Can a Tin Paste Wax compete with Ceramic Coatings?

Plenty of hot takes in this one! Can an old school carnauba tin wax do everything your super cool graphene or ceramic coating can do? Could it possibly do MORE!? More importantly, when it comes to ceramic coatings.. is the juice really worth the squeeze?

Let’s make a list of the Pros and Cons for each of them.


Pros –

  1. Great protection – Ceramic coatings offer good protection to the car’s surface. The nano-coating can protect the car from most scratches, dirt and chemical contaminants. Ceramic coatings also don’t have any side effects to the original paint.
  2. Longevity – Ceramic coatings also last longer than regular paint and much longer than waxes. This is because the coating is infused to the stock paint due to strong chemical bonding. When a ceramic coating is applied on a car’s body, the polymers form a chemical bond with the vehicle’s clear coat. Once coated, it can only be removed by abrasion (i.e. wet-sanding) and is extremely resistant to chemicals. If done correctly and properly maintained, some ceramic coatings may even last the lifetime of the car.

Cons –

  1. Professional use only – If not done correctly and/or professionally, ceramic coating might look worse than the original paint finish of your car. Ceramics can have high spots and low spots during the application process. If not applied correctly and leveled correctly the surface will absolutely look trashed! Additionally, is the vehicle’s surfaces aren’t prepped properly, the ceramic bonding may fail and the coating will not last as long as specified.
  2. Longevity – Yep… I listed it twice. Live by the sword; die by the sword. If the vehicle’s paint surface isn’t completely corrected before the coating is applied, all of those imperfections will remain and be visible for the length of the specified ceramic lifespan. Imagine looking at that same scratch you missed for the next 5 years… Ugh!
  3. Price – Typically, 50ml bottles of ceramic coatings can run anywhere from $75USD to $500USD depending on which one you purchase. Then, factor in the cost of a certified professional installer, you could be looking at a price tag in the thousands!
  4. Time – A ceramic coating application takes time. If you plan on having a coating applied or even if you’re going to do it yourself, be prepared to leave it at the detailing shop for at least three days!
  5. To Shine or Not To Shine – Ceramic coatings are not immune to “Father Time”. Although the protect is still there, over time ceramic coatings can dull and feel rough to the touch – especially if not properly maintenanced and maintained. If you’re experiencing this already, might I suggest you checking out our Topper: Top Coat Lubricant & Protectant. After all, that’s why Topper was invented!

Tin Paste Wax:

Pros –

  1. Great protection – Car waxes can offer great protection to the car’s surface. As technology advances in the car care world, stronger and longer lasting tin paste waxes are being developed all the time! These aren’t your grandpop’s tin waxes (although those were some pretty amazing tin waxes, even if they did cost you your shoulder to apply them)!
  2. Ease of application – Again, as technology advances around tin waxes (and waxes in general), tin waxes are easier than ever to apply. Softer, cleaner and more pliable, tin waxes take barely any effort to apply and buff to a shine.
  3. Forgiving – Tin Waxes aren’t designed to last forever – *whew*! For “weekend warriors”, such as myself, I don’t need to worry about creating an immaculate paint surface before applying a wax. For the most part, waxes are pretty user friendly and typically play well with other products. You can even “miss a spot” and the wax is like, “that’s ok, Pal. I got this!”. Waxes can fill in imperfections with ease and still impart an incredible shine.
  4. Depth, Gloss, Shine, and More Depth – There’s really no better way to get a better shine and gloss on your vehicle. You can layer and layer and layer waxes and each time you do, you’re just creating another layer of depth and gloss! I mean.. yes, waxes will eventually have a “tipping point” where you’ll actually diminish the gloss instead of enhancing it, but stacking up to 4 layers has been tried and gotten pretty incredible results. Since this is a “blog”, I can freely admit that these are all just opinions and as such, I will say, if you’re applying more than 4 coats of wax at a time on your vehicle, you might have a problem and should maybe find someone to talk to. But in all seriousness, there are lots of products out there that can impart a decent shine to your vehicles surface, but there is nothing that can compare to the depth that a good tin paste wax is capable of!

Cons –

  1. Wax On, Wax Off – That’s right, Daniel-son, it takes a little more time to apply a tin paste wax. Some call it a labor of love, but regardless if it’s a chore or a joy, tin waxes take time and effort to apply! It requires more work to apply and remove a paste wax (especially by hand).
  2. Crusty White Residue – Some of the tin paste waxes you find on store shelves have a high concentration of carnauba and solvents and often marketed as “cleaner” waxes. These do contain mild abrasives, which can help remove some dirt and other contaminants left behind like water spots. However, if you’re not paying close attention to what you’re doing or if you haven’t taped off your plastic, vinyl and trim appropriately, those same solvents can and will leave a very hard to remove white residue.
  3. Shelf Life – Unfortunately, tin paste waxes typically have a shelf-life. Kept in the garage and subject to varying temperature swings depending on the season, that can of wax just sitting on the shelf my very easily dry out, crank and be wasted. Wouldn’t hurt to seal it in a resealable plastic baggie in between uses.
  4. Cleaner Waxes; The two edged sword – As I hit on earlier, cleaner waxes can not only have solvents in them, but some of them even have extremely mild abrasives in them that help them remove dirt and other contaminants left behind – like water spots for example. If you’re not careful, you can transfer those contaminants back into the wax container over time. Inspect your tin paste wax often and before use!

Well… those are my two cents. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comment section, tell me what you’re using these days!

Xtreme Solutions is your hometown microbrewery for auto detailing supplies and chemicals. We strive to make the best possible products for any given situation that a detailer, enthusiast, or beginner finds themselves.


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Video written for Xtreme Solutions & presented by Ghostflow.