Paint protection film, often called car wrap or stone chip protection or car film, is another option to protect the paint of your car.

Every driver is proud when he gets into a new car for the first time. They want it to look this chic for as long as possible, and they may want to sell the car again at some point.

To avoid having to dig deep into their pocket again soon, many car owners opt for a paint protection film. It may not last a car’s entire life, but if the quality is good, there is little or no need to worry about the quality of the paint for up to seven years or more.

Which car driver has not yet experienced this:

An exit on a country road and suddenly the frightening sound of the vehicle in front whirling up stones, sand or other dirt and crashing into the front of your car. The entrance or loading edge has the first traces (scratches).

Notches, dents, scratches etc. in the paintwork are not only annoying, they also ensure that the vehicle quickly loses value. Here a stone chip protection film is the perfect protection for almost every precious surface.

Paint protection film is versatile and can be used not only for your car but also for other vehicles, entrance doors, parts of home furnishings, metal surfaces and much more. The film can be transparent or colored and there are also special designs as extra-thick stone chip film.

What is a paint or stone chip protection film?

This is a special transparent and particularly resistant film that applies to certain areas of the vehicle to protect the paintwork from weather, stone chips, scratches and salt deposits.

Such a stone chip protection film is usually made of polyurethane and is highly elastic (up to 300 percent), highly flexible and adapts perfectly to all curves and lines of the vehicle – if processed appropriately. When properly applied, it is almost invisible and offers an excellent protective shield for the car paint. In addition, most films are weather and UV resistant, so the film itself is protected against fading, yellowing and cracking.

The secret of these films is that they give way and bounce back when subjected to excessive stress.

Originally, the polyurethane film protected the rotor blades on helicopters against sand turbulence. Today the transparent films are used by multiple well-known car manufacturers for their new vehicles.

What should you look out for when buying paint protection film?

Compatibility with the car

It does not matter whether the high-quality special paint is to be preserved, or loading sills are to be protected against scratches: the films must match the car. So, either they should be specially made for the car used, or one relies on paint protection films that can be easily cut to size.

Thickness and aids

For optimum stone chip protection, a thick film is important, preferably over 0.3 millimeters. Thinner films provide protection from weather, dust, salt and small scratches. It should include tools such as a squeegee (basically a spatula with a softer edge) to smoothen the film and prevent the formation of bubbles.

Suitability for washing systems

Many films are not suitable for the car wash. Here it is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any unpleasant surprises after the washing process.

Heat resistant

The film must also be heat resistant. A black bonnet can reach high temperatures in direct sunlight. The film must not melt, blister or come loose under these temperatures. It should also be resistant to moisture and light stone chipping.

Paint protection film versus stone chip protection film

A stone chip protection film is also a paint protection film, but around twice as thick. The paint protection film offers a slightly lower paint protection against larger stone chips, it is supposed to reduce fine scratches and fading by UV light. The thin paint protection film is so strongly deformable that it can be invisibly applied to vehicle edges. This is more difficult with a thick stone chip film. However, those who are very sporty on the road are welcome to opt for this variant, which is often only applied partially in the particularly vulnerable areas, but is also possible as a full film. Stone chip films practically do not yellow in the first five years and can be polished to a high gloss.

Paint protection films

Paint protection films are much thinner (70-100 micrometers) which makes them particularly flexible and can be wrapped around any edge. We also use them against UV rays, so they repel sunlight to prevent the underlying paint from ageing.

Besides the popular transparent paint protection film, there are also films in matt, colored and carbon-look. This also makes the paint protection film a cost-effective option for making the car shine in a new color.

However, a paint protection film offers only a small protection against large stone chips and deep scratches, but you can have your complete vehicle foiled with it and that too in almost all colors (also called car wrapping).

Stone chip protection films

The situation is different with stone chip protection films. These are thicker (up to 300 micrometers), which makes them not as flexible, but offers optimal protection against big stone chips and scratches. Stone chip protection films are specially developed for these mechanical effects and are therefore usually not used on the entire vehicle, but mainly in particularly vulnerable areas. For this reason, the film should be absolutely UV-permeable, so that the paint underneath is exposed to the same sunlight as the rest of the car and thus ages with it. Otherwise you would see a clear difference when removing it, which nobody wants.

Which areas should be covered with a stone chip protection film?

A stone chip protection film is particularly recommended for areas of the vehicle that are at risk. This would be, for example, the front of the vehicle (bonnet, bumper and fenders), as these areas are exposed to bombardment almost every time you drive. Be it sand, stones, gravel, dirt or flies – these things put an enormous strain on the paintwork and can quickly destroy it.

