Paint Protection Film – 5 FAQs

At Auto Curators we strongly believe in the benefits of Paint Protection Film. We are proud to align ourselves with what we believe is the best product on the market, Xpel PPF. We know that the installation of this premium product is a significant investment. That’s why we’re happy to answer all your questions.

This week, we thought we’d share five frequently asked questions about PPF.

Paint Protection Film – 5 Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the difference between PPF and Vinyl?

The most obvious difference is that PPF is clear while vinyl is opaque and available in many, many colours. Compared to PPF, vinyl is a lot thinner, and the construction of the material means it has different physical properties.

Vinyl is installed bulk. Lengths of material are taken off the roll and laid over a panel for application, and finally worked into place. The film is stretchy and can be made to conform to complicated shapes. Vinyl also shrinks using heat. This process is useful when a convex curve, or bowl shape, creates excess material. Heating can also help to create a new memory effect, so the material doesn’t want to pull back against the stretch. These properties make vinyl an ideal choice for graphics on commercial vehicles. The same properties are useful for temporarily changing the colour of a car and hiding the edges of the material as much as possible.

PPF is a lot less malleable than vinyl. It can stretch to perhaps 10% of it’s the original size, but is less willing to do so! Also, PPF doesn’t shrink with heat as vinyl does, and this is where the importance of pattern design lies.

Look very closely at the panels on your car, perhaps even run your hand over them. You’ll become aware of just how many shape changes are there. The PPF needs to follow all of these contours and works best under a bit of tension when it is installed. The designers must consider where the material might ‘gather’ at a curve, and allow for that area to stretch into place at the point of installation. When some pieces are first laid onto a panel, they don’t look like they can fit! But having faith in the talented Xpel designers means that by following our methodology, they will indeed fit just perfectly.

Most importantly, when it comes to protection…

Vinyl offers a small amount of protection for the paint against abrasion and impact. However, vinyl is still quite fragile itself and will tear if scratched badly. PPF is much thicker and tougher. It will cushion against impact from stones and has impressive abrasion resistance. Finally, the self-healing surface is unique to PPF. So, should you brush against a hedge, or wash your car badly, the film finish will restore itself in no time.

Can PPF be used on Matte finish paintwork?

Xpel Stealth is a satin finish PPF. Matte paints, such as the Mercedes Magno range, or BMW Frozen paints, are delicate. PPF is the very best way to protect them from scratches and greasy marks. We often see matte paint with fingerprints in it. People see the different paint finish and can’t help but touch it. The oils on fingertips leach into the porous paint finish and permanently damage it. There is no way to repair this once it has happened.

To prevent this exact scenario, we installed a full car coverage of Xpel Stealth PPF onto a satin grey Mercedes CLS53 AMG.

Paint Protection Film Matte Paintwork

Is there any benefit to applying a ceramic coating after the fitting of PPF?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that a ceramic coating for PPF is different to that used on regular paint. Due to the more flexible nature of the film, and its self-healing properties, a coating that cures to a rock hard surface isn’t suitable.

Xpel PPF has inbuilt hydrophobic properties to make it easier to care for. The addition of the Xpel Fusion ceramic coating boosts this effect. It means the film stays super glossy, and the water repellency helps to slow the build-up of dirt. It is also worth noting that while other coatings for PPF are available, Xpel Fusion is the only one that will maintain the 10-year film warranty.

Are there any car paint colours that benefit more from PPF?

PPF works well on different colours for different reasons. For example, dark coloured cars, solid black especially, are very prone to swirl marks and wash marring, even when they have been ceramic coated. The self-healing nature of PPF takes all of that worry away.

Light coloured cars can be prone to showing stone chips, especially on a white vehicle where the bumper is black or dark grey underneath. You have to be diligent to clean any exposed edges of the film on a white car, but it is easy to do and prevents lots of dark coloured chips appeared.

In what circumstances could PPF get damaged and can it be fixed?

Paint Protection Film isn’t infallible and should be considered to be a sacrificial cover for your paint. But it is very tough, and we have seen repeated examples of bad looking scuffs and impacts that have left the film looking very sorry for itself, yet once removed, the paint underneath is entirely undamaged. Installing a new piece of PPF avoids the expense and time of a body shop visit, and the implication that having non-original paintwork might mean to you.

In some instances, for example, where car bumpers might have rubbed together in a car park, we have successfully removed paint transfer from the surface of the PPF, then added some heat to encourage the self-healing effect, removing a dramatic looking scuff with no need for paint or even replacement PPF.

If you regularly leave your car at a train station or airport car park, this really would be worth your consideration.


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