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[2023] Ceramic Coating or PPF - Which is Right For You? | Ceramic Coating by Kings Valet

Updated: 5 days ago

I prefer FULL transparency upfront - Kings Valet only installs Ceramic Coatings. With that said, one thing we recognize is that Ceramic Coating is not the right fit for everyone and wanted to provide an honest look at both options.

Ceramic Coating Vs PPF

Are you torn on which investment to make - Ceramic Coating versus PPF? You are not alone! Many of our clients ask the differences and for guidance when they make initial calls or quote requests to us. It is important to note, when I am discussing PPF or Ceramic Coating I am referring to professional versions; Not DIY or Auto Dealership versions.

What is Ceramic Coating?

Ceramic Coatings bond with your vehicle's clear coat and form a long lasting, high gloss "Nano Coat" barrier. Ceramic Coatings repel water, environmental factors and even prevent lackluster. It protects, enhances and strengthens one of your most valued investments. Ceramic Coating's properties make it VERY easy to clean and maintain. The main component people focus on in Ceramic Coating is SiO2 (Silicone Dioxide). This is where a Ceramic Coating gets its "hardness" or "scratch resistance".

Best Ceramic Coating in Indiana - Kings Valet. Ceramic Coating Applied to a Corvette.
Ceramic Coating Applied to a Corvette by Kings Valet

What is a Paint Protection Film?

Paint Protection Film (Sometimes called clear bra) is the latest addition to the protection market. Paint Protection Film is a "thermoplastic urethane" - a fancy way of saying it can be molded at high temperatures and will solidify at lower temperatures. It is the only protection that will resist; and in some cases even heal, after taking damage. Yes you read that right - some PPF is self-healing. It can handle going through car washes and rock chips with minimal issues.

Application Method for Ceramic Coating:

Kings Valet includes a thorough process prior to the actual application of Ceramic Coating. This includes a 26-point exterior detail, buffer applied polish (+ paint correction if needed) and panel prep (isopropyl alcohol bath). More information on this process can be found here. After this preparation Ceramic Coating is typically applied by hand in a cross hatch pattern. Kings Valet uses the block method which is a suede applicator attached to a block applicator. A full panel will be wiped vertically then horizontally. Ceramic coating is allowed to "flash" (turn rainbow color) and then hand leveled with a high GSM microfiber towel. Typically done with multiple towels in a very short "working window" (this is the tricky part of Ceramic Coating Application). Another method available is by spraying the product. Leveling is still required after spraying. This is typically only used on industrial equipment.

Ceramic Coating Installation at Kings Valet
Stephen (Owner of Kings Valet) Hand Leveling a Ceramic Coating

Application Method for Paint Protection Film:

Paint Protection film has two main application methods- Bulk Cut or Plotter Cut. The Bulk Cut PPF process is done by laying large pieces of film over the entire panel and then trimming them down to size. Plotter Cut PPF is done by machine and factory given dimensions (plots) for each panel. The plotter will trim about a half inch extra all the way around the panel to allow for proper wrapping. Both methods are effective in their own right. Once PPF is plotted or trimmed to size the installer will apply an activation spray to the back of the PPF (clear coat side). They will then squeegee the excess liquid out leaving just enough to let the glue stick to your vehicle's clear coat. This process involves periodic heating and cooling to get just the right look on your vehicle.

Paint Protection Film Application
Paint Protection Film Application - Photo Credit: Stek Automotive

Turnaround Time Ceramic Coating:

Kings Valet can Install Ceramic Coating on your new car in about 24 hours. This includes any add-on packages (like interior coatings), paint correction (if needed) and cure time.

Kings Valet has a general 3-24-7 rule. The vehicle can be driven after 3 hours, can get wet after 24 hours and can be washed after 7 days. We allow all of our coatings to cure for 8 hours (minimum) at above 55 F. This is why we hold vehicles overnight. All Ceramic Coating Appointments are scheduled for 8am drop off and pick-up of your vehicle can occur anytime after 9am the following day. If bad weather arises we store up to 3 days after completion at no charge.

Turnaround Time Paint Protection Film:

Paint Protection Film is a very long process. You can be out of a vehicle for over a week if you have it applied to a full vehicle that has complex body lines. In some instances disassembly is required for proper application. Even shorter installs like just a high impact area package (sometimes called front third) is likely to take about 3+ days. Cure time for PPF can be up to 30 days.

