Your Ceramic Coating Should Be Flexible, Not Hard

Elastomers compress rather than breaking when lightly abraded

9H, 10H – these numbers are thrown around constantly in the ceramic coating world. You might assume they’re numbers on the Mohs hardness scale. Actually, they correspond to ratings on the Pencil Hardness scale. So if a ceramic coating advertises a 9H hardness, it would (supposedly) resist scratching from a 9H pencil. 

It makes sense that this metric is the most talked-about when comparing coatings. People looking for a ceramic coating for the most part seek to prevent the micro-marring endemic to factory clear coats, so it’d stand to reason that the hardest coating would resist these tiny scratches the best, right? 

Not exactly. Hardness doesn’t make a ceramic coating mar-proof, and it also isn’t the best measure of coating’s performance. Flexibility is much more significant, as it promotes better durability, longevity, and even self-healing properties. 

Brittle Isn’t Better 

Excessively hard coatings are inflexible. You may wonder why this would matter. After all, the surface underneath is a static clear coat, so why would the coating need flexibility? Actually, the clear coat on a vehicle moves plenty; as the steel panels underneath warp and distort at high speeds or during temperature fluctuations, the clear coat deforms with it.  

If the ceramic coating bonded with the clear coat is too hard and can’t flex, there’s a chance the bond between the two could be severed, resulting in cracking or even separation. Hard ceramic coating cracking over distorted body panel

But a flexible coating, like the elastomeric Nano-Resin Pro, can bend with the distortions underneath. So not only will your coating with stand day-to-day stresses, it’ll last longer, too. With the right maintenance, a flexible coating could very well be permanent. 

Flexibility and Self-Healing 

The other thing that makes a flexible coating so valuable is their potential for self-healing properties. Coatings made up of elastomers (elastic polymers) don’t react like conventional ceramic coatings when lightly abraded. Rather than breaking, the polymers that make up the coating’s nanostructure compress, pushing inwards under the stress caused by the abrasive. 

Elastomers compress rather than breaking when lightly abraded

Because the elastomers don’t sever under the pressure, they’re able to slowly spring back to their original form. On a macro level, this makes micro-mars fill themselves in over the course of a few days, sometimes in as little as 48 hours. As mentioned above, Nano-Resin Pro is elastomeric, so it self-heals the marks you commonly see from washing and other light abrasions. 

With a harder coating, if abrasion manages to break through the nanostructure, that’s it. The bond is broken and the scratch is permanent, with buffing being your only recourse. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of a ceramic coating in the first place, right?

But My Ceramic Coating Is Super Hard And It’s Working Just Fine!

Glad to hear it! We’re not saying a hard ceramic coating will inevitably crack, separate, or permanently scratch. But we are saying they can, so  these concerns matter when choosing a coating. In short, there’s a lot more to a coating’s scratch resistance than a 9H on the pencil hardness scale. 

Thoughts on flexibility vs. hardness? Comment below!