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Paint Protection Film


30 Nov 2004
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HI GuysHi I had a couple of calls today from guys off the Board, one was Stuart BB (can't remember the other handle sorry) about Paint protection film in general, they thought you might find a few pointers about the process and its benefits and limitations helpful when making your decisions about whether to do this or not on your motor. I have posted this on a couple of boards around the UK car scene following requests from potential customers to be better informed about this sort of stuff.This is not about which manufacturer to use (although we would be happy to have you) its more about the questions you need to ask and issues you need to be aware of.First: Film straight off there are about a dozen films available world wide. They break down into two categories those with a topcoat and those without. There are currently only two manufacturers that actively have a topcoat 3M and Bekaert (clearshield) a third is developing one (avery) The 3M film is the one that has been in existence the longest (although this is occassionally disputed). The film that protects your car is a layer of flexible material with lots of micro pores in it this allows the film to flex and absorb the kinetic energy of the impact. The downside to this is that these pores will absorb and retain road grime, tar/rubber residue etc. This is a major problem in the UK as the film will go dark grey (or even black) after about 3 months. The topcoat prevents this and means there is no special maintainence needed. We recommend topcoated films which is why we use 3M product ( as do Armourfend).Second: your paint finish, none of the films should harm the manufacturers paint in anyway (emphasis on manufacturer) and are usually warranted as such HOWEVER aftermarket resprays can be affected by the chemical used to fit the product (isopropyl alcohol). Or can cause a poor respray to lift when the film is removed. A good and correctly trained installer, should be able to advise you on the steps needed to ensure this does not happen. Our training pieces at our facility are resprays and we have trainees pulling film off them dozens of times every weekend and it takes many months before any lifting occurs (equivalent to about 4000 years of life some nut in the office calculated). This is why most warranties (including ours) exclude aftermarket paints as we have no control over the quality of the job.Chemical interaction shows itself as a rippling or flow marks in the paint this only happens with a particular type of product (we tested for months to find which ones) and it is mainly the clearcoat used most typically by some large smart repair companies that cause this. Large bodyshops normally use a different process that is unaffected by fitting the film.Third Fitting Issues, there are several things that can go wrong in fitting, due to cold, wax on the car, poorly trained fitters etc So i will list these and their causes for you.Fingers: these are little rises at the edges of the film where the film has lost contact with the car the causes can be failure to de-wax the car correctly, fittting after a coating product, incorrect chemical mix, temperature, even just sloppy fitting, this is an unnacceptable defect and you should always reject the job.Lifting this is where an edge of the film begins to peel back a few months after fitting, this can be caused either by poor fitting, wax on the car when installing, failure to finish the job off or washing the car within the first week. If you have washed the car too soon and this has caused it it is easy to identify. Otherwise the job should be rejected and the film replaced. Lifting can be caused by vanadlism during the first couple of weeks, however this leaves fingerprints under the film so again is easy to address (this is very rare and we have only had one case in the last year).Marks on the film: There are several causes for this first straight tramelines are a film defect and are easily spotted, small scratches on the surface (usually slightly curved) tend to be squeegee marks due to dirt (or hardwater particles) a small number of these would not be cause for a rejection of the job, however lots of them will affect the clarity of the film and may be cause for rejection these are avoided by keeping the squeegee wet. These can usually be removed by gentle use of Meguiars Scratch X. Scarring, these are caused by the squeegee, there will sometimes be one or two of these on jobs they will only be visible from a couple of inches and should not be cause for rejection however if there are lots of them or they are visible from a couple of feet away, again I would reject the job Water Bubbles: The film process is like window tinting and moisture under the film can take up to a month (depending on humidity)This will show itself as water bubbles or on black cars as a rash of white spots these will dissapear, if a water bubble is still there after a month or so the installer should replace the film or where practicable undertake remedial work with a syringe.Stretch marks: These show up as vertical rows of miniscule white dots or as feather edges they can appear up to two weeks later, this is due to over stretching the film or working at very low temperatures or on a cold car this is typically seen when some one insists on a home fitting in the winter. Or due to poor install either way the job should be rejected as they will not go away.Yellowing: modern films should not yellow and should be warranted against this, however on a white car the film can look slightly creamy this is due to the adhesive (but as almost no-one has a white car now its almost a non-issue). The 3rd generation films From 3M have now pretty much eliminated this so it looks as good on a white car as any other now.Cutting on the car this tends to be done either due to a poorly fitting design custom design or poor fitting due to excessive stretching, under no circumstances should you accept this and if you discover it has been done you should sue the installer for damages as it will require a respray.Dissassembling the vehicle, some installers who work on bulk roll by hand, remove headlights and indicators and such, the ONLY parts that you should allow to be removed are tow hook doors washer jet doors and Number plates, this is due to the fact that otherwise an aperture has to be designed around them and you may not like the result. It is better where possible (can't always be done) to keep the film as visually continuous as possible. Removal of lighting arrays can (and probably will) invalidate your warranty)Fitting at home: some installers will fit at home (we prefer customers to go to installer premises) there is nothing inherently wrong with this, however you must accept the fact that there WILL be occassional minor defects that will occur when fitting in your garage. Most notably the occassional small speck of dust under the film, remember your garage is not a sterile environment so this is impossible to completley eradicate in a domestic situation. The trade off of course is the convenience factor and these specks would only be visible within 3-6 inches of the car.I would strongly suggest whoever you use, you check out the following: 1) See their training certificate from a company you trust 2) Make sure they have public liability Insurance and make sure the manufacturer has product liability Insurance (always helps to know where to direct your wrath if something goes badly wrong). Check out whether you get a warranty if so what kind.Kit Designs: this is important, owing to the difficulty to install and what defects may occur and how much you may have to pay. These, fall down into three main types: multi piece (usually aimed at the consumer/diy market) these break large areas up into many small pieces meaning the average person could attempt fitting. partial break designs, these are usually bumpers that are split in half or into three (maximum) pieces this is to make it easier for the installer to fit and will result in fewer minor surface defects they are a breeze to install but do result in more lines on the car. One piece designs these result in fewer lines and a much more aesthetically pleasing appearance they are however slightly more expensive to buy as the design process for these is much more complex and the installation is much more difficult to do these should ONLY be done by a proffessional and you should always ensure they have been trained before letting anyone start one of these on your car.Carbon Fibre: There are two types of Carbon Fibre around ; first and second generation.First Generation this results in water being trapped between the layers during manufacture consequently it gasses out for months (maybe years) you should not fit film under any circumstances to first Generation carbon, as it may cause the layers to delaminate due to pressure building up between the layers.Second generation: this is a dry process and 3M's view is that it should be fine. We have successfully fitted film to the Carrera GT which is largely carbon construction (second Gen), we do apply a caveat: that is, do not seal the reverse side of the carbon and monitor the film, if fresh bubbles begin to appear under the film after a month, remove the film IMMEDIATELY!I have a a carbon fibre bonnet on my weekend toy and as its first Gen we could not fit film and the stone chips have caused cracking in the lacquer A real pain when you are in my business). Phew! hope this helps you when deciding on Paint Protection film it really is the most cost effective purchase you will ever make for your car and whoever you use I hope you get what you expect, I am a great believer in an informed consumer market so armed with this information you should be able to ensure you get a great job done for your money.Best WishesTom Wakeford

