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Paint Protection Film or Ceramic Coating

Updated: May 14, 2023

People often ask, “What’s the difference between paint protection film PPF and ceramic coating?” But I know that what they’re really asking is, “Which do I want?”

Paint Protection Film Install
Bill Fetter - Owner - Installs Paint Protection Film to Stop Paint Chips on this Ford F150

To answer the first question: PPF and ceramic coating are two completely different products.

PPF is a clear film wrap that stops rocks and stones from chipping your paint. It can be applied to your whole vehicle, but usually we apply film to the most vulnerable areas. PPF keeps your paint in new condition, with no paint chips.

Paint Protection Film Installed on F150
Paint Protection Film Installation to Stop Stones and Gravel - Bill at Work

Ceramic coating is a coating that makes your vehicle easy to wash. It has some self-cleaning properties, so you’ll need to wash it less frequently. You’ll likely enjoy driving your vehicle more because it will be shiny and fun to drive.

Machine Polish before ceramic coating
Ceramic Coating Machine Polish Preparation - That Gloss is Nice!

Ceramic Coating is Poured onto Special Applicator Then Carefully Applied

To answer the second question, “Which do I want,” my answer is, “That depends.” Every customer is unique, every vehicle is unique, and every situation is unique! We don’t have one-size-fits-all here.

That’s why I take the time to learn about every customer--to learn what you want and need. I take the time to educate you so you can make the best decision for yourself.

At my shop, we sell both PPF and ceramic coating products so that you can choose the best protection for your vehicle.

Here are answers to some common questions customers deciding between PPF and ceramic coating often ask:

I have an SUV or pickup, not a sports car, why would I invest in PPF? In some respects, a busy mom’s Honda Pilot might be even more important to her than another client’s Ferrari because the mom depends on her Pilot every day to get to meetings, run errands, and take the kids to and from school—in any kind of weather. The Ferrari client can keep his sports car in the garage in inclement weather and only drive it when the conditions are absolutely perfect.

This is why half or clients are repeat clients: We value all of our customers. We treat everyone like Ferrari owners.

What can I afford on my tight budget? If you’re choosing between PPF and ceramic coating and you have a new vehicle, buy PPF first. Your car is only new once. If your vehicle is older with some miles on it, get a ceramic coating and learn how to wash your vehicle properly. That way you won’t introduce a lot of paint damage that later needs to be paint corrected. Or consider having some areas protected with PPF and others with ceramic coating.

If I buy PPF, do I also need ceramic coating? If a high-quality name brand PPF is installed, a ceramic coating should not be obligatory. Often for a clients it makes sense to have a ceramic coating applied when we have the vehicle at our shop. I would rather a client come back later for the ceramic coating than feel "pressured" into making purchase.

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Can I install PPF myself? Honestly, this is not a DIY project. In our shop, some of the best clients have tried it themselves. A client’s husband had DIY installed PPF on one of their vehicles. Then she had us apply it to another vehicle. She told her husband that we did such a better job than he did that he should bring his other two cars in. The next week, he showed up with a brand-new GT-350 Mustang. Happy wife = happy life.

Can I install ceramic coating myself? While you can buy DIY ceramic coating, the DIY products have a much shorter lifespan than the professional grade ones my shop applies. The main reason our clients like our services is because they are busy.

They want a great looking car that is easy to maintain. If you are really into waxing and detailing your car and find enjoyment in it that, awesome, we share the same passion. It's a great way to spend some free time.

If want to do something yourself, pay a professional to install PPF and DIY a ceramic spray that will last a few weeks or months.

I’m leasing. Should I get PPF or ceramic coating? Be sure to mention that to your installer. While every vehicle should have paint protection, a reputable shop will recommend ceramic coating, not PPF, on leased vehicles.

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I'm shopping around what should I look for in a quality shop? See how long has the shop been in business, do they listen to you. Check to see if they are certified by the paint protection film and ceramic coating company manufactures they sell. There are some really great options available and I'd be happy if you get a great paint protection film or ceramic coating from a competitor. Unfortunately there are some terrible products out there too, that just over hyped and marketed.

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What are somethings to avoid when looking for a paint protection shop? Some unethical installers will tell you ceramic coating stops paint from chipping. Others will talk about one product and push you into another. This is most common with ceramic coating shops, when they steer customers who would be better with PPF into ceramic coating. Some ceramic coating shops using older technology coatings will try and sell on multiple coats, this either a poor coating choice or way to separate you from your hard earned money. Watch out for an "upsell" we have seen is bad shops use your investment into paint protection film as a hard selling point for a ceramic coating.

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For paint protection film and ceramic coating packages, pricing, and more visit us at

About the author: Bill Fetter’s passion for cars started at an early age, as he loved anything with wheels. Through his childhood, Bill observed his dad’s work as a mechanical engineer turned marketing manager and proud lifelong employee of General Motors. During high school, Bill honed his passion for cars by hand-washing and detailing his neighbors’ vehicles. Knowing he wanted to be in the automotive industry, Bill earned a degree in Industrial Engineering from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. He’s worked as an engineer in the automotive manufacturing, medical device, steel industry, and pharmaceutical manufacturing fields.

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