You’re about to purchase a brand new vehicle and you want to find a solution to preserve and protect the paint from every day use. Here’s the solution: Paint protection film.

Whether you choose Paint Protection Film, Vinyl Wrap, or even Ceramic Coatings; having a good understanding of what they each offer and cost is crucial to know what is best suitable for your needs. Do you want something that makes the car easier to clean and have minor protection properties like Ceramic Pro coatings or do you need something guarding the vehicle’s paint from the forces of nature that decimate the appearance of your vehicle? For most new car buyers, paint protection film paired with Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl on top is the best route because this allows for protection and ease of cleaning while extending the life of the clear bra. New Car Buyer, meet the ultimate guide for Car Protection. Here is everything you need to know about Automotive Paint Protection.

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What is Paint Protection Film?

Paint Protection Film commonly referred to as “PPF” or “Clear Bra” is a transparent polyurethane film that was originally developed for military applications during the Vietnam War when helicopters were crashing due to the damage of the leading edge of rotor blades. The military contacted 3M corporation to develop a protective layer that was both transparent and light weight.

Helicopter PPF Vietnam War

PPF Saved Helicopters! How? Read More Below

However, today’s automotive PPF has evolved into a high quality polyurethane film that is applied to the clear coat of painted surfaces of new or used vehicles. It’s available in different appearances such as matte finish and an optically clear version (which is the most popular choice). These films are highly resistant to the contaminants your vehicle will encounter on a day to day basis. Paint Protection Film has a high resistance to impact and abrasion. Providing protection against rock chips, acid rain, bug splatter and more! Rock chips on high impact areas are the biggest selling point for PPF or Clear Bra. The material is also incredibly flexible and can return to its natural shape after being stretched or disfigured. Some paint protection films even offer self-healing properties, sounds crazy right!? The science behind it is that the top layer of the PPF is made of an elastomeric polymer that helps the material maintain its natural shape once it has been stretched or applied. This feature allows the film to Self-Heal when light scratches occur. Typically a heat gun or direct sunlight will remove the scratches and they’ll dissipate in front of your eyes! In regards to how thick Paint Protection film is, it’s only around 8 mils (0.008 inches) thick. Now let’s dive into everything you need to know about PPF!

Paint Protection Film Layers

How Long Does PPF Last?

Before investing into something like PPF for your beloved vehicle, you need to know how the lifespan duration of the product. One of the best attributes of Paint Protection Film is the longevity. According to industry standards, a professionally installed Paint Protection Film (PPF) should last from 5 to 10 years. The factors mentioned below play a big part in the lifespan of the clear bra, so be sure to go over those. Typically, PPF receives a warranty if the installation company is certified to use their products. Like any car care products, there are several variables that impact product longevity.

contaminants on car paint

The most common factors that impacts the longevity of a paint protection film include:

The Surface Preparation: While PPF is an invisible protective layer, it’s only as good as the surface underneath it that it’s being applied to. Meaning that the installer you choose and the prep work that goes into the vehicle are often the most important part of this entire process. Surface Prep is also the most time consuming part of the application process as the imperfections and contaminants from the paint need to be removed prior to application of PPF or Clear Bra.

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The Application Process: Installing PPF is actually a very difficult and delicate task. If there are bubbles or creases in the material, it will warp the material and not adhere to the surface properly which will lead to issues down the line. So depending on the installation process, there is a direct correlation to how long the PPF will last on your vehicle. Blistering is a commonly known issue if you’ve done your research online. A PPF “blister” is when small air bubbles are found underneath the film. This blistering effect has everything to do with the quality of the application. Typically, an air bubble occurs due to a contaminant being trapped under the film. Overtime this will lead to growing bubbles under the film which is aesthetically unpleasing to the eye. Make sure you’re having the PPF installed by a trained and certified professional. Visit: ceramicpro.com/installers to get contact with one of our professional and trained certified installers today.

The Environmental Factors: One of the top selling points of PPF is the ability to hold up against heat and UV damage. However, too much exposure to direct sunlight will actually decrease the lifespan due to the adhesive below it degrading. It’s also important to understand that PPF is not bullet proof, but is used for high impact protection such as rock chips. If the PPF is continually exposed to debris and environmental contaminants such as bird droppings, acid rain or other damaging materials, it can wear the PPF thin if not constantly upkept or maintained properly. Washing a vehicle with PPF is more difficult due to needing to use special cleaning tools and the water being soaked up by the film. However, Ceramic Pro’s PPF & Vinyl Coating is the solution to all of these issues. It allows for ease of cleaning and creates a barrier between the film and coating which prevents contaminants from getting into the PPF from the start. It also offers UV resistance and chemical resistance meaning nothing will penetrate the PPF investment you just made. This also means the adhesive below won’t fail as quickly and water and soaps won’t soak into the film when maintaining it. Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl Coating is a clear, multi-layerable, nano-ceramic liquid coating that, when cured, will transform itself on the surface to a slick, flexible glass shield. The coating forms a chemical bond with the film that allows all of the empty pores on the surface to be filled, creating a brand new layer of protection!

Lamborghini PPF Yellowing Removal

Yellowing PPF being Removed off the Hood of a Lamborghini.