But there are other heavily stressed areas where a stone chip protection film makes sense: exterior mirrors, loading sill, door edges, door entry, door handle recesses, wheel housings, side skirts and other parts close to the ground.

What are the advantages of a stone chip protection film or paint protection film?

Besides protection against minor stone chips and tiny scratches and ordinary dirt that makes the paint age, the paint protection film can achieve extraordinary design effects. There are 3D films with pictures, matt and glossy films, transparent and also UV-permeable films. The latter have the sense that when a part is partially bonded, the other parts always undergo the same ageing and color change as the parts under the paint protection film.

The application is carried out by cold/warm process; the film is placed on the clean, grease-free and dry lacquer and cut to size, but there are also methods of cutting without placing on the lacquer which are safer. The biggest advantage is the price compared to a new paint, which would be much more expensive. The biggest disadvantage compared to fresh paint is the durability, because after about five to ten years the film has to be replaced or at least repaired in many places.

Depending on the manufacturer and quality, these “protective films” bring the following advantages:

Protection

The film acts like a protective shield over the paint of a vehicle and also preserves it reliably and permanently.

Invisible

Unlike a front-end cover or a hood mask, the paint protection film protects without changing the appearance of the vehicle. It is almost invisible and does not affect the color or the luminosity of a car paint.

Adjustment

Because of its enormous elasticity and deformability, it can be perfectly bonded without wrinkles and bubbles, even on strongly curved surfaces. Carefully applied, the film only attracts attention if you know about it.

Resistance

Depending on its thickness, a stone chip protection film is highly resistant (cuts, impacts and scratches) and can therefore also prevent damage to paintwork with parking blocks, curb stops or similar. In addition, these films are resistant to washing systems, weathering and UV radiation.

Durability

A paint protection film lasts five to seven years, depending on manufacturer and quality. Often a guarantee is also given against cracking and yellowing.

Self-cleaning

In most cases, stone chip protection films have a non-stick component, so less dust and dirt adheres to them. It is easier to remove dirt from the bonded areas.

Self-healing

A stone chip protection film also has a self-healing surface. Thus, small damages on the film disappear all by themselves, or with the help of solar heat or hot water.

A stone chip protection film/lacquer protection film can be applied in simple self-assembly and can also be removed again, leaving no residue.

Different stone chip protection films varying with thickness

Paint protection films are available in different thicknesses.

Stone chip protection film (paint protection film) 80 to 100 µm thick

This strength is recommended for normal road traffic. The great advantage of this film is that it can be bonded dry and is highly flexible.

Stone chip protection film 150µm thick

Their use is recommended for heavy-duty applications, e.g. for commercial vehicles. The film has an enormous scratch resistance, but should be bonded wet.

Stone chip protection film 200 and 300µm thick

Such a film is recommended for heavy-duty applications, such as off-road use. It has an immense absorption in case of heavy stone chipping, which is why it is often used in car rallies. With this film thickness, the adhesive should be applied wet.

What does professional filming cost?

If you don’t think you can apply a stone chip protection film to your vehicle, you can have this done by a professional.

The cost of such a filming depends on the areas to be covered and on the choice of the film itself (quality, manufacturer, thickness and material). Last but not least, there is the – sometimes enormous – price difference between the individual specialist workshops. Here it is advisable to get different cost estimates.

What do you need to know about paint protection films?

There are suppliers who cut the film according to a vehicle model in the computer, so the film is made to fit perfectly and without the risk of damage to the paintwork during cutting. We contrast this with inexpensive offers, where the film is purchased online at a very reasonable price and then glued by the customer. This is sensationally cheap, but requires some skill. Many car drivers do not glue the complete vehicle, but fenders, bumpers, headlights, exterior mirrors and the bonnet. However, all-round protection by full wrapping is also possible. Particularly endangered vehicle zones, which need protection with a paint protection film, are:

  • Mudguards
  • Radiator grille/engine bonnet
  • Sill/door entry area
  • Trunk loading sill
  • Recessed door handle

Generic steps to apply the paint protection film correctly

If you want to preserve the value of your car for a long time and protect your paintwork in the best way, you can rely on paint protection film. It is best applied by a professional, but it is also possible to achieve professional results on your own or with a little help, provided you have a steady hand and enough patience.

  • We should lay the film out on a flat surface for several hours outdoors before installation.
  • Then remove the backing paper. If the film is not self-adhesive, coat it with the adhesive liquid – usually included as standard.
  • The film is positioned carefully and as accurately as possible.
  • Now smooth the film with the squeegee – from the inside to the outside, wiping off any excess liquid.
  • It is optimal to do this work inside, where no wind and rain can disturb the process.

In addition, we recommend cleaning the car with car shampoo – but only a few days after applying the film.