Paint Protection Film vs Paint Protection Spray

June 20, 2020
What is paint protection film?

Up until the late 1960’s, car owners endured the shortcomings of automobile paint such as easy chipping from road debris and fading and dulling from sunlight. In the late 1970’s, the basecoat (also known as clear coat) was invented, offering car owners protection against chips, scrapes, fading, and other cosmetic paint damage. By the late 1980’s, clear coat technology had been refined and perfected, and most automobiles left the manufacturer with a clear coat finish.Fast forward to the 21st century, and luxury car buyers and auto enthusiasts have access to the best paint protection for cars. To protect their beloved rides from scraping, chipping, fading, and other cosmetic damage, car owners no longer have to rely solely on manufacturer options or those odd black “car bras” that only protect (and really just obscure) the front bumper.These new after-market paint protection options are divided into two main categories—paint protection film (PPF) and paint protection spray. What’s the difference between paint protection film and spray? How do these products work? And which one is best for your vehicle? Continue reading to find out.

What is Paint Protection Film?

Automotive protection films are made of a clear, durable, conforming thermo-plastic material that adheres with a high performance adhesive system. Most high-quality films last between 3-5 years when applied by a professional paint protection film installer.Not only does paint protection film work as a finish enhancer, but its also designed to prevent fading from the sun, paint oxidation, and damage from rocks, tree sap, bird droppings, and other hazards. A transparent film is used to cover the paint on your entire car, or on frequently damaged surfaces such as the hood, front bumper, wheel arches, and side mirrors. Paint Protection film will keep a car protected from the environment and debris without obscuring the paint job.

What is Paint Protection Spray?

Paint protection spray is a transparent spray that is sprayed over the paint. As the spray dries, it hardens into a protective cover to allow protection from the environment. The spray can be applied with a DIY method or by an auto body shop. Most paint protection sprays last approximately one year. Paint protection spray is mainly used on large painted sections of a car body and is not recommended on textured trimming or headlights.

Pros and Cons of Paint Protection Film

Paint protection film has several advantages over other protective methods, such as:

  • Longevity – Protective films can last up to 5 times longer than paint protection sprays.
  • Professional Appearance – Since most films are precisely scored and cut prior to installation, the film goes on smoothly without error.
  • Removable – In the event that you sell your vehicle, decide to have it painted, or want to get rid of the paint protection film for any reason, the film itself is easy to remove.

The cons of paint protection films are few, but the most common issues are:

  • Cost – Protective films cost more than other protective options (the cost to wrap your vehicle with PPF depends on a number of factors, including the make and model of your vehicle).
  • Time – Full-body paint protection film installations can be time intensive considering all of the surface area that needs to be covered. However, if you are only having a front-end PPF kit installed, it only takes about 4 hours to complete the application and the car can be immediately driven after installation.

Pros and Cons of Paint Protection Spray

Paint protection spray also has its share of advantages, including:

  • Affordable – Paint protection spray is available in a can, and kits for the application process range between $50-$100.
  • DIY – Protective auto body spray kits make installation easy for do-it-yourselfers.
  • Time – While sprays usually take 1-4 days to fully cure, the car can be driven as soon as the spray is dry to the touch.

The cons of paint protection sprays often include:

  • Longevity – As noted above, protective sprays usually wear off three to five times faster than professionally-installed paint protection films.
  • Application – Because protective film applications are usually DIY, the finished application may have some issues and not look as clean as professionally-installed PPF
  • Limited Finishes – Paint protection sprays are typically only available in transparent finishes; matte and satin finishes are rare or unavailable.

How to Determine Which Option is Right for You

When you own a sports car or other high-end luxury vehicle, taking extra effort to preserve the paint against scratches, scrapes, chips, and environmental damage is well worth the effort and cost. Paying for paint protection now is a much more affordable option than a new paint job in the future. And maintaining your car’s aesthetic appeal can also put extra cash in your pocket later on if you ever decide to trade up or sell your ride.According to Car Connection, exterior condition is one of the top factors that affect a car’s resale value. Especially if your car is a classic or a rare find, a top-notch exterior can impact the amount of money you receive for your vehicle. When considering the best paint protection option for your vehicle, be sure to consider the level of protection provided and ensure the method will not detract from the car’s overall appearance. Protective paint products should not only protect your vehicle, but should keep it looking brand new for years to come.The right paint protection film depends on the sections that need protection, the level of protection, and budget. If you want the ultimate protection for your vehicle, contact the paint protection film


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