Yellowing: This is the most common complaint against Paint Protection Film. After a long time exposure to sunlight and elements PPF may begin turning yellow, which, of course, has a significant impact on the look of a vehicle’s paint, specifically for vehicles with white paint. This complaint was common when PPF was first prevalent and being applied to consumer vehicles. After researching the matter, film manufacturers found that the yellowing of the film actually came from the adhesive that was used to bind a film to the body of a car! Exposure to UV was oxidizing the adhesive on the film, which leads to discoloration. This is why many choose Ceramic Pro PPF and Vinyl protective coating prevents this issue from ever occurring! How? Due to the UV Protection in the glass coating. Think of Ceramic Pro as an additional clear coat layer, only a lot harder.

Coated vs Uncoated PPF & Vinyl

What is the difference between PPF and Vinyl?

There is a lot of confusion in the industry with understanding the difference between PPF and Vinyl. Vinyl Wraps are typically used to alter the aesthetic appearance of a vehicle. For many, they choose this route simply because they can change the color of their vehicle without needing to repaint it. From race cars, to changing a vehicles color, to vehicle advertisement use, the popularity and demand of vinyl wraps has grown immensely the past few years. Vinyl Wraps are thinner than clear bra, but offer more customization and less protection. Paint Protection Film is meant to protect the car the way it is, a wrap is typically chosen when the owner wants to change the appearance, look, design of the car. PPF thickness ranges from 6-10 mil where Vinyl Wraps range from 2-6 mils depending on the manufacturer.

Example of Paint Protection Film Installation (PPF)

PPF Installation Example

Example of a Car Wrap / Vinyl Wrap Installation

Car Wrap Vinyl Example

Vinyl doesn’t offer the same protection and durability that PPF offers. Vinyl is made with a material known as Polyvinyl Chloride which is brittle when compared to PPF. PPF is made of Polyurethane which stretches and has a rubbery feel. How much do they each weight? If you were to weight the amount of material used on your vehicle when comparing a vinyl wrap to a PPF or clear bra, the weight of the clear bra material will be about double the weight of the vinyl material. You can customize PPF in some ways but not to the extent of vinyl. Many car owners go the custom PPF route where they choose to only cover the vehicle in specific high impact areas. Such as the front end and the rear quarter panels. The installer will cut the piece custom tailored to your vehicle and tucked the ends inside the panels and parts of the vehicle to not show cut lines or end lines of the film (if done properly). When done this way, the clear bra is unnoticeable to the naked eye.

How do I protect PPF & Vinyl?

While Paint Protection Film is powerful and it’s benefits are numerous, it is not a solution when it comes to keeping cars looking glossy. Nothing will make your car bullet proof no matter what you do. There are still rocks that can puncture a Paint Protection Film. If bird droppings or bug splatter are allowed to sit on the film for a long period of time, it will damage the film. If you purchase a matte vinyl wrap, the wrap can begin failing/fading and altering in its appearance in just a couple months after the application to the vehicle. After applying Paint Protection Film or Vinyl Wrap to your vehicle, you will still have to wash your car because the environmental contaminants as mentioned above will take a toll on the life expectancy and appearance. However, there is a solution to all the issues mentioned above and there is extensive testing done the past few years backing these claims. Ceramic Pro’s goal was to find a solution to extending the lifespan of PPF/Clear Bra and Vinyl due to the increase in popularity and demand for these products! Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl was designed as a protective coating for paint protection film (PPF) and vinyl. What is Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl Coating?

Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl is a clear, multi-layerable, nano-ceramic liquid coating that, when cured, will transform itself on the surface to a slick, flexible glass shield. The coating forms a chemical bond with the film that allows all of the empty pores on the surface to be filled, creating a brand new layer of protection. This new product from Ceramic Pro has been completely reengineered to bond with PPF (Paint Protection Film) and Vinyl Wraps. The complete Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl protection program involves using a base coat and a top coat. Ceramic Pro PPF & Vinyl is the base coat. This is then layered with PPF & Vinyl Top. The final layer is slightly softer than the main base protection coat. This allows for higher gloss and a deep wet look. With the added slickness of the coated surface, contaminants such as bugs, dirt, and tar are less likely to stick to your car’s film, making tasks such as washing the applied areas less labor intensive and less frequent.

The coating will help prevent or significantly slow down the etching process from elements such as bird droppings and tree sap. This buys the car owner time to remove the contaminant before it causes permanent damage. The UV Protection associated with the coating, in addition to the prevention of contaminants from entering the porous surface, will increase the film’s longevity by minimizing the yellowing process. This yields clearer film for an extended period. It protects from contamination and weathering resulting in a film that is much easier to clean. It also helps reduce vinyl’s orange peel look. Want to see the science behind Ceramic Pro Coatings? Watch the Donut Video below!

 

To learn more about Ceramic Pro products for automotive applications such as paint, vinyl or PPF visit: Ceramic Pro Automotive

 

Sam Azizian

Author Sam Azizian

Sam Azizian is part of the Ceramic Pro Team as Marketing Director. A 26-year automotive enthusiast, social media guru, and owner of multiple BMW's. An accomplished photographer for BMW, Nissan, 2M Autowerks, Garagewelt, and more. Sam has also written for Ultimate Klasse, BMW CCA, and Catuned.

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