Matte, flat, satin, frozen…all of these new finishes can look amazing, but how do you maintain them? The first thing to remember is that the nature of these finishes is not to reflect light. However, many of the traditional products and methods for caring for paint are meant to increase gloss and reflection. So a slightly different mentality when caring for a finish like these is necessary.
A lot of people see matte finishes and think they must be very easy to care for because they don’t show swirls, since those disrupt the reflection of a normal paint finish. While that may be true, I disagree that they are easier to maintain. I would argue that they are more difficult to maintain. This is because no matter how delicate we feel that a normal paint finish is, there is often the possibility to correct it, whether it be a scratch, marring, etching, etc. Yet, on a matte finish, there is no correction possible. You cannot polish a matte finish or it will ruin the matte effect. With that in mind you need to be very careful when dealing with matte finishes.
Cleaning a matte finish is simple and much like cleaning a glossy finish. Wash with a ph neutral, wax free shampoo (i.e. Chemical Guys Meticulous Matte Auto Wash). It needs to just be pure soap. This is because the matte finish is made to not reflect light and the wax that is in many shampoos with give the paint a splotchy look. The ph neutral part is necessary because you do not want an option to damage the finish in any way since there is no way to correct it. It is also necessary to wash frequently as to not allow contaminants to become embedded into the paint. Over time, the finish may develop a “sheen” to it. This is just excess dirt and oils that have not been removed. For this, try a diluted solution of Isopropyl alcohol, the same you would use for removing excess polishing oils. Often times this will help remove the oils safely. If any bugs or bird droppings are acquired, make sure to remove as soon as possible to prevent etching. Make sure to use high quality microfiber towels and wash mitts, live by the two bucket method, use a foam gun/cannon if available, high quality and extremely soft brushes for wheels, and saturate the surface to add as much lubrication as possible.
What about quick detailer spray? I can’t wash my car at the car show?
Interestingly enough there is a very simple solution to this. Generally a quick detailer is made to add gloss so will not work for this application. However, you can simply use an ammonia free glass cleaner. Yes, glass cleaner. This is because glass cleaner is just a pure cleaner since it cannot leave behind anything on the glass. Use is just as you would a quick detail spray to remove the light contamination and leave behind a nice matte finish. If you are looking for a quick detailer, make sure it is one specially formulated for matte finishes, like the Chemical Guys Meticulous Matte Detailer (MMD).
Many manufactures of these paint finishes say to just wash and dry, but with the right product we can go a step further and protect it. Protecting a matte finish is, again, much like protecting a glossy finish but the protectant must be optically clear. What this means is there are no “enhancers” that are in many waxes that give that gloss and depth. Adams Quick Sealant, Swissvax Opaque, and Chemical Guys JetSeal Matte are just a few protectants that will protect the finish while not altering the look. The same will work for matte finished wheels as well.
Matte finish paints can offer an amazing look, and with the right care and protection they can last just as long as normal paints.