How to Properly Apply Wax or Sealant to Your Vehicle
Applying wax or a sealant is a great way to protect your vehicle's finish by coating the exterior with polymers, resins, and silicones. Done properly and often enough, it can reduce or even completely eliminate the need for you to polish your vehicle. Now that you've got the old coat of wax or sealant off, it's time to get a new one on.
First, you must decide if you're going to apply wax or sealant. While both will protect your vehicle's paint layer from things like UV rays, intense heat, moisture, oxidation, contaminants, and mechanical erosion, there are a few differences.
Generally, wax products contain carnauba wax, a naturally occurring wax, mixed with other ingredients to make it easier to work with. Carnauba wax doesn't wash away with water and is able to stand up to high temperatures.
The main highlight of this wax is the warm glow it adds to your vehicle's paint, enhancing the colour while minimizing imperfections. On darker colours, it helps give depth and intensity. Brighter colours are brightened and given a vibrant shine.
A downside is that this wax does not have a consistent durability. Depending on the conditions it is exposed to, you can usually expect to get between 6 to 8 weeks before needing to reapply.
Conditions such as sitting in the hot sun will shorten the protective lifespan of your coat of wax. The sun heats the vehicle so that the surface reaches carnauba wax's melting point. Overtime, the wax will evaporate and lose its protective coating.
Wax is also inconsistent in withstanding harsher soaps and certain vehicle detergents.
Wax gives your vehicle an amazing wet-looking glossy finish, but because of its short durability, it will need to be reapplied every few weeks.
Unlike carnauba wax, paint sealant is not naturally occurring, and is instead engineered and chemically formulated to provide the best possible protection for your vehicle.
It provides an excellent shine and beautiful mirror reflection that is perfect for modern vehicles. You can expect a coat of sealant last you anywhere from 4-6 months up to a year. This means it is ideal for vehicles that are driven everyday and experience harsher conditions.
Sealant provides your vehicle with durable protection that can last for months up to a year, and it gives your vehicle a modern shine.
The ideal method for applying your chosen protective coating varies product-to-product, and whether it's a paste, liquid, or spray. This doesn't just mean wax vs sealant- two waxes or two sealants may need to be applied in very different ways in order to achieve the optimal result. Always read the information on the product label and packaging, along with any inserts, before using a product on your vehicle.
Generally, the steps to applying wax or sealant to your vehicle are:
1. Read All Instructions
Application methods can vary depending on brand, and the type of wax or sealant being used. It's not just a difference in application between wax vs sealant, two waxes or two sealants may need to be applied in very different ways in order to maximize their effectiveness.
Apply wax or sealant to your vehicle under a cover, like a carport. Not only will this prevent the sun from heating the panels of your vehicle, but it will also protect it if it begins to rain while you're working. The rain will make it so the protective coating will not adhere, causing it to slide into areas where you don't want it, and make a mess.
Your vehicle needs to be clean and completely dry before moving onto the next steps.
2. Apply Wax/Sealant to Applicator
Begin with a small amount of product on the applicator. The pad will quickly become saturated with the product, meaning you only need to take a little as needed.
3. Apply In Sections
You'll want to apply the wax or sealant to your vehicle in sections so you don't miss a spot, double-apply a spot, or leave it on for too long. You should be able to see your paint colour through the applied product. If you apply too thick of a layer, it will be more work to remove later.
Use a soft brush to remove wax and sealant from cracks and off moldings before it dries.
4. Let Wax/Sealant Dry
Dry time will vary depending on product, brand, and the weather. Consult the product packaging to know how long to wait after applying. Once dried, the wax/sealant should appear matte and chalky, and you can move onto the next step.
5. Remove Excess Wax/Sealant
Using a soft, clean microfiber cloth, apply gentle pressure in a circular motion. Once visible wax/sealant is gone, you can buff the vehicle with a faster circular motion.
"I want the durability of sealant, but the look of wax. Is it possible to apply both?"
Provided the sealant and wax products are compatible, it is possible to apply a coat of both sealant and wax to your vehicle. You will want to apply the coat of sealant first, wait the required amount of time for it to cure, and then layer the wax coat on top.
There are benefits, such as that the wax will fill in small imperfections in the sealant, while the sealant will provide protection once the wax begins to wear off, but there is a big drawback. Because the wax will degrade significantly quicker than the sealant layer, it will require removal while the sealant is still going strong. By the nature of the beast, however, every way of removing the wax will also negatively affect the sealant layer, meaning it will be necessary to remove and replace the sealant as well.
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