Paint Protection Film (PPF) VS Ceramic coating, which one is better? The most commonly asked questions answered

There is nothing quite like the feeling of purchasing a new car, admiring the fresh paintwork and glossy exterior as it catches the light. Inevitably, cars lose their shine due to natural wear and tear, either bleached by the sun or covered in water marks, after a few years it’s never quite the same. But what if it could be? What if all this could be prevented?

It can! How? Car Paint Protection

There are options for all of you that want to preserve that fresh factory paint and untarnished gleam of your new car. The two we’ll look at today are car Paint Protection Film and ceramic coating.

Paint Protection Film (PPF) and Ceramic Coating has gained popularity over recent years with people just like you, wanting to conserve the brilliance of their shiny new vehicle. But which option is best for you? We know it’s difficult deciding how best to protect your car so Prime Finish Car Care have put together a comprehensive comparison of the two to help you make the best choice.

XPEL Paint Protection Film (PPF)

Paint Protection Film goes by many names, the most common are ppf and ‘clear bra’. This wondrous material is a thermoplastic urethane film which is easily malleable and even self-healing – making it the perfect car paint protection film. When applied, Paint Protection Film in invisible to the naked eye so while protecting your vehicle from unsightly chips and scratches, it won’t take away from your car’s overall aesthetic. Another huge bonus of Paint Protection Film is it protects your car from the sun. Over time the UV rays from the sun can cause the paint on your car to oxidise and fade however, Paint Protection Film works as a protective layer between the sun and the paint to prevent any fade occuring.

It’s Self-Healing!

The urethane film of Paint Protection Film means that it heals itself before the damage can even reach your car! It is resistant to high impact and corrosion making it perfect for protecting your car from acidic contaminants, acid rain, mineral deposits, bug splatter and rock chips. The film’s top layer consists of elastomeric polymers that revert to their natural shape after damage so that it is able to absorb all of these hazards so that your car’s exterior doesn’t have to.

Overall, Paint Protection Film boasts a range of benefits when it comes to protecting the paintwork on your car. Other damages it’s proven to prevent include:

  • Water spots and mineral marks from rain
  • Fading from UV rays
  • Chips and scratches
  • Chemical stains

Ceramic Coating

Now we’ve had a look at Paint Protection Film, let’s consider your second option – Ceramic Coating. A Ceramic Coating is a liquid polymer which, when applied to the exterior of a car, bonds with the factory paint to form a permanent protective layer. A Ceramic Coating is the perfect alternative for a wax, providing enhanced chemical resistance, uv protection, heat tolerance and scratch resistance. It’s permanence means that if it is done properly a pro coating only needs to be done once for you to reap all of these benefits for the entity of your car’s lifetime making it both cost-effective and time-effective. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits Ceramic Coatings offer.

It’s Hydrophobic

One of the best things about Ceramic Coatings are that they are hydrophobic – they don’t like water! The way the material repels water mirrors the way it repels all liquids including mud. Liquids will have a hard time sticking to your car when it has ceramic coating which means it’ll be all the easier to wash off unwanted marks and smudges.

It’s like sunscreen for your car

You wouldn’t go out in the sun without protection, would you? So neither should your car. Much like we need to protect our skin from the UV rays from the sun, your vehicle’s paint needs protection, too. When a car is often out in the sun, the paintwork and faded as a result of oxidatization. This is why car paint protection is so important – make sure your car is covered with Ceramic Coating and that fresh paintwork will remain undulled and vibrant.

Other tempting benefits include:

  • Enhanced glossiness
  • Enhances chemical resistance
  • Resistance to minor chips and scratches
  • Prevents water spots

So, How Do I Choose?

While both Paint Protection Film and Ceramic Coating share many benefits, there are some differing factors which could influence your decision making. PPFs offer a lot more protection against abrasions from road debri and rock chips than Ceramic Coatings as the urethane film is able to absorb a lot of damage before it penetrates through to your car’s paint.

Both PPFs and Ceramic Coatings offer different protective properties and are able keep your car looking swanky and shiny for longer. It can be difficult to choose the best avenue but they also work very well together and provide peak protection when paired together. The PPF offers optimum protection from rock chip damage and scratches while Ceramic Coating over the top will provide glossiness, hydrophobicity and cleaning ease. And together, this car paint protection duo will make water marks, acid damage and oxidisation will be a thing of the past.

