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Definitions every detailer needs to know

July 13, 2011
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Polymer: A polymer is a macromolecule formed by the chemical union of five or more identical combining units called monomers. Silicones and resins generally can be referred to as polymers. However, note that the list of polymers available is endless. The word polymer is an abused word in the detail business. For example, the thickeners used in some detail chemicals are polymers. So, it would be technically correct to say on the label, “This product contains space-age polymers.”

Resin: A resin is a semisolid or solid complex amorphous mix of organic (living) compounds, animal, vegetable or synthetic. If you look in a dictionary, the definition is so broad it is almost meaningless. It really has become a “catch all” term in the detail business. What it does for a paint sealant is anybody’s guess. However, there are some polymers and resins that have a positive effect on the quality of paint sealants and these will be discussed next.

Silicone fluid: You will recall that in the ingredients list of waxes we mentioned silicone fluids. Just what is a silicone fluid? A relatively short chain inorganic polymer called “polydimethyl siloxane.” The properties of silicone fluids range from very thin, volatile liquids that look and feel like petroleum solvents to a very thick and heavy liquid that looks like clear honey. The only difference between the two is the number of units in the dimethyl-siloxane.

Amino-functional silicones: This is a silicone fluid that has been slightly modified. The polymer content is different. The amino portion of the amino-functional silicone is what causes the silicone to crosslink and physically attach to the paint surface. The cross linking feature is what makes a paint sealant more durable than a plain wax. Typically, car waxes only include silicone fluids, and as a result, they are not as durable as a paint sealant.

Teflon®: As you may know, Teflon is the trade name used by Dupont Chemicals as a “polymer polytetrafluoroethylene” (PTFE). And in spite of what some detail chemical companies may claim, Teflon is a polymer that is not well suited for use in a paint sealant or car wax because of several of its properties.

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