Wax vs. Sealant: Which One is Better

by Joshua Thomas

Car wax and sealant are the two products most motorists will turn to when they want to give their paint job an extra layer of protection.

While it is easy to assume the two are just different terminologies of the same thing, they are pretty distinct products meant for different purposes.

Here we highlight some of the key things that set the two apart to help make it easier to decide what to use and when.

Header Wax Sealant
Finish Quality Natural, breathable finish with extra shine Hard, protective shell
Car Protection Protects against UV rays, moisture, water, heat & oxidation Protects against UV rays, high temperature, acid rains, chemical detergents, bird droppings & mud
Application Method Microfiber applicator or random-orbit polisher Microfiber applicator or random-orbit polisher
Chemical Ingredients Carnauba or beeswax, natural/synthetic oils, polymers & resins Petroleum derivatives, polymers like ceramic or plastic & resins
Durability 6 to 8 weeks 4 to 6 months

Which One to Use

Which One to Use
Which One to Use

When deciding which one to use between these car detailing products, you need to consider factors like the finish you want, ease of application, frequency of using the vehicle and overall climate conditions.

1. Car Wax

Car wax is often the preferred option for those that want to give their vehicle a more aesthetically appealing finish as it leaves a warm glow that enhances the appearance of the paint.

Additionally, car wax is the best choice for hiding imperfections on the vehicle's paint or adding depth and intensity to your darker color paint.

Also, for those that prefer to use all-natural products on their vehicles, you are more likely to achieve this with car wax.

2. Paint Sealant

If you are looking for a product that provides maximum protection for your paint job, a sealant will be a perfect choice. Sealants form a hard glass-like shell that effectively keeps everything from abrasive cleaners to high heat and bird droppings away from your paint.

You should also use paint sealants when you want something long-lasting that you do not have to keep reapplying as they can last up to 6 months. However, it is essential to know that sealants will often make imperfections even more visible and not deliver as much glow as car wax.

How to Use

The exact process of using both car wax and paint sealant depends on the specific type of each, as both are available in different types. However, there are some general steps you can follow to apply them regardless of the type.

1. Car Wax

Step 1: Choose a Good Quality Wax

The first step is always to choose a good quality wax, and you should not ignore it as it determines the results you get. Here checking the ingredient is vital, and the best ones are the carnauba, or beeswax-based car wax types as they are natural.

Step 2: Clean the Vehicle

Once you have the product, you now need to clean up the vehicle because a dirty paint surface affects how the wax adheres to the car. Also, make sure the surface is dry before you can start applying wax.

Step 3: Apply Wax

The third step is the actual application, and here you can use a microfiber or random-orbit polisher. However, the most important thing is to ensure you do it using small, circular motions and ensure you do not apply too much.

Step 4: Remove any Excess Wax

Once done with the application, you should remove any excess wax and buff out the vehicle surface for a warm glow finish.

2. Paint Sealant

Step 1: Clean and Dry Vehicle

Like car wax, paint sealant adheres well to a clean and dry surface. Hence the first step should always be to wash the vehicle thoroughly.

Step 2: Polish Surface

Paint sealants will not hide imperfections the same way a car wax would do. Therefore, if you notice that your paint job has issues like fading in some sections, you must polish and restore it before applying a sealant.

Step 3: Apply Sealant

When applying the sealant, you only need to squirt a small amount onto the vehicle surface and use a microfiber cloth or polisher to rub it into the paint. Remember to use front to back movement for the vehicle top panel and up and down motion for the sides to ensure a neat finish.

Step 4: Buff

The last step is to give the paint job a nice buff to add some luster and shine.

What is Car Wax?

Wax is a naturally occurring organic compound used to protect paint jobs and give them a glossy finish. Car wax comes in various types, with carnauba and beeswax being the most common ones. Others include paraffin wax and montan wax.

You can get car wax in many grades, and it is also often classified according to the purity levels. In most instances, car wax is made by combining natural wax with other things like synthetic or natural oils and polymers to enhance properties like heat resistance.

What is Paint Sealant?

Paint sealant is a non-organic lab-made compound engineered to give a vehicle's paint job maximum protection. It typically has a petroleum derivative as the base and includes other ingredients like resins and polymers such as ceramics and plastic.

The formulation of paint sealant allows it to bind perfectly with the paint job, making it more durable than car wax. Its hard glass-like shell is not as glossy as what you get with car wax, but it provides more resistance to UV rays and creates a hydrophobic layer that is highly effective at repelling water.

About Joshua Thomas

Joshua Thomas just simply loves cars and willing to work on them whenever there's chance... sometimes for free.

He started CarCareTotal back in 2017 from the advices of total strangers who witnessed his amazing skills in car repairs here and there.

His goal with this creation is to help car owners better learn how to maintain and repair their cars; as such, the site would cover alot of areas: troubleshooting, product recommendations, tips & tricks.

Joshua received Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University.

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