Exploring the Basics: PPF Film FAQs - Part 1
If you've heard about paint protection film and are eager to try it but don't know where to start, we've got you covered. This blog is part of an FAQ series we've compiled to address any questions you may have about PPF film and help you choose the right protection for your ride.
What is paint protection film?
Let’s start with the basics - PPF is a clear or colored layer applied to a vehicle's painted surface to safeguard against rock chips, scratches, and other potential damage. It acts as a protective barrier, preserving the paint's quality and appearance over time.
How does paint protection film work?
PPF film creates a resilient and transparent (or colored - more on that later) layer on a vehicle's painted surface. Usually made from a thermoplastic polyurethane material (TPU), PPF is engineered to absorb the impact of elements like rocks and debris, effectively shielding the paint and preventing scratches or chips.
The film adheres to the car's surface through an acrylic adhesive layer, creating a protective shield. This layer not only absorbs impacts but can also have self-healing properties. When exposed to heat, the surface of the film actually softens, allowing it to "heal" and minimize the appearance of small scratches and scuffs. However, it's important to note that PPF has its limits, and larger impacts or exceptionally sharp objects could potentially exceed its protective capabilities.
What are the Benefits of using PPF?
- Physical Protection: First and foremost, PPF Film acts as a barrier against rock chips, road debris, bug splatter, bird droppings, and other environmental contaminants that can damage a vehicle's paint.
- Resale Value: By protecting the original paint, PPF film helps preserve the vehicle's resale value. Potential buyers are more likely to be interested in a well-maintained, scratch-free exterior.
- Easy Maintenance: PPF film is easy to clean and maintain. It can be washed and waxed like the rest of the vehicle, ensuring a consistent and attractive appearance.
- Enhanced Appearance: When applied correctly, the film is virtually invisible, preserving the vehicle's original color and gloss. It doesn't alter the appearance but enhances it by protecting against imperfections.
- Customization: PPF is available in various finishes, including clear and colored options, allowing for personalization and styling choices.
Is paint protection film visible on the vehicle?
When applied correctly, PPF film becomes nearly invisible on the vehicle. Professional installers and precise cutting ensure that the film seamlessly conforms to the contours of the car's surface, making it pretty hard to tell it apart from the original paint. This transparency enables the vehicle's color and finishes to shine through without any noticeable alteration.
However, the visibility of PPF can be influenced by factors such as the quality of installation, the color and type of film used, and the specific lighting conditions. Lower-quality installations or coloured films may be more visible, but high-quality clear PPF is generally designed to be virtually undetectable.
How long does PPF last?
This depends on the specific brand & product you purchase, but most reputable PPF brands will claim that they are made to last for many years. But what does that mean exactly?
- The film should stay on the vehicle and not delaminate or diminish impact performance for the warranty period of the film (e.g. 12 years with MACH 12).
- Surface properties like hydrophobicity WILL wear out over time! With more premium films, this can last as little as a couple of months or as much as a year or more.
- The self-healing property of the film should last a long time, but eventually, there may be a limit to the number of times the film can heal itself.
Can the film be removed without damaging the paint?
Yes! - the adhesive is designed to stick firmly to the paint without causing any damage during removal. When handled by an experienced installer, the film won't leave behind any sticky residue or harm your car's paint. The high-quality adhesive is specifically made for a clean removal process, keeping your original paintwork in top shape.
Is PPF only for new cars?
Absolutely not! However, it's important to note that the best time to protect your car is when it's brand new! We also recommend that you look at warranty terms since all PPF warranties are only valid on cars that have been painted by the original manufacturer (OEM-painted vehicles).
How much does paint protection film cost?
If you want it done well, you’ll want to get a reputable and experienced installer to apply the film to your vehicle. This ensures maximum coverage and protection. Trying a DIY or choosing a budget-friendly shop might leave you less satisfied with the film finish. Keep in mind quality comes at a cost. A full PPF job can easily surpass $5000, so choose your installer wisely and consider which parts of your vehicle need the most protection. It's common to focus on high-risk areas to save costs while still getting essential protection.
