What is a Clear Bra?
There are several paint protection products sold on the internet today. A simple Google search will produce more than 15,000 individual products that claim to protect a vehicle surface from damage. However, when you look at the meat and potatoes of each of these solutions, some simply outperform the pretenders. And when it comes to protecting the front end of your car, a clear bra reigns supreme.
A clear bra is a dedicated paint protection film that is applied to the front of a car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle. It is a scientifically advanced polyurethane material that sticks to the surface of metal, plastic, aluminum, Chrome, and even headlight covers.
Unlike other paint protection sprays, waxes, or coatings, a this product provides a strong layer of protection to prohibit rock chips, scratches, and other common paint damage due to striking light debris on the roads.
There is a lot of information about clear bra paint protection on the internet. Some of it is accurate, others not so much. Let’s weed through the myths and urban legends about this elevated paint protection solution, explain the technology that makes it work, and introduce a new advanced instant healing paint protection film that goes much further than the old clear bras of years past.
What is the Difference Between Paint Protection Film vs Clear Bra?
One of the most frequently asked questions of customers looking for the best paint protection product is whether there is a difference between these two similar products. Well, in truth they are one in the same. A clear bra is a dedicated paint protection film that is only applied to the front end of a vehicle.
Car owners will choose a it over a complete PPF installation For a few reasons.
- Protect high strike areas: if you look at your average daily drivers front end, including the front bumper, grill, headlight covers, hood, and fenders, you will discover sticking bug guts, minor scratches, or major paint chips. Applying a clear bra to these areas is an affordable way of protecting high exposure areas.
- It is cheaper: paint protection film is not a low-cost paint protection solution. In fact, it tends to be one of the most expensive, yet longest lasting and durable materials for protecting against damage. Many car owners choose this installation based 100% on their individual budget.
A clear bra is a thick, strong, and transparent material. This allows the natural beauty of your factory paint to shine through, with limited dulling affect. While most PPF materials are translucent, there are some lower quality products that can reduce the visible shine of the paint underneath.
When you apply it to the front end of your car it produces amazing protection from scratching, paint chips due to striking of rocks and tree branches, an protects the paint surface and other materials from exposure to UV rays.
Ultimately, the application of this material is made to protect, not enhance the visual appeal of your precious vehicle.
How are Clear Bras for Cars Made?
In order to understand how effective these products are at protecting your car, it is important to get technical and explain the science behind its construction. While there are several different manufacturers of PPF, most of them follow a general construction layout.
- Polyester Release Liner: The base of any paint protection film starts with a polyester release liner. It is exceptionally thin – measuring about 3.0 mils (or 0.076mm) in thickness. This is the layer that bonds to the front end of your car.
- Acrylic Adhesive: For better at adhesive qualities, the Acrylic measuring 1.6 mils (or 0.040mm) is layered on top of the release liner.
- Polyurethane: This is the layer that gives a clear bra its strength and durability. Naturally, it is the thickest of the four layers, measuring 6.0 mils (0.152mm).
- Clearcoat: the final layer of most average clear bras is a standard clear coat, measuring 0.5 mils (0.0132mm). Some self-healing products have an added elastomeric polymer that helps the material maintain its natural shape if it’s been damaged.
Do Clear Bras Really Self Heal?
The Automotive World probably has the best marketers and wordsmiths on the planet (just ask me – I’ll tell you). One of the most confusing terms to describe a feature about clear bras is their ability to self-heal. Self-healing would require no action by a third party or substance to fix what may have been damaged.
So, to be completely transparent, not all clear bras can self-heal. The healing is typically produced by applying direct heat to the damaged area. This is accomplished through a scientific term called an Elastomeric action.
PPF materials are comprised of Elastomers, a loosely attached or cross-linked polymer that can return to its initial state if it’s damaged. Applying heat – via direct sunlight exposure or a heat gun helps to trigger this action.
So, to heal, the paint protection film needs someone to blow heat on it, and it’ll shrink back to original status.
However, new technology of the nano-variety, has introduced a new space-aged material called Kavaca – by Ceramic Pro, that can instantly heal – without heat. But we’ll get into that a bit further below. Kavaca – by Ceramic Pro is a genuine Instant Healing clear bra.
How Long Do Clay Bras for Cars Last?
Like any other professionally designed product, the longevity of a clear bras are based on a few important criteria. The first obviously, is the quality of the material. As we stated above, the paint protection film industry, as a group, follows a general construction layout. However individual manufacturers use different materials or construction techniques that can and will improve or reduce the quality of the clear bras.
There are several manufacturers who offer warranties from 5 to up to 10 years. In most cases, the extended warranty is conditional upon applying a top coating of ceramic, or annual inspections or maintenance programs.
The Prep Work
There is a common saying in the Automotive World, “prep work makes the dream work”. whether you are rebuilding a 10,000-horsepower Top Fuel Dragster Nitro engine, or applying a clear bra, the quality of the prep work will impact the result. With a clear bras, making sure the surface is free of scratches, contaminants, waxes, and other substances is crucial for a precision fit.
In recent years, there has been a growth of consumer kits that a do it yourself enthusiast can apply to the front of their car. However, with all apologies to the average DIY enthusiast, often these installations are not very successful.
A clear bra should be installed by a professional detailer or auto salon that has years of personalized training and certification for applying that specific type of paint protection film. The expert detailer will use the right supporting supplies, complete the right prep work, and use proven techniques that allows it to bond correctly.
Having a certified paint protection film installer complete the entire process is another surefire way to extend the lifespan of your PPF. The material and supplies they use is just as crucial.
Professional clear bras like Ceramic Pro Kavaca partner exclusively with the best professional detailers and installers, that undergo continual education, training, and certification in correct installation, prep work and after care techniques.
