If you want to keep your car’s paint in good condition for years, you should protect the paint. There are four best ways to protect the paint on your car, and today I’m sharing them with you.
Best Paint Protectants For Cars:
- Ceramic Coatings
- Paint Protection Films
To find out which of these four paint protectants you should apply to your car, make sure to read the rest of the article. I’m going to show you both pros and cons of each, so you can decide which one you want.
4. Car Waxes – The Oldest Paint Protectant
Car waxes are the oldest type of paint protectant for cars. People have been using them for more than 70 years now.
You probably remember the scene from the Karate Kid movie: “Wax on, wax off.” Well, that movie was produced in 1984.
Natural carnauba wax is a mixture of Brazilian carnauba palm tree leaves and solvents and oils. Solvents and oils are used to make the application process more manageable.
Why Do People Use Wax?
Wax is the best product out there if you want a deep shine and warm glow for your car. At the moment, there’s no synthetic product that can beat the appearance of the wax.
That’s why most “car guys” use wax before some car shows, etc. The car paint will have that unbeatable shine.
Is Wax Hard To Apply?
I would say that wax is pretty easy to apply. Any beginner could apply it with a few instructions.
Of course, it does require proper preparation to bond to the paint well and get the best appearance.
How Long Do Car Waxes Last?
I’ve already written a detailed article on how long car waxes last, mentioning all the factors that affect longevity. Make sure to check it out.
If you’re looking for a quick answer, natural carnauba car waxes usually last anywhere between 4 weeks to 5 months (depending on the product quality).
Do Waxes Have Good Paint Protection Properties?
When it comes to paint protection, natural carnauba waxes give your car paint essential protection.
Car waxes protect your car from:
- UV rays
- Bugs and tar sticking to the paint
- Some lightest swirls and scratches
I mentioned some lightest swirls and scratches, but don’t expect them to protect the paint from stone chips, even though they’ll do less damage on a car with wax than on a vehicle without any protection.
Related: Check my recommendation for best car waxes.
- Cheap and easy to apply
- Unbeatable color shine and glow
- Great for car shows
- Three forms to choose from
- The main ingredient is natural
- The entry-level protection contaminants
- You need to be careful not to apply them to plastics. It’ll become white.
3. Paint Sealants – Synthetic Version of Waxes
The primary purpose of sealants is to copy the wax’s properties but with synthetic materials.
With that said, car sealants are the type of paint protectant made using fully synthetic materials, primarily polymers. Synthetic polymers have better protectant properties than natural carnauba waxes and usually last longer.
However, paint sealants can’t compete with natural carnauba waxes when it comes to shine and glow.
Why Do People Use Paint Sealants?
Paint sealants are very similar to natural carnauba waxes. However, they do last longer and offer better protection. That’s the reason why most people use paint sealants instead of waxes.
Usually, sealants are easier to apply and will chemically bond to the clear coat, increasing longevity.
Are Paint Sealants Hard To Apply?
No, with the proper preparation, paint sealant shouldn’t be hard to apply. It’s even easier to apply than natural car waxes. Just make sure always to follow the instructions on the package, and you’ll be good.
The most important thing is to completely decontaminate the paint so that synthetic polymers can bond to the surface and create a durable layer of protection.
How Long Do Paint Sealants Last?
Paint sealants usually last 3-6 months. Some of the top paint sealants could last up to 1 year.
Of course, that’s if you prepared the paint well and if you properly wash your car every single time.
Paint Sealants Protection Properties
Paint sealants will give your car some mid-range protection properties.
Basically, it’s the same as with car waxes, but they’ll give you better protection against acidic rains, bird poops, and some light swirl marks and scratches.
- Easy to apply
- Last longer than waxes (even up to 1 year)
- Offer better protection against bird poops, acidic rains, and light scratches.
- Better durability than car waxes (if you wash the car with dish soap – NOT RECOMMENDED)
- They don’t improve car appearance as much as natural carnauba waxes.
2. Ceramic Coatings – High Level of Protection
Ceramic coatings are the newest technology in the car detailing world. They offer your car a protection that’ll last for years.
Ceramic coatings are liquid polymers that detailers apply by hand to the vehicle’s paint. I’d say that ceramic coatings are a premium alternative to waxes and sealants.
Why Do People Use Ceramic Coatings?
People use ceramic coatings as an alternative to waxes and sealants. Since they offer fantastic hydrophobic properties, protection, and last much longer when compared to waxes and sealants, people started applying ceramic coatings more and more.
