Paint Protection Films? A few advantages and disadvantages and why is it not recommended.

Paint Protection Films are a rage nowadays for car and motorcycle enthusiasts looking for protecting the paint on their brand new possessions. However, is it the best type of protection ?  Apart from scratch resistance, is there anything that the Paint Protection Films can offer? Lets dive a bit deeper to analyze this.  PPF/ClearBra/Clearwrap are the different names for this material including ‘lamination’. 



‘Lamination’ – The buzz word for Low Quality Transparent Films. Most Motorcycle owners prefer lamination to protect their motorcycle tanks from scuff marks caused by keeping bags, helmets, and key scratches caused in parking zones. 


PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride probably was the third-most widely used synthetic plastic polymer in the entire world before the new technologies and improvements came into the industry. PVC Films are also dubbed as first-generation Paint Protection Films, PVC PPF was the first most commonly used type of PPF. While PVC Films does provide a certain degree of protection to your car’s paint, its rigid nature makes it difficult to install. Poor elasticity was a major concern for applicators in the curved areas of the vehicle. Moreover, PVC tends to lose out both their elasticity as well as color over time and usually hardens in only a couple of years of life. Another great disadvantage of PVC PPF is the fact that it can cause paint life/deadhesion upon removal. It can crack and removal can be a quite tedious, time consuming, risky and expensive affair. 

Characteristic: No repair under heat
Performance level: **
Color: Transparent
Film thickness: From 60-200micron, 6-8mil
Glue thickness: 30μm
Release paper: Transparent
Durability: 1 year

Recommendation – Absolutely NOT. 


A material that has Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) as its base, TPH is a cheaper alternative to TPU and a better alternative to PVC Films. While the base of the TPH Film is PVC itself, the technology used is such that the flexibility and chemical properties of PVC are enhanced. As a result, the TPH material possesses better flexibility than PVC and does not undergo discoloration. But with that said, it isn’t as effective as TPU in terms of overall flexibility, durability and life.

Characteristic: No Repair under heat
Performance level: ***
Color: Transparent
Film thickness: From 60-200micron, 6-8mil
Glue thickness: 30μm
Release paper: Transparent
Durability: 1 to 2 years

Recommendation – If you are really tight on budget and cant afford a TPU Film. Note, it can turn yellow pretty fast. 

TPU – Thermoplastic Polyurethane

TPU film is a dynamic substrate that can be customized for a variety of performance applications. TPU’s versatility can, in part, be attributed to the variety of base chemical classes. TPU film can be extruded with polyester, polyether or polycaprolactone. The different base chemical changes the physical performance of the TPU substrate. For example, polyester TPUs provide high resistance to chemical and oils while polyether TPUs offer excellent flexibility and tear resistance. Polycaprolactone TPU substrates are hydrolysis resistant and ideal for applications with prolonged water exposure. TPU films are the rage nowadays with several brands jumping the bandwagon to manufacture. Xpel, Stek, GSWF, TechWrap, Avery Dennisson, 3M, Llumar, Garware are few of the globally renowned brands who have distributors in India. However, please also note that there are several shops possessing in house rebranded material and calling them several names- Proshields, Armour, Xfine, Protekt, sumin, etc.  

Characteristic: Repair under heat
Performance level: ****
Color: Transparent
Film thickness: From 60-200micron, 6-8mil
Glue thickness: 30μm
Release paper: Transparent
Durability: 1 year

Recommendation – Yes. Except that ridiculous warranties.  

Before we look into why should we not opt for a Paint Protection Films, lets understand its advantages first.

    1. Abrasion Resistance – Scratch Resistance is the first main reason why customers opt for a Paint Protection Film on their vehicle. P.P.F offers high resistance towards abrasion than a bare paint or a coated paint would offer. Rock Chips, Gravel Chips, Washing Swirls, Key Scratches, Silly Strings, Vandalism, Graffiti, are some of the threats to paint that a PPF can resist.
      1. Graffiti – PPF offers excellent resistance against the street artists who assume your car is a canvas and use the rattle cans to spray your cars with artwork. PPF can withstand and act as a barrier against this. 
      2. Gravel Chips/Rock Chips – When travelling, there is a lot of debris that can be thrown from the tires of the trucks in the front, and much more scenarios where the small rocks or debris can damage the paint. PPF can provide excellent resistance to this and PPF is the only product that can save your cars paint from rock chips/gravel chips. 
      3. Washing Swirls – From swirls induced by the daily cleaners who use pieces of lungi, saree, vests, bedsheets to clean your car, apartment watchman or your nearby car wash who use dirty rags, PPF protects all the micro abrasion caused by the above mentioned cleaners.
      4. Key Scratches – The most common type of vandalism and a major headache for car owners. Playful children, Egoistic Neighbors often indulging these type of cowardly and blameless behavior often cause scratches on the car. Keying a car is definitely a major heartache for car owners.  PPF can definitely help in this case. 

Now that we are happy with the resistance a Paint Protection Films provides to paint, lets analyze the disadvantages or risks involved with a Paint Protection Film application. 

  1. Cost – The high costing of PPF is a major set back for enthusiasts. For Ex – Imagine a good quality PPF at 500rs per sqft – on a car which is overall about 200sqft. It’s 1,00,000. You can get your full car repainted at a lesser cost(Commuter Segment). Now it doesn’t end there, it begins. Imagine 2 door of your car gets damaged(collision) the cost of repainting the same 2 doors would be 50% cheaper than protecting it. For example- Painting a door would cost around 5000rs per panel and protecting the paint worth 5000rs with a 14000rs PPF does not make sense. 
  2. Manufacturing Defects – Paint Protection Films come with several manufacturing defects. Severe orange peel, pinholes, solvent pop, grainy texture, and more eye sore not to mention the fake gloss it provides. 
  3. Brand – There are several brands in the market but a few manufacturers. It becomes difficult to differentiate between the high quality ones and low quality ones. There are some brands that are renowned but offer low quality finish on the films. Uneven thickness, Defects like orange peel, pinholes, texture, graining etc. are some defects that we can notice even in good brands. In addition to that there are several fake brands in the market – these are low quality films TPH/PVC imported from China and are branded here. More often, what’s inside is what counts. The box may be different and the material in it might not be of the same brand. We have heard several complaints from technicians and customers about shops making the low cost switch. So, be pretty sure that when you choose a brand, you better get what you pay for. 
  4. Usage – Applying a PPF on a whole car and maintaining it also comes with certain responsibilities. For ex. you cannot take a pressure washing hose gun close the surface, there are chances of deadhesion. Apart from these, the dirt and dust starts accumulating on the edges and in a few months turns out to be an eyesore. 
  5. Gaps – Gaps in between films on curved surfaces can really be a pain for the vehicle owners. Examples are a motorcycle tank and a OVWM cap of a car. These areas require application in multiple pieces and not a single piece and often turns out to be looking pretty bad over a period of time. 
  6.  Application Issues – There are several application defects that a low skilled technician or a over eager technician can cause. Blade marks, Film Stretch marks, Dust particles, tuck in defects, adhesion issues and several other defects that can make the investment a waste. 
  7. Replacement – Many brands give warranties but the replacements are offered at a higher cost usually when compared to initial deal closure. In addition to that, the film on the rest of the car would be considerably yellowish, oxidized when compared to a new installation. Thus the difference is easily noticeable. 
  8. Warranty – The Term warranty should be taken with a pinch of salt. There are several businesses and brands who have confused or misused the term. For example – The durability of a film might be 10 years, but if the business or brand offers you a 10 year warranty, something is fishy. Many ‘Detailers’ in town have been brain washed by dubious brands that don’t see the difference between durability and warranty. In the real world, with the several films we have tested, We noticed that the self healing stop pretty soon and the swirls start occurring on the films, post 2 years we noticed that the films have turned yellow and have a lot of abrasion marks on them. 
    A question you should ask your applicator is – Do you install PPF on white cars? How many years of warranty do you offer on white colored cars? The response would be an eye opener for you. 
  9. Yellowing – As mentioned earlier, the films will turn yellow in sometime, it can be a variant in many cases. Some turn yellow faster and some later. But the question above would help you identify if you really need a PPF or not. 
  10. Thickness – The thickness of PPF Films may start somewhere from 110 microns and may go up to 200 microns in some cases. Some say the thicker the better – yes, abrasion resistance may be, but We need to also keep in mind that the usual paint thickness is somewhere between 40 microns to 180 microns(depends on refinished panels too) There are several instances where we noticed that a film of inferior thickness was installed. So be aware. Check for a sample and ask your detailer to prove it. 
  11. Quality – A word for everything. Check for the quality of the films prior to making a booking, take a sample, check for elasticity, clarity, texture, orange peel, adhesive quality, installation area, staff, tools and more prior to getting a PPF installed. 
  12. Resistance – Its true that PPF can offer excellent resistance to abrasion, but its limited. The damages that it can withstand are highly limited. There are several businesses who use the screwdriver technique to showcase the strength of the film. PPF can resist from stone chips and more but not collision. So, resistance towards the impact that your car may go through is something that needs to be looked into prior to PPF installation. 
  13. Contamination – PPF is extremely prone to tough to remove contamination. Contamination like hard water spotting, bird droppings, pollution, chemical etching, tar deposits and a lot more that can be difficult to remove and if left on the film for a long time, it can cause etching and damage to the surface.  
  14. Removal – PPF once installed and set is a problem to remove. The years of baking in the sun, exposure to contamination, heat and pollution, and the adhesive can cause a lot of trouble during the removal. There are high chances that the paint can de-adhere from the surface, not to mention the glue removal is a painful task for any technician. It takes a lot of time to remove a film from the surface. 

    A Video sourced from youtube to show how a ppf can actually cause issues during removal. 

  15. Appearance – Contrary to opinions, PPF actually looks a bit fake by adding the ‘Plasticky’ effect. A pure enthusiast would not want a film/lamination on the beautifully corrected paint. 
  16. Coverage – PPF applicators sometimes miss spots and do not offer high coverage, if its tucked in, yes its good but if cut, the coverage would not be achieved with the risk of blade damage onto the paint. 
  17. Stretch Marks – Expansion-shrinkage- All substrates expand and contract due to heat. PPF installers sometimes stretch the films during installation and the stretch mark (industry term – expansion wear) cannot be healed and replacement is the only option. 
  18. Hydrophobicity- PPF’s have a hydrophobic layer that is shortlived in several cases. The Hydrophobic layer does not withstand the severe swirling and often wears out faster. The chemical resistance, bird dropping, water mark etching can cause damage to the superficial layer and wear away fast. Also, there is a hearsay that it is ceramic coating enables the film to be hydrophobic, but it’s a high viscos polymer sealant.

    We have tried our best to be a critic and find out and write about the defects or ill effects of PPF installation. This blog is not to discourage you from getting a PPF on your car, but to make you aware of certain problems you may endure during or after installation of the film.

Conclusion: It doesnt make sense to buy a cow for a glass of milk. 

But if you really want to make sure you cars parts dont get damaged by stonechips, its okay to get the films installed on the Hood, Front Bumper of the vehicle. That can save you a lot of money. 

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