LAST UPDATED: January 28, 2020
Best Paint Protection Films for Your Car: Cover Vulnerable Areas on Your Vehicle
Prevent any future damage to your vehicle’s paintwork with these top car paint protection films
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON January 28, 2020
Picture getting a new paint finish, and a few weeks down the line it’s marred with scratches and chips from road debris or low-hanging branches. That can be annoying, right? You can avoid the stress of repairing or waxing over the scratches by wrapping your vehicle’s body with paint protection film. It lowers the risk of your car’s paint being scratched, which is oftentimes unavoidable. Here are some of the best protection films that you can use to preserve your vehicle’s new look.
This film is almost invisible when installed. 8 ml thickness. Reduces paint damage from road debris.
The film has adhesive backing so you can apply it easily. Keeps your vehicle looking great for a long time. Complete installation information available online.
You need to use it soon after purchase or the film may become unusable. Some say it is difficult to install and it produces bubbles.
A roll of 2.75 by 60-inch polyurethane paint protection film with a clear coat finish for maximum shine and durability on your painted door jamb.
Prevents chipping, scratches, and scuffing on a vehicle’s most trafficked areas. Impact-resistant. It’s virtually invisible once applied. Easily wipes clean. Easy to apply. Maintains its gloss finish for years.
It may not be enough to cover all four door sills on your vehicle. May not roll up well on oddly shaped door contours unless heated up.
A clear polyurethane film measuring 6 by 60 inches that seamlessly blends in with the vehicle’s body and provides plenty of film for your car body.
It’s virtually invisible on the car. Its top coat finish adds a natural shine to your car. Can be easily removed without damaging the paint. It doesn’t cloud or yellow with time. Can also be used on motorcycles, ATVs, and bicycles.
Very thin and wears out easily. May be hard to apply. It may get wrinkly or bound easily if you work with long pieces.
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Benefits of Paint Protection Film for Your Car
- Protection against damage. Paint protection film, also known as a clear bra or PPF, protects your car against damage caused by things like rock chips and road debris. The PPF absorbs the impact before it can damage your car.
- Higher resale value. Investing money now into protecting your new car’s paint can pay off when it’s time to sell it. Original paint in good shape increases a used car’s value.
- Ease of maintenance. A clear bra can be maintained just like your vehicle’s paint. It can be waxed or ceramic-coated for the best appearance and shine.
Types of Paint Protection Film for Your Car
Sprayable Paint Protection Film
Just like it sounds, the sprayable paint protection film is applied to your vehicle with a spray can. When your vehicle is clean, you make several passes with the spray can over the painted surfaces that you want to be protected by the clear film. Once the PPF is dry, it will have self-leveled and become a clear finish. Sprayable PPF leaves a durable, clear film but it will only last around one year before needing to be removed and reapplied.
Paint Protection Film Sheets
PPF also comes in sheets or rolls. This is the most commonly used PPF by professional installers and shops. Once the vehicle has been completely cleaned, the sheets are laid across the targeted areas and applied with squeegees to remove air bubbles and hide seams. Quality installs might even include wrapping the film underneath or behind body panels to give the paint protection film a seamless look.
By far the most popular brand in the PPF industry is 3M. The 3M company has been around since 1902 and is now headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. This 3M Scotchgard Clear Paint Protection Bulk Film Roll is ideal for covering large areas without seams.
Montreal, Canada’s VViViD has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. VViViD has thousands of products to offer, from PPF to vinyl wrap kits. The VViViD Gloss Self-Healing Wrap sheet is extra-large, making it possible to cover an entire vehicle with only a few rolls.
Xpel has been a leader in PPF since 1997. The San Antonio, Texas-based company offers rolls and pre-cut kits for vehicles. The XPEL Door Edge Guard will keep your vehicle’s paint looking new against parking lot scuffs and scratches
Paint Protection Film for Your Car Pricing
- Up to $20: Rolls of clear bra can be had for under $20, but they’ll be small in size. These rolls are ideal for replacing small areas or protecting bike frames and motorcycles.
- $20 to $80: There is a wide variety of sizes and brands available in this range. You can mix and match roll sizes to cover your vehicle while minimizing waste.
- $80 and up: Large sheets of film and custom kits are available above this price point. You can find manufacturers that cut panels for your exact model’s fenders, hood, and bumper.
There are several films on the market now that feature a self-healing layer. The base layer absorbs impacts while the self-healing top layer protects the appearance of the film. While this layer won’t erase tears or gashes in the film, it will repair swirls and scratches in the top layer of the film when heat is applied. This keeps your film looking new and clear for much longer.
It might be worth your time to purchase an installation kit if you plan to DIY. Paint protection film is best installed with tools like squeegees, spray bottles, and special knives. Kits that offer these tools will make your installation a lot less frustrating and your end result will have a more professional look.
