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Wax vs Sealant

WAX VS. SEALANT - WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

While both have their benefits and drawbacks, choosing between a wax or sealant for your car’s paint comes down to the way the vehicle is used. For a daily driver you want the long-lasting durable protection. For your weekend toy, you typically want the best shine - so how do you choose?

Let’s start with the basics:

THE DIFFERENCES

At their core, both waxes and sealants do the same basic thing: provide a sacrificial layer between your paint and the outside world. They can also enhance your paint, depending on the paint color the quality of the prep work performed, and the specific product you're using. Each product differs when it comes to how it accomplishes the task of protection and enhancement.

WAX

Wax is a natural product, harvested from of the Copernicia prunifera (carnauba) palm tree. That’s why the wax is called Carnauba Wax. Carnauba comes in a variety of grades, purities, and levels of refinement. It’s blended with oils, other wax types (like beeswax), and, in some cases, polymers. Raw, pure Carnauba is a hard and crumbly substance – so don't believe the hype of any product claiming to be "100% Carnauba." You couldn’t apply a hard brick of wax to your car. To create usable car wax, blending is required…

Due to different ways to blend, different Carnauba waxes vary in terms of durability and longevity. For example, heat and detergents make wax deteriorate quickly. That’s why harsh cleaners and hot weather shorten the life of your protective wax coat… If you live in a desert climate like Arizona or Nevada, you’ll   have to wax your car much more frequently.

The biggest benefit waxes deliver is the overall enhancement to painted finishes. Quality waxes will enhance colors, fill minor imperfections, and produce a rich, deep look that can't be achieved with other types of products. With a quality Carnauba wax used on darker colors tend to give the deeper, wetter look, while on brighter colors (like yellows or reds) the look will be richer and more vibrant. That’s why wax is the ideal appearance solution for cars that are garaged or well-maintained – and for show cars.  

SEALANTS

Sealants fall on the other side of the spectrum; they are completely synthetic. They are chemically engineered to achieve specific results, the most important of which is providing lasting protection. Sealants can easily be modified, customized, and blended in the lab to meet any number of criteria and performance requirements.

Sealants (on average) provide more durability than comparably priced wax products. Sealants give your paint higher resistance to heat, UV rays and detergent abuse.  This makes them ideal for your daily driver, a vehicle kept outside full time, and cars where paint protection and low maintenance are essential.

One small trade-off is that sealants don’t enhance your gloss as much as waxes. Sealants are not formulated to achieve the same level of rich depth and gloss that you get from quality Carnauba products. A sealant will typically leave a more bright, reflective shine, and this does make them great for white and silver cars. On darker colors, sealants will still provide an aesthetic enhancement and added gloss, but they won’t reach the levels that an Enthusiast Grade Carnauba Wax can provide.

THE RIGHT PRODUCT FOR YOUR CAR

There are no hard and fast rules for choosing between a sealant and a wax (and as you’ll see, using both is the optimal choice), but having some guidelines will ensure you maximize your results in the shortest possible time.

If your car is a daily driver that you store outside, you should seriously consider a sealant. Just 2-3 applications per year will give your paint longer durability and better resistance to the elements.

If your most important concern is your car’s look and you’re comfortable with more frequent applications, then choose a wax. You'll still get a good layer of protection if you use our Liquid Wax, but you’ll also get an incredible mirror gloss.

LAYERING PRODUCTS: THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Why either/or? Why not both? Sealants and waxes perform different and complementary functions, and Layering will give your car’s paint the absolute best of both worlds. Part of the reward of detailing is achieving your personal, custom goals. Using both sealant and wax will give you a solution better than anything right out of the box. The best practice is to apply the sealant first and then to top that base layer with wax, but now there’s an even more flexible way. Thanks to the cross-linking polymer engineering in all Surf City Garage Detailing Products, you can layer our sealant over the wax or the wax over the sealant – it’s YOUR choice.  Either way, you will get great performance.

Experiment with different combinations to find the layering application order that gives YOU the best results.

WAXES, SEALERS & GLAZES

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SHINE ON™?

The Shine On Sealer & Glaze System has two key benefits: (1) Nano Seal uses nanotechnology to seal and protect your paint. It maximizes your shine potential. (2) Nano Glaze creates a show car shine and amplifies the shine to an even higher level.

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO USE NANO SEAL AND NANO GLAZE?

It depends on the climate and exposure to the elements. In a typical climate, use Nano Seal 3-4 times per year and use Nano Glaze as often as you’d like to maintain and amplify the shine.

CAN I USE SURF CITY GARAGE WAX WITH THE SHINE ON SEALER & GLAZE SYSTEM?

Yes. In fact, that’s what we do at the shop. Apply Nano Seal first and wait 20 minutes. Follow with Barrier Reef or Liquid Wax, and then use Nano Glaze last to amplify the shine.

HOW LONG DOES BARRIER REEF LAST AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I USE IT?

It depends on your climate and exposure to the elements.  On average, Barrier Reef will last 2-3 months, but an easy test is to check the water beading on the hood of your car. When the beads become fewer and larger, it’s time to apply a new coat. Because of the high quality of the wax, you can use Barrier Reef as often as you like, since there’s never a buildup.

CAN YOU APPLY CARNAUBA LIQUID WAX WITH AN ORBITAL POLISHER?

Yes, but applying Barrier Reef or Liquid Wax with an orbital polisher is not necessary because it is so quick and easy to apply by hand.  But if you like to apply wax with a buffer, simply use a foam polishing or finishing pad and buff at a low-to-medium speed. A quick tip to make waxing even easier – using blue painter’s tape, take a few minutes to tape off emblems and bodyline gaps.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN LETTING NANO SEAL SET FOR 20 MINUTES VERSUS 24 HOURS?

You’ll get 95% of the benefit of Nano Seal in 20 minutes. For the maximum benefit, you can leave it on longer, up to 24 hours.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR GLAZE AND WAX?

Nano Glaze and all Surf City Garage Wax Products contain #1 pure Carnauba wax and both can be applied as often as you like.  The difference is that Nano Glaze also contains synthetic polymers and other ingredients, making it a quick and easy shine amplifier.