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Detailing Library - Paint Protection

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Paint Protection is anything that will create a film on the surface of the paint to protect it from the elements.

Paint Protection is broken up into 3 main categories. Carnauba Waxes, Paint Sealants and Coatings.

Carnauba Waxes

Carnauba Waxes are the traditional method of protecting your cars paintwork with some formulas dating back to the early 20th century.

Carnauba Waxes are made from a mixture of ingredients including oils, solvents and a wax from a tree called Copernicia Prunifera. Also known as the "Carnauba Palm". Carnauba based waxes usually provide great hydrophobic properties and protection, but only over a short period of time (typically 1-3 months).

Carnauba based waxes are available in paste, liquid, or spray form.

How To Apply Carnauba Paste Wax

  1. Ensure the surface is clean and free from contamination.
  2. Using a foam wax applicator, lightly wipe across the surface of the wax. Paste waxes should be used sparingly, so we are not trying to gather as much product as possible, but more trying to dampen the applicator with the product.
  3. Apply to the surface in overlapping motions, trying to spread the product as far and evenly as possible. When on the surface, the wax should initially look like a clear oily film.
  4. Wait as per the manufacturers instructions, then remove the residue with a microfibre cloth.
  5. Multiple layers can usually be applied 4-8 hours apart. if in doubt, check with the manufacturers recommendations.

NOTE: A common mistake people make with carnauba waxes is applying too thick. This will result in the product not drying correctly and potentially "smearing" or "streaking" on the paintwork. If this occurs, remove streaks using a quick detail spray or in serious cases, polish and then reapply.

Paint Sealants

Paint Sealants are a synthetic type of wax that typically use polymers to protect the surface by "cross linking" or bonding to each other to create a protective film on the surface.

Paint Sealants in general, will last far longer (3-6 months) than carnauba waxes before breaking down and requiring reapplication. They have also been known to alter the look of the paintwork and provide sharper reflections and a high shine.

"Dealership Paint Protection" falls into this category and will require repeat applications and/or maintenance products to maintain the sealant.

NOTE: Never apply a sythetic wax on top of a carnauba based product. Paint sealants often require clean, polished paint to bond correctly to the surface.

How To Apply A Paint Sealant

For traditional type paint sealants, follow these basic steps combined with manufacturers instructions.

  1. Ensure the surface is clean and free from contamination.
  2. Avoid plastic trim.
  3. Using a foam wax applicator, apply a pea sized amount of sealant.
  4. Apply to the surface in overlapping motions, trying to spread the product as far and evenly as possible. When on the surface, the paint sealant should initially look like a clear oily film.
  5. Once the vehicle is complete, wait as per the manufacturers instructions. Typically 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove residue with a microfibre cloth.
  7. Multiple layers typically require 24 hours between layers for curing. Check with the manufactures recommendations.

How To Apply A "Wipe On Walk Away" Sealant

A new generation of paint sealants now exists that have a very different, and simple application method. Often referred to as "wipe on and walk away" sealants. An example of these new breed of paint sealant is Optimum Opti-Seal.

These sealants do not have an extended drying time like traditional paint sealants, and with correct application no buffing of residues is required.

  1. Ensure the surface is clean and free from contamination.
  2. Using a foam wax applicator, mist a small amount of product onto the pad. 1-2 compressions of the sprayer is usually enough product for a complete panel.
  3. With minimal pressure wipe and spread the product evenly over the area to be treated. Use overlapping motions and continue to spread as the product evaporates on the surface.
  4. Check in good lighting that no product remains that has not evaporated. if the surface is clean of any streaks move on to the next area.

NOTE: It doesn't hurt to give a quick wipe to ensure all streaks have been removed. Use minimal pressure and wipe to ensure all the product is dry.


Coatings are a 21st century invention that can produce a thicker, and far superior protective film on the surface. True coatings have a durability of anywhere from 2 years or more and produce a covalent bond with the paint layers. Most coatings can also be applied to surfaces such as hard plastic trim, metal and glass surfaces.

Application is recommended only for experienced detailers and enthusiasts with a thorough understanding of traditional paint sealants and their application.

Opti-Coat 2.0 is an industry leader in this field. Completely unaffected by harsh chemicals, it can only be removed by abrasive polishing or sanding.