Migration info. Legacy thread was 21106
Phew, took a while to read all that. Thanks Tom, very informative. Already have the 3M film on my 993 and wife's 530 BM, a bit concerned to read about the carbon fibre bit. How do you know if it's 1st or 2nd gen carbon? How about fibreglass such as Lotus?

Migration info. Legacy thread was 21113
Hi Mick

Fibreglass no problem Lotus have this stuff fitted as standard on the federalised Elise,

The only way to find out whether its first or second Gen Carbon is to ask the manufacturer whether they use a wet or dry process.

Hope this helps

Best Wishes


Migration info. Legacy thread was 21115
Incidentally for you track day merchants who have this stuff on the car, here's a tip.

Before you track the car go to Boots and aquire a Jumbo Jar of Vaseline, then just prior to tracking smear an inch thick coating on the film this will help the film in extreme conditions by slowing down the impact speeds of the very large stones out of the gravel traps. Then just jetwash it off the film afterwards.

Hope this helps

Migration info. Legacy thread was 21392
might get a few funny looks in Boots with the jumbo Vaseline jar though :wink:

Migration info. Legacy thread was 21412
FYI on the Lotus.

They have now taken on VentureShield as their preferred film for the rear wheel arches as have Mercedes.

Seems to me that many manufacturers are going that way now.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 47268
Hi Carl how are things with Venture :)

Whilst OEM films do change between manufacturers frequently, low bid being the driving force, there are pics (on this site I think) of, what happened with this film on Porsche wheel arches (which is one reason we would never use their film) alternatively they can be seen on our website under why paintshield, we know of many Porsches that suffered from the measles with this film you are mentioning, which is why I believe (although I stand to be corrected) they lost the Porsche contract.

