Wax vs Sealant

Waxing, whether it’s with a Carnauba Wax or Synthetic Sealant, is your “Last Step Product” in detailing your car.

This step will not only protect your finish from the elements, it will also add depth, gloss and shine to your paint.

Even though a wax or sealant will protect the finish, it will not prevent swirls and scratches from forming. This is why proper washing & drying is essential for maintaining your swirl free finish.

Which is better a Wax or a Sealant? Both waxes and sealants have their own list of Pro’s and Con’s, so to answer this question, it will depend on the person you ask or your desired look/need you want for your paint.

Below is a small description and list featuring advantages and disadvantages between waxes and sealants. If you are interested in more in depth information on the differences between waxes and sealants, there are many articles available online.

Wax vs Sealant Which is Better

Carnauba Wax

Pure Carnauba Wax is made up of using a natural ingredient, Carnauba. Does it mean that the a good Carnauba wax is 100% Carnauba? No, since Carnauba is rock hard substance, it is only a percentage of the wax ingredients, no matter what quality or brand it is. Other ingredients include (but not limited to) solvents, oils and petroleum distillates, these help soften the carnauba and make it spreadable. Carnauba waxes can come in either a liquid or paste form.

  • Pros · Appearance and ease of use. A Carnauba Wax gives your paint a deep, wet, dark, rich shine and can also hide minor swirls. Carnauba waxes are wipe on, wipe off products and have no cure time. Carnauba wax differs from a Sealant because they sit on the top of your paint instead of bonding to it. Since it’s a wipe on wipe off product it can take as little as 5-10 minutes to wax your car. It is also very effective at slowing or stopping bird poop and water spots from etching into the paint.
  • Cons · Lacks durability. Carnauba wax doesn’t bond to the paint so it doesn’t have the longevity of a sealant. Under ideal conditions will last 4-6 weeks, even less under less then perfect conditions. Since Carnauba waxes aren’t as reflective as Sealants they can “mute” the flakes in metallic paint.

Synthetic Sealants

Sealant is made of synthetic polymers or acrylic that will bond to the paint surface when applied and cured. This bonding action gives sealants greater durability over Carnauba wax.

  • Pros · Durability. A Sealant can last up to 6 months+ under good conditions. They tend to be more reflective then a Carnauba, this will help to make Metallic type paints “Pop”Majority of them are very easy to use – apply thin coat, allow it to cure or dry and wipe off. Removal, after curing, is just as easy as Carnauba.A sealant, after it has cured (usually 12-24 hours) can also be layered or topped with a Carnauba with good results.
  • Cons · Sealants need a clean surface in order to bond to the paint. This means that the products used before applying a sealant shouldn’t contain any oils or fillers that will prevent the bonding. Each sealant is different so check with the manufacture for their recommendations.Like stated above, sealants tend to be more reflective and can lack the depth and richness that it’s carnauba counterpart has. Dark cars can look a little sterile or too reflective (plastic look) because of this. Also the highly reflective sealants can highlight swirls and paint flaws and sometimes make them stand out more.

Applying Wax or Sealants


The most important thing to know when applying any Wax or Sealant is THIN coats!

Applying a thick coat of wax or sealant does not give you better protection, it only makes for hard removal and waste of product.

Drying or cure time will vary depending on the wax or sealant you are using. Some waxes or sealants recommend allowing the wax to haze or dry before removing while others must be removed when they are still wet. Read the instructions to see curing or drying time and how long you should let it stay on before removing.

The rule of thumb is:

  • Paste Carnauba wax · Remove while it is still wet – Wipe on Wipe off method.
  • Liquid Carnauba Wax · Allow to haze before removal – Usually apply to sections or panels at a time before removing.
  • Sealants · Must dry or cure before removal – Can be applied to the whole vehicle at one time. Drying or curing time is usually 20-30 minutes but can vary depending on the tempeture and humidity.
Most all waxes or sealants are non abrasive, except for cleaner type waxes, so application can be in a back and forth motion or circular, just make sure the car and applicator are clean before apply your wax.Lightly buff off wax residue a clean microfiber towel, Do not apply pressure, if needed you can spray a quick detailer or distilled water on stubborn areas. I use two towel when removing wax, one for residue removal and the other to buff to a high gloss.