Paint Protection Film vs Ceramic Coating: Which One Should You Choose for Your Car?


Anyone who has purchased a brand new vehicle has experienced that “new car smell.” It excites, intrigues, and always brings a smile to their face. Once they are comfortably seated behind the steering wheel, the feeling is committed to memory (often unconsciously). That impression really lasts!

You may not be able to preserve the smell, but what about the feeling? Turns out there are quite a few products on the market that are designed to keep your car looking like the day you bought it!

We’re here to compare two of the most popular products that offer protection to your car’s surface while preserving its aesthetics in the long run; Ceramic Coatings vs Paint Protection Film.

Ceramic Coating: What, How, and Why?

Ceramic coatings have become pretty popular amongst enthusiasts, since there’s nothing better than the high, glossy shine of coated paint. 

A ceramic coating is a clear, liquid polymer-based solutions usually consisting of silicon dioxide nanoparticles (which is where the “ceramic” part comes in). Ceramic coatings have been used widely in recent years to protect the exterior surfaces of vehicles. Once applied, it bonds chemically to the car’s paint and provides surface protection for several years that is not easily damaged or scratched off. Most ceramic coatings are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water and dirt, making it easier to keep your car clean. They also offer UV protection, preventing your paint from fading over time. 

Generally, ceramic coatings are applied by hand, so they can be pricey to have applied to your full vehicle, although many enthusiasts swear by the effects they give their vehicle’s paint. The overall aim of the coating is to be unobtrusive: it should be translucent and as thin as possible, and in the best cases, keeps that new paint shine. 

Ceramic coatings can also be applied in multiple layers to give a little added protection, and it’s generally recommended to return to your installer to have the coating reapplied periodically to keep the surface fresh. 

Paint Protection Film: What, How, and Why?

Paint protection film (PPF) or sometimes referred to as “clear bra,” is a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film. Similar to a ceramic coating, it is applied by hand onto the vehicle’s surface as a thin, transparent layer, but instead of being applied as a coating, it is (as the name suggests) a film that is stretched over the surface of the vehicle’s paint to provide protection. Many paint protection films on the market also resist mud, bird droppings, and other dirt that would normally stick to the exterior of the vehicle.

High-quality PPF products often feature a self-healing ability, which means that small knicks and scratches in the surfaces can “heal” (usually after applying heat) which can help extend their lifetime. The overall lifespan of PPF depends on the brand, but some can last up to ten years

The primary purpose of applying a film to your paint is to provide impact-resistance to prevent paint damage from the stones and rocks thrown up from the road while driving. A good quality PPF will prevent scratches, chips, and dents in the car’s paintwork, saving you from the expense of repairs and/or repainting regularly.

Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film?

If you find yourself wondering which of these products is right for you, we’re here to help! Neither of these products are strictly better than the other, it really just depends what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for something to give you long-lasting impact protection that you don’t need to worry much about, PPF is for you. On the other hand, if you’re more excited about the high gloss, easy-to-clean surface that a ceramic coating affords - that may be the right choice for you!

There are other differences between the two to be aware of. In general, ceramic coatings will require more upkeep as they won’t last on the paint as long as PPF, but that being said, they’ll also make your vehicle easier to clean on a day-to-day basis.

Regardless of your preference between the two products’ highlights and their unique benefits, if you have the budget for it you can also just opt for both! The PPF can be applied to the areas of your car that are most likely to be damaged by stones or rocks while driving; the bumpers, the hood, and your side-view mirrors. You can then have your whole vehicle coated with a ceramic coating.

What about the Car’s Windshield?

Whether you choose ceramic coating, PPF or both, these solutions are great for protecting your paint, but these products do not specifically protect your windshield. 

If you really want true all-around protection on your vehicle, there are similar products that can be applied to the windshield to prevent damage. While the technology differs from a PPF, the purpose is the same. A good windshield protection film protects your windshield from stones and rocks that would cause scratches and chips to your windshield glass. Once again, this may be expensive to repair and/or replace.

A windshield protection film can be installed by a professional, or, for select models, can be installed using a DIY kit.

Want to talk to a real expert? While our specialty is windshield protection film, our certified installers are masters of a wide variety of products, and many of them are truly experts in all things automotive protection! If you’re wondering which brands or products are right for you, we suggest reaching out for a consultation.

Learn More About ExoShield Products


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

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