This is a question that almost everyone has a difficult time answering. Too often, the pat answer is, “They are more expensive than waxes.”
Is there really a difference between what are called waxes and what are called “paint sealants”? Yes, there is a difference, and for detailers that do a great deal of retail work, they must first know and understand the difference in order to answer the kinds of questions the motorist will ask.
Stated simply, a sealant is something that seals. But, doesn’t a wax seal? Technically this is correct, but if you recall the requirements for a wax product, it says nothing about “sealing capability.” While some paint sealant formulations contain wax, they are really much more than a wax. Keep in mind who you are talking to when you ask, “What is a paint sealant?” Body shops will tell you a paint sealant is a troublesome paint protection product that causes all sorts of paint adherence problems and prevents solvent evaporation if put on over new paint.
Auto paint manufacturers see paint sealants as a product that stops the bleed-thru of undesirable properties from the lower layers of paint or substrate.
Detailers see it as a product that forms some sort of “cross-linking” film over a paint surface. This is probably the definition or perspective that should be considered from our point of view.
Read carefully from this point on. Paint sealants, like our good friend, wax, have in their formulation the following ingredients that are held together by an emulsifier:
Do not be confused by the terms: polymer, resins or polymer-resins. Most chemists see the use of these words as marketing “hype.” To be more informed you need to understand what a polymer and a resin really are.