how to apply a ceramic coating

How to Ceramic Coat a Car (2022 Guide)

Don’t let your first time frighten you. Applying ceramic coating is a detailed process, but it’s definitely something a beginner can achieve. Follow these steps to get your car covered properly in Ethos Ceramic Matrix Coating.
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how to apply a ceramic coating to your car

Nothing is safe or sacred. At least, not when it comes to your car’s paint and the environment around it. Birds tend to use your hood as a target and rail dust can make any new car rust prematurely. From acid rain to tree sap and road tar, you could spend an hour or more every day, detailing the crud off your paint. Wax helps, but it’s not perfect either.


What is a Ceramic Coating?

There’s no denying that a ceramic coating or graphene coating would protect your car’s paint better than any wax can do. If you’ve been scared off by the exorbitant price of having a professional detailer do the job, or if you love the feeling of a job well done, why not do it yourself? Knowing how to apply a ceramic coating to your car contains more than one life skill that a proud car owner should have in their toolbox anyway. 

If it’s your first time applying a ceramic coating, it’s going to be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s go step by step through the process to apply a nano ceramic coating that looks great and protects your finish for years.

What you’ll need

Quality products make all the difference in the finished results. Here’s what you’ll need from Ethos Car Care to get the job done. 

  • Ceramic Matrix or Graphene Matrix Coating. Both offer 9H hardness rating and is independently accredited plus it’s intended to last 3-5+ years.
  • Defy Cleaner
  • Detox Ceramic Coating Prep Spray
  • Clay bar or clay mitt
  • Pro Shine Ceramic Detail Spray
  • Polisher and scratch removing compounds
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Ceramic coating applicator

Or Buy the Whole Kit Here

Step 1: Detail the exterior

The toughest part – and most time-consuming part – of applying ceramic coating isn’t the application itself but the prep. A perfectly clean, unmarked paint job is required or you’ll see every bit of dirt and every scratch preserved under the invisible coating.

If you’re applying ceramic coat to a new car, you might be thinking about skipping the prep stage. DON’T!! Even on new cars, there are bits of stuck-on dirt, rail dust, glue, and other junk. You’ll kick yourself.

Clean the exterior


Naturally, you’re starting with a washed car, but there’s soap residue and other stuff still on the paint. Begin by spraying each panel with Defy, then wiping it off with a clean microfiber cloth for a streak-free finish.

Decontaminate the paint


Run your hand over the paint. Feel those tiny bumps? That’s gunk still stuck to the paint, and a proper application requires those go too. A clay bar or a clay mitt will do miracles. Lay down a healthy mist of Pro Shine Ceramic Detail Spray, working in small areas, to act as a lubricant or you could mar the paint. Wipe the clay bar or mitt over the section to lift away the stuck-on bits. Repeat until you’ve done the whole car.

Remove scratches (If Needed)


A light polish with a finishing compound may be all you need if you’re working on a new, never-been-driven car. For used cars that have had some life experience, a thorough cut and polish will be needed to remove the swirl marks and scratches. Follow the instructions on the power polisher and products you choose. 

Give it a final once-over


Get rid of any hidden moisture in panel gaps that could mess up your ceramic coating. Then, perform a final clean with Ethos Detox prep spray that strips any last contaminants, wiping it completely off with a clean microfiber cloth.

Your car should be ready to apply ceramic coating now.

Step 2: Apply the ceramic coating

The time-consuming part is done, and it’s time to lay down a glassy layer of ceramic coating. This process requires precision, and it’s best to apply it in a climate-controlled space between 65 and 75 degrees. 

Wipe on

Shake the bottle well, then apply just a few drops of Ethos Ceramic Matrix to your applicator. Wipe it onto a smaller area, say 3’ x 3’, in straight lines that slightly overlap. You’ll feel it applying properly if the applicator glides smoothly. If it’s dragging, use a few more drops.

Right away, you’ll begin to see the “rainbow effect” as the coating bonds to the paint and begins to dry. It’ll turn hazy after between one and three minutes, with high-temp or high-humidity areas on the shorter end of the range. This is known as the flash time.

Wipe off

Wipe the area you’ve just applied in a circular pattern with little to no pressure, taking all the residue off the paint. Check your work with a work light or flashlight before moving on. 

Repeat this process until the rest of your vehicle has been coated once. You could stop here, at one coat and you’d be admiring your mirror-like finish for a long time. But if you’re serious about trying to keep your car clean, have water droplets slip right off, and prevent sight scratches even better, then a second coating should be something you consider. 

Step 3: Let it cure


It might look and feel like the ceramic coating is dry, but it hasn’t fully cured yet. In fact, you should protect it from getting wet for at least 48 hours after you wrap up the job. After two days, it’s safe to drive it and get it wet, but the ceramic coating will continue to harden for seven days or so. 

Step 4: Keep it up


Although your car’s porous paint finish has been smoothed at the microscopic level and water and dirt don’t adhere like they used to, it’s going to get dirty again. Bird will continue to poop. Trees will continue to drip sap. The sun will keep beating down on it. Like oil changes for the engine, maintenance for your ceramic coating will keep it looking its best. 

Washing your car with Ethos Ceramic Shampoo helps maintain the hydrophobic action that forces water to bead off, and ceramic resins fill in the surface. If your car just needs a spot clean or a touch-up, DEFY Ceramic Waterless Wash can be used safely to whisk away grease, dust, dirt and other junk.


Yes! Due to improvements in Ceramic Coating technology you can apply a professional grade coating from the comfort of your own garage. Ceramic Matrix Coating and Graphene Matrix Coating are perfect selections for anyone looking to apply a ceramic coating to their vehicle. They're easy to install and provide long lasting results.

The steps to install a ceramic coating involve 1) Cleaning of the vehicle, 2) Decontamination of the paint, 3) Paint correction/Polishing (If Necessary), 4)Coating Appliation and finally 5) Ongoing cleaning and maintenance.

Our DIY Ceramic Coating blog breaks down each of these steps in detail!


Ceramic Coatings provide great shine and long term protection of your vehicle to preserve the finishes from oxidation, swirl marks and environmental contaminants.

Unlike typical car waxes or sealants, high quality Ceramic Coatings last years! Some of these coatings, those made with Graphene materials can last 5 or even 10 years!

Ceramic Coatings are comprised of Si02 also known as Silicon Dioxide that is applied in liquid form and cures to form a hard layer on top of your paint surface.

These coatings provide durable protection to keep your vehicle shining for several years or more.

Ceramic coatings when done by a professional can run into the thousands of dollars.

Our "How Much Does a Ceramic Coating Cost", blog breaks down the pricing you can expect to pay for a ceramic coating.

DIY Ceramic Coatings are a great solution to provide an economical and easy way to protect your vehicle.

Our Spray On Ceramic Coating provides up to a year of protection in a simple spray wax application.

There are countless options of Ceramic Coatings on the market. It is important to look for ceramic coatings that have validated 3rd party tests to ensure they're 9H rated, preferably by SGS. Coating hardness plays a big factor into the longevity of the product.

Ceramic Matrix offers 3+ years of protection in one application and is 9H rated by SGS and approved for application by Boeing.

1 comment

Jody Love

Jody Love

Flash time between 1st and 2nd coat?

Flash time between 1st and 2nd coat?

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