The environment in which your car is kept or drives in daily will also impact the longevity of a clear bra. For example, if you have two identical 2020 Mercedes-Benz G wagons, one that is a garage queen, the other that is stored in the driveway in Arizona, which do you think would last longer?
Obviously, the ride that is protected from exposure to harsh elements will have a clear bra that lasts longer than the other. However, if storage inside a garage is not possible, applying a nano ceramic coating like Ceramic Pro 9H can protect the clear bra from exposure and extend life expectancy.
How is Clear Bra Installed?
We mentioned this above multiple times, but it bears repeating. The key to a successful clear broad transaction Is ensuring the installation is completed by the right company, using the right techniques, and the right materials.
Although each manufacturer has their own steps and techniques, they all follow a similar general process.
Step One – Prep Work for Clear Bra
The first step is completing the correct prep work. Because every vehicle is unique, and the condition of the paint surface is just as individualized, the prep work can range from a simple car wash and clay bar treatment, to paint correction and even some repair.
The objective is to ensure that the surface is as clean and clear of scratches or damage, to ensure a visual appeal that you’d be proud of showcasing. However, there are paint protection film products that are colored to match that of your vehicle. If you have significant paint damage, such as that common with some European sports cars, a colored clear bra can both cover and protect the base materials.
Step Two – Cut the Material to Precision Fit
Most professional installers use a machine called a plotter to cut the material into specific sizes and shapes. Others choose the old fashion technique of cutting the paint protection film by hand.
Regardless of what method they choose, the goal is to ensure the vehicle receives a precision shaped wrap that covers the intended areas.
Step Three – Fitting
After the material have been cut to fit your exact car, the process of carefully fitting each piece begins. this process ensures a seamless installation. However, it also introduces one of the negative drawbacks to choosing a clear bra paint protection film installation.
If you look at the image above, you will see a clear line that separates the part of the hood which has a clear bra, and which does not. While the areas that are in front of the vehicle are the most likely to become damaged due to road debris, other exposed areas such as the side view mirrors, in rest of the hood can be damaged just as easily.
This reality has inspired many professional installers to recommend a full front-end paint protection film installation. It simply extends the material to include the rest of the hood, front fender, and side view mirrors. The additional cost is minimal, but the extra protection is not only noticeable, but can save you a lot of money down the line.
The rest of the installation process depends on the material used, or the specific type of paint protection film. Generally, it involves spraying a fitting solution, applying it, and finally drying – allowing it to cure.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Clear Bra?
A clear bra is an exceptional way to protect major areas of exposure. However, before you make the financial commitment, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons.
- Best paint protection product available.
- Some clear bras can literally self-heal if scratched
- It’s the longest lasting material for protecting a vehicle’s paint finish.
- Many Different Brands to Consider: Not all clear bras are identical. Some are made better than others, and some have longer lasting or higher-quality finishes than competitors. Do your research to find one that is optimal for your individual needs, goals, and budget.
- Not a Complete Coverage Solution: as we noted above, a clear bra will only cover the exposed portions of the front end of your vehicle. If you’re looking for better protection for the entire front end, consider a full front paint protection film.
- It’s not the Cheapest Paint Protection Option: Finally, purchasing a clear bra is truly an investment in protecting your valuable car. It is not the cheapest, nor is it the easiest to apply. However, when you weigh the protection abilities, the convenience of having a professional apply it, and its longevity, a clear bra is an exceptional value
How to Extend the Life of a Clear Bra
If you’re looking to get the best bang for your paint protection Buck, consider applying a professional grade ceramic coating on top of your clear bra. Ceramic Pro 9H for example offers a customized formulation specifically for paint protection film, which as we explained above is the material that is used for a clear bra installation.
By having the clear bra installer add a few coats of Ceramic Pro 9H on top of the finished product, you’ll enhance the quality of your clear bra – and add extra benefits.
- Increased Depth and Shine: A ceramic coating is essentially a microscopic yet exceptionally strong layer of glass or quartz. This produces additional depth and will enhance the luster of what’s underneath. So – a glossy finish becomes ‘richer’ and a matte finish becomes ‘mattier?’
- Improves Hydrophobic Qualities: the leading cause of dirty vehicles is water, dirt, or those pesky animals like birds and bugs. When the ceramic coating cures on top of the clear bra, the topcoat is exceptionally flat, which makes it incredibly hydrophobic or slippery for lack of a better word. As a result, water, animal debris like bird droppings and bug splatters, tree sap, road grime, and other contaminants are less likely to stick to the surface. This makes cleaning and washing easier, and more effective.
- Protection Against the Elements: If you remember a few paragraphs above, we talked about the importance of protecting your car, specifically the clear bra from exposure to environmental elements. A professionally applied nano ceramic coating will block UV rays, acid rain, salt, and other contaminants that lead to corrosion, which ultimately breaks down the clear bra material.
How to Find the Best Clear Bra
I hope the information above provides you a solid baseline to understanding the facts about a clear bra. Pound for pound, a paint protection film is by far the strongest, longest lasting, and best paint protection product available today. While there are many pros and cons to consider, there are other important steps that every car owner should take before choosing which clear bra is best for them.
- Research: Before you spend any money on a major purchase, completing due diligence and research will always arm you with the right education and knowledge to make an informed decision. If you’re going to invest in a paint protection film, such as a clear bra installation, search online for product reviews, and local installation centers with a proven track record.
- Set Up a Consultation: Find a clear bra should never be a one step process. It is important to speak directly with the installation center to discuss your specific situation, entertain different paint protection options, and find one that fits your needs perfectly.
If you would like to learn more about paint protection film or a clear bra PPF installation, click the button below to request a free estimate and consultation with a clear bra installer near you.