Posted By Vinyl Frog On September 11, 2023
How To Care For The Paint Protection Film?
If you are a true car enthusiast, you would want to keep your ride in mint condition for as long as you can. The best way to do this is to wrap it in premium quality Paint Protection Film (PPF) at Vinyl Frog- a popular choice for safeguarding the original paintwork and the overall exterior. Like any other product, you have to maintain the PPF to get the best out of it and ensure its longevity.
You can care for the paint protection film by regularly washing your vehicle with a mild, pH-balanced automotive soap and a soft microfiber cloth. Remove bird droppings, insects, and other contaminants promptly to prevent damage. Avoid parking under trees or in areas with excessive sun exposure for extended periods to minimize potential damage. Periodic inspection is recommended to address any issues early and maintain the protection PPF provides.
Let’s delve deeper into the paint protection film care routine and find out how to get the best value for money with this ultimate shield.
What Is A Paint Protection Film?
It is a specialized, nearly invisible, adhesive film made with thermoplastic urethane that is applied to the exterior surfaces of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the vehicle's paint from various forms of damage, such as rock chips, scratches, insect splatters, and environmental contaminants.
A paint protection film is designed to be self-healing, which means it can repair minor surface imperfections on its own, preserving the vehicle's flawless appearance. This protective barrier not only enhances the longevity and resale value of the vehicle but also maintains its original aesthetic, making it a popular choice for automotive enthusiasts and those who want to keep their vehicles looking pristine over time. For knowing about the best paint protection film (PPF) check our blog.
The Self-Healing Property Of A Paint Protection Film
The self-healing feature of a paint protection film allows it to repair minor scratches and imperfections when exposed to heat, such as sunlight, or heat gun. The process occurs due to the unique properties of the top layer of the PPF, which typically consists of a clear polyurethane film with elastomeric polymers. These give it a soft and elastic nature which allows the film to absorb and disperse impact energy when it encounters light scratches or abrasions.
When a scratch or minor damage occurs on the PPF's surface, the heat triggers the self-healing process. The elastomeric polymers in the film become more pliable and naturally start to smooth out. This means that the film's molecules begin to move and fill in the small gaps or scratches caused by the damage.
Over time, as the top layer continues to respond to heat, the scratches or imperfections gradually disappear. The self-healing process can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the severity of the damage and the temperature.
It's important to note that while PPF can effectively self-heal minor scratches, it may not be able to repair more severe damage or punctures that penetrate through the film. Additionally, the self-healing ability can vary depending on the quality and brand of PPF, with some products offering more robust self-healing properties than others.
To maximize the effectiveness of PPF's self-healing capabilities, it's essential to maintain and care for the film properly. Regular cleaning and avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive materials will help ensure that the PPF continues to perform at its best and extend its lifespan. For knowing about how long does paint protection film last check our blog.
Pre-Installation Care And Preparation Of The PPF
Before we jump on how to maintain the PPF, we have some tips that will not only deliver a better installation experience but will also result in a longer life of the PPF and how to apply paint protection film -step-by-step-guide once it is on your vehicle.
Choose The Premium Quality PPF
Before installation, research and select a high-quality paint protection film that suits your needs. It is highly imperative not to compromise on the quality. Though the lower price of a film might lure you into buying it, always opt for the one that is made with high-grade material to get a long-lasting performance. Supreme paint protection films are easier to care for as well. Get a variety in these from Vinyl Frog in different thickness levels and finishes.
Opt For Professional Installation
As we all know, PPF installation requires expertise and precision. Therefore it is always wise to choose a certified installer who has experience with the optimum paint protection film application. Hassle-free installation guarantees optimal protection and aesthetics. It will stay on for a long time and will not give you any trouble later on.
The Condition Of Your Vehicle
The condition of your vehicle before the application of the paint protection film also plays an important role in how well the product will perform. It's essential for the vehicle to have a smooth, flawless body before installation of the PPF. It should be thoroughly cleaned and free from dirt, dust, grime, and contaminants.
Any existing wax, sealant, or polish should be removed from the paint surface. The paint on the vehicle should have no existing scratches, swirl marks, or other defects. Applying PPF over damaged paint can trap these imperfections beneath the film, making them more visible.
Any necessary paint repairs or touch-ups should be done before applying PPF. This includes addressing any existing chips, dings, or scratches. Panels and trim should be properly aligned and secured. Any loose or misaligned components should be corrected before PPF installation.
