FAQs Part 2: PPF Installation & Aftercare
When it comes to investing in Paint Protection Film, we understand it's not a small decision. At Exoshield, we want to support you with the information necessary to choose the ideal paint protection film for your car. After tackling some FAQs about the basics of PPF, we now turn our focus to the installation process and aftercare.
Can I install paint protection film myself, or is professional installation recommended?
It is almost always recommended to have a professional install your film! It takes a considerable amount of skill to achieve a good result, and you'll probably be disappointed with the finish if you try it on your own. In fact, many PPF brands won't even let you install it yourself, meaning you might miss out on accessing higher-quality films if you're not a professional installer.
How is paint protection film installed?
When it comes to applying PPF correctly, it's best left to a professional installer who typically goes through these key steps:
- Surface Preparation: Thoroughly clean the surfaces to be protected, preferably using a pressure washer to remove contaminants.
- Application of Soapy Solution and Clay Bar: Apply a soapy solution and use a clay bar to eliminate excess dirt or grime. Rinse the surface afterward.
- Preparation for PPF Application: Apply a slip solution to the intended PPF area.
- PPF Installation: Peel off the release liner from the film, moisten the adhesive side, and align it with the vehicle's surface. Gently tack the film into place.
- Squeegeeing and Alignment: Spray the slip solution on the film's surface and use a PPF squeegee to gradually remove the solution, checking positioning and alignment.
- Drying and Post-Heating: Allow the edges to dry, optionally using a heat gun to expedite the process. Post-heat the edges to ensure proper sealing.
- Addressing Adhesion Issues: If any edges struggle to adhere, apply a tack solution made of 20% Isopropyl alcohol and 80% water, then squeegee again for optimal results.
- Final Check: Confirm that no solution is trapped under the film, and perform a final check on the positioning and alignment.
- Post-Installation: There is a post-heating step to ensure all edges are sealed and secured. The installer will go around the protected panel, applying heat using a heat gun.
Can PPF be applied to any surface of the vehicle?
PPF is typically applied to the front bumper, hood, fenders, side mirrors, and other high-impact areas. It can be customized based on individual preferences. It’s important to note that PPF cannot be applied to the windshield (or any other glass surfaces) - for that you’ll need a windshield protection film.
Are there specific considerations for installing PPF on different parts of the vehicle?
Every part of a vehicle is a little different, just like every make and model is a little different! In general, highly curved surfaces make it more difficult to install and may mean that your installer requires a little extra time and care to get the quality finish that you’re looking for.
How long does paint protection film installation take?
Installation time varies based on the vehicle's complexity and the installer's skill. On average, it can take a few hours to a few days depending on factors like how much of your vehicle you’re getting protected, the complexity of the installation, and how many installers are working on your car at once! It’s best to consult with your installer when getting your quote as they’ll be able to give you a good idea for your specific installation.
How do I find an installer for PPF?
Finding a quality installer for your PPF is half the battle! Here’s a list of our trusted PPF installers! We also suggest doing some basic research on the shop like checking out their website, social media accounts, and Google reviews.
Does Paint Protection film affect the vehicle's appearance?
Any High-quality transparent PPF is virtually invisible when applied correctly, preserving the original appearance of the vehicle. There are typically different options for PPF including gloss, matte, or color PPF. If you have a typical gloss paint on your vehicle, opt for a premium gloss PPF product to match the finish.
Can PPF be removed without damaging the paint?
When professionally installed and removed, PPF should not damage the underlying paint. While the adhesive used in most premium PPF products is designed to offer high adhesion without damaging the underlying surface, the removal process may vary based on the film's quality and age. It is best to consult with your installer BEFORE your PPF is installed on various surfaces, as some surfaces on your vehicle may have thin clear coatings that could be damaged or removed when your PPF is removed.
What is the maintenance process for a vehicle with Paint Protection Film?
Typically regular washing and detailing are usually sufficient to maintain the appearance of your PPF. That being said, harsh chemicals or abrasive materials should be avoided to prevent damage to the film. Most PPF manufacturers (ExoShield included!) also will caution against pressure washing the film, as this can cause edges to start to lift. Always discuss a maintenance plan with your installer before you take the vehicle home to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment!
