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Car Coating or Paint Protection Film, What Is the Best Choice?

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Filed under Automotive, Automotive Help, Editorial

Consumers are becoming savvier about protecting the finish of their vehicles than ever before. For the large investment drivers put into their automobiles and the difficulty in retaining the value of a used automobile, it is important to carry out preventative maintenance whenever possible. A vehicle of any age that still looks like-new is automatically going to jump the bids up when it comes to trading it in or selling it on the used vehicle market.

What are the Best Auto Detailing Products?

Traditionally, the best one could do to upkeep the appearance of their vehicle was limited to applying a hard Carnauba wax (the same stuff they use to make Skittles glow) and keeping it in the garage as much as possible. To make your auto look like a gently driven Garage Queen while accumulating the miles, a number of new materials have arrived on the market.


The wax market has been almost entirely eaten up by sealants that are often mislabeled as waxes. These synthetic polymers bond to the surface of your vehicle and are applied much like an apply-and-drive wax. Sealants like TopCoat F11 have far more versatility than waxes. TopCoat can be applied to glass, plastic, exhaust systems, engines, vinyl, canvas, and metal to bring out the original finish and protect against everything from UV rays to salt damage. Sealants can last anywhere from 3 months to a year before your vehicle requires reapplication. Sealants improve the natural luster of your auto finish, proficiently bead water on all surfaces, and are wipe-clean easy to maintain.

Car Coatings

Coatings are the newest fad to hit the auto enthusiast market. Taking sealants, a step further, coatings require vehicle owners to commit to a longer-term investment. Coatings are typically made of Silicon Carbide or Silicone Dioxide. If you have ever sprayed silicon on your sled or shovel to get some momentum in a snowstorm, you know how effective silicon can be at repelling the weather.

Coatings need to be sprayed on professionally and may require paint correction before application. These semi-permanent ceramic protectants can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years or more (depending on the brand). Coatings tend to be glossy and can compete with the luster of high-end wax jobs that have a warmer glow and depth because it is a thicker product. Nevertheless, a coating application may cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to apply (depending on the prep work involved). Like best high-performance surface coating Topcoat F11 sealant, they protect your paint against acid rain, bird droppings, tree sap, and weather damage. Likewise, the coating forms a molecular bond to the paint surface and will magnify any subtle defects that would, however, need to be addressed ahead of time.

Paint Protection Films

Most people may be familiar with paint protection films if they ever heard about getting a clear bra applied to their hood. The paint protection films are thermoplastic polyurethane. You may have heard of paints that incorporate polyurethane that are applied to industrial vehicles in need of heavy-duty protection from wear and tear. The polyurethane is a thicker more durable finish. The clear film allows owners to apply it to the high wear and tear body panels of their vehicles or over the entire vehicle if they desire.

Applying a clear film is the best protection you can get against staining, fading, paint chips, and scratches. It is like keeping that new hot product you bought still in its package to retain the collectible value. Paint films generally come with a 5 to 10-year warranty. Companies like 3M sell computer designed custom kits for professionals to install that feature a pressure sensitive adhesive backing. Drivers have the choice of purchasing the film for specific parts or to cover their entire vehicle.

The drawback of films is the lack of clarity on some kits. You may see more of the film, especially as you go into thicker levels of protection for more durability. Films will likewise make defects in the paint more obvious and can require more extensive prep work before application on some vehicles. Depending how much coverage you are seeking and how much paint prep work needs to be done, these films can likewise run for hundreds to thousands of dollars. The warranty may not cover yellowing of the film. Most people who add paint protection films also like to apply sealants on top to further protect the film against wear.


If you have a very collectible car but still want to drive it without worrying about the toll from wear and tear, investing in any one or a combination of these new products is a smart idea. For the average consumer whose vehicle is bound to lose value rather than appreciate in a collectability market, using a sealant product is probably the most economical choice. There is no sense in retaining top dollar protection for your vehicle if it is not something that will retain strong interest among collectors a decade from now like a rare supercar.


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