What Is Automotive Paint Protection Film?

Paint protection film is a layer of thermoplastic urethane applied to the painted surfaces of an automobile to protect the paint job from chips, splatters, and small abrasions. Is is also commonly used on airplanes, motorcycles, electronic, cell phones and other electronics. Almost all automotive manufacturers have approved the usage of paint protection film on vehicles. It is also commonly referred to as Clear Bra which was the original manufacturer.

It is recommended by manufacturers to entrust the application of the product to certified Vinyl Wrap and Clear Bra professional shops as the installation requires unique skills and techniques to get it to look right and last the life of the film. Many Window Tinting and detail shops also perform the installation.

The primary purpose of Clear Bra is to prevent scuffs, rock chips and other types of vandalism which cause damage to a vehicle’s paint and body. It is commonly applied on the front facing portions of cars, trucks, and SUVs. It may also be used on the full body of a vehicle to provide maximum protection for the vehicle’s factory paint.

Originally developed for use in military applications, it is now commercially available for public use. The automotive industry took note of the benefits offered by the paint protection film and began applying it to race cars to protect the expensive carbon fiber and fiberglass bodies. Originally the film was thicker and tough to install because the thick film was designed to protect helicopter blades from sand erosion.

The film available on the market today is specifically designed to be flexible and conformable to a vehicle’s body. There are many options available in the market with specific types manufactured primarily with the technical capability to offer top level protection and even self-healing capabilities.

Why use Paint Protection Film?

Scratches on brand new or well-maintained vehicles not only destroy the look of your car, truck or SUV, they reduce the resale value. To prevent a car from suffering at the hands of vandalism or road debris, paint protection film is the perfect solution.

Clear Bra has the strength to withstand the hazards on the road such as debris, rocks, sand and cement. It will shield the areas on the vehicle where it is installed and keep the body looking like it did the day you applied the film. Many of the premium films have self-healing properties so the film will heal itself when damaged by scratches and cracks. Another great application is to protect your vehicle from children playing near the car and scratching the paint surface with their toys.

Which Paint Protection Film Brands are the most trusted?

The most reliable brands of paint protection film on the market today are the original Clear Bra, 3M, Suntek, and Xpel. Xpel and 3M are the preferred films used in our shop due to their self-healing properties and industry leading warranties. In addition to full rolls of film, many of these manufacturers offer the DIY enthusiast pre-cut kits that are unique to a vehicle’s make, model and year.

Today there is no shortage of cheaply made films imported from places like China and India and sold on sites like eBay and Amazon. Always be wary of any material that does not come from a reputable manufacturer. Cheap paint protection film will not protect your vehicle, and often the cheap adhesives used in this type of material will damage your factory paint when you attempt to remove it.

How is It Applied?

There are many types of installation for paint protection film. Most installers do not have plotters. Therefore they have no choice but to apply the fill directly from the roll and cut the material to length on your vehicle. Reputable installation shops that have invested in plotters use specially designed software to create a pattern for the shape of the panel on which the film is to be installed and have it plotted or cut with precision. A plotter can also be used to modify the cut pattern to fit custom patterns such as aftermarket body kits and bumpers.

A popular installation technique for the DIY customer is a pre-cut kit. A pre-cut kit can be ordered by your vehicle make, model, and year and comes ready to install out of the box. The downside of a pre-cut kit is if you damage one of the sections of material during installation, you’ll have to purchase an entirely new kit. Pre-Cut Kits are also not available for any custom parts you have on your vehicle such as an aftermarket bumper, body kit, or spoiler.

When you are looking for a Clear Bra installer, it is imperative to select a reputable shop with good reviews. The installation requires cutting near your car, truck or SUV’s paint with razor blades. An impatient or unskilled installer can quickly cause substantial and irreversible damage to your expensive vehicle.

Where can the Film be Applied?

Paint protection film is manufactured to appear practically invisible to the naked eye to maintain the appearance of your vehicle. It can be applied to any area of the car however it is mostly recommended for portions of the car that are susceptible to damage. The most common areas are the side mirrors, front bumper, and hood of your vehicle. Another area that Clear Bra can be used is door edges as they are prone to wear and tear from the constant opening and closing. Protecting door edges offers an excellent shield against chipping and scrapes which often happen in parking lots.

It may also be applied to door handle cups because they get damaged from constant use. The scratches and scrapes can are prevented through the application of an invisible film of Clear Bra on the door handle cups.

Benefits of a Paint Protection Film

Clear Bra is flexible and stretchable as well as long lasting. It is almost invisible and can be molded to fit any surface of the vehicle. It seals the painted surfaces to give a long lasting glossy appearance and shiny exterior. Clear Bra is a branded self-healing coat which is resistant to scratches and cracks. It puts up a tough defensive front to damage of any kind which in inevitable when it comes to cars.

Automotive Paint Preparation

Automotive Paint preparation is one of the many important steps of proper repainting of your car. This process involves things such as washing, claying, cutting compounds, waxing and some other important steps. The best way to do this is to follow the procedures which I described in the next few paragraphs.