Can PPF be installed over existing damage or scratches?
Yes! While PPF is designed to protect against future damage and will look best on a clean, undamaged surface, it is possible to install PPF over existing damage. That being said, existing damage may still be visible after installation, and your installer may be able to correct some of this damage before installation to give you the best look post-install.
Does PPF provide UV protection for my vehicle's paint?
Yes, high-quality PPF often includes UV inhibitors, offering protection against sun damage and fading, keeping your paint looking vibrant for many years.
How soon can I wash my car after the PPF installation?
We recommend holding off on washing your car for at least 48 hours post-installation to give the film sufficient time to dry out and adhere to the vehicle. Be sure to ask your installer for a post-installation maintenance plan before you leave the shop.
What type of car wash products are safe to use on PPF?
To help maintain the appearance of the film, we recommend choosing car wash products that are gentle and pH-balanced. Go for mild soaps or shampoos explicitly formulated for PPF, avoiding harsh chemicals, abrasive components, or waxes. Opt for microfiber wash mitts or soft sponges to minimize the risk of scratches during application. Always read product labels to confirm their compatibility with paint protection films, and follow any guidelines provided by the PPF manufacturer.
Can I wax or polish my car with PPF?
Yes, you can! doing so can even enhance the film's appearance. However, it's important to use products that are specifically designed for use on PPF. Choose a non-abrasive wax or polish, and avoid products that contain harsh chemicals or abrasive compounds, as these can potentially damage the film. Certain PPFs have self-healing properties, and waxing or polishing can help maintain their appearance. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
Do I need to avoid certain types of wax or polish?
Avoid anything abrasive or with harsh chemicals when possible. While your PPF likely has a protective coating on the surface, it will not withstand deep scratches and will last longer if you treat it well!
Can I use a pressure washer on a car with paint protection film?
We suggest completely avoiding pressure washing your PPF, but if you DO decide to pressure wash, you absolutely want to avoid getting anywhere near the edges, as the pressure can cause the film to lift.
How can I remove stains or stubborn contaminants from PPF?
Contaminants that are trapped under the film should be removed during installation. The installer will likely work hard to minimize contamination by keeping the shop as dust-free as possible (by cleaning and hosing down the area regularly).
If you spot bird droppings or sticky stuff on your PPF, don't wait! We recommend cleaning it as quickly as possible as the acids can react with the surface of the film and cause damage. If it does leave a stain, try washing your car first. If the stain sticks around, grab some 99% isopropyl alcohol, put it on a soft cloth, and gently wipe the spot.
Is it normal for water to be stuck under the PPF after it's installed?
Water bubbles under the film usually go away by themselves over time. But if there are air bubbles that stick around, they won't disappear and can make a mark. The installer should catch and fix any air bubbles during the installation process. If you notice significant bubbles or other contamination a week or so after the installation, we recommend contacting the original installer.
Should paint protection film be reapplied periodically?
While a premium-quality PPF is designed to last many years, nothing forever! After several years and depending on the wear and tear you put your vehicle through, you may find that it starts to look scratched up which will cause it to look hazy. At this point, you may still have the impact protection you need but may choose to get your PPF reinstalled. We suggest consulting with your installer once you start to notice the appearance of the film has diminished and they’ll be able to recommend the best course of action.
There are also maintenance products that can be used, such as ceramic coatings or soaps that help rejuvenate the surface of your PPF, making it last longer.
How can I protect PPF during winter or in harsh weather conditions?
If you live in a cold or harsh climate, you probably already know that the environment can be very tough on automotive surfaces! There are a few recommendations that we have for helping your PPF stand the test of time, no matter where you live:
- Applying a coating every year or so is a great way to minimize damage or scratching to the film and extend the lifetime
- Keeping the film clean - gently wash salt or other grime from the vehicle as frequently as possible. The longer dirt or grime sits on the film, the more likely the film could be stained
- Ask your installer about maintenance wash packages! Many installers offer an upkeep package to make sure your protection investment lasts as long as possible looking great!
That’s it! We’re hoping we've answered most of your questions about paint protection film installation and care, and you’re ready to find the right installer for you! And if you're thinking of keeping your whole ride safe, don't forget to protect your windshield too!
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