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Why Do I Need a Paint Correction Before Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film?

You’re going to get your car’s paint ceramic coated for the first time, or maybe you’re looking at getting paint protection film instead. You’re prepared to pay the quoted price until you get hit with a shock — you also need to pay for paintwork correction before the installation!  “Why do I need a paintwork correction before a ceramic coating?” you may ask. After all, you take care of your car’s paint, it’s not in bad condition at all. What’s there to correct? You just want to protect it further!  There are two main reasons why you need paintwork correction before ceramic coating:
  1. Ceramic coatings and PPF lock-in the appearance of the paint they’re applied to. If your paint has scratches, etches or bonded stains they will be visible underneath and you won’t be able to remove them without removing the protection, too.
  2. Ceramic coatings and PPF require a perfectly clean surface to durably adhere to the paint. Otherwise the protection will fail prematurely or it won’t adhere at all. Paintwork correction cleans paint by removing embedded contamination through a process called claying. 
That might not make sense at first glance, so let’s explain further. 

Reason 1 — To make the paint look as good as possible before locking in the appearance with protection

The whole point of ceramic coatings and paint protection film is to preserve the pristine appearance of clean, blemish-free paint. In order to preserve that appearance, though, your paint needs to be pristine to begin with — while ceramic coatings and PPF do enhance gloss or color, they don’t remove surface imperfections.  Do you really want scratched and stained paint showing underneath your expensive new ceramic coating or PPF? Once you’ve locked that surface in, you can’t go back and clean up the underlying paint without totally removing the coating or PPF beforehand. It’s best to take care of that before putting on protection to save yourself the time, money and hassle.
Aston Martin Vantage prior to paintwork correction.Astin-Martin-Vantage-After-Paint-Correction-Exposure-Stack

Before and after a paint correction. 

Reason 2 — To ensure the ceramic coating or PPF will actually bond with the paint

Have you ever used a 3M Command Strip before? If you read the installation directions, you’ll see they require you to clean the area you’ll be affixing the strip to prior to installation. Otherwise, the strip won’t adhere properly and it’ll fall off the surface. The same principle applies to ceramic coatings and paint protection film — if they aren’t applied to perfectly clean surfaces, they won’t stick.

Contamination destabilizes the bond that keeps coatings and PPF on the paint, and it’s not just surface dirt