Applying Waxes, Sealants, and Coatings
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To get the most life out of the sealant you wish to apply, proper preparation is key. This guide is intended for a completely clean, decontaminated car. As some sealants can last for over 6 months, it can be a good idea to polish the car first, so that any enhancements are done before applying sealant over tar spots etc – this will also help the sealant last longer.
- Panel prep spray – to remove any oils that could interfere with the sealant’s application.
- Applicator – this could be foam, microfiber or just a microfiber cloth. Check with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Microfiber cloths – for buffing off the cured sealant
Steps to Apply Wax, Sealant, or Coating
- Fully clean and decontaminate the car. Perform any enhancements such as fixing stone chips or polishing now. Proper steps should be taken following enhancements to ensure the car is free from any polish residue, tar remover etc.
- Spray the panel down with your panel prep spray and wipe with a clean microfiber to ensure that any oils are removed from the surface. Failure to do so could result in premature failure of the sealant. Take care around any unpainted plastics, as panel prep is typically solvent based and will attack unpainted plastics. Depending on how long-term the sealant you're applying is, this step can be optional. If it's a 1-month spray sealant, you could skip this. 6-month sealant - well worth it.
- Working panel by panel, prepare the rest of the car in the same fashion. It’s advisable to prep all the paintwork before applying any sealant, as any overspray/wipe from the panel prep will attack the sealant.
- Once the whole car has been prepared, apply a small amount of sealant to the applicator/cloth (unless instructions advise applying straight to paint), and spread a thin layer of sealant over the panel, ensuring all areas are covered. If it’s a large panel such as the roof, mentally break it into smaller sections and work those, to avoid missing any spots.
- Allow the product to cure (check the manufacturer's instructions).
- Buff off the sealant with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. If you are running into issues buffing off, a shorter pile towel can help.
- Repeat for the rest of the car. Depending on the cure times, you could be applying to one panel whilst the other cures, or you could even have enough time to coat the entire car before buffing off – as always, check the instructions.
- Some sealants have an extended cure time, during which the paint should be kept dry, make sure to check this (and the weather!) beforehand.