How To Remove A Ceramic Coating

Why Would You Want To Remove A Ceramic Coating?

A Bad Installation

Signs of incorrect application will usually show themself after a product has cured. The most common error with ceramic application is high spots appearing on the paint work. High spots occur due to ceramic coating that is not levelled properly, either during the curing process or after it has cured. Inadequate buffing technique or insufficient levelling are primary factors leading to high spots. It's important to note that most ceramic coatings, including those available in retail, require buffing or levelling to achieve the desired finish.

A Failed Ceramic Coating

One of the main signs of a failing coating is seeing little to no water behaviour on the paint surface. This can happen quickly if non pH neutral cleaning chemicals are used during maintenance washes. However, Don't just jump to conclusions thinking your coating has failed. The ceramic could be clogged and a wash with a dedicated shampoo for unclogging coatings could do the trick. Some of our favourites include Infinity Wax Synergy Refresh, Carpro Reset and Gyeon Restart Wash

Do You Always Have To Remove The Ceramic Coating Completely?

It's possible that only small areas are affected, such as a specific spots with hazing or a couple of scratches requiring attention.

Many opt to have the entire vehicle re-polished and coated. 

If the body panels have an excellent finish and the ceramic coating still retains its qualities, there's no need to strip it entirely. Instead, you can selectively remove it from the areas you wish to address and then reapply it.

On the other hand, the paint may not require correction, and the car may still look pristine, but the coating may have lost its effectiveness. Perhaps it no longer repels water as effectively, leading to quicker dirt accumulation.

Preparing The Car For Ceramic Coating Removal

Wash & Decontaminate 

For a full in depth tutorial on proper wash and decontamination follow this article below -


Method 1: Polishing off ceramic coatings (Recommended) 

The preferred method for the removal of ceramic coatings is through mechanical abrasion. Since ceramic coating forms a physical layer, polishing is the only guaranteed way to completely eliminate it and reveal the underlying clear coat.

In fact, numerous professional-grade ceramic coatings assert that machine polishing is the sole effective means of removal.

If you're considering removing the coating due to improper application, it's essential to inspect for any high spots or excessive thickness in the coating. If such issues are identified, it's advisable to begin by wet sanding them by hand before proceeding further.

Use fine sandpaper along with an adequate amount of lubrication on the surface. Start with a 3000 grit sandpaper, progressing to coarser grits if necessary, until signs of the ceramic coating wearing off become apparent. It's imperative to exercise caution to avoid damaging the underlying clear coat.

Once the high spots have been addressed, the subsequent steps mirror those involved in polishing an uncoated vehicle.

Use a random-orbit machine polisher with a medium cutting pad and a compound of medium to light abrasiveness. Apply an appropriate amount of compound to the pad as per the product's instructions.

Distribute the compound evenly across the body panel by dabbing the surface multiple times before initiating the polisher on its lowest setting to ensure even application.

Gradually increase the polisher's speed and commence polishing, moving the machine at a rate of approximately 1 inch per second. Avoid lingering in one spot to prevent overheating and potential surface damage.

Once the panel has been buffed, evaluate the outcome and test to confirm complete removal of the coating. If unsatisfied with the result, consider using a more aggressive polishing compound, followed by a subsequent pass with a lighter product to eliminate any residual scratches.

Continue polishing the clear coat until you are content with the surface quality.


Method 2: Chemical removal of ceramic coatings

Chemical resistance of ceramic coatings, but this isn't universally applicable. While they excel against acids and salts commonly encountered in the environment, they are vulnerable to alkaline substances like degreasers. These products can aggressively attack the ceramic coating, weakening its bond with the surface and facilitating its removal. However, there's a significant caveat.

It's crucial to note that your clear coat is equally susceptible to damage from alkaline products such as degreasers and brake cleaners. Misuse or prolonged exposure to these substances can erode the ceramic coating and harm the underlying paint layers irreversibly.

Final prep before re-applying the new coating

Polishing may result in the deposition of fine dust and other particles on the body panel. While buffing the surface helps remove the majority of these residues, certain areas, particularly on cars with sharper edges, may retain some particles in their nooks and crannies. To address this, wash the car once more using regular soap and ensure thorough drying. As a final step, perform a wipe-down with a prep solution to ensure a clean surface.

Apply A New Ceramic Coating 

If you wish to find out more on coatings and the many benefits check out another article from us below -

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