What is Paint Protection Film (PPF)?

Paint protection film (PPF), also known as clear bra, offers the best way to shield a car from the environment and is widely recognised as the ultimate way to preserve a vehicle’s finish.

In this article we will address everything you need to know if you want to take advantage of this industry-leading form of protection.

What is PPF?

Paint protection film (PPF) is a transparent layer of polyurethane film which is applied to the exterior surfaces of a car. It can be used to cover the entire vehicle or specific areas such as the front bumper, bonnet, door mirrors, windscreen and headlights to shield them from stone chips and scratches.

The thickness of PPF varies between manufacturers but is typically between 7 and 10 mils thick.

For perspective, the clear coat layer of paint on a brand-new car is approximately 6-7 mils thick, and a piece of newspaper is roughly 3 mils thick. As a general rule, the thicker the PPF is, the better protection it provides.

Llumar Self-Healing Platinum7.5 mils
Xpel Ultimate Plus8 mils
3M Scotchgard8 mils
Stek Automotive DYNO10 mils

Here at Pyramid Car Care we offer the full range of Stek Automotive PPF. We believe that Stek Automotive offers the best quality PPF in terms of clarity, hydrophobicity and overall protection.

Benefits of Applying PPF

Paint protection film offers outstanding protection. Here are the main advantages:

  • Protects against scratches and stone chips
  • Offers self-cleaning characteristics
  • Protects against UV damage
  • Shields the paintwork from chemicals
  • Enhances the finish
  • Improves the resale value

Protects Against Chips and Scratches

PPF is the best solution if you’re worried about your pride and joy getting scratched and chipped, which makes it a very popular option for brand-new vehicles. Although PPF is not indestructible, it does provide a durable layer of protection against this kind of mechanical damage.

Bare paintwork is highly susceptible to clear coat scratches and stone chips which quickly deteriorate the vehicle’s overall condition. Ceramic coatings offer some protection, but they don’t come close to the level of protection that PPF provides.

This is why PPF is a great option to protect the front-end and windshield of the car.

Even relatively new vehicles which are less than a year old will usually have several stone chips on the bonnet and front bumper, particularly if they are frequently driven on high-speed roads.

Not only do rock chips look unsightly, but they also expose the bare metal which can corrode and rust.

PPF will also provide some protection against swirl marks and wash marring, which again bare clear coat is very susceptible to. It can even help to shield the car from minor door dings.

Many high-quality PPF options also have self-healing properties. This means that the layer essentially rearranges itself when heat is applied so scratches can be smoothed out.

It’s important to recognise that PFF can still get permanently damaged by heavier forms of abrasion and impact, however it remains the best method of protecting a vehicle’s paintwork.

Self-Cleaning Characteristics

If keeping your car cleaner between washes is something that interests you, then applying PPF is a great option.

Most high-quality paint protection film on the market is very hydrophobic. This means that it is able to repel muddy water which is splashed up onto the vehicle when driving in the rain. The result, is that the car will stay looking fresher for longer.

It’s important to be realistic and understand that PPF will not keep the car clean indefinitely. To get the most out of the protection it’s still important to wash it fairly regularly to keep it in good condition, but it is useful for those who drive their cars frequently and struggle to keep it clean between washes.

This property is also offered by ceramic coatings and is one of the main reasons why they are so highly regarded. PPF goes a step further by not only helping to keep the car cleaner, but also by providing much more protection against chips and scratches.

UV Protection

The clear coat layer of paint on a car does protect the colour underneath from UV rays, but it can still fade over time. One of the most crucial benefits of PPF is that it actually shields the clear coat from UV damage to keep the colour underneath looking vibrant and new.

A concern that some people have about PPF is regarding it cracking and fading in the sun, however good quality PPF will not do this. This is why it’s vital to get the PPF installed by an experienced professional who uses reputable paint protection film products.

Chemical Resistance

PPF is able to shield the paintwork underneath from potential stains and damage that can occur from exposure to chemicals. Although it may not be obvious at first, cars are actually subjected to numerous chemicals on a regular basis.

