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ICOMIA publishes industry guidelines on ceramic coatings

The document aims to provide guidance on the most common queries relating to ceramic coating systems on yachts…

At the end of 2020, ICOMIA published a set of guidelines on ceramic coatings for the yachting industry. Having identified the need for a document detailing key areas of information and considerations when using ceramic coatings or treatments for large yachts, ICOMIA worked with leading ceramic coating manufacturers, paint manufacturers, independent coating inspectors, coating supervisors and surveyors to produce the objective industry guidance.

While the document is not exhaustive, it attempts to provide general guidance on application and warranty considerations, relevant information on in-service expectations and maintenance and, most importantly, proper guidance on the effective and safe removal of ceramic coating systems, including how to actively test a surface for complete ceramic removal prior to repainting.

The industry has been presented with significant challenges relating to ceramic coatings primarily due to the use of non-compatible products, either from unawareness of existing coatings or cost-cutting using chemicals other than recommended by the original manufacturer. The guidelines, therefore, aim to outline best practice and act as a reference tool for ongoing applications, service, identification and removal of ceramic coating in the superyacht industry.

The industry has been presented with significant challenges relating to ceramic coatings primarily due to the use of non-compatible products, either from unawareness of existing coatings or cost-cutting using chemicals other than recommended by the original manufacturer...

Yacht paint technical groups and yards were consulted and asked about the key questions and areas of knowledge relating to ceramic treatments that they required answers for. In order to compile the information in response to these findings, a working group made up of ceramic manufactures and applicators, independent paint inspectors, shipyards and paint manufacturers was consulted. 

The document starts out by defining a ceramic coating as, “an inorganic or organic pre-ceramic polymer that once cured forms a thin glass ceramic layer on the surface. This glass ceramic layer is either pure SiO2 or SiO2 with carbon residues”.

Ceramic treatments should leave a hydrophobic surface, meaning water will actively bead up and roll off a ceramic treatment. “Once areas start exhibiting water sheeting during washing processes as opposed to water beading, this provides an indication the behaviour of the ceramic is changing, and the ceramic coating may be approaching the end of its life,” the guidelines explain.

“On dry surfaces, ceramic treatments may become milky and patchy as oxygen migrates underneath the coating treatment and, in many cases, micro shattering can become visible on close inspection. Ceramics will tend to fail more quickly on a darker paint surface than a white/light paint surface due to the variation in substrate temperature. Gloss retention of ceramics can be short lived if not maintained correctly or they were poorly applied. Once a ceramic coating has become too brittle, it may shatter or craze (alligatoring) leaving a crazy paving-like effect visible on the paint surface.”

The guidelines include more general information about ceramic coatings, including types of coatings, application considerations, life expectancy, end-of-life treatment, and maintenance and removal procedures. The document can be downloaded from ICOMIA here.

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