Paint protection film vs. vinyl wrap, which is best? This is a question that many car owners struggle with.
Vinyl wraps and paint protection both coat a car’s exterior, which leads one to believe they are similar, but when it really comes down to it, they’re not. Once you know the differences between the two, we believe the choice for your specific vehicle will become obvious.
Simply stated, car paint protection film (PPF) does exactly what its name implies: it protects and preserves your car’s paint from essentially any type of damage—rocks, bugs, bird droppings, scratches, ice salt, etc. (As you may have guessed, paint protection film is extremely useful here in Ottawa.) Vinyl wrap is also an exterior coating, but it’s used primarily for cosmetic purposes, providing only limited protection from the elements.
We’ll explore both options in more detail so that you better understand the ideal situations to use PPF and vinyl wrap.
What Is Paint Protection Film?
Paint protection film is a thin, transparent, adhesive-backed layer of polyurethane that covers any painted surface of your vehicle’s body.
Some owners choose to apply it only to the front end of their car (a reason PPF is sometimes referred to as a “clear bra”), while others opt for a whole car installation. It provides extensive protection from environmental damage—road debris and rock chips, scratches, bird droppings, extreme weather conditions and more.
What’s ingenious about PPF’s protective function is that it has self-healing properties. This means nicks and scratches naturally “heal” over time, keeping your car in pristine, brand-new condition.
These accolades aren’t just hype. In our expert opinion, this is an aftermarket solution that genuinely works “as advertised.” That’s why Bemac offers paint protection film to our Ottawa-area clients. We believe in it!
What Is Vinyl Wrap?
Vinyl film is made from a PVC-based material. Like PPF, it has a specially formulated adhesive that allows it to adhere to your car without harming the vehicle’s paint. Vinyl wraps are thinner than PPFs, though. Thus, you can only depend on the coating to protect your car from minor scuffs and stains.
So, why would you want to use a vinyl wrap vs. paint protection film? Because you can completely customize the appearance of your vehicle. Vinyl wraps come in an endless array of colours and textures; you can even add an image or a logo if you want to.
Similar to PPF, vinyl coatings are designed to cover the entire vehicle or be applied to a select few areas of your car. It really depends on what look you are going for.
PPF vs. Vinyl Wrap
In addition to protection and aesthetics, you should also consider durability, life expectancy and costs before making a paint protection film vs. vinyl wrap decision.
Since they are truly intended to be a protective coating, paint protection films last longer than vinyl films do. A quality brand PPF, installed correctly, will last 5-10 years. And, if cared for properly, you can proactively extend its lifespan. Vinyl wraps, on the other hand, will last 2-7 years.
Note: Keeping your vehicle out of the direct sunlight and away from damaging elements will help reduce the occurrence of premature vinyl film delamination.
Both options usually come with a guarantee or warranty. Most reputable installers will discuss the manufacturer’s coverage with you.
Have you ever gotten a ding from someone in the grocery store parking lot that jerked their car door open? Both vinyl wraps and PPF provide protective benefits that will safeguard your vehicle’s paint to some degree.
A vinyl coating is great for shielding your car from harmful UV light, surface-level damage (like minor rock chips), and stain resistance. But, if you are looking for superior impact protection, PPF is the better choice. Because paint protection film’s barrier is thicker and stronger, your paint job will be safe. Plus, it also has that self-healing superpower we referenced earlier.
It’s hard to pinpoint how much it will typically cost for PPF and vinyl coatings. In general, you’ll find that the cost to install paint protection film is more expensive than installing vinyl wraps, but the ultimate price tag will hinge on how much of the car you plan to cover. If you are only looking at a panel or two, your cost for either solution will be significantly cheaper than covering the entire car.
Note: If your car is not new, you may encounter other costs. For example, if the paint on your vehicle is peeling or has any other issues, you must correct those imperfections before any coating is installed. Because it is clear, PPF will show any paint perfections. Bemac’s comprehensive car paint service in Ottawa performs paint correction and rejuvenates your vehicle to ensure it is ready for any kind of protective wrap.
PPF’s clear thermoplastic urethane film contains many layers. And within its clear coating are elastomeric polymers that work to protect the paint on your car. Scratches in the topcoat will impressively “heal” on their own over time, but heat speeds up this process significantly.
Vinyl wraps are made from very different materials. In most cases, they contain polyvinyl chloride, plasticizers and various pigmentations.
How Does It Look?
As mentioned, vinyl wraps can completely transform the look of your car; they can be shiny or matte, pearlescent or textured and virtually any colour of the rainbow.
PPF is invisible, so your car will appear the same, but you won’t see the occasional nick or deep scratch that appears on cars without PPF film.
Again, proper care will impact the look of any coating on your car.
It’s essential to have either vinyl wrap or paint protection film installed by a professional. In both cases, the installation process is delicate and quite complicated. PPF needs to be wet when it is applied in order to properly adhere to your car, whereas a vinyl wrap job is installed dry.
If the coating is poorly installed, the finished product will look bad. You might see puckering, bubbles or ridges. Inexperienced installers can also mistakenly damage your existing paint job. Don’t attempt to apply a film to the surface of your car. It’s not worth the risk.
Install paint protection film
Note: Don’t ever attempt to push out air bubbles or pick at the film; you can damage the finish. If you are worried, contact Bemac. We’d be happy to have a look and fix any issues if need be.
What About Ceramic Coating?
If you are curious about PPF and vinyl films, you might also be wondering about the protective properties of ceramic coatings.
A ceramic coating is a permanent or semi-permanent solution that acts as a barrier layer. Instead of an adhesive film, it’s made of a chemical that bonds directly to your car’s paint.
Once the ceramic is applied, applied, your vehicle will be shiny and showroom-ready, and water, mud and grime will slide right off your car. The downsides are that it’s an expensive and time-consuming process.
Get PPF Installation In Ottawa
If you’re ready to shield your car from salt and chemicals, bugs and birds, and all the damage caused by road debris, call Bemac to install paint protection film on your Ottawa vehicle.
We use the latest innovation in paint protection technology; a product called XPEL Paint Protection Film. It’s the best PPF on the market and is specially designed to block all types of environmental damage and resist delamination.
Don’t hesitate to bring your car to one of Bemacs many full-service auto shops and discover the incredible perks of self-healing paint protection film.