OEM films are not a good recommendation for consumer purchase as they are completely differing products which you will learn about when you have been around the industry a while.


Migration info. Legacy thread was 47287
Things with VentureShield for those who are interested are going extremely well this year.

The P1 club have taken on the film as have the new supercar club écurie25. I personally worked on their 911's and they look fantastic.

ALL the A1 cars are now covered as standard and most of the F1 cars have taken on the product. It was a great weekend in Bahrain as the 3 podium places were taken up with VentureShield covered cars :D
. Le Mans is coming up shortly and we should as we did last year cover approx 80% of the fields cars so our racing pedigree as well as our increasing volume of private cars is great.

Porsche are looking at our film again as the reason the contract was lost (on price only) was that they were supplied through a dealer and not the manufacturer resulting in a higher bottom line cost so keep an eye on the new models.

I don's want to SPAM the site but if there are any more interesting things Porsche related I will keep you all informed.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 48905
Interesting you are spamming a technical thread I have studiously avoided anything like this in terms of selling and am going to resist responding to this, as this was technical in nature and was about general advice on films in general rather than who is the best blah blah blah.

What I can say categorically, is that non clear coated films have MAJOR problems with staining in General and Tar and Rubber residue in Particular. I will not name names what I can say though is we were required to replace a number of these components which had failed due to staining problems for a Manufacturer.

What I also find worrying is the tendency we have seen from one manufacturers distributors to attack a number of quality operations in the UK as well as run misleading advertising and breach the registered trademarks of at least 3 companies in the UK in the last two weeks alone.

There are a number of companies in the UK who will fit a quality clearcoated film with a good reputation, who have been running some years and won't spam boards, So far the main films available in clearcoated variants are 3M SGH, Bekaert (Clearshield), Avery (still trying to find a wholesaler I understand), and the new Madico film which whilst expensive Seems quite good.

I still maintain for consumer use in Northern Europe a non clearcoated film is wholly unsuitable (something I told various film manufacturers over the last 3 years) and which I understand most of the film manufacturers have agreed with, as they have launched or are planning to launch clearcoated products for Europe shortly (Avery and Madico).

Most film Manufacturers are involved in Motorsport (including us as designers) and frankly it doesn't prove very much (other than the film works although it is fun) :0 Also claims as to how many teams various people are involved with should be taken with a pinch of salt, as the teams we have been involved with preclude us mentioning them or inferring at the connection, unless we pay them some BIG bucks :)

I know this is a Porsche Board but I have to say, we have one of only four ever to be made TVR Typhons in the shop today Awesome motor shame it wont be going into mainstream production.

PS Just checked on Porsche and at the moment they are still using 3M film in Europe and I Understand Porsche North America have moved from Avery back to 3M film once more (although I am awaiting secondary confirmation on this)



Migration info. Legacy thread was 48914
"I don't want to SPAM the site but if there are any more interesting things Porsche related I will keep you all informed."

Paragraphs of copied BLURB posted in many many forums to "inform" potential customers is what we consider spam.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 50329
steady on chaps......

but out of interest, I had Armourfend put on my car back in the Aug/Sep of 2004...

could someone advise what type this is (in view of the info posted above) and what kind of life I can expect from the product

Migration info. Legacy thread was 50332
Hi Sundeep,

Armourfend use 3M Scotchgard film.

I usually look at warranty info for an idea life expectancy but with paint protection film usage and conditions seem to have bearing on it.

If you track and motorway alot (especially if you get close to the vehicles in front) products will inevitably get damage sooner. Also if a car is garaged/covered that will help a long way to stopping any UV damage to the film (for products that do yellow).

Without going into products and who is better etc. I would always go with a supplier with a longer warranty then if there are problems you are covered.

Is your film giving you problems BTW?

Migration info. Legacy thread was 50335

it's been fine, although the initial installtion was not great, had to go back to get a piece redone and have a small'ish stretch mark that again I wasn't too happy with, but the ability of the original installer of somewhat questionable. Otherwsie no issues to date (I only do 9000 miles a year )and there is no sign of any marks or damage to the armourfend from the track days that I've done, rather as time grows on I do wonder about how long before it starts to go yellow as you mention, as the car is not in a garage

my bonnet is due for a respay soon, as I decided at the time not to cover the lower section of the bonnet, as I didn't like the look of having the film on the bonnet (which I think makes it a better fit) which was partly suffering from stone chips back then but is now partly peppered ! especially the lower sections !!


Migration info. Legacy thread was 50340

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