Glass Coating. How to properly apply and maintain.
The question of how to properly apply a quartz or glass coating to your car is a very popular one in the detailing world, be it from professional detailers or DIY enthusiasts alike. While each coating has its own characteristics and needs, there are many similarities and basics that can be applied across the board regardless of (good) brand. For this demonstration, we at the Esoteric Learning Center have chosen to use the popular Miyabi Coat from Kamikaze. Not only does this Japanese-made coating have great durability and beautiful looks, but it’s also one of the absolute easiest glass coatings to apply in the entire detailing industry. Unfortunately many companies out there in the business try to hide design flaws by saying that the coating has to be challenging to apply in order for it to be good…that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Unfortunately many companies out there in the business try to hide design flaws by saying that the coating has to be challenging to apply in order for it to be good…that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Before we get started into the instructions on how to properly apply a glass or quartz coating, let’s take a quick look at what they are.
What are glass / quartz / ceramic coatings, and are they worth it?
Glass coating, quartz coating, ceramic coating…call them what you will, but the fact is that they’re the new face of durable automotive protection products.
We now have new technologies available to us in the detailing industry that significantly increase the durability of protection upwards of 18-24 (real) months. These new technologies come in the form of semi-permanent coatings that provide the ultimate barrier between your paint (and wheels…and trim), and the harsh elements that your car is exposed to on a daily basis. Don’t buy into the wild claims of 7, 10, or 25 year coatings, or the dreaded “lifetime” coatings. I can write a completely separate article on why that’s a lot of marketing hype, smoke and mirrors, etc. But for now let’s make it simple…coated cars need to be maintained, and they will still get scuffs, scratches, stains, etc over time, so plan on having the car re-polished and re-coated after a couple of years because unless it’s a complete garage queen, it will need it!
Not only will these coatings provide a protective barrier, but they also add gloss and depth to the finish, and they make subsequent cleaning of the vehicle much easier since dirt and other contaminants won’t stick to the surface as easily. When you wash your car afterwards, the paint will continuously have that “freshly waxed” and slick feeling to it. Given the fact that the products and application costs associated are much more than a traditional wax, many may ask if glass coating a car is worth it. Given the amount of time and maintenance it saves you, plus the great looks that it provides, the answer is an unequivocal yes (this is based on my opinion as an automotive enthusiast, not as a salesman)!
How to apply glass coating to your car, featuring Miyabi Coat by Kamikaze.
Now that you’re ready to apply glass coating, let’s go over your list of product needs as well as considerations to take.
While you don’t have to machine polish the car first, it’s always best in order to remove any scratches, swirls, haze, or any other imperfections that prevent the true color from shining through. The better the finish at the start, the better the finish after applying your coating. Applying your coating on a car that hasn’t been fully machine polished will work, it’s just that you won’t be able to see its full potential without it.
- Kamikaze Miyabi Coat. We use it sparingly, so just a 30ml bottle is enough to do (at least) 2 cars with 1 coat each, or 1 car with 2 coats. Multiple coats are not necessary.
- Gyeon Prep. This is an absolute must to ensure that your finish is completely clean and free from any type of polishing oils, wax, or anything else that could prevent a good bond to the painted surface.
- Applicator kit. You’ve heard the old saying that you want to use the right tool for the job, and this is it! The foam block is re-usable, and the soft micro-suede cloths are disposable.
- High quality microfiber towel. Use these with Gyeon Prep to get the surface ready. By using a very high quality microfiber, you have much less of a chance of marring the finish.
- 2 short nap general purpose microfiber towels. These are for your coating removal, so you want the towels to be brand new (preferably washed once). You will throw these away once you are finished.
Step 1…prep your surface(s).
Prepping the surface for application can have a few different definitions depending on what level you’re going for. If you’re machine polishing the surface, you’ll want to wash, decontaminate / clay, machine polish, and then use Gyeon Prep to fully remove all of the polishing oils from the paint.
If you’re not machine polishing, then you simply want to fully wash the car with a pH neutral soap (use a soap with NO waxes, sealants, or polymers). We would recommend using something like Gyeon Bath, or Sonax Car Wash, and using a very soft wash mitt. After the car is washed and dried, use Gyeon Prep and your high quality microfiber towel to thoroughly wipe down the painted surfaces. Note…unless you are machine polishing your car, we do not recommend claying the surface for decontamination. You CAN and WILL mar / scratch the surface during this process, regardless of what clay and clay lube that you use. At the Esoteric Detail studios, we ONLY clay when we are polishing! Important safety tip noted…now let’s move on.
Step 2…apply the coating.
First, open the bottle of coating. Since these coatings harden, there’s always a chance that there are crystallized pieces around the top of the bottle. These crystallized pieces could badly scratch your paint, so be sure to carefully inspect the threaded area of the bottle, as well as the top dispenser. Use a paper towel or old rag to fully wipe it down, or even used compressed air to clean it out.
Now take your foam block, and wrap it with one of your micro-suede applicators. Be sure that the cloth is completely free of debris that could potentially scratch the surface. Once this is ready, pour a handful of drops to the applicator…more at first, and less as the cloth starts to get saturated after a few sections.