“I found cheaper to do PPF elsewhere”. HOLD ON, check this out first

We answer many online, phone call and in store inquiries on daily basis. Some customer often doesn’t realize the difference of products and quality they get. Here is what it’s like:

“Hey I want to get a quote of a full frontend PPF on my car”
“Sure. With XPEL Ultimate Plus PPF full frontend protection would cost $2XXX for the size of your car”
“That’s a lot of money. I can get it for $15XX”

We feel sorry for them. It’s their decision to choose which PPF to install however chances are 1. they get unknown brand, or “our own brand” PPF with unknown origin, 2. Film gets yellowing after couple of months, especially when compare side by side with XPEL films, 3. Very poor fitment and finish.

Believe it or not, we have quite some customers come to us to fix or reinstall PPF they had from our competitors. The job is so poor that you almost can’t believe someone would pay for it. The customer end up paying so much more than they should if they come to us in the first place. Below is a BMW M2 wrapped by someone else.

Sloppy hand cut, poor fitment, dirt edge,  you get what you pay for. Below is another example shows why you shouldn’t go for inexperienced hand cut install.

So why choose XPEL? Apart from far superior film clarity and thickness, XPEL DAP pattern software offers the most accurate fitment and capability to customize the design. Below are cars we’ve protected with XPEL PPF, you should be able to notice the difference. Again, you get what you pay for.

What makes a quality job that worth your money? Paint Protection Film

Let’s face it, our service is not cheap by any means. But on the other hand, you’re not spending that money for nothing. In this series posts, we will address some common questions we often been asked by potential customers: why should I spending more to choose you?

How To Choose Paint Protection Film – Which One Is The Best?

WHICH PAINT PROTECTION FILM IS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR CAR?

We wouldn’t definitively say which Paint Protection Film is “best”. That’s because there isn’t an unequivocally, unilaterally “best” Paint Protection Film. You may choose to go with any of the three major brands, and you would be happy with any of the choices.

So before you make a decision, let me put your mind at ease: You can’t go wrong if you’re deciding between XPEL, SunTek, or 3M. You can go wrong with other films. But you are safe with one of these brands. With any of them you will get stalwart protection you’ll never see for years to come, and that’s what’s important.

Nonetheless, here are a couple questions you can ask yourself to arrive at a decision.

FIRST, WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU IN A MANUFACTURER?

Do you want the biggest company that has been in the industry the longest and has the most resources at their disposal. That would be 3M. Do you want a company that has a more exclusive focus on Paint Protection Film and has gained an impeccable reputation in the industry. That would be XPEL. And then you have LLumar and SunTek that both have solid reputations in the whole automotive films industry and have developed some of the most recent technological advances in terms of their hydrophobic films.

SECOND, ARE HYDROPHOBIC PROPERTIES SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?

Certainly if your car is an everyday driver and you are going to need to wash it every couple of weeks, it will be nice to have hydrophobic properties built into your film. However, as we mentioned earlier, you may be planning to put a Ceramic Coating on top of your Clear Bra, which will then give you the benefits of having a hydrophobic surface. So this question relates both to what plans you have for protection beyond Paint Protection Film, and then how you plan to care for your vehicle in the future.

Now our third and final question (probably the biggest question of all) may surprise you, because it doesn’t actually relate to the specifics of the films.

THIRD, FILM THICKNESS AND CLARITY

Based on manufacturer claims, XPEL Ultimate Plus is 8.5mils thick, Suntek PPF CAP 6mils thick, PPF Ultra 8mils thick,  3M Scotchgard Pro 8mils thick. All measured without liner and with adhesive. Based on the number XPEL obviously has slightly advantage over the others in terms of thickness. The new XPEL Ultimate Plus film also claimed to has no orange peel and superior clarity compared to competitors. Which based on our experience to be true.

 

FOURTH, WHAT DOES YOUR REPUTABLE INSTALLER USE OR RECOMMEND?

A Paint Protection Film is only as good as its installer. Period, end of story. You could have the best film in the world, but if it is installed poorly, such that it blisters, bubbles, and peels prematurely, it won’t do you any good. Now, no install is 100% flawless, but there is a big difference between a professional, quality install and one that’s done quickly and carelessly. So make sure you find a reputable installer, consider how invested they are in the industry, take a look at the work that they’ve done and the reviews they’ve received, and once you’ve found someone you can trust, ask them what film they enjoy installing the most. All of these films act differently during the install process in terms of their flexibility and tack. The important thing is that you get a high quality film (as all of these films are) and that you get the best install possible. If you get those two things, then you will get what we’re really after here, which is the peace of mind that comes from knowing your car has the best protection you’ll never see.

