Among the litany of paint protection solutions, installing PPF on a car is top shelf. Paint protection film is the prime example of a product that works as described. Its main objective is to protect the paint and other sensitive materials on your car from rock chips, road debris, and natural toxins. And with today’s advanced nanoceramic technology, some PPF manufacturers can infuse ceramic coating properties directly on top of the clear bra material.
While automotive paint protection film is virtually indestructible, it does require routine maintenance washes to keep it protected from dirt, debris, tree sap, bird droppings, bug guts, and more. So, if you’re on the fence about upgrading your car paint protection game to installing a clear bra or PPF, or you just did and are looking for tips on how to take care of PPF on a car – this blog is for you.
In the information below, we’ll talk about all things PPF. We will dive into the science that makes this product so effective, how detailers prepare the vehicle for installing PPF, and what you can do to keep it in optimal condition for years.
So – let’s explore the facts about paint protection film and how to correctly protect your investment.
Understanding the Facts About Paint Protection Film
The paint protection film is a polyurethane-based material that is transparent and extremely durable. It was created by the 3M corporation as a solution to protect helicopter blades for the US Army and Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Many old-school detailers refer to this product as Helicopter Tape.
Since those early days, technology has come a long way. Today’s variants are available with a gloss and matte finish, black, and even with a ceramic coating already applied to the top layer. It’s applied by professional detailers or auto salons, with similar techniques as installing vinyl wraps. It can be installed on the front end, front bumper, or entire car. Most professional detailers will recommend paint correction (which is removing swirl marks and other paint imperfection) – as PPF will amplify the paint job.
While older PPF products tended to yellow or age prematurely, today’s products are engineered with superior raw materials and with better manufacturing standards. In fact, like premium window tint, today’s PPF often comes with a 10 year warranty.
Is PPF Better than a Ceramic Coating?
Yes – every day of the week and twice on Sunday. There is nothing wrong with ceramic coatings – especially the professional-grade products sold by pioneers like Ceramic Pro. However, they have their limits on protective qualities.
Nanoceramic coating is intended to protect the substrate from exposure to natural elements – including acid rain, toxins produced by bird droppings, tree sap, and bug guts, and UV rays. It is not scratch-proof, and if a solid object strikes the vehicle at highways speeds, it can penetrate the coating and scratch the paint.
Paint protection film or PPF is the only protective solution that can reduce the potential of scratching, has self healing properties, and will hold up for 10+ years. It likewise protects against UV exposure, those natural chemical agents that stain clear coats, and can amplify the depth and clarity of paint.
So – if you’re asking which product protects a new car better – PPF or a coating – the win goes to the clear bra material every time.
Is PPF Worth the Cost?
As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben Parker once said, “with great power comes increased cost.” Ok, he didn’t say that – but it’s the truth. The paint protection film is much more expensive than a professional-grade ceramic coating. If you were going to compare the out-the-door price to have your entire car coated with a Ceramic Pro 9H Gold Package (top of the line – lifetime warranty) vs. a KAVACA PPF Installation (same coverage and warranty) – you’ll likely pay three times as much for the full car PPF.
The question that every vehicle owner needs to factor in is whether installing PPF is worth the cost. When it comes to protection, what’s the cost of having your painted surface corrected, scratches repaired, or vehicle repainted due to damage – that could have been protected with PPF?
One way to mitigate the expense of paint protection film installation is to install it on high-strike areas. This is known as a full front PPF installation, where you’ll have the detailing shop apply PPF on the front bumper, hood, fenders, side-view mirrors, and the front door pillars. After that is complete, they’ll have the rest of the vehicle applied with a top coat of ceramic coating – giving them the best car care protection at an affordable price.
How Do You Maintain PPF?
Once you determine that PPF installation is best for you, it’s crucial to use the right products to clean and maintain the product. While these materials are extremely durable and rugged – taking your car through the automatic car wash is an absolute deal-breaker. The high-pressure water hoses can damage PPF – and the soaps they use are extremely alkaline based on the pH scale (like as high as 12 on the pH scale).
The best way to maintain a paint protection film installation is to follow these guidelines:
First – Hand Wash the Vehicle Every Two Weeks
The initial thing about PPF you need to realize is that it’s extremely porous. As such, dirt and debris will stick to the top layer with greater ease than a hydrophobic and extremely hard ceramic coating. Due to this fact, it’s crucial to hand wash your car with paint protection film every few weeks. We recommend the two bucket method of car washing.
If you’re not familiar with this technique – here is a brief recap of the process.
Step 1 – Gather Your Supplies
To complete the two bucket hand wash, you’ll need to collect a few supplies. Here is a list of items we recommend here at Americana Global.
Three (3) 5-gallon wash buckets. This might look like a type error – but hear us out. When you wash a car, you’ll complete this in two separate steps. First, you need to wash your tires and wheels. The reason for this is due to the brake dust that is embedded on wheels. Brake dust is comprised of tiny particles of steel and other metals.
When you wash the wheels with the same wash bucket and wash mitt as the rest of the car – you’re setting yourself up for deep scratches. So – be proactive and purchase a third, separate wash bucket – just for wheels and tires.
Also, if you’re looking to save time on washing wheels and tires, consider using Americana Global Wheel & Tire cleaner as a pre-wash formula. It makes washing wheels and tires simple – and can be used on ALL wheel types – even powder coated ones.