We’re going to be working on small sections at a time, and we’re going to start with the top, horizontal surfaces first (hood, roof, trunk lid). Working in straight lines with little to no pressure (we’re applying TO the surfaces, not trying to rub it IN to the surface!), apply the coating. You should be able to see that you’re getting complete coverage, and you want to simply try for a thin, even application. First apply in one direction in straight lines, then go back over it in an opposite, criss-cross pattern to ensure an even coverage. Repeat this process until you have an entire section done (hood, for instance). Now step back and inspect the surface to make sure you didn’t miss any spots.
Some coatings need shorter time between application and removal than Kamikaze Miyabi Coat, so consult the manufacturer if you’re using something different. But if you are using Kamikaze, then you can typically wait 5-10 minutes between application and removal. It’s nowhere near as fussy as other coatings can be! You should be able to apply to 2 sections (i.e. quarter panel and door) before starting the removal process. If in high humidity conditions, or if you find the removal to get a bit sticky, then shorten your time before removal.
Step 3…remove the coating residue.
Now that we have applied our coating, and waited 5-10 minutes, it’s time to remove the residue. We will do this using our 2 new general purpose microfiber towels. Here’s a quick tip if using 2 of the same towel…mark one of the towels with a magic marker, and designate as your removal towel #1. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can get the 2 towels mixed up during the application process, so make life easier on yourself.
Starting with your removal towel #1, gently wipe down an entire panel (quarter panel) using mostly straight-line motions. This first wipe should get about 90% of the residue from the surface. Now take towel #2, and go back over the same area using the same motion and technique. Remember, we’re barely using any pressure whatsoever! Now that this area is done, move on to the next and repeat the process. Once those two sections are removed, you can set your towels aside and start applying to the next 2 sections of the car. You’ll keep repeating this process until you have finished the entire vehicle. On most cars, this process should take 30-45 minutes.
If during the removal process you get any coating or residue onto trim, glass, or any other area that you don’t want it, then just quickly remove it with your towel and you shouldn’t have any problems.
If you allow the product to sit too long, and it becomes sticky or tacky during the removal process, then just apply more product onto that section, and remove it immediately.
Once you’re finished, throw away your micro-suede cloth, and your 2 removal towels.
NOTE for Kamikaze ISM users: If you are applying ISM Coat, follow the exact same instructions for applying Miyabi Coat, but don’t let the coating set as long before removal. In hotter or more humid conditions, we recommend applying and removing ISM Coat one panel at a time as opposed to 2 panels for the Miyabi Coat.
Step 4…wait, and let it properly cure!
Once you have completed the removal process, I recommend that you carefully inspect the car to make sure there’s no residue that you missed. A flashlight is good for this process!
While your coating now looks good on the car, it needs to cure and crystallize so that it looks its best. Most of this curing and changing in looks will happen during the first 24 hours. While you can drive the car after even just a few hours, it’s better to let it sit until you know it’s gone through most of its curing process. And you definitely want to keep it from the rain, getting wet, or being in any dew sitting outside during that first 24 hours.
If you have IR curing lights, you can significantly speed up the curing process in as little as 10 minutes per section. But that’s for a different article and a very small group of people…
After-care for your glass coated car.
While coatings make maintenance much easier, you still have to take care of them! Unfortunately I hear of detailers / manufacturers telling people that coated vehicles need no maintenance afterwards, as if some magical solution was just applied. The reality however, is that you do indeed need to take care of them properly for them to last to their fullest potential.
For Kamikaze coatings, we HIGHLY recommend using their OverCoat. It’s designed as a sacrificial layer to the base coating of Miyabi, and it’s extremely easy to use on occasion. While by itself OverCoat can last up to 6 months, I recommend applying it every month or two during your drying process while washing the car. It may take an extra 10 minutes at most…a very good investment in time to get the most out of your coating.
Here are a few tips:
- Do NOT use automatic car washes! These devils of the auto cleaning industry can and will (badly) scratch and swirl your coated vehicle just like they will an un-coated vehicle. Stay clear of them…
- Use a shampoo that’s designed for maintaining coated vehicles. We like to use Gyeon Bath as our maintenance shampoo.
- Use maintenance sprays such as Kamikaze OverCoat, or Gyeon Cure to act as a sacrificial layer.
- Do not use quick detailers or waxes on your coated car. When you do, you lose the characteristics of the coating, and gain the characteristics of the wax or quick detailer.
- Be sure to use high quality microfiber towels to maintain your vehicle, and care for them properly. These are the ONLY items that should ever touch your paint, so the better they are, the better care they will take for your vehicle.
And to make this entire article more complete, we have the following video that takes you through the entire process!
Your properly coated vehicle should look great for years, especially if you maintain it well. By following the tips and guides in this article, you will be able to apply, and maintain your coating like a true professional.
Here are a few shots of Kamikaze-coated vehicles:
If you have any questions or comments, please list them below. Also feel free to share this coating tutorial on your favorite automotive forum and / or social media.