Can PPF be applied to any part of the vehicle?
PPF can be applied to most surfaces, EXCEPT glass surfaces. The TPU used in PPF is not optically clear enough to safely be used on a windshield. All painted surfaces, carbon fibre parts, headlights, plastics & interiors can theoretically be protected with PPF.
Does paint protection film affect the vehicle's paint color or finish?
If you choose a clear PPF Film, you should see no changes in the vehicle's color. However, some films have significant texturing or "orange peel" effects that could make your paint look distorted. A high-quality film like MACH 12 will NOT do this, so make sure to do some research or talk to your installer before shelling out money for a low-quality product.
Does PPF have a warranty?
Any reputable PPF product should come with some sort of warranty coverage. The specifics of the warranty can vary among manufacturers and products, so we recommend you check the terms and conditions before purchasing. provided by the particular brand or supplier. For example, MACH 12 is backed by a 12-year, transferable warranty against yellowing, cracking, blistering & delaminating.
Warranties typically cover factors such as yellowing, bubbling, cracking, or peeling of the film within a specified period. It's essential to understand the warranty details before purchasing PPF to ensure proper coverage and protection for your vehicle.
Can the film be repaired if it gets damaged?
The beauty of PPF film is that if one piece has a defect or gets particularly scratched, you could, in theory, just replace that single panel at any time.
Can paint protection film be customized or trimmed for a specific fit?
Yes absolutely! Most installers purchase PPF by the foot and can either use cutting software or hand-cut to fit any vehicle. However, It is best to talk to your installer about the finish or trim you are looking for!
Can PPF be applied over existing damage or imperfections in the paint?
Yes, although we usually recommend a paint correction BEFORE installing PPF for the best finish.
Is the film resistant to UV rays?
Most PPF products have a clearcoat layer that specifically protects against UV, which will prevent fading or discoloration of the paint underneath. Keep in mind that every product will wear a little differently, but looking for a PPF film that specifically will not yellow or has UV protectors built-in is key to the longevity of the film.
Can PPF be applied to any type of vehicle, including motorcycles and trucks?
Yes, absolutely. PPF film can be applied to any type of vehicle!
What is self-healing, and how does it work?
Self-healing refers to the ability of the film to mend minor scratches and swirl marks over time, typically through exposure to heat. The elastomeric polymer technology used in PPF construction enables this self-healing capability. Here's a basic explanation of how the self-healing process works:
- Heat Activation: When the PPF is exposed to a heat source, such as the sun, warm water, or a heat gun, the molecular structure of the polymer becomes more flexible.
- Reflow of Polymer Chains: The increased flexibility enables the polymer chains to move and reflow. This movement helps the film to "heal" or fill in minor scratches and swirl marks.
- Surface Smoothing: As the polymer reflows, it smoothes out the imperfections on the film's surface, making the scratches less visible or even disappearing altogether.
It's important to note that the self-healing capability is effective for handling light surface abrasions, such as those caused by road debris, minor rocks, or light brushes against objects.
Is paint protection film hydrophobic? How long does that hydrophobicity last?
It depends on the product, but films labeled as "ceramic-inspired" or "ceramic-like" usually come with built-in hydrophobic properties. However, it's essential to note that no PPF film maintains its hydrophobicity throughout its entire lifespan. This hydrophobic effect can last anywhere from a few months to a year or more.
We recommend restoring the hydrophobic feature by applying a coating to the film's surface after the first year and repeating this as part of annual maintenance.
Next in line: FAQS part 2 - PPF Installation Process
In this blog post, we've tried to address all the frequently asked questions regarding the fundamentals of PPF film. If you're curious about the PPF installation process, aftercare or seeking a comparison with alternative protective solutions, keep an eye out for the next parts of this blog series.
And for those who want to keep their entire ride safe, make sure to think about protecting your windshield!
Learn More About ExoShield ProductsVIEW 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