Sequence of the steps:

1. Wash

2. Clay

3. Cut Compounds

4. Paint Cleaner

5. Mild Abrasive Polishes (swirl removers/fillers)

6. Glazes (oils and fillers only, things like #7)

7. Sealant

8. Waxes

What will these processes do?

I think you all know what washing is, so I won’t be describing this process.

What will clay do is that it will remove elements that cannot be dislodged by washing (semi-bonded paint contaminants).

Cutting compounds are rapid surface removing polishes. They are used to remove scratches and blemishes on rough surfaces.

Paint cleaner is going to deep clean the clear coat, like micro-washing. If your paint is in very good condition you could skip cutting compounds process and simply just use a paint cleaner.

Mild abrasive polishes are going to help reduce the appearance of any surface defects that may still be visible (scratches and swirls could not be completely removed). It will “cut” a little bit, but it’s mostly for rounding out swirls edges and filling in gaps with fillers. These also usually contain glazing properties to bring back shine.

Glazes are going to do nothing to correct defects, but just add luster and shine through the use of oils.

Sealants are used to lock-in your now perfect finish that the previous steps should have resulted in. There are many kinds of sealants but some are very durable and can help keep your finish very well protected and not evaporate quickly like waxes do. Many sealants also add shine. Remember if you used glazes with oils and fillers that you need to use a sealant that can bond to that type of oily surface. Some sealants cannot bond to anything but a clean surface.

Waxes are also a type of sealant but they tend to evaporate quickly. There are tons of waxes that do very different things. but if you find the right one or combination of waxes to use with your car color then you can add so much more depth and wetness to the look even on top of what your glazes/sealants provided. I prefer to use pinnacle souveran paste and pinnacle carnauba quick shine wax one after the other.

How to Apply Automotive Paint

If you want to repaint your vehicle on your own and achieve that trendy look, then it is important to get all the information you can get about the paint that you will use. You will need to choose the tools to use wisely, select that part of the garage that is well ventilated i.e. where there is free passage of air.

All automotive paints are not the same but there are some few qualities that you need to ascertain before you buy the paint for your car. Any paint that you use should not be polished after application unless it is of poor quality. Paint should always be flexible without the use of flex additives. To improve paint coverage, use paint primer as an undercoating.

When dealing with a minor repair or even a full restoration, preparation is absolutely necessary. Clean the surface that you are using. There are two types of contaminants that will need to be cleaned, these are Water based contaminants, such as dirt, dust and bird droppings. These can be removed easily with a good car washing soap and hot water. And then there are Solvent based contaminants that include wax, plastic resin, oil and tar grease. These require the use of grease remover. In order to know that the area is clean, flush it with water. The water should not stick on this surface, if it does you will need to add more grease remover.

Before applying the automotive paint that you desire, you can remove the old paint using solvent based color removers, making a smooth base on your car body. You are now ready to use a primer on these surface. Use a top quality spray gun, applying sweeping horizontal strokes back and forth. Let the coat dry before sanding it again and applying a fresh coat.

Automotive Paint Repair Can Be Simple

It’s that awful time for car owners, your car’s paint is damaged and you need some automotive paint repair done to get it back to like new. Maybe you were in a low impact collision, scraped the door backing out of the garage, or worst of all, your entire car has been randomly keyed or vandalized. Whatever the reason, there are a number of solutions available to you in the car paint repairs market. Not only will your vehicle be looking better, but it will also be better protected with all of its metal covered in paint and protected from the elements that cause rust.

The first thing I want to look at is why car paint repairs are necessary. To put it simply paint is fashion and function. The paint protects the metal underneath, which is vulnerable to various elements, most notably the weather, but road salt and further chipping factor in as well. Damage that is not attended to immediately can lead to costly future repairs down the road. There is no benefit at all to waiting to do a repair.

Most auto paint repairs are simple procedures. For smaller scratches, dents, and scrapes you can go with a zone repair. A zone repair is a cost effective solution as it only focuses on a specific spot of your vehicle and does a seamless repair of it without painting the entire panel. This is done by isolating the area with tape and paper, while the repair person blends the paint just perfectly to match the original colour. A professional at this technique can do it in a way that matches the paints original factory look and colour around the repair so that no one will ever be able to tell that any damage ever happened. This can be done on side panels, hoods, trunks, and doors. It saves time, money and value over the cost of a repair to the entire panel. It often allows the repair to be done below the cost of your insurance deductible.

For larger damaged areas a complete repaint of the entire panel may be necessary. This can be done at a reasonable cost, but not as cheaply as a zone repair. Remember that this is about protecting your car, and ensuring the greatest value for it in the long run. Do not go with the most economical option. Choose what is best for the long term in keeping your car its best. If there is heavy damage to the metal under the panel it may be necessary to replace the entire panel. This would be unfortunate as this is costly and often requires a repaint of the new panel to match the look and colour of the rest of the vehicle, but there is no good that will come of having an old panel on that rusts.

So whether it was your own fault, an accident of someone else’s doing, or you were the victim of vandalism, it is essential for the long term use of your car that even the smallest dings and chips get attended to. Failure to do so can lead to rust which will dramatically reduce the value of your vehicle. Get immediate automotive paint repair specialists to look at your car to correct this type of damage.