  • Bird poo is very acidic and can etch clear coat paint.
  • Water spots can also damage a car’s finish permanently.
  • Iron fallout can stick to the paintwork. It is produced by the brake discs and can also be collected by parking the car near train tracks or industrial plants.
  • Tar spots can be flicked up onto the paint when driving on recently resurfaced roads or in hot weather.
  • Road salt is also corrosive.

It’s still advisable to clean the PPF frequently to avoid it getting damaged, but in all cases, it acts as a barrier between the paintwork and the chemicals.


Enhances the Finish

Many PPF products boast a high-gloss finish which doesn’t lose its shine over time due to its chemical and abrasion resistant properties. The preparation process required prior to PPF installation also involves correcting and refining the paintwork via machine polishing to achieve a mirror-like finish.

It is also possible to get matte PPF, as well as tinted PPF designed specifically for headlights.

Improves the Resale Value

This really ties all the other benefits together. By protecting your car with PPF, you’ll keep it looking as new as possible, for as long as possible.

Not only does that mean you’ll get the benefits of a stunning looking car for years to come, but it also means the car will command a higher price when you come to sell it as the bodywork will be in better condition than the vast majority of cars of a similar age.

Even if your car is leased, you’ll still reap the benefits as you’re much less likely to get hit with a wear and tear charge.

How Long does PPF Last for?

On average, paint protection film lasts for 10 years. All reputable PPF installers will offer a warranty to give the customer peace of mind.

The durability of the PPF will also depend on how it has been maintained. To achieve the maximum longevity, it is recommended to wash the vehicle frequently (every 2-4 weeks), using the appropriate chemicals, tools and techniques (more on this later).

It is also essential that the PPF is applied by a trained professional, as improper application technique and preparation will ultimately lead to a poor finish and disappointing durability.

Applying Paint Protection Film

PPF is the gold-standard when it comes to protecting a vehicle’s exterior. However, the notable drawback is that it is difficult and time consuming to apply properly.

The installation process typically takes 2-3 days to apply front-end PPF, and 3-5 days to install PPF to the entire car. It is also vital that it is performed in an ultra-clean, dust-free environment.

Here are the main steps involved:

  • The paintwork must be thoroughly washed, as well as chemically and physically decontaminated.
  • Machine polishing is performed to level the clear coat and remove imperfections (scratches and swirl marks).
  • The make and model of the car is matched to a database which provides the dimensions of each piece of PPF required.
  • The PPF is then printed and cut to the required dimensions.
  • The film is then peeled and applied one piece at a time before being left to cure.

Before installing PPF, a consultation is required to discuss the client’s requirements and explain the process and aftercare before proceeding.

How to Maintain a Car with PPF

When you take your car to a professional PPF installer they will explain how the car should be maintained and give you some guidance that may be specific to the type of PPF that has been installed.

Looking after a car with PPF is an easy process as the film will help to make the paintwork easier to clean. However, there are some things to keep in mind that you may not already be aware of if you have never had a car with PPF:

  • Do not wash the car for at least 72 hours following installation. In some cases, a longer wait period may be required.
  • Wash the car regularly (at least every 4 weeks) using a high-quality pre-wash chemical (e.g., snow foam) and car shampoo.
  • Use microfiber mitts to wash the car and microfiber towels to dry it. Do not use sponges, brushes, bath towels, chamois leather or water blades.
  • Do not use polish, clay or any other abrasive on the PPF.
  • Avoid using aggressive or corrosive chemicals to wash the car.
  • Try to wash away contaminants like bird poo as soon as possible.
  • Avoid washing the car in direct sunlight.
  • Do not aim the pressure washer too close to the car, especially on the edges.
  • Do not take the car to an automatic or roadside hand car wash station.

Most PPF installers will also offer their clients a place on a maintenance wash scheme. This means the car will be washed properly by a professional detailer (typically every 2-4 weeks) to maintain the best possible condition.

Can PPF Be Removed?

Paint protection film can be removed safely using a heat source to help peel it off. A professional should be hired to remove old paint protection film to avoid damaging the paintwork underneath.

It is also vital that the PPF is only left on the car for the recommended period of time, in most cases this is between 7 and 10 years. Leaving the PPF on for longer will make it difficult to remove and increases the risk of damaging the paintwork.

