The Automotive Industry has seen great progress in recent years. Car manufacturers are adopting new technologies in their operations at an unprecedented scale.
Innovations in automotive paint technology have led to the creation of durable products that also comply with environmental regulations. Nowadays, we have high-quality car paint and finishes with a myriad of colors to choose from. However, some of the biggest advancements in automotive finishing are not in the paint, but in the clear coat that carmakers put on top of the paint.
Cars are driven in all sorts of weather and are often exposed to harmful chemicals. Clear coats protect their paint by acting like a suit of armor - they take the hit instead of the paint.
But clear coats applied by manufacturers don’t last forever.
Vehicles arrive at dealerships with several layers of paint and protective clear coats. But as time goes on the paint is inevitably exposed to many factors that affect it negatively, leading to wear and tear on the clear coat. With proper maintenance, the most you can get out of it is 10-15 years.
And how do you maintain a clear coat?
By shielding your car from the sun, regularly washing it by hand, decontaminating its paint a couple of times a year, and implementing one of the available methods of paint protection.
The better you care for your car’s clear coat, the longer it will last.
What is Paint Protection
Paint protection is a treatment that helps you prevent damage to your car’s paint. It’s essentially a transparent layer of substance applied on top of your car’s paintwork to protect it from harm.
All vehicle owners want to drive around in a clean, shiny car - it just feels so good.
But a car on the road is destined to pick up chips, scratches, and other marks on the paintwork. That’s why paint protection technology was developed - to help you keep your ride looking like it just rolled out of the showroom for as long as possible.
Dealers often offer paint protection to people buying a new car as an optional service. There is no mechanical reason to add it to a new vehicle, but it helps retain the value of your investment. The cost can be anything from a few hundred dollars to four figures, depending on the type of protection you choose and the size of your vehicle.
Why You Need Paint Protection
Color is an important factor influencing car buyers’ decisions. In fact, a recent study revealed that almost 40% of buyers would switch to a vehicle from another brand solely because of color. This is because getting a color that you feel reflects your personality enhances the ownership experience and the enjoyment you get from your car.
Unfortunately, paint fades over time, losing its shine and vibrance. You decide to fix the imperfections or get it resprayed, but costs are high - up to $2500 - depending on the amount of damage and the level of correction needed.
That’s where paint protection comes in.
As a preventative measure, it keeps your ride safe from sun damage, acid rain, dirt build-up, chemicals, oxidation, and more. However, don’t think it can protect your car from heavier damage such as scuffs and dents.
Everybody wants their ride to stay in top condition for as long as possible. That’s why every car owner should consider investing in a form of paint protection. It extends the life and appearance of your paint, keeping your vehicle’s resale value from decreasing. Plus, it makes maintenance a much more enjoyable experience.
However, some folks would benefit from it especially. This includes people who don’t own a garage and often park outside, particularly in an area with many trees and plants; people who drive long distances on a daily basis; and people who don’t have the time to perform regular maintenance.
There are many different options for paint protection on the market today.
Some of them are physical film, and others a liquid that is sprayed on or applied to the paint with pads. Some are suitable for DIY applications, and others require you to take your car to a professional detail shop. Some of them are fairly cheap, and others cost thousands of dollars.
Let’s take a closer look to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each option. This will help you make the right decision on what type of paint protection will work best for you - your vehicle, budget, time, and car maintenance habits.
But first, a little bit of history so you see the long way paint protection has gone from its origins.
Paint Protection History
The 19th century saw the early days of paint protection.
Wax was first used on coaches and carriages, and it was originally made from animal fat. It provided some shine and protection but wasn’t durable. In 1910, George Simons developed a wax product derived from the Brazilian ‘Carnauba’ palm. It was the first time we could achieve a high-gloss finish, but the product required reapplication after every wash.
The first ever polymer sealant for metallic-based paints was developed in 1969. It didn’t bond with the paint at a molecular level, but it created a protective layer on the surface, mimicking a wax finish while providing longer-lasting protection.
PPF or paint protection film was first used in the 1980s by professional racing teams to protect the front end of their cars. The lightweight film became available to general consumers by the 1990s being the first type of paint protection that lasted multiple years.
In the 2010s, a cutting-edge form of paint protection was developed - protective coatings. These products provided superior protection and longevity, as well as hydrophobicity, shine & gloss by bonding to exterior and interior surfaces at a molecular level.