They’re more expensive, but the level of protection and longevity justify the price.
Are Ceramic Coatings Hard To Apply?
Ceramic coatings are extremely tough to apply, especially if you’re a beginner. That’s why most people take their cars to professional car detailers to get their car ceramic coated.
Ceramic coatings require perfect paint preparation, and they should be applied indoors only.
Also, when you apply a ceramic coating, the vehicle should sit indoors for 24 to 48 hours, which is not the case with waxes and sealants.
How Long Do Ceramic Coatings Last?
As I already said, ceramic coatings have the best longevity compared to waxes and sealants.
Ceramic coatings should last and protect your paint anywhere between 2 to 5 years. As always, there are better and worse products, so make sure always to choose high-quality products.
Ceramic Coating Protection Properties
Ceramic coatings give your car paint a high level of protection against external factors.
They’ll protect your car from the same factors as waxes and sealants but with a higher level of protection, especially when it comes to bird droppings, acid rain, and other contaminants.
Ceramic coating also has some chance of protecting your car from some swirl marks and scratches.
- Best protection and longevity
- No need to re-apply them since they last from 2 to 5 years
- Justified higher price
- They’re very hard to apply
- Not recommended for beginners to apply them
- It needs more thorough preparation than waxes and sealants
- After applying, the car should sit indoors for 24-48 hours.
- Don’t give the paint so deep a shine and warm glow as the car waxes.
1. Paint Protection Films (PPF) – The Ultimate Protection
The last, and the strongest type of paint protection you can apply to your car is paint protection film, also known as PPF or clear bra. PPF is a film that’s applied to the car’s paint, and protects it from some physical damage such as swirl marks and scratches, but also from UV rays, and chemical damage from acid rains, bird droppings, etc.
Why Do People Use PPFs?
People who decide to use PPF want the ultimate protection for their vehicle. Very often, those are owners of extremely expensive vehicles, they do a lot of off roading, or people who protect company vehicles.
In most cases, people only tend to protect the parts that are most prune to damaging: headlights, hood, front bumper, front doors and side mirrors.
Is PPF Hard To Apply?
Paint protection films are very hard to apply, and I don’t suggest you trying that if you’re a complete beginner. That’s why 99% of people pay some professionals to apply PPF.
If you do decide to apply PPF to your car, I suggest buying pre-cut PPFs specifically made for your vehicle type.
How Long Does PPF Last on Cars?
You can expect PPF to last anywhere between 5 to 10 years. Paint protection films are extremely durable, and all high-quality films have self-healing option that repairs scratches when it heats. That’s one of the reasons why PPFs are so durable.
I’ve seen people having them for more than 10 years.
- The ultimate protection for your vehicle
- Can up to 10 years
- Self-healing properties
- You can apply it just to specific parts of your car
- The most expensive type of paint protectant
- Extremely hard to apply
- Doesn’t improve the car’s shine
Which One Should You Choose?
Here’s a quick comparison table of waxes, sealants, ceramic coatings, and PPFs that I made for you.
|Specs||Car Wax||Paint Sealant||Ceramic Coating||PPF|
|Price of product||$10-$30||$15-$30||ca. $100||$400+|
|Knowledge required to apply||Basic||Basic||Expert||Expert|
|Longevity||5 weeks to 4 months||3-6 months||2-5 years||5-10 years|
|Protection||Entry-level||Mid-range||High protection||Ultimate protection|
However, you need to keep in mind that those are only product prices. It does cost more money to apply them to the car, especially for ceramic coatings and paint protection films, which often costs more than $1500.
Here is my recommendation on which type of paint protectant you should use:
I hope that now you know more about each protection, you can decide which one suits your needs the best. I prefer to use car waxes because I’m a big fan of that deep shine and warm glow, and I have time to re-apply them every few weeks.
Why It’s Important To Apply Paint Protection To Your Car’s Paint?
In my opinion, you should always protect the paint on your car, no matter how old the vehicle is.
By applying paint protectants to your car, you’ll protect the paint from the following:
- UV Rays
- Even some light scratching
- Other external factors that have a terrible impact on car color
Furthermore, protecting the paint will also improve the overall look of your car. When the car has paint protectant applied, it’ll:
- Look shinier
- The color will look glossier
- You’ll get the perfect reflection
Last but not least, when you apply some paint protection on your car, it’s much easier to maintain (wash) the vehicle since nothing will stick to the paint.