The paint surface should be smooth and free from any texture or overspray that might interfere with the adhesion of the PPF. If there is any rust or corrosion on the vehicle's body, it should be treated and resolved before applying PPF.
While PPF is commonly applied to high-impact areas like the front bumper, hood, fenders, and so on, you may want to consider opting for full-vehicle coverage since it results in more comprehensive protection. For knowing about pros and cons of paint protectin film check our blog.
Initial Care For The Paint Protection Film During The Curing Period
Now that you are aware of the things that should be taken care of prior to PPF installation, let’s look at how to handle it for more sustainability during its early days on the vehicle.
Once the PPF is on your car, it may take 48 hours to several days to fully cure and bond to the vehicle's surface. The curing period of a paint protection film is crucial for ensuring its effectiveness and longevity. During this time, the film needs special care to allow it to fully adhere to the vehicle's paint and perform its protective functions optimally. This is what you have to do:
- During this period, it's best to avoid washing the vehicle or exposing the PPF to water. Water can interfere with the adhesive's curing process and potentially cause the film to lift or bubble. If the vehicle gets wet, dry it thoroughly as soon as possible.
- You shouldn’t touch the film as well or take it out on the road as this will expose it to direct sunlight which can also affect the curing process. If possible, park your vehicle in a shaded area or in a garage, or use a car cover to protect it from UV rays and other detrimental elements. UV exposure during the curing period can cause the film to discolor or bubble.
- If you see bubbles on the film during this period, do not worry, they will go away once the film has completely cured.
- Also, if you live in an area with high humidity or low temperature, the film may take longer to settle and bond perfectly.
- After the curing period, inspect the paint protection film for any imperfections, such as bubbles, wrinkles, or areas that haven't adhered properly. If you notice any issues, contact the installer or manufacturer for guidance on how to address them.
Caring For The Paint Protection Film For Enhanced Durability
After your PPF is well-adhered to your automobile and you are going out and about in the protected vehicle, here’s what you should do to maintain and enhance its longevity.
How To Wash The PPF?
- Wash the vehicle regularly at home with hands. Do not take your vehicle to automated car cleaners or use pressure washers. The whole process has to be carried out gently.
- Tools needed to wash the paint protection film are the following. These are easily available in every household:
- Mild pH-balanced automotive shampoo or a dedicated PPF cleaner
- Two buckets (one for soapy water and one for rinse water)
- Microfiber towels or cloths.
- A soft sponge or wash mitt.
- Hose with a gentle spray nozzle.
- Rinse the PPF with a gentle stream of water. This will help remove loose dirt and debris from the surface and minimize the risk of scratching during the wash. This is an important step for protecting the PPF from undue damage during the process of cleaning.
- The two-bucket method is the best. Fill one of the buckets with clean water and add a mild, pH-balanced automotive shampoo, or a PPF-specific cleaner. Mix it thoroughly to create a soapy solution. Fill the second bucket with clean water for rinsing your wash mitt.
- Dip your soft sponge or wash mitt into the soapy solution, and gently wash the PPF in straight, overlapping strokes. Be very gentle. You do not want to rub aggressively. Start from the top and work your way down. Also avoid using excessive pressure, as it can cause swirl marks or scratches.
Rinse your wash mitt in the clean water bucket regularly to remove contaminants. After washing, use a hose with a gentle spray nozzle to rinse off the soapy residue. Make sure all soap is completely removed.
- Another way to avoid cross-contamination is by using separate dedicated microfiber towels for different parts of the car like the body, wheels, and interior.
How To Dry The PPF?
- Do not leave the PPF wet. Pat it dry using clean and soft microfiber towels or cloths. Avoid using any abrasive or low-quality towels that could scratch the film. Drying the PPF helps prevent water spots and streaks.
- You may want to avoid rubbing or dragging the towel over the PPF to prevent micro-scratches. Instead, after washing, gently pat the vehicle dry using a clean, microfiber drying towel.
- Many times, when you leave your car to air dry, some parts of it remain wet, leaving behind tough-to-remove water spots. A leaf blower or low-pressure air blower can be used to expel water from hard-to-reach areas. Giving you a well-dried automobile.
Repeat this cleaning process as needed, at least twice a month, to keep your PPF in good condition. The frequency will depend on your driving conditions and the level of exposure to contaminants. Do not use abrasive sponges, brushes, or scrubbing pads on the PPF, as they can scratch or damage the film.
Remember that the key to washing PPF is to be gentle, use appropriate products, and follow these guidelines to maintain the film's protective qualities and appearance. If you're unsure about any aspect of cleaning your paint protection film, consult the manufacturer's recommendations or seek the advice of a professional detailer who specializes in PPF maintenance.
Protection Against UV Rays
While the paint protection film shields against UV rays, extended exposure to sunlight can still lead to gradual fading or discoloration over time.
To mitigate this you may park your vehicle in a garage or under shade to guard it from direct sunlight. If you do not have a proper spot, use a cover to drape the car to save it from sunlight. This practice helps save the PPF, preserves your vehicle's interior, and prevents heat-related damage.
Special Care Considerations For PPF From Environmental Hazards
Bird droppings, tree sap, fuel spills, and road tar can pose a significant threat to your PPF and vehicle's paint. These substances are not only unsightly but can also cause damage if left untreated. Here is how to handle them effectively with 7.5 mil ultra plus paint protection film.
- Gently wet the affected area with water to soften the droppings. Avoid scrubbing, as it may scratch the PPF. Next, place a damp microfiber cloth or towel over the bird droppings and let it sit for a few minutes. Once the droppings have softened, carefully lift the cloth, and using a gentle wiping motion, remove the residue without applying excessive pressure.
Be cautious not to scrape or use abrasive materials. Afterward, rinse the area with water and pat it dry with a clean microfiber cloth. Regularly maintaining your PPF and addressing bird droppings promptly helps preserve its appearance and protective qualities.
- You may not take it seriously, but tree sap can be particularly challenging to remove. To safely get rid of it from your paint protection film, apply any tree sap remover (diluted isopropyl alcohol or vinegar) on a clean microfiber cloth and gently dab the affected area. Make sure to rinse the area with water and pat it dry after removing the sap.
- One thing you would want to take into consideration is to take care when refueling your vehicle to prevent fuel spills because it can harm the PPF if not cleaned promptly. Fuel contains various chemicals and additives, including solvents and acids, which can react with the adhesive and the material of the PPF. This chemical reaction can lead to discoloration, deterioration of the PPF, or even weakening of the adhesive, causing the film to lift or bubble.
Fuel spills can also leave behind unsightly stains on the paint protection film, which can be difficult to remove. These stains can negatively impact the appearance of the film and the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.
To minimize the harm, it's essential to clean up any spills promptly and thoroughly using a gentle automotive cleaner designed for PPF or a mild automotive soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as these can further damage the film.
Additionally, consider taking precautions to prevent fuel spills in the first place, such as being cautious while refueling and using fuel spill containment products if necessary.
- When on the road, chances are huge of road tar adhering to your PPF and settling there for good. Therefore use a tar and adhesive remover that is safe for PPF application.
Long-Term Care And Maintenance Of The Paint Protection Film
As time goes on, your PPF might require more than just routine maintenance. Long-term care can significantly extend its lifespan and effectiveness. Below are a few tips.
- Detailing Products: You might be unaware but there are PPF-specific detailing products, such as spray sealants, UV protectants, or ceramic coatings. Use these luxuries to enhance the film’s resistance against UV rays or just act as a shield in general. As a bonus, this will also add to the gloss of your car making it more attractive.
- Annual Inspection: Consider scheduling an annual inspection with a certified PPF installer. They can assess the condition of the film, address any minor issues, like signs of damage, peeling, or lifting edges, and recommend professional maintenance promptly to prevent further deterioration.
- Film Refresh: Over time, PPF may experience slight imperfections like water spots, swirl marks, or light scratches. Nevertheless, a certified installer can perform a film refresh, which involves lightly polishing the PPF to restore its shine and appearance.
Ceramic Coating On The Paint Protection Film
Paint protection film and ceramic coating work wonders together. Applying ceramic coating over a paint protection film is highly recommended by many automotive experts. It offers added gloss, chemical resistance, more UV protection, and the advantage of hydrophobic and self-cleaning properties making it easier to maintain the film during regular washes.
The paint protection film and ceramic coating provide an extra safeguard against the detrimental elements of the environment. Apart from UV rays, you will also be able to save the original paint of your vehicle from gooey, sticky contaminants like road tar and tree sap. A ceramic coating adds that double dose of robust protection over a PPF so you can rest assured that the original paint of your vehicle will not be damaged and consequently, whenever you sell your vehicle, you will get a good value.