Paint Protection Film is often compared with ceramic coating, however the two are quite different and serve different purposes. Ceramic coating, while adding a minor level of protection to your vehicle’s paint, still isn’t able to protect it from rock chips and scratches. Paint Protection film on the other hand, is designed to provide your vehicle with this protection. Because of its thickness and composition, small rocks and other road debris are not able to break through the film.
So in summary, ceramic, while adding a little protection, is mostly used for the ease of maintenance and improved looks. Whereas PPF is used for car paintwork protection.
Cars are always exposed to various elements that it’s becoming hard to keep the paint in pristine condition. Physical damages are quite common no matter how much you take care of your car. There are also chemicals you have to watch out for, like acid rain, bird droppings, and even coffee.
The good news is that there are a lot of products on the market that can help you protect your car. For example, we have paint protection film and ceramic coating among others.
How do you know which one is better for your car? Let’s dive into the differences between paint protection film vs. ceramic coating below.
Paint Protection Film
Paint protection film (PPF) is a thermoplastic urethane film that goes over any painted surface on your car's exterior. It has been around since the mid-1950s, and later on, it became popularly known as the clear bra.
You might be able to remember cars in the 90s rolling around with thick “bras” in the front. Those are PPFs.
But, they were pretty thick back then that they weren’t able to conform to the delicate and complex lines of a car. Its limited placement and thick material led to its moniker “clear bra.”
The PPF we have today is thin and has extreme malleability, so it can stretch and conform to any edge and curve. This makes the material invisible to the naked eye.
Benefits of PPF
The main purpose of a PPF is to act as auto paint protection. It protects the underlying paint while also preserving its aesthetics. As such, it looks as pristine as ever.
The film takes on the scratches, dust, and damages caused by flying debris and rocks. It’s not easy to damage, as well, as it’s resistant to impact and corrosion.
Most types also have a self-healing topcoat. This means that minor scratches and damages will heal over time.
The elastomeric polymers revert to their natural shape after damage. Sometimes, you have to apply heat to get the film back to its original, flawless state.
A paint protection film also helps protect your car’s exterior from the sun. Exposure to the sun oxidizes the paint, leading to fading and yellowing. The film prevents that from happening as it becomes the barrier between the paint and the sun’s UV rays.
Prevents Other Types of Damages
Without some sort of protection, your car is also vulnerable to risks like:
-Swirl marks from washing
PPF, however, is durable even to the risks above. It’s also hydrophobic, so water and mud will only slide right off your car.
This is a coating of liquid polymer that coats the exterior of the car. It binds itself with the car’s paint to form a hydrophobic surface and a thin layer of shielding. It can bond even to the glass, wheels, chrome, and even plastic trim.
The ceramic coating fills the tiny pores in the paint. This levels the microscopic jaggedness in the paint layer.
Benefits of Ceramic Coating
When it comes to benefits, car ceramic coating doesn’t lag. The bonded layer is durable and protective, as well.
The coating also improves the hardiness of the paint. As such, it makes your car more resistant to minor scratches and marring. However, note that most products on the market don’t have a warranty for scratches and damages.
It also makes the car resistant to chemical damages. It can protect against chemical stains and chemical etch marks caused by acidic contaminants.
The ceramic coating also acts as a sunscreen to protect the paint from harmful UV rays. It also prevents oxidation, which then prevents fading and yellowing. This keeps the car paint vibrant and full of life.
Some car owners use ceramic coating mainly because of aesthetic purposes. With one application, the paint turns into a deeper and richer color. The car also becomes shinier and glossier.
The hydrophobic coating also keeps your car look good between washings. It helps the car look clean for longer periods. When it’s time to wash it, it’s much easier to clean.
Paint Protection Film vs. Ceramic Coating
Now that we know what both are, how do you choose between paint protection film vs. ceramic coating? Both have almost similar qualities, but they have key differences.
Both options protect your car from UV rays and chemical damage. But, one is better at protecting the paint from physical damages.
The paint protection film is the better choice if your main concern involves scratches, chips, and such. Ceramic coating can prevent these things to some degree, but the malleability and self-healing properties of the other make it more able to prevent damages to your car.
It’s also better at preventing swirl marks and water spots. If this is also a concern of yours, then it’s clear which one is the real winner here.
However, the hydrophobic characteristic of ceramic coating has no parallel. Some PPFs have a hydrophobic clear coat, but it’s not to the level of a ceramic coating. Your car stays clean for longer and it’s easier to clean.
As we’ve said before, some people use a ceramic coating to improve the appearance of their car. The coating helps the paint more vibrant and shinier, so the car becomes more eye-catching.
PPF can still help preserve the look of your car, though. Because of its protection, the paint takes longer to degrade, keeping its luster for a longer time.
Between the two, ceramic coating is the more permanent solution. If done right, one application is all you need to enjoy its benefits for the duration of your car’s lifetime. Still, it depends on the quality of the product.
With PPF, you might have to redo it two or more times once it degrades.
How to Choose Between Paint Protection Film and Ceramic Coating
Wouldn’t it be great if you were to take advantage of the best of both worlds? The good news is that you can.