By John Corinella, CD-SV, WC, American Detail Corp/Ceramic Pro Palm Beach

Waxes, sealants, and ceramic coatings all serve different purposes to maintain your vehicle’s exterior. Keep reading to find out which is the best solution for you.


Wax is a protective coating that is applied on painted surfaces of your vehicle. It is simply a topical product that lays on the surface. It is generally made of a combination of materials such as carnauba wax, beeswax, and natural oils. It may also include petroleum distillates. You can commonly find three different types of wax: paste, liquid, and spray.

Paste waxes are generally made up of more natural elements. Liquid waxes are generally lab-made with blends of natural and synthetic products. Spray waxes are a much thinner viscosity for ease of use.

  • Shield dirt from your paint
  • Make your paint look shiny
  • Help maintain paint
  • Provide some protection against sun damage
  • Mainly designed for paint only

Depending on the quality of the product and your environment, life expectancy can last from three to four weeks up to eight weeks.


Usually, a professional grade wax will be a paste wax, one that might provide a fine final polish along with a long lasting more durable protection. These waxes are of higher percent quality ingredients. The preferred application is by machine and in a cool, shady environment.


Most DIY waxes are liquid wax. These are of good quality and made to be user friendly. They are designed to be applied by hand and removed with ease.


Sealants are made up of polymer synthetics and emulsified in a resin-like formula. This combination is designed to form a hard finish that creates a net type of protective shield on your vehicle’s painted surface. They are mainly designed only for paint.

  • Designed to shield from dirt
  • High gloss finish
  • Higher UV protection
  • Netting type of surface protection
  • Longer lasting than wax

Quality sealants usually last four to six months, depending on environmental conditions.


Professional sealants are of a higher polymer synthetic percentage. Using an orbital or dual action polisher is highly recommended for best results.


Sealants are usually a thinner viscosity and easier to use. They can be applied by hand and still provide great protection.


Ceramic coatings are a nano technology based on a silica dioxide formulation mixed with a solvent or a resin. They are designed to bond to the vehicle’s surface. Ceramic coatings are highly hydrophobic, which allows for extreme water repelling. Some coatings can be applied to multiple surfaces while others are designed for specific substrates, such as glass, paint, plastic, etc.

  • Self-cleaning effect
  • Extreme water repellant
  • UV protection
  • Much longer life expectancy than waxes or sealants
  • Can be applied to most substrates
  • High level gloss finish
  • Protection against environmental fallout

Ceramic coating life expectancy can be from six months to many years, depending on the number of layers applied to the vehicle.


Professional ceramic coatings are usually 50 to 80% in solid formulation. They set at a harder harness level than other protective coatings. They are also much more durable, longer lasting, and often come with a warranty. They are recommended to be installed by a certified professional with trained experience.


These are typically 30% or less solid formulation. These coatings are not as durable, long lasting, or high gloss as professional ceramic coatings. You can get good protective coating. They are designed to be applied with less experience and effort. It is still recommended to install in a cool dry area. Always read instructions before use.


Wax vs. Sealants vs. Ceramic Coating

  • Large molecular structure
  • Topical product
  • Natural wax mixed with waters or oils
  • Protection time: 3-6 weeks
  • Netting type bonding effect
  • Synthetic polymer mixed with resins
  • Protection time: 3-6 months
  • Nano molecular structure (very small)
  • Silica base compound mixed with solvents or resins
  • Very durable protection against many elements
  • Protection time ranges from months to years depending on the number of layers applied to the vehicle

About the Author: John Corinella, CD-SV, WC, is the Owner/President of American Detail Corp/Ceramic Pro Palm Beach, a Ceramic Pro Elite Dealer located in West Palm Beach, Florida. They provide services such as Ceramic Coatings, Paint Protection Film (PPF), Window Tinting, and much more.