What is paint protection and which one is right for me?

With the average price of a new cars today above $36,000 many people are looking for ways to maintain the quality and resale value of their vehicle.

In the detailing world we offer many services called “paint protection”. But what exactly is paint protection, is it something you need, and how do you know what is the best option for you?

There are four categories of paint protection: wax, sealant, ceramic coating, and paint protection film (aka: PPF or clear bra) each one with their own pros and cons. We have broken them down to help you understand the difference and choose which one is best for you.

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is a natural product that will melt into the paint when applied and is the best option to give your vehicle the brightest color and shine. It will also provide protection from environmental damage like UV rays, water spots, etc. The downside to carnauba wax is that is will break down in 6 to 8 weeks and will cause staining on black trim pieces if not applied carefully.

Best for: for the owner of special vehicles (whatever that means to you) that will be detailed on a regular basis, typically by the owner.

Paint Sealant

Paint sealant is a synthetic product that will bond better to your vehicles paint than carnauba wax and creates a protective shell. While it doesn’t give the same shine as carnauba wax it will provide the same protection against the environment but for much longer - between 6 and 12 months. Paint sealant is relatively easy to apply and can be applied to any surface on your vehicle, including trim with no risk of staining. This is a lower cost option than ceramic coating but needs to be reapplied 1-2 times a year.

Best for: for the owner that drives their car regularly and wants to maintain its appearance and resale value with lower initial cost.

Ceramic coating

Ceramic coating is a thick glass like coating that gives a deep gloss to your car with long-lasting durability. Ceramic coating is harder and more resistant to scratches than the clear coat on your car. It also allows water and grime to run off helping car stay cleaner longer and making it easier to clean. This product requires more skill to apply than wax or sealant and is a semi-permanent coating that can last up to 7 years depending on the product.

Best for: for the owner that wants to maintain the appearance of their car on a regular basis with less effort and maintain its value over time (resale).

Paint Protection Film (PPF)

Paint protection film is a polyurethane film typically applied to high impact areas of your vehicle - front bumper, front of hood and outside mirrors. The film will absorb damage and provides physical protection for your vehicle. This will eliminate much of the rock chip damage to your vehicle. This product requires a high level of skill to apply, is expensive, and if not done right can leave air bubbles etc. under the film. PPF typically last up to 10 years and is often combined with ceramic coating.

Best for: the owner that wants the most protection for their car to preserve its quality and appearance over time.

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