However, traditional coatings were challenging to apply compared to waxes & sealants, and equally tough to remove. On top of that, they were very expensive. That’s why spray coatings were developed. These products are more affordable, quicker, and easier to use but still provide a couple of years of protection.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the 4 main types of paint protection available today.
Types of Paint Protection
Wax is the most well-known type of paint protection and an entry point of sorts as the most basic and cheapest product in the category.
The main ingredient of car wax is carnauba wax, which is combined with beeswax and solvents. The percentage of carnauba wax in the product determines its effectiveness, as well as its price. High-quality waxes have 70% or more carnauba wax content and hold up better than others.
Still, in terms of protection, even bespoke waxes offer little compared to other products on the market today. The reason is that waxes are easily removed with chemicals and have a very low melting point. This means they are susceptible to severe damage by things like drive-throughs and a sizzling summer day. Plus, wax won’t protect your paint from scratches, chips, and scuffs.
On the other hand, wax keeps vehicles looking clean for longer and gives them a high level of gloss - perfect for show cars. Apart from the deep, warm shine, wax may also help in hiding tiny scratches and making the surface seem smoother. It also serves as a barrier to the damaging effects of exposure to the elements and keeps dirt and grime from sticking to your car’s paint.
Wax typically lasts anywhere from a couple of weeks to four months which means it requires a regular fresh coat to ensure protection. The results depend on the product's quality, usage, and maintenance. For example, a coat of wax will last much longer if you live in a dry climate, park your car in a garage, and don’t drive it very often.
But even in the best conditions, wax isn’t a long-term solution because it doesn’t provide reliable protection against environmental factors. Plus, some experts complain that its naturally sticky consistency attracts dust instead of repelling it, which doesn’t make maintenance any easier.
Sealants are synthetic compounds specifically engineered to enhance vehicles’ glossiness and protect automotive paint. Because of this, compared to wax, they are more resistant to both UV rays and chemicals.
Sealants are typically synthetic polymers or resins that adhere to painted surfaces. They form a longer-lasting protective layer that boosts the vehicle’s shine, giving the surface a wet-look finish. These products are budget friendly and their installation usually doesn’t require a pair of professional’s hands.
With proper maintenance, a sealant will last anywhere from 6-12 months, depending on the product and brand, as well as various other factors. Although they were designed to be more durable than car wax, they are still quite vulnerable to UV rays and harsh chemicals.
Paint Protection Film
PPF is different from other types of paint protection because it involves wrapping the car with a clear film, rather than spraying its surface or applying a liquid onto it.
Paint protection film also referred to as plastic film and Clear Bra is made out of thermoplastic urethane. It’s usually applied to areas of your car's paintwork that are most exposed to potential damage like the front bumper, hood, fenders, headlights, door sills, etc. Nevertheless, some choose to apply it to their entire vehicle to avoid any risk of scratches, chips, marring, insect grime, as well as other contaminants and minor abrasions.
When it first appeared on the market, the adhesive used to apply PPF made it turn yellow and crack over time. Thanks to technological advancements, this doesn’t happen nearly as often nowadays. High-quality PPF is almost undetectable, but cheaper brands can still discolor with excessive exposure to the elements.
PPF provides strong protection against dirt, rocks, contaminants, chemicals, and environmental exposure. It has the potential to last from 4 to 7 years outdoors, and up to 10 years indoors, depending on the quality of the film and different external factors.
A downside of PPF is that it’s not fully waterproof, so water spots are a common occurrence. Plus, it must be installed by an expert, which is why this method of paint protection often gets costly. On top of that, many types of Paint Protection Film require a full replacement if it suffers damage. However, recently, some brands have been making claims of self-healing properties, meaning that light scratches and marring can self-heal, leaving the paintwork undamaged.
Coatings are the latest and greatest in paint protection technology. Often referred to as “ceramic”, “nano” and “glass” coatings, these products are mostly silica-based polymer solutions that bond to automotive paint on a microscopic level.
When applied, coatings don’t create a light film on the surface like waxes or sealants, but a harder, shell-like finish that acts as a durable barrier to the elements. They’re designed for use on automotive paint, but also on leather, vinyl, plastics, metal, wood, and glass.
Protective coatings are gaining popularity fast and for good reason. They provide a striking aesthetic enhancement along with high levels of chemical and physical resistance.
