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Choosing the Best Vehicle Surface Protection: Paint Protection Film or Ceramic Nano Coatings? (Part 1)


As a professional detailing shop in Northern New Jersey, Signature Detailing retains many clients who are car enthusiasts and therefore take their car care very seriously. Often these owners routinely ask our advice on “what is the best means of surface protection for their vehicle”. Since this is such a common inquiry for detailing services, I thought it’s important to devote a series of three articles, which will highlight the strengths of each type of vehicle surface protection dependent on the owner preferences, driving habits, and viability of the protection type. These articles will serve as a guide for those who are searching for the best protection for their vehicle based on their situation.

The first article will explore Paint Protection Film and its general protection options. The second article will delve into Ceramic Nano Coatings and the type of surface protection they provide. And the final article will discuss how a hybrid approach of combining Automotive PPF and Ceramic Nano Coating could possibly be the best choice for a vehicle. To view all of the articles in this series, click here!

Signature Detailing NJ & NYC - BMW M4 Xpel Stealth Matte PPF
BMW M4 was wrapped in Xpel Stealth Paint Protection Film for a matte finish by Signature Detailing New Jersey.

Paint Protection Film (PPF) is the BEST automotive surface protection from all road impacts

Far and away, Paint Protection Film–also known as PPF or Clear Bra, is the best option for protecting a vehicle from the unknown impacts of the road which may strike vehicles surfaces anytime without warning.

The reason PPF is the best protection option is that popular modern films average a thickness between 8-8.5mils, which is about 125%-175% thicker than most modern paint jobs. Additionally, Paint Protection Film is made entirely of urethane (plastic) which is both incredibly durable and flexible which allows it to absorb the energy of light to medium impacts and then spring back to its initial form.

How to Determine if Paint Protection Film (PPF) is the BEST automotive surface protection for your vehicle preferences and needs

To determine if PPF is ideal for individual clients, I ask the following questions:

  • Will a rock chip ruin your day?
  • Will a rock chip bother you endlessly each time you look at the chipped panel?

If clients answer yes to either of these questions, then generally this is the best option for them in terms of owner preferences.

In addition to vehicle owner preferences, at Signature Detailing New Jersey we like to mention other aspects of Paint Protection Film which highlight its versatile protection aspects:

  • Self healing top coat which prevents fine scratches and marring over time
  • Enhanced UV protection
  • Protection from environmental contaminants
  • Reduces the appearance of paint texture (orange peel)
  • The best long term protection for an owner’s investment
  • Owner peace of mind

Even if a vehicle is on a lease, we recommend Paint Protection Film, since some clients have an extremely high sense of personal vehicle pride. Often, our clients fall in love with their vehicles over time and at the end of their lease term then opt to purchase their vehicle. We have received much gratitude in these exact situations because the PPF has kept the vehicles looking pristine and they are still protected for future ownership.

Signature Detailing New Jersey - Mustang GT350R Full Front End Xpel Ultimate Paint Protection Film
The Full Front End of this Mustang GT350R was wrapped in Xpel Ultimate Paint Protection Film to protect it from road debris impacts by Signature Detailing NJ.

The Real World Results of PPF Protection

This article is not a blanket endorsement for every vehicle to have PPF protection. PPF is a technology which adds a very durable and significant protection to surfaces, however not every vehicle or owner is a candidate for it. It is generally the most costly surface protection available, due to the cost of the material and the labor cost involved for a skilled and knowledgeable installer.  Installation costs vary based on the size of the vehicle and the complexity of the surfaces which it will be applied to.

This article is NOT declaring PPF to be a mystical force field which will protect vehicles from everything. Of course, there are extreme circumstances when very jagged debris or dense mater traveling at a high rate of speed cannot stop the PPF from being punctured and breaking through to vehicle surfaces. However, this is the exception not the rule for the vast majority of daily driving habits. In my experience, I would estimate PPF more than adequately protects vehicles from over 95%+ of most road impacts they will encounter in daily driving conditions.

Additionally, this article cannot cover all brands and types of paint protection film, some may offer other types of protection not mentioned. So, to be transparent, the information in this article on the capabilities from films such as Xpel Ultimate, Xpel Stealth, and Suntek Ultra. We realize there are many films on the market, however, we focused on these because they are the bulk of the market share and offer great durability and warranty programs for vehicle owners.

To conclude, Paint Protection Film is the best option for surface protection if your priority is saving panels from the common rock chips and road debris impacts that happen to every vehicle during the course of life on the road.

Stay tuned for pt. 2 of the series where we discuss the merits of Ceramic Nano Coatings for vehicle surface protection.

Gregory Gellas
Signature Detailing NJ
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
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5 comments on Choosing the Best Vehicle Surface Protection: Paint Protection Film or Ceramic Nano Coatings? (Part 1)

  1. a hardcastle says:

    what is downside of ppf?

    • Bob says:

      In my opinion PPF’s biggest and one of the only downsides is that it is a wear item. It may last 3 years or 5-10 years. All depends on many factors.

      With that said, replacing PPF every 5 years on a Ferrari or Lamborghini beats repainting original paint due to road rash or a large rock chip.

      • Another factor is cost. Having a professional install PPF can be expensive. Spending $1000+ on protection for a vehicle that you may only keep a couple years may not be worthwhile. If you are someone who keeps vehicles for longer periods of time, the initial investment in PPF may be offset by a higher resale value due to the exceptional condition of the vehicle.

  2. Stock says:

    Contrary to many who believe that a ceramic pro coat is a high investment and does not add value to protect the surface of the car, are misguided. The coat does have strength properties that can endure external scratches and bruises. The coat once applied need not be constantly reapplied as they have a prolonged shelf life. The coat also provides UV protection that makes the paint dull. With simply swiping away with a wet cloth, the car surface starts to shine. The coat is truly a great investment if you wish to prolong the shelf life of the paint. DRM Motors is one such service center that will help you attain those feet. Their experts do a great job in coating your car with the pro coat. Do apply this coat and see the difference for your self, and you will have a change of heart about this sturdy product.

  3. Judas Priest says:

    Very helpful content, thanks. I think getting a protective coating for the car is absolutely necessary. I got some with DPS last year and i am loving it.

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