How Long Does Ceramic Coating Last:

While many shops offer varying longevities of Ceramic Coatings - Kings Valet ONLY installs a Lifetime Ceramic Coating. This Lifetime coating is backed by a No FIne-Print Lifetime Promise, a 200% Money Back Guarantee and FREE Maintenance for Life. This is the type of value you won't find anywhere else.

LIFETIME Ceramic Coating Applied to a New Ford F-450 Truck. High Gloss and Easy Clean Paint Protection
LIFETIME Ceramic Coating Applied to a New Ford F-450 Truck.

How Long Does Paint Protection Film Last:

PPF longevity will also vary, but most high-end installers offer a 10 Year Warranty. Warranties vary widely brand to brand, but the typical similarities are that you need annual inspections, proper care and it must be done by a certified shop.

Cost of Ceramic Coating:

Cost of Ceramic Coatings vary shop to shop. Rule of thumb is that a professional coating should NOT cost less than $1,000 for a multi-year (3+ year) coating installation. Here at Kings Valet you could expect to invest about $1,350 in your Lifetime Ceramic Coating. An estimate is provided here just to keep it brief. Kings Valet transparently posts EXACTLY what you will pay for your coating based on vehicle size on their Lifetime Ceramic Coating Page. The price list for all sizes and add-on options is towards the bottom.

Cost of Paint Protection Film:

Focusing on just local installation prices for PPF; as it varies incredibly nationwide, you could expect to pay $2,000 to $10,000+. This depends on vehicle size, package type and complexity of body lines. A front third (or high impact area package) on a small vehicle with simple body lines is the lower end of that estimate. A RAM 3500 with a full vehicle PPF application would be at the upper end of that range.

How to Clean Ceramic Coating:

The Two Bucket Method is the preferred method. We wrote an extensive guide on the two bucket wash method here. You can also use automatic touch free washes like those provided at American Classic Car Wash. Only the basic level of wash (rinse, soap, rinse and dry). You can apply Ceramic Toppers after either wash type, but it isn't required. The only big no-no is going through any brush based car washes (like drive and shine).

2021 Jeep with Lifetime Ceramic Coating from Kings Valet, After a FREE Maintenance Detail.
2021 Jeep with Lifetime Ceramic Coating from Kings Valet, After a FREE Maintenance Detail.

How to Clean a Paint Protection Film:

Paint Protection Film is suggested to be maintained the same general way as Ceramic Coating. The Two-Bucket Method is always a detailer's first recommendation. Touch-free automatic washes are also acceptable. While acceptable, brush-based washes are still not recommended. One big caveat of Paint Protection Film is avoiding dyes - both in soap and any type of sealers. PPF is porous and will hold these dyes. It creates a dull and lackluster look and will take a detailer to expunge properly. Typically the installer will recommend you buy PPF specific products. These are usually from the product line of the PPF they install.

So... Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film?

As always I try to leave this open-ended and merely present facts. I think we can all agree on the cost advantage obviously goes to Ceramic Coating. Ease of maintenance is a toss up as both vehicle paint protections have their own assets and defects. Protection level is certainly in favor of PPF. Turnaround time should be considered minor in the long-haul, but is still in favor of Ceramic Coating.

2022 Audi with Lifetime Ceramic Coating by Kings Valet! Protection from Winter for your car
2022 Audi with Lifetime Ceramic Coating by Kings Valet!

The short and direct answer is that it depends on your needs. Are you off-roading constantly and need stronger scratch protection for your Jeep? PPF is likely right for you. Are you looking for easy clean, high gloss and protection from mother nature on your new Mercedes? Ceramic Coating is likely the better fit. As mentioned at the opening of this post Kings Valet Strictly Installs and Maintains Ceramic Coating. If you are looking for PPF we recommend Ben at High-Def Detailing in Elkhart. I make no commission or kick-backs on this suggestion, I just believe in providing the correct solution for your needs. If you would like to learn more, get prices or book a Ceramic Coating simply Click Here.

As always I hope you have an amazing day! Have a question about something I haven't covered in our blog or on our website? Someone else likely has the SAME question(s) so please... Email Me!

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