Let’s talk about aesthetics first. These transparent coatings provide a deep shine and luster by enhancing the reflective properties of your car’s paint. On top of that, they make maintenance a breeze. Due to their hydrophobic and heatproof properties, contaminants and dirt don’t adhere to the surface as they would on a waxed vehicle - they slide right off, which means your car stays clean for longer.
What’s more important, coatings protect the exterior and interior of your car from ultraviolet light exposure & chemicals - they won’t strip off when exposed to de-icing agents, salt, tar, and such. In terms of rust, coatings are much more efficient in protecting your car’s undercarriage compared to other paint protection options.
Still, if you think that protective coatings provide scratch resistance, we have to disappoint you. Some companies make bold advertising claims saying that once you install their “super hard” product, your car will be scratch-proof and won’t need decontamination ever again. This is false. Coatings do reduce the likelihood of some wash-induced swirls and marring, but they’re certainly not impenetrable. Plus, coatings repel water but don’t remove it, so water spots will appear.
In terms of installation, the process of coating a car is more complicated and time-consuming than applying a wax or sealant. Significant prep work is required for the best results. In many cases, you will need professional help, which can get expensive. Spray coatings are an exception as they’re fairly easy to use. Yet, the protective properties and longevity of “ceramic” sprays make them products that work best as toppers, rather than the coatings themselves.
Ceramic vs. PTFE
We mentioned before that most “ceramic” coatings are silica (SiO2) based. However, products based on other compounds like graphene and titanium, as well as polymer sealants with some ceramic nanoparticles thrown in are marketed as “ceramic” too.
This is the biggest problem with the coating industry - a multitude of products that are far from equal in application, performance, and price fall under the same term - "ceramic".
Let’s now turn to the other group of products that fall under this category - PTFE or Polytetrafluoroethylene-based coatings. These products form a shiny, non-stick, waterproof, and heat-resistant protective layer on your car’s surface.
So, ceramic and Polytetrafluoroethylene coatings have many of the same qualities. But what are the differences?
First off, PTFE is very efficient in preventing water spots - something ceramic coatings have trouble contending with. On the other hand, it’s sensitive to certain chemicals, unlike ceramic which can only be removed through polishing.
Polytetrafluoroethylene coatings last anywhere from 6-12 months, depending on usage and maintenance. Compared with the average longevity of ceramics which is 3-5 years, it’s a short-term solution. This makes PTFE far more affordable but take into account that this type of coating requires regular reapplication. In the long run, “ceramic” coatings can potentially save you time & money.
Why choose when you can have the best of both worlds? Or should we say the best of three?
Undrdog Pro is our pro-grade, single-layer coating based on Polytetrafluoroethylene-(C2F4)n (a.k.a. PTFE), Silicon, and Paraffin Wax. Each one of these three main ingredients is incredibly resistant to chemicals, UV rays, external contaminants, heat, and water spots. Together, they create the trifecta of awesomeness: durability, performance, and value.
What makes Undrdog Pro revolutionary is that it’s single-layer and super simple to install. We designed it with customers in mind, giving it longer flash times: 7-10 minutes per panel! This feature enables you to coat an entire vehicle before you need to buff off, which makes it perfect for both enthusiasts and professionals. On the flip side, ceramic coatings can only be properly installed by certified detailers, which makes the costs of application high.
Another thing that sets Undrdog Pro apart from other coatings on the market is the fact that it can be applied in most weather conditions with ease. “Ceramic” coatings are generally sensitive to temperature. If you try to install a ceramic coating when the temperature is over 68°F, the product can flash too quickly and be difficult to buff off; if the temperature is under 50°F, the coating won’t bond to the paintwork well; if the humidity is high, it won’t cure properly or at all.
There are other protective coatings out there that you can apply yourself, but most of them sacrifice performance for ease of use. That’s not the case with Undrdog Pro: it has all the features you want in a protective coating - durable multisurface protection, excellent hydrophobic properties, and a high gloss mirror finish. It lasts just as long as traditional “ceramic” coatings, 1-8 years, depending on environmental exposure, driving conditions, and maintenance, but won’t break the bank. No additional products or certifications needed!
How to Apply Undrdog Pro
Undrdog Pro can be applied in direct sunlight, but for the best results, aim to coat in shade. The area should be contamination free and well-ventilated, and the temperature between 45°F and 110°F.
Make sure you’re working with a clean car, truck, SUV, RV, or bike before you start. Wash and decontaminate the surface, and perform paint correction if needed. Don’t worry if your ride has matte paint, Undrdog Pro works well on all finishes!