- Scope of the Project. If you’re planning on covering your entire vehicle with PPF, it may be worth it to take it to a reputable shop. Small sheets of PPF may be easy to install, but large areas require considerable care and attention to detail. Bubbles under your film are unattractive and will do less to protect your paint.
- Paint Condition. Ideally, PPF will be installed in a new car. If your car’s painted surfaces are in rough shape to begin with, don’t expect PPF to hide that. For optimal performance, paint protection film needs to be installed over clean, debris-free paint and clear coat. Any rust or scratches will definitely show through the film. It may be worth having your car detailed before you start your installation.
Protecting Your Protectant. A clear bra benefits from the same treatment your car’s painted surfaces do. Waxing and ceramic coating are both recommended to maintain your paint protection film. Doing so will improve the film’s shine and clarity while also increasing its lifespan on your car.
Best Protective Paint Film for Your Car Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This is a 12 x 96 inch roll of protection film made by 3M. The well-respected brand name is Scotgard. Once you install it, the film is almost invisible. It is a clear, polyurethane film that is 8 ml thick. Use it to reduce paint chipping and damage caused by stones, tar, and debris from road travel. The result is a car or truck that looks newer for longer.
The film has an adhesive backing and is easy to install. Full installation instructions are available online.
Make sure you use the product soon after you purchase it, however, or risk at least part of the film becoming unusable. Some users found the film difficult to apply and discovered bubbles after installation.
Our top choice for the Best Value Protective Paint Film Overall is the XPEL Clear Universal Paint Protection Film Kit. This kit includes a 60-inch by 2-¾-inch roll of polyurethane film intended to protect the inside of a vehicle’s door jambs. It also comes with a plastic scraper to help smooth out the PPF.
The XPEL kit is our best value for good reason. This clear PPF kit does a good job of protecting the surface from scratches, chips, and scuffs. The door jamb area can be prone to taking abuse from boots and shoes, and the XPEL kit works as intended. We also like that it makes the door sill easy to clean, and you can hardly tell it’s there once installed.
There are only a few problems that we see with the XPEL kit. The kit is intended to protect all your door sills, but there actually may not be enough to protect an entire vehicle’s entryways. Also, odd-shaped door sills might make it difficult to install without heating up the film first, but this is typical of a universal kit.
Our honorable mention spot goes to the VViViD 3M Scotchgard Clear Paint Protection Vinyl Film. This roll of PPF is 6 inches by 60 inches and 8 millimeters thick. This VViViD film is intended for any area on your car that you want to protect.
VViViD offers a lot to like. Initially, we were impressed by the 3M name. VViViD has built on 3M’s products to offer high-quality PPF. It won’t yellow or get cloudy due to the quality of the material. We also like the shine the product provides while also blending into the finish nicely.
While this is a quality product, it’s not without its issues. The VViViD 3M Scotchgard PPF is thinner than some other films. This means that it may not be as durable and could wear out sooner. Also worth noting is that this film has a tendency to wrinkle or bind up during installation if you’re attempting to lay a long piece.
- Before buying the film, remember to measure the length and width of the vehicle’s painted surface to determine how much protection film you need. You can store any extra film for future use; it doesn’t deteriorate easily.
- Be sure to give your car a good wash before applying the film. Dust, dirt, or grime can weaken the protection film. Also, use high-quality car wax or polish to add extra shine on your car before sealing it with the film. After applying it, run your hand over the film to check for any bumps or debris.
- Protection film can look ugly on your car if not installed correctly. It’s best that you use a sharp knife to neatly trim the edges and a squeegee to lay it out on the surface. If you would like to avoid leaving fingerprint marks on the film, try to wear gloves for a cleaner job.
Q: How long does paint protection film last?
A: Depending on the quality and how well you apply it, paint protection film can last 5-10 years. That lifespan can be significantly reduced with aggressive off-road riding or frequent exposure to inclement weather. You can hire a professional car detailer to install the film if you are worried about damaging it.
Q: Does paint protection film damage the finish on a car?
A: Not when you apply it properly as per the manufacturer’s directions. You typically need warm soapy water to apply the film, which isn’t corrosive to most car finishes. Also, do not exceed the recommended time to leave it on since it could potentially damage the paint when it starts to age. You can peel it off sooner if you notice any cracks on it.
Q: Will paint protection film dull my car’s paint?
A: Most protection films are designed to add an extra shine to your vehicle. However, the cheaper versions may start to dull or cloud, especially when exposed to severe weather conditions such as intense rain, sun rays, or snow. Consider changing the film if it does so.
Our pick for best paint protection film overall is the 3M Scotchgard Clear Paint Protection Bulk Film Roll. It is a durable roll that solidly protects your vehicle against damage from road debris.
A more economical option is the XPEL Clear Universal Paint Protection Film Kit, our choice for Best Value. It protects the areas of your vehicle where you step frequently and adds a classy shine, too.