Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra] vs. Ceramic Coatings

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Purchasing your dream car is one of the most exciting, yet nerve-wracking, experiences you can go through!

That glistening paint is something to admire, but you can't help but feel scared to even get it on the road.

That's why it needs to be protected!

You may be considering either a Ceramic Coating, Paint Protection Film installation, or even both! This blog post walks through the main benefits and differences between the two.

While Ceramic Coatings and Paint Protection Film are both great protection options, they provide completely different benefits.

We'll go over...

But you're likely most concerned with...


What is a Ceramic Coating?

Pouring Ceramic Coating on Applicator Pad

Ceramic Coatings are silicon based sealants that are applied to a vehicles clear coat for protection as well as aesthetic purposes. These sealants lock in the current condition of your paint and provide greater protection than your clear coat.

In essence, a Ceramic Coating is an upgrade to the old-school methods of protection such as carnauba waxes.

Instead of a thin layer of wax on your paint, which lasts for a couple weeks, Ceramic Coatings form a glass-like barrier that is much thicker and lasts for years. Because of this, we haven't waxed a car in years!

Ceramic Coatings are a far better solution and provide UV protection, enhanced gloss levels, and hydrophobic properties that simply do not compare to that of a carnauba wax.

Ceramic Coatings are intended to provide nearly effortless maintenance, as well! The hydrophobic properties of these coatings repels liquids, but it also ensures dirt and debris won't stick to your paint nearly as easily as it would on your clear coat.

There are various options for Ceramic Coatings on the market, and you'll want to be sure you're going with a trustworthy source! You're more than welcome to give us a call and ask us about our experience with the coating you have in mind. Also, if you're in the Orange County area in Southern California, feel free to check out our Ceramic Coating options here!

What is Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra]?

G80 BMW M3 Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra] installation in Orange County, CA

Paint Protection Film, also known as Clear Bra, is a thermoplastic urethane film that is self healing and rather pliable. This film absorbs impact and protects your paint from rock chips, road debris, scratching, and much more.

Paint Protection Film is an optically clear film that is solely intended to protect your paint. Although it is not typically intended as an aesthetic upgrade, there are definitely options that do so.

If you're looking to provide a truly unique aesthetic to your paint, PPF comes in a wide range of options: 

  • Clear (Typical - Standard PPF)
  • Matte/Satin (Converts gloss paint to Matte/Satin or can be applied to Matte/Satin paint)
  • Color-Shifting
  • Solid Colors

Looking for one of these options in Southern California? Click here to get a free quote! We're a 5-Star Rated PPF Installer in Orange County, CA!

When applied correctly, Paint Protection Film will be virtually invisible and protect from everything you could throw at it!

Protection Capacity

What does a Ceramic Coating protect against?

Main Protection capabilities
  • UV Protection (Sun Damage)
  • Chemical Stains
  • Minor Scratching
  • Water Spot Etching
  • Clear Coat Failure

It's like sunscreen for your car! The Sun's harsh UV rays are notorious for breaking down and fading away your paint.

Have you seen the white blotches on older vehicles? That's UV damage and one of the main areas a Ceramic Coating protects against.

What does Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra] protect against?

Main Protection capabilities
  • Rock Chips
  • Scratching
  • Road Debris
  • Water Spot Etching
  • Clear Coat Failure
  • Impact Protection

Simply put - Paint Protection Film is the strongest protection you can get for your paint. These are 8mil thick films that protect against anything you could throw at it.

Obviously, there are limitations. A big enough rock going fast enough may just pierce through the film. However, the majority of damage will be protected against and you can rest easy knowing your paint is protected with the strongest option there is.

Main Benefits

What are the main benefits of a Ceramic Coating?

  • Enhanced Gloss & Shine
  • Chemical Stain Resistance
  • Water Etching Resistance
  • Stays Cleaner Longer
  • Repels Dirt & Debris
  • Near Effortless Maintenance (Hydrophobic Properties)

Ceramic Coatings are mainly for the enhanced shine of the paint as well as the hydrophobic properties that ensure maintenance is a breeze.

Dirt and debris simply won't stick to your Coating as it would on your clear coat meaning your car stays cleaner for longer and is nearly effortless to wash!

What are the main benefits of Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra]?

  • Self-Healing (No More Swirl Marks!)
  • Hides Minor Marring
  • Best-In-Class Protection (protection cabailities above)

The top layer of all the Paint Protection Films we offer consist of elastomeric polymers that self heal when heat is applied. This means that PPF will stay looking great and offer unmatched protection.

As mentioned in the Protection Capabilities section, PPF provides the best overall protection. Rock chips, scratching, marring, you name it.

We've even had clients hit their garage door and the Clear Bra protected it!

Main Differences

What is the main difference between Ceramic Coatings and Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra]?

The main difference between Ceramic Coatings and Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra] is definitely the protection capabilities.

Ceramic Coatings are great for environmental protection, enhanced gloss/shine, and incredibly easy maintenance, but the protection capabilities are lacking.

Ceramic Coatings simply aren't able to protect against rocks and heavier damage to the same extent Paint Protection Film does.

Paint Protection Film is the best choice for physical damage protection. This is the type of damage that would require a body shop and painter to fix.


Should I get a Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra]?

That will depend on your goals and concerns.

Ask yourself these questions...
  1. What is my main goal for deciding between PPF or a Ceramic Coating?
  2. Will I be bothered by chips in my paint?

If your main goal is to simply to enhance the look of the paint and make it easy to maintain - a Ceramic Coating is your go-to!

If your main goal is to protect the paint from damage and ensure it lasts as long as possible - you should consider Paint Protection Film.

If you would be bothered by chips in your paint, a Ceramic Coating will not be enough. You'll need Paint Protection Film!

Do I need both a Ceramic Coating and Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra]?

Our typical client does a combination of Ceramic Coating and Paint Protection Film [Clear Bra].

This is to protect the most vulnerable areas of the vehicle from heavier damage (most often the front end and lower portions of the sides) while protecting the rest of the paint from environmental damage. It also allows our clients to have 1 fluid gloss level throughout their paint and ensures the entire car is nearly effortless to maintain.

A combination of the two will provide the best protection while recognizing the fact that not everyone has the ability to apply Paint Protection Film to their entire car.

Even if you are applying PPF [Clear Bra] to your entire car, you would definitely benefit from a Ceramic Coating application as well. This will enhance the gloss and shine of your paint, provide easier maintenance and essentially doubles up the protection!

Still deciding which one is right for you?

We help Southern California residents near Orange County with the "Ceramic Coating vs. Paint Protection Film" debate on a daily basis! We can help you, too!
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