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Hydrophobic coatings and glass

Phil Swanson

Premium Subscriber
This seems to be a fairly new issue with applying vinyl. I've heard about the Hydrophobic coatings that are being used on vehicles now ( sometimes called CERAMIC coatings?) and I think that I may have run into my first issue with it.
I am having an issue with vinyl not sticking to the glass on a vehicle that was done recently.
So, lets assume that the glass or panels were cleaned properly, Proper glass cleaner and alcohol ect. and a ( insert brand name here) HP cast vinyl.

Is there any way to tell if the glass / panel has been coated?
Also, are there any new procedures that we need do, or removal products that we need to use to remove these hydrophobic coatings?


Active Member
If it's a Lexus nothing will stick to the glass. Otherwise you may have an oddball like I ran into. Tried three different times to do some van windows. Ending up calling my buddy the window tint expert and he said that too much silicone(or something similar) was used in processing the glass. Went on to say nothing will ever stick and to give up trying.


New Member
I don't think the ceramic coatings are applied to glass, but I could be wrong. Chances are you ran into an application of Rain-X. Did you ask the owner what was done? Multiple swipes with acetone and alcohol will remove Rain-X.. don't know about the ceramic coatings.

Phil Swanson

Premium Subscriber
Ceramic coatings are not Supposed to be used on glass, doesn't mean that they are not.
This is a New ( pre owned ) vehicle for this customer. He doesn't know the history.

But my question still stands, if it were a ceramic coating on the doors would there a special way to clean the doors to make the vinyl stick? I would be a little leery about Acetone on painted surfaces.


New Member
Watching this one.
Just recently redid graphics on a door that was broken. Nothing would stick to the glass. Cleaned with rapid prep. Wiped with alcohol... then used my normal masking tape to position. It just wouldn't hold. Nothing would stick. The vinyl was on there, and hope still is... but I was surprised. You could actually see the masking tape gradually lift itself off. Scary


New Member
I use acetone to remove adhesive when I have no other alternative (like Rapid Remover not working for some reason). On modern finishes there isn't a problem, so long as it isn't a brand new paint job (a month old or less). But since you're working with glass, just don't drip on the surface. I still think it's Rain-X or something similar (a silicone agent).
On a related note, looking through some detailing forums, it seems the general consensus is to polish the surface with a light to medium cut polish for a ceramic coating on the metal. Best bet is to leave it to a pro - have a detail shop work with you.

Phil Swanson

Premium Subscriber
Hmmm, you may have touched on something there. I wonder if a light compound would work on removing a coating on glass, Again I might be leery about using a compound on a painted surface because its possible to leave scratches or swirl marks.

The idea of having a professional detailer take a coating off a panel is a good one. My problem is that there aren't any within 50 miles of me.

I have also found that there are special coatings out there made to go on all surfaces including glass.
Liquid Diamond is one.

Sign Pro Salina

New Member
Years ago I learned from another sign guy to use Borax and a plastic Scotchbrite scrubbie on glass to remove Rain-X before vinyl application if you suspect the glass has been coated. That has worked for us on the rare occasion that we had adhesion issues. I know of another company that had issues on certain vehicle windows and uses high tack sidewalk/concrete vinyl. Seems extreme, but they swear it has solved the adhesion issue for them.


New Member
I think we're all in the same boat to some degree. There are types of glass currently on the market that are completely repellent to liquids. They also won't take any kind of adhesive (at least not that I've discovered). We run into this often in hospitals. Even high tack stuff won't stay. Until a manufacturer comes up with a (good) solution, your best bet is to steer your client in a different direction (when possible).

Alternatively, you can beat your head against the wall, which is what I frequently do.


New Member
Traditional cleaning method for lettering glass has always been a mild abrasive powder. Preferred brand was Bon Ami. Every sign painter I ever knew carried a bar of Bon Ami in their kit.
Work up a lather, let dry completely then rub off the dry film with clean cotton rag. If it did not come off easily when dry, repeat the process.

Adhesion to automotive glass has always been problematic. Coming up in the trade in the 1970s, I was told to never guarantee lettering on vehicle windows. Whether paint or vinyl nothing wants to stick.
Newer glass may have coatings that make the problem even worse.

Brad in Kansas City