Why are paint corrections and ceramic coatings so expensive? The answer is labor. They are labor-intensive and time consuming. As an example, this 6 year old GMC Denali HD was brought to me for a paint correction and a ceramic coating installation. Attached is a link to the video from my YouTube channel which highlights a very condensed version of the process from start to finish. The process included a hand-wash, clay bar surface decontamination, a chemical tar & iron decontamination, paint depth inspection, visual paint inspection, paint touch up, a two-stage compound and polish paint correction, surface cleaning/prep for ceramic coating to ensure a proper bond, and a two-layer ceramic coating installed on the paint, wheels, and glass. In total, this vehicle took 20 hours from start to finish.
To demonstrate how thin clear coat is, I've attached a picture of me holding a Post-It not with the thickness written on it of 2.7mils. Also included is the graph readings of the 52 measurements I took around the vehicle. The base-coat reading on the pickup is 2.5mils. The clear coat on this GMC Denali ranges from 3.5-6. Doing the math, the clear coat ranges from less than half the thickness of the post it note to roughly twice the thickness. That's not much to work with, and very little room for error.
The next stage is to figure out the process and perform test spots. The 6 taped-off boxes on the bed are test spots. Paint isn't just paint. Every vehicle I've put my hands on is different when it comes to paint. Some have really finicky paint. Some have really hard paint. And everything in between. Each one responds differently to a pad/polish combination and the orbit & speed of the polisher. 8mm, 15mm, 21mm etc. It's technical, but necessary to deliver the best results for the finished product. After 6 attempts I got the first stage dialed in. After two more attempts I got the second stage dialed in. Then the entire vehicle was done using this combination to finish it for ceramic coating.