finish appears. 

These marks are generally light in color, so they will contrast against a dark paint, and are way more visible on dark-colored cars. 

That said, the detailer has to put more time into dark-colored cars to remove swirl marks. 

Geography

This factor is common sense. The price of almost everything varies depending on where you live. A cup of coffee cost more in New York City than it does in northern Maine. The same holds true for ceramic coating.

Picture of a detailer light tunnel
Where do they get those wonderful toys?

Detailer size

There’s many different sizes of detailers. There are professional shops with large buildings, floor lifts, and high tech tools like light tunnels. They also have entire teams of detailers who are often professionally trained and certified to apply various products.

And on the opposite end, there are detailers who work out of their home garages. These people may not have all the fancy toys of the big shops…. But some of them can do just as good of a job at a lower price because they don’t have all the big-shop-overhead costs.

Ceramic Coating Pricing Menus

Here’s a factor that influences the range of ceramic coating cost that you have control over. 

Some detailers will have different levels of protection of ceramic coating. For example, a detailer might offer gold, silver, and bronze packages. Gold packages often offer things like longer warranties and higher hardness ratings of coatings.

All I can say is be cautious with your money here. Some (not all!) detailing shops can be dishonest and use these menus as gimmicks to get you to spend more money. 

For example, some shops upsell hardness ratings of 8h, 9h, or even 10h. Hardness ratings of ceramic coating are highly debated. Spend a little time on Google and you’ll quickly discover the controversy. There’s a lot of talk about the accuracy of hardness tests and how they are actually measured

I think the best thing to do when deciding which option to select is to ask the detailer to explain WHY the price difference. 

If the shop just shows you a bunch of graphs in a pamphlet and uses degrees of adjectives (good, better, best) to justify higher cost…. That can be a red light.

If, on the other hand, the shop explains that the products used in the gold package are better because they have a higher quartz or silica dioxide (SiO2) content and are therefore more difficult to apply and require more labor… this is true.

There’s no easy answer here. But I think if you ask a lot of questions, you’ll be able to see through the BS and know what’s worth upgrading to. Good detailers will know their products and services and will clearly explain to you what your money buys.

DIY Ceramic Coating Cost

Having a professional apply ceramic coating to your car can be very expensive. But if you’re a DIY person, you can save a ton of money if you apply the coating yourself.

You’ll be looking at between $50 and $70 for a 30ml bottle of a good ceramic coating. This should be enough product to cover an average sized car. If you have a truck or a large car, you might want to pick up an extra bottle or two just to be safe.

So that’s it!  Look at all the money you just saved!

I wish it were that easy. 

It’s not. 

There’s a lot more you have to think about if you choose to do a DIY ceramic coating job. I’ll explain what you need to know to get it done yourself. 

With a little know-how, you can get the protection of a ceramic coating at a fraction of the cost of what a detailer will charge.

Which Ceramic Coating Should I Buy?

Ceramic coating is red-hot these days. Because of this, there’s a lot of opportunists out there looking to cash in and ride the wave. So there’s a lot of different ceramic coating products on the market for you to choose from.

Unfortunately, a lot of them are crap. Thanks to sites like alibaba.com, a person can buy a ton of cheap ceramic coating, make a fancy label, create a professional-looking website, and BOOM! They look like a real business. It’s fairly easy for a one-man-show business to look like something bigger.

Just do your homework on the product you buy. Look for reviews, customer service, and ask questions.

If you don’t want to spend the time researching ceramic coating products, here are a couple good products I recommend. These companies make some of the most trusted products on the market.

Carpro Cquartz UK 3.0. You can pick up a bottle on Amazon.

Picture of CarPro Cquartz UK Edition 3.0

Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light.  You can pick up a bottle of it on Amazon.

Picture of a bottle of GTECHNIQ Crystal Serum Light

Other products you need

Once you’ve selected a ceramic coating to apply to your car, don’t just go and apply it! You’ve still got some prep work to do.

Remember what you just learned about professional ceramic coating cost… a lot of that cost is in the prep work that needs to be done to your car BEFORE the ceramic coating is applied.

All that work is on you now!  You’ll have to give your car a proper wash, do a full paint decontamination with a clay bar, and polish your paint with a buffer.

You’re going to have to invest in some additional products like car wash, buckets, polish, a clay bar, towels, and a buffer. You likely already have some of this stuff, but nonetheless, don’t lose sight of these added expenses when thinking about how much a DIY ceramic coating will cost.

A Garage

This isn’t a requirement, but it is highly  recommended. A key part of applying a ceramic coating is doing it in a temperature-controlled environment. 

Doing the job inside a garage keeps you out of the sun and will help you keep a constant temperature.

You’ll also have more control over light. Having proper lighting will help you see your work and ensure you are getting complete coverage.


And some products have curing times. You might need to keep your car away from water and neighborhood animals who like to jump on it. Having a garage helps protect all your hard work while the coating cures.

If a garage isn’t something you have access to, but you still want to apply a ceramic coat to your car, don’t let this discourage you. Just keep a close eye on the weather forecast and be sure to choose your work day carefully. 

Skill

The last thing to talk about is skill. This really isn’t part of the cost, but if you’re thinking about applying ceramic coating yourself, it’s worth mentioning.

Applying ceramic coating isn’t like applying wax. It requires some skill and patience.

The coating generally needs to be applied in small sections on your car. It dries fairly fast and the area that you are working on needs to be wiped down quickly.

If you do it wrong, you can cause some semi-permanent damage to your car. The ceramic coating can dry and leave haze marks on your car’s finish that won’t come off. This is a very common problem amongst amateur installers. To learn more about it, check out the article I wrote about ceramic coating gone wrong. 

At the end of the day,  the most important thing you need to do is carefully follow the application instructions provided by the manufacturer of your chosen ceramic coating!!

Conclusion

I hope you’re a little more informed about ceramic coating cost. Again, if you have a professional do it, you’ll be looking at anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000. And if you do it yourself, you’re looking at about $50 to $70 plus the cost of any other materials you’ll need as part of the whole application process.

It can be expensive! Is ceramic coating worth it? I ponder the thought in this article. It really depends on your own personal situation. 

Leave a Comment