Your car’s cosmetics are 30% of its value along with the fact that a nice car creates a positive image on the road. Clear paint protection films, sealants and coatings work mostly in synergy with each other. They each have benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what choice works best for you.
WAXES & SEALANTS
Waxes and sealants come in various forms. Some of them are paste waxes which can be applied and then immediately removed. Most over the counter ‘waxes’ are actually sealants but termed ‘waxes.’ Some need to be left on for a bit of time before being buffed off. The newest ones are simple spray based sealants that are simple ‘leave-on’ products that require minimal to no buffing off making them excellent consumer products and layer-able on top of coatings and clear films.
Coatings are relatively new compared to waxes and sealants. They are usually made from ceramics that can take more wear and tear while some of them giving high-end waxes a run for their money! Coatings are resilient to all environmental contaminants and reduce scratches caused by driving and washing. They also tend to perform well against bird bombs and chemical deterioration. Normally, coatings are thicker and leave a candy-coated look to the vehicle. Pricing on coatings can vary from several hundreds to a few thousand dollars depending on your installer, the choice of coating and prep work required.
CLEAR PAINT PROTECTION FILMS
Clear paint protection films were initially used in the military to protect vehicles and high-traffic components of military units. However, with time, they made it to the consumer market to be used in high-end performance cars. Now, they are commonly used to protect automotive surfaces against scrapes, rock chips and airborne contaminants. With the advent of technology, they also have self-healing properties which can allow some light scratches to be ‘healed’ with time or heat exposure. Akin to the coatings, it is recommended to remove all surface defects prior to the installation of the clear paint protection film. Films have the properties of reducing maintenance, resisting stain and fading and the best durability to offer in the detailing industry. Please note that your installer may recommend defect removal or paint correction prior to installing the clear film as well, depending on the film you want them to apply.
Wrapping the entire vehicle can be expensive with full wraps costing a few thousand dollars. However, this is by far the best protection out there against all environmental contaminants. If price is an issue, then sometimes customers tend to wrap high traffic areas (front fenders, hood, inside of door handles, side skirts etc.) while either waxing or coating the remainder of the vehicle. This gives the best of both worlds. It is to be noted that certain coatings can be layered on top of clear paint protections films.