At Prime Finish, by using XPEL DAP software we have access to the world’s most comprehensive vehicle pattern database that has been tested and fine tuned by thousands of installers around the world. Combined with our experience and reputation in the industry, you will get the best installation possible here in Melbourne. Without the need to worry about knife cutting your paint, digital pattern installation with precise fitment and great attention to detail is what you want to look for when it comes to choose the right installer.

How To Choose Paint Protection Film – Features Of Major Brands

THE BEST PAINT PROTECTION FILM? XPEL, LLUMAR/SUNTEK, 3M REVIEWS

XPEL ULTIMATE, NOW REPLACED WITH ULTIMATE PLUS

It is hard to beat XPEL’s reputation in the Paint Protection Film industry. XPEL is a relatively small company compared to some of these other manufacturers; and, unlike 3M, Paint Protection Film is their main focus as a company. As such, they have been leading the way in a lot of the innovations to Paint Protection Film. The XPEL Ultimate was introduced as “The World’s First Self-Healing Film” because XPEL is the company that first developed and perfected that technology as it relates to automotive protective films. That’s part of why they have such a good reputation in the industry. If you’ve done any reading about Paint Protection Film on car forums, you’ve probably come across a lot of people who are crazy excited about their XPEL wraps, and rightfully so.

LLUMAR PLATINUM / SUNTEK ULTRA

As we’ve already mentioned, the LLumar Platinum Paint Protection Film and SunTek Ultra are actually the same film in composition, just sold under two different brands. Both companies are owned by Eastman Chemicals, and both LLumar and SunTek are big players in the window tint industry in addition to Paint Protection Film.

It’s argued that the LLumar Platinum and SunTek Ultra films have greater clarity and enable a higher-gloss finish than other films on the market. That may be the case, but there is certainly not a dramatic difference in the finish between LLumar / SunTek and XPEL or 3M, so don’t make that the deciding factor in which film you choose.

However, one genuine and significant distinction between this film and both XPEL Ultimate and 3M Scotchgard is that the top clear coat has hydrophobic properties, which means it repels water like a good wax or coating. The benefit of having a hydrophobic film is that it makes the vehicle easier to clean and mud or grime has a more difficult time bonding with the vehicle’s surface. Now with other films you can (and probably should) apply a Ceramic Coating on top of the film, and that will give the surface hydrophobic properties. But with the LLumar and SunTek films you already have that built into the film itself.

3M SCOTCHGARD PRO

3M is really the grandfather company to the entire automotive Paint Protection Film industry. The whole technology for automotive Paint Protection Film was actually developed by 3M in partnership with the US military during the Vietnam War, because the military needed a lightweight way to protect helicopter blades from getting damaged. 3M developed the urethane film technology that evolved to protect NASCAR vehicles on the track and then any consumer automobile on the road. So 3M has been in this game the longest, and they have a good track record of creating a quality film.

Currently they do not offer a film that has hydrophobic properties, like the LLumar and SunTek film, and they don’t quite have the raving fan-base that XPEL has garnered. Moreover, the longest warranty they offer is 7 years as opposed to the 10 year warranty offered by XPEL, LLumar, and SunTek. But you may not plan to keep your vehicle beyond 5 years anyway, in which case the difference between a 7 year and 10 year warranty is irrelevant to you. And as we mentioned earlier, 3M Scotchgard Pro, along with these other films, has what you need in a quality Paint Protection Film: high performance protection, invisible finish, and longevity. So if you go with 3M, you will get a quality film.

How To Choose Paint Protection Film – Major Players In The Industry

You want to keep your new car looking as good as or better than it did the day you bought it. And if you’re looking to do that, you probably know that Paint Protection Film (sometimes called Clear Bra) is the most comprehensive form of protection you can apply to your vehicle to protect it from rock chips, small scratches, chemical stains, and a host of other environmental contaminants.

That’s great! But now you have to decide which specific film is right for your car. And that question can be a foggy one. Maybe you’ve read some forum debates about XPEL vs. 3M or you’ve heard about other companies like SunTek, LLumar and STEK.

Well, it’s time to clear up the issue. We are going to give you an inside review of the similarities and differences between three different films: XPEL Ultimate, LLumar Platinum (also sold as SunTek Ultra), and 3M Scotchgard Pro series.

