The world of automotive is full of abbreviations, so much it will boggle up your mind completely. Among these, 9H is the most overmarketed and overrated one with respect to the strength of DIY ceramic coatings. In fact, for some less than reliable manufacturers it is very common to inflate the hardness of the cheap ceramic coating they produce to inexistent levels.
However, there isn’t much information online to explain the ins and outs of the hardness of ceramic coatings. The consumers are not to be blamed for misunderstanding the facts regarding 9H hardness with ceramic coating. So, let’s just bring a change to this by emphasizing just explaining what efforts does it take to determine the 9H hardness using ceramic coating products.
What is 9H Ceramic Coating?
There are many misunderstandings and false concepts about what takes it to get the 9H hardness level for ceramic coatings. People explain it by describing the hardness level of applying it, the hardness involved with all the prep for it, even the hardness of the bottle! However, none of this is relevant to it in reality.
Test For Hardness Level:
9H is a test for the hardness level of the ceramic coating once the surface is cured. Its basis is the pencil scale of hardness used by most graphic designers, professional artists, and many others to pick a pencil lead strength.
To shock you, no pencil today contains lead. Yes, it is graphite, a non-toxic mineral that is very similar to quartz, another non-toxic mineral. Quartz is also commonly known as silica dioxide, which is the primary ingredient in a nano-ceramic coating. Therefore, a pencil scale of hardness is used by most ceramic coating companies to determine the durability or strength of the product.
Break Down of the Pencil Scale of Hardness
With regard to the products’ hardness in comparison to the pencil hardness scale, ceramic coatings are graded. A common misconception prevails among many that Mohs scale is used by most manufacturers, which isn’t true but we will explore it a little further.
Pencil scale is a test that measures the hardness of the ceramic coating once it will be cured on the surface. The grade range varies between 0 to 9 and hardness is indicated by the letter ‘H’ for that particular grade.
How to Conduct the Pencil Scale Test?
In order to grade a pencil’s hardness, the test is conducted by pressing a pencil at a specific hardness at a 45-degree angle of a ceramic coating surface which is freshly applied and cured. If a permanent mark is left on the surface, it is determined to have a hardness of that pencil grade.
A pencil with 8H grading will not damage most ceramic coatings, but some do have residual scarring when tested with a 9H pencil. If no damage is caused to the coating even with a 9H coating, it gets the hardness protection award.
Now here comes the to play BS with some ceramic coating marketing efforts. The highest grade or scale for a pencil is 9H, which has been proven right. So how is a 10H ceramic coating even possible? The only way is that if the coating has the same hardness level as that of a diamond. Yes, a DIAMOND!
What is the Mohs Scale of Hardness?
Friedrich Mohs developed a hardness scale to measure how one mineral can be damaged by another, which starts with the softest material talc, graded at 1H, and goes up to a diamond, rated 10H on the scale.
Now, in no way can a liquid ceramic coating be as hard as a diamond. Another fact is established that the main ingredient in these ceramic coatings to create such great hardness levels is silica dioxide or quartz.
Let’s go through the scale now and see how Mohs scale grades the quartz, just so we are sure that the 10H ceramic coatings advertised boastingly are not graded on a Mohs scale!
The image above clearly shows that quartz is rated as 7H on this scale, that clarifies all the issue. So, now anytime you see a ceramic coating being graded as 10H, you know it is absolute rubbish!
What Makes a Ceramic Coating?
Going down to the roots, the ceramic coating is basically a liquid polymer comprising of multiple bonded molecules utilizing nanotechnology to provide with a layer of semi permeant water-resistant protection. It can be infused on exteriors with a clear coat on the glass, plastics and even metals.
Once cured, a very hard protective layer is formed by it that is equal to a 9H hardness level which is discussed and explained in detail earlier in this article. However, the quartz percentage alone does not make the ceramic coating this hard.
There are many ingredients helping it create that microscopic protection layer that will last up to 5 years with high-quality products.
Nano Silica Dioxide:
SiO2 is an inorganic metal oxide, having a diameter of fewer than 100 nanometers. Ceramic Pro products have 95% SiO2 in some formulations, while most DIY coatings are just under 80%. The ideal stuff is between 80-90%.
Titanium oxide is another, underrated mineral found in most pharma products like antiseptics and proves to be great in providing a hydrophobic effect in ceramic coatings.
The anti-dust effect of this product is among its highly remarkable properties, making it difficult for any dirt or debris to stick on the surface of the vehicle, keeping the car cleaner for longer periods.
Some other ingredients like brightening silicone particles, polysilazane, and a few others come together to create a bond on porous surfaces, protecting vehicles for many years to follow.
What Is The Importance of Ceramic Coating’s Hardness?
This is the most important section of this article i.e. why exactly does hardness matter?
1. Retains The Paint’s Longevity
The main reason why ceramic nanoparticles are opted for by car owners is to retain the paint’s longevity. Car waxes help for two months only, while car paint sealants will help maybe for a year if your luck works.
This reality check caused many car owners to hunt for solutions which are more long term, resist the build-up of any dirt, produce a high gloss effect and minimize swirl marks’ formation, providing excellent resistance to chemicals as well. And so, finally, ceramic coatings enter the game.
2. Provides Protection From Contaminants
A ceramic coating is much better compared to a wax sealant as it can provide protection from bird droppings, UV rays, acids from bug splatters and so much more, for at least 3-5 years. This hard protective layer will keep the headlights, clear coating, vinyl wraps and so much more, extending the protective paint layer on your car for years.
The coating’s hardness matters just because it is directly related to the product’s longevity. However, almost all DIY ceramic coatings have the same 9H grade coating that provides very hydrophobic characteristics and is known to protect from UV rays as well.
With this, it is also worth mentioning that a ceramic coating with a hardness level basis is a moot point. You should be looking for its quartz or SiO2 percentage, which helps provide substance behind the level of hardness and longevity of its protective layer.
3. Lasts a Long Time
When the concentration of quartz is high in the ceramic coating, it lasts much longer. The drawback of this however is that a very high SiO2 percentage is the ease of application, which is also the secret for many ceramic pro-grade products. They usually have high SiO2 percentages making application very tricky.
Therefore, it is recommended that professional-grade ceramic coatings are installed only by certified installers. This minimizes the margin for error that may cause poor results if attempted by a newbie or DIY car enthusiast. This is the key to prepare a ceramic coating having high quartz percentages, which is also easier to apply for an average consumer.
What is the Best Ceramic Coating?
One of the best DIY nano-ceramic coatings is the Armor Shield IX DIY Nano ceramic coating which also happens to be among the most affordable products in the market today. Many professional detailers, websites, media, bloggers, and Youtubers have reviewed us, and each one of them has been very happy and satisfied with the longevity of the products, its application, and how the elements are held with it.
The product is sold in a 30ml kit including protective gloves, multiple application cloths, an application sponge, buffing tower, and of course, ceramic coating. Volume discounts are offered for those who purchase multiple its of need extra product for their larger vehicles.
However, Armor Shield IX has inarguably the best customer service, as we go above and beyond for our consumers, offering fast, free shipping to consumers in the US, Canada, North America and also offer many prep work, application and aftercare tips for all!