What You Need:
- Brand new microfiber towels
- Applicator pads
- Wax and grease remover or denatured alcohol
- Adequate lighting
- Face Mask
- Prep the surface by wiping it with denatured alcohol or a body shop wax and grease remover. Be sure to use fresh clean towels. Once finished you may begin coating.
- Prime your applicator pad by dripping 15-20 drops of Undrdog Pro onto the pad. Make sure to keep your applicator pad damp throughout the entire coating process by continually adding Undrdog Pro to the pad as needed, to maintain an even coating.
- To begin, apply Undrdog Pro evenly to one panel. We suggest starting on the roof of the vehicle and working your way to the hood and around the entire vehicle.
- Apply one panel at a time in a cross-hatch motion. This means moving the applicator pad in a vertical and then horizontal motion to ensure complete coverage of each panel.
- Complete as much as you can within a 7-10 minute time frame.
- Once the area is coated and the product has flashed for no less than 7-10 minutes, you may begin wiping. We suggest using at least three towels for this process and working one panel at a time in the order they were applied. Start with your first panel - use one towel to wipe off Undrdog Pro, one towel to buff off any remaining residue, and one as a final wipe down to ensure no residue is left behind.
- Repeat step 6 until the entire vehicle has been wiped and all the coating residue has been removed.
- Check the vehicle for any residue and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
On plastics and leather
Start by priming your applicator pad with 15-20 drops of Undrdog Pro. Keep the pad damp throughout the coating process by re-applying the product as needed.
Apply Undrdog Pro evenly to the plastics and leather. Once the desired appearance is achieved, do not touch for 24 hours.
On wheels and calipers
Start by priming your applicator pad with 15-20 drops of Undrdog Pro. Keep the pad damp throughout the coating process by re-applying the product as needed.
Apply Undrdog Pro evenly to wheels and calipers, Once the desired appearance is achieved, wait 10-20 minutes and remove with a microfiber towel.
After Care & Maintenance
Once you are done applying Undrdog Pro wait 3 hours for it to completely dry. Wait 24 hours before getting your car wet. Do not wash with detergents for 1 week. Once a full week is up, use a PH balanced soap for striping the dirt and grime. Always dry your vehicle after it gets wet.
To get the maximum performance and longevity, we recommend:
- Regular car washes with our Soap and a soft wash mitt.
- Regular usage of our Quick Detail, a product that can add some slickness and hydrophobicity for those looking to get the most out of their coating.
How to Remove Undrdog Pro
A quick polish will expose the vehicle’s clear coat. From there you can reapply the coating or carry on with raw, boring paint.
Why You Need Undrdog Pro in Your Workshop and Tool Kit
- Protects All Surfaces: Undrdog Pro protects metal, glass, wood, plastics, and leather. One product for the entire vehicle!
- Long Flash Times: 7-10 minute flash times enable you to cover more surface before you need to buff off.
- Very Easy Application: Undrdog Pro is super simple to use. You don't need a Ph.D. to install this coating.
- Gloss and Beading: Our coating makes maintenance washes a breeze by repelling water-based dirt and grime. Also, it's glossy AF.
To Sum up
If you want to take pride in your ride for years to come, paint protection is the way to go.
To figure out which type of paint protection suits you most, carefully consider the pros and cons of each option.
Wax and sealant can boost the aesthetics of your car, but don’t provide the kind of protection you can get with the other two options. Plus, choosing a wax or sealant means you will have to reapply the product regularly to enjoy the best effects.
If you value protection more than looks, PPF is a great choice. Still, it can take away from the look of your paint and be tough to maintain. If you choose this method of paint protection, we suggest you apply a sealant or protective coating on top of the Paint Protection Film. It will act as an additional protective layer and prolong the film’s life while boosting hydrophobicity and shine.
However, unless you have a high-value luxury vehicle whose value will drastically decrease if there are minor scratches or chips on the exterior, you don’t need PPF. A coating will protect your car’s paint against the damage caused by various day-to-day occurrences, and keep the surface grime and dirt-free. It will allow you to spend less time in the garage, and more enjoying your prized possession.
Undrdog Pro is the most comprehensive and multifunctional coating on the market. Our simple formula is designed to provide easy application, durable protection, and deep rich shine - every time. Try it out yourself and see why 5K+ detailers choose Undrdog!