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE BEST PAINT PROTECTION FILMS: XPEL, LLUMAR/SUNTEK, 3M

Let’s start with the similarities between these films. These three films are similar in three key ways:

FIRST, ALL THREE OF THESE FILMS OFFER HIGH PERFORMANCE PROTECTION.

They all perform at a high level to protect your car’s paint from rock chips, chemical stains, small scratches, UV damage, and whatever else nature or the road throws at your car. None of them offers bullet-proof protection. No film or product ever will. But all three of them will do a very good job and are comparable in terms of the protection they offer. All of these films are about 6 mils thick not including the adhesive. And to top it off, all of them have “self-healing” properties, which means that small scratches in the film will disappear after the film is exposed to heat.

SECOND, ALL THREE OF THESE FILMS ARE CRYSTAL CLEAR AFTER A QUALITY INSTALLATION.

There’s not much point in getting a product that protects your paint if in the process it makes your paint look terrible. The benefit of all of these films is that they are invisible to the naked eye after a quality installation. And all of these films retain their transparency very well. Previous generations of films had problems with yellowing over time, especially after extended UV exposure. The yellowing effect was actually occurring in the adhesive under the films. Since then the industry has developed superior adhesives that do not yellow over time, which means that if you get one of these films you can be confident you will have a crystal clear finish that is not susceptible to premature discoloration.

THIRD, ALL THREE OF THESE FILMS ARE LONG-LASTING.

3M Scotchgard Pro is warrantied for 7 years after installation. XPEL Ultimate and LLumar Platinum/SunTek Ultra are warrantied for 10 years after installation. And all of these films have a reputation for maintaining a high level of performance over the life of their warranties. Of course, if you abuse the film or don’t maintain it well, it will deteriorate at a quicker pace. But on the other hand, if you do maintain the film well you may see it continue to perform well beyond the life of the warranty. All that to say, all of these films have longevity to them.

WHAT YOU NEED IN A PAINT PROTECTION FILM: XPEL, LLUMAR/SUNTEK, AND 3M ALL HAVE IT

Now before we get into the differences of these films, we should stop and say that those three items I mentioned above are really the most important factors in a Paint Protection Film. You want a film that is going to protect at a high level, that is not going to inhibit the appearance of the paint, and that is going to last for a long time. If you get a film that does all three of those things, you have a win-win-win. And as we’ve said, all three of these films do all three of those things very well; which is to say, you can be a happy customer with any of these choices.

The New XPEL Ultimate Plus Paint Protection Film

Since the launch of XPEL ULTIMATE, the world’s first self-healing paint protection film, XPEL has worked to advance the industry further. Introducing the arrival of the new XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS – the next evolution of superior paint protection film.

ULTIMATE PROTECTION, UNSEEN

An unparalleled high gloss finish. Improved impact protection for enhanced durability. No doubt, XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS is the most advanced paint protection on the market. Along with the same self-healing power you’ve come to love, XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS provides less visible distortion than ever before. It also maintains maximum adhesion to painted surfaces thanks to our new edge seal technology.

With ULTIMATE PLUS, you’ll forget all about the orange peel woes of other films. It’s so optically clear, it’s virtually invisible to the naked eye. In some cases, XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS can improve the surface quality of your original paint, offering a more consistent finish and overall shine. It’s the perfect product to keep your personal vehicle looking pristine with minimal effort on your end.

BETWEEN YOU & THE OPEN ROAD

Driving any distance can take a toll on your car’s exterior. Road grime, tar, bug guts, bird droppings and even air pollution can contaminate the clear coat, causing etching, oxidation, or worse. Thanks to XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS paint protection film, your vehicle can stay safe from outside elements. The film is extremely stain & discoloration resistant, leaving you free to enjoy the drive without worrying about a wipe down at your next stop.

INSTALLER TESTED, ENTHUSIAST APPROVED

From the shop or the dealership to the street & the track, XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS was born to perform. It installs with ease, looks incredible, and it’s built to last. Backed by our 10 year warranty, XPEL ULTIMATE PLUS will have you feeling like you’re driving a new car every day.

Unsure about the level of protection you need? For most sports cars and passenger vehicles, we recommend what you see above. It’s commonly called a  “full front” package. This type of coverage  typically includes the entire hood, front bumper, full fenders, headlights, fog lamps, mirror caps, and more. For trucks, a “partial” package is often preferred, excluding chrome or textured plastic bumpers. Rocker panels and other high impact areas like rear bumpers and fenders are also important to protect, especially with performance cars or trucks with wide tires.