Looking for the Best Paint Protection Film? Start with This Checklist!


Your car's paint isn't just a layer of color - it's basically your four-wheeled ego boost. It's a total style statement and a proud nod to your ownership swagger. Yet, it's constantly under attack from the elements, road debris, and the daily grind (I swear, the road’s got a grudge).

Keeping that pristine, glossy look is no small feat. So, how do you protect your investment and maintain that head-turning shine? 

One avenue worth considering is Paint Protection Film (or PPF for short). Over the last decade, it has become increasingly popular among car owners seeking to protect their vehicle's paint and extend that showroom-fresh appearance. But here’s the kicker: with so many options on the market, how do you single out the best paint protection film that will give you the most bang for your buck?

Understanding the technology behind PPF can arm you with the knowledge to make the right choice, making sure you get the protection you're shelling out for. In this blog post, we'll be taking a closer look at the technical side of PPF and what sets premium options apart to help you make the best call to protect your ride.

What Is Paint Protection Film - PPF? 

You might already be familiar with PPF, as it's been a hot aftermarket choice for a few years. But in case you haven't, here's a quick rundown:

Paint Protection Film is a virtually undetectable layer —whether transparent or colored—that can be applied to any painted surface of your vehicle. It acts as a shield, guarding against rock chips, scratches, pitting, and the things that typically deteriorate your car's appearance after a year or two of driving.

A Quick Throwback..

Did you know that PPF was initially developed for military helicopter rotor blades during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s? The product back then was known as "helicopter tape," and it was designed to protect the blades from damage caused by debris and environmental elements.

Fast forward to the 1980s, and this technology found its way to the world of motorsports, like NASCAR. They started using it to protect sponsor decals on race cars.

Then, everyday car owners got in on the action, and this "helicopter tape" evolved into what we now know as paint protection film (PPF), a protective shield for your car's paint, providing both protection and a polished appearance. Today, PPF is the go-to choice for many to keep their car's paint looking sharp and well-protected.

The Technology Behind Paint Protection Film 

PPF serves as a safeguarding layer for your vehicle's paint, creating a protective barrier against physical damage and environmental contaminants. Engineered for efficiency, this layer is designed to absorb and distribute the impact of minor abrasions such as rock chips, scratches, and debris from the road.

Many PPF choices out there use a pliable plastic called TPU, which stands for thermoplastic polyurethane, as the base of the film. TPU is engineered to absorb and distribute the impact of minor abrasions, It's like having a personal bodyguard for your car.

This TPU layer teams up with an acrylic adhesive to ensure the film stays firmly in place on your vehicle’s paint but can be easily removed when it wears out, leaving your car looking as pristine as the day you drove it off the lot.

But here's where it gets really interesting – the best paint protection films come with a feature called self-healing. When the PPF is scratched or incurs minor damage, the film's molecular structure is formulated to revert to its original state when exposed to heat. This heat source is often sunlight, but it can be achieved through other means, like a heat gun or even pouring hot water on the scratched area. A premium quality PPF is a real pro at handling those little bumps and bruises. However, it's important to remember that the material has limits when it comes to self-healing, and it's less likely to repair more significant damages.

In terms of appearance, you can choose between transparent and colored PPF. This blog post focuses on the transparent option since it’s currently the most common choice.

Opting for transparency, a high-quality PPF should operate incognito, becoming virtually invisible when expertly applied. Multiple layers make up the film, each serving a specific function and working together to deliver exceptional protection for your vehicle's paint:

  • Release liner: Designed to be removed before applying, this layer keeps the adhesive layer contamination free and stops the adhesive from being activated before the application.
  • Adhesive: Protected by the release liner, this layer affixes the film to the vehicle. 
  • TPU Substrate: This core layer, TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), provides depth, strength, and exceptional impact resistance.
  • Clear Topcoat: The uppermost layer ensures longevity, hydrophobicity, and the self-healing property. Differences in this topcoat affect film quality and lifespan.

Qualities that Grant PPF a Premium Status 

PPF has come a long way and is now anything but a niche market.  In a crowded market, what makes a PPF premium? How do you make sure you've chosen the right protection for your car? 

Here, we're breaking down the essential qualities that elevate PPF to a premium level:

  • Durability: Premium PPF is engineered with a focus on longevity. It is designed to withstand the rigors of everyday driving and environmental exposure. This means it won't degrade or break down quickly, ensuring its protection remains effective for several years. Its durability helps maintain the overall appearance and value of the vehicle by guarding against damage over an extended period.
  • Clarity: The best paint protection films are virtually invisible when correctly applied. This high level of transparency is crucial because it preserves the original paint's aesthetic. The film should not distort or dull the vehicle's finish, ensuring your car's paint retains its natural lustre without any visible orange peel or texturing and no yellowing over time. This near invisibility sets premium PPF apart from lower-quality options that may be more noticeable.
  • Self-Healing: Premium PPF possesses self-healing properties, which is a remarkable feature. If the film sustains minor scratches or swirl marks, it can actually repair itself when exposed to heat. This means that superficial imperfections can vanish, maintaining the film's pristine appearance without requiring replacement panels. Self-healing properties contribute to the film's long-lasting and high-quality protective capabilities.
  • Impact Resistance: One of the primary functions of PPF is to act as a shield against physical damage. A premium-quality PPF excels at this, providing exceptional protection against rock chips, road debris, and other minor abrasions. It absorbs and disperses the impact of such hazards, preventing them from causing noticeable damage to the vehicle's paint. This impact resistance is a critical factor in preserving the car's appearance.
  • UV Resistance: UV rays from the sun can harm a vehicle's paint, causing fading and oxidation over time. Premium PPF includes UV resistance as a key feature, effectively blocking these harmful rays from reaching the paint surface. This helps maintain the car's color and finish, preventing it from deteriorating due to sun exposure.
  • Easy Maintenance: Premium PPF is designed for practicality and ease of maintenance. It should be straightforward to clean and care for, requiring minimal effort to keep it looking its best. This quality ensures the protective film remains effective over time without demanding extensive maintenance or specialized cleaning products.
  • Warranty: Manufacturers of premium PPF products often provide warranties that reflect their confidence in the product's quality and performance. These warranties can offer peace of mind to vehicle owners, assuring them that the product will live up to its claims. A warranty means that in the rare event of issues or defects, the manufacturer will provide support or replacement, enhancing the overall value of premium PPF. In 2023, it’s common to see PPF products with warranties that last 7+ years, with the higher-end option even being more than ten years. However, be wary of lifetime warranties, as these can sometimes come with many loopholes that make it difficult to make a claim.
  • Expert installer: Last but definitely not least, it’s important to remember that quality installers are just as essential as premium products. Their proficiency in working with the film and keen eye for details guarantee a near-perfect installation, minimizing the risk of issues like lifting edges or significant contamination. When selecting an installer, it's crucial to assess their expertise. Review customer feedback, take a look through their website, and peruse their Instagram to ensure a consistently high-quality work track record. Check out our trusted installers!

We believe the ideal way to install PPF is through a trained professional. They can expertly apply and stretch the material to cover every panel of your vehicle. Whether the film is hand-cut or pattern-cut, the precision of the edges and the achievement of a seamless finish largely depend on the installer's skill and your budget.

Expensive Doesn’t Always Equal Premium 

The belief that paying more for your PPF means getting a premium product is not always true. Although a higher cost may suggest advanced features, increased durability, or additional benefits, it does not ensure superior quality. Certain PPF options might be more expensive due to factors like branding, marketing, or the perceived exclusivity of the product rather than its inherent excellence.

Vital factors to consider beyond the price alone: 

  • Longer Warranty Periods: Premium films often come with extended warranties, highlighting the manufacturer's confidence in the product's durability and performance. This extended coverage naturally influences the overall cost.
  • Professional Installation: While the installation expenses are separate from the film's cost, high-quality PPF typically requires skilled professionals for precise application. The expertise and the time it takes to install the film can lead to a higher overall price.
  • Research and Development: Companies dedicated to thorough research and development, aiming to improve the technology and features of their PPFs, may transfer these costs to consumers. This contributes to a higher price point but ensures the delivery of the best paint protection films.

ExoShield MACH 12 Checks All The Boxes

At ExoShield, our dedication to providing top-tier products has always been our driving force. MACH 12 stands as a testament to that unwavering commitment.

Constructed using a proprietary ceramic-inspired clearcoat, MACH 12 PPF delivers an exceptionally glossy finish without distortions or texturing. And the best part? It does all of this while keeping durability and performance at the forefront.

Now, let's dive into what MACH 12 PPF brings to the table for automotive protection:

  • Excellent Optical Quality: MACH 12 provides exceptional optical clarity, ensuring that your car's paint retains its natural lustre without any visible orange peel or texturing and no yellowing over time.
  • Superior Hydrophobicity: MACH 12 is 1.5X more hydrophobic than the next best PPF on the market, giving drivers a solid protective shield against water spots and staining. This ensures your car remains immaculate and simplifies the cleaning process.
  • TPU Based: MACH 12 features a high-quality TPU base with a total film thickness of 7.6 mil for high-impact protection. 
  • Self-Healing Properties: MACH 12 is equipped with self-healing capabilities, which activate with exposure to heat. Minor scratches and imperfections on the surface can repair themselves to maintain that flawless finish.
  • Ceramic-Inspired Topcoat: MACH 12 is not only about aesthetics but also about longevity. The ceramic-inspired top coat seamlessly integrates self-healing and superior hydrophobicity into the film's composition, resulting in long-lasting properties. Unlike some ceramic PPF products, you can also apply protective coatings to the surface of the film without impacting the film’s performance. 
  • 12-Year transferable warranty:  MACH 12 is backed by a 12-year, transferable warranty against yellowing, cracking, blistering & delaminating.

Steering Towards The Best Paint Protection Film 

You're now in the driver's seat, knowing the drill – durability, clarity, self-healing, impact resistance, UV protection, easy maintenance, and that reassuring warranty. These are the golden tickets to keeping your ride pristine and safeguarding your investment.

We also believe that PPF is truly a long-term investment to protect your paint. When you team up with a professional installer and opt for premium PPF, you're not just saving money upfront but securing a hassle-free ride down the road. While going for a budget-friendly PPF might seem like a quick win, it can sneak in some unexpected costs over time.

With the right PPF, you've got your back covered, and your vehicle's looking sharp, no matter what life on the road throws at it. Safe travels, and keep that paint gleaming!

Looking for protection beyond your car's paint job? We've got just the thing for you!

Learn More About ExoShield Products


Looking for the right installer for your automotive protection film? Click here for a map of certified installers.

Looking for a windshield protection film installer?

Check out our map to find our list of certified windshield protection film installers.

Visit Map
Share this post:

Sign up for more.

Get the latest from the ExoShield blog straight to your inbox.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.