Once the PPF has been peeled off, it cannot be used again. However, it is fine to apply a fresh layer.

As long as an experienced professional performs the process properly, the PPF can be removed without causing any damage to the paintwork.

How Much Does PPF Cost?

The installation of front-end paint protection film in the UK typically starts at £1500. Here at Pyramid Car Care, we offer four main PPF options to suit different budgets:

  • Headlight PPF – starts at £150
  • Windscreen PPF – starts at £300
  • Front-end PPF – starts at £1500
  • Full car PPF – starts at £3500

Our popular front-end PPF package also includes the application of a 5-year ceramic coating to the rest of the vehicle in addition to the installation of a wheel and glass coating.

Partial (Front-End) vs Full PPF

We offer the choice between full and partial PPF.

Partial, also referred to as front-end PPF is when the film is applied to the: front bumper, bonnet, wings, mirrors and headlights. Full PPF involves the installation of the film to all the painted surfaces.

The advantage of front-end PPF is that it shields the areas of the car which are the most likely to get damaged from stone chips. This is a very common option to go for as it is more affordable, but still an effective way to protect the vehicle from common forms of damage.

However, if you want the ultimate protection then full PPF is the obvious choice. This is recommended for luxury and high-performance vehicles as it will help them to retain their value.


PPF vs Ceramic Coating

If you’re looking to get the maximum protection for your paintwork then PPF is a better option compared to a ceramic coating.

Although ceramic coatings and PPF both offer UV protection, self-cleaning characteristics and chemical resistance, only PPF offers a good level of protection against clear coat swirl marks/ scratches and stone chips.

PPF is also more durable compared to a ceramic coating. Typically, a coating lasts around 2-5 years, whereas PPF lasts up to 10 years. The advantages of a applying a ceramic coating are that it is cheaper and quicker to install.

It’s also worth noting that whilst some ceramic coatings can be applied outdoors, PPF must always be applied in a controlled indoor environment which is free from dust.

It is actually possible to apply a ceramic coating over the top of most paint protection films. Although this isn’t strictly necessary, it will help to increase the slickness and hydrophobicity. It isn’t possible however to apply PPF over the top of an existing coating.

PPFCeramic Coating
Price starts at £1500Price starts at £400
Lasts for up to 12 yearsLasts for up to 5 years
Takes 3-5 days to installTakes 1-2 days to install
Must be applied in a clean, indoor environmentSome coatings can be applied outdoors (weather dependent)
Must be installed by a trained professionalDIY or professional application is possible
Scratch and stone chip resistanceLimited resistance against abrasion


PPF vs Vinyl Wrap

PPF is designed to provide a high-level of protection, whereas vinyl wrap is designed to simply customise the appearance of the car. Vinyl wrap provides very limited protection in comparison to PPF so is not the best choice if you want to preserve the original paintwork.

Vinyl wraps are made from polyvinyl chloride which is thinner and more brittle compared to the polyurethane used to make PPF.

Here are the key differences:

  • Most PPF is clear whereas vinyl wrap is offered in a whole range of colours
  • PPF is typically 7-10 mils thick, whilst vinyl wrap is only 3-4 mil thick
  • PPF has self-healing properties unlike vinyl wrap
  • Vinyl wrap offers very limited abrasion and chemical resistance compared to PPF


PPF Services at Pyramid Car Care

Here at Pyramid Car Care, we offer the full range of Stek Automotive PPF which has the following advantages:

  • Exceptional durability (10-year warranty)
  • Very hydrophobic which helps to keep the car clean
  • Outstanding clarity to achieve the best possible finish
  • Thicker compared most competitors so offers a very high level of protection

Our prices for partial PPF start at £1500 (takes 2-3 days to install) and for full PPF start at £3500 (takes 3-5 days to install).

Please contact our team in Worcester on 01905 382690 for more information or to book a PPF installation.


Watch: Introduction to PPF

Watch our introduction to Paint Protection Film with founder, and head PPF installer Ry Tombs. In this short interview about Paint Protection Film Ry covers everything from types of film, installation process, our cutting-edge technology and why you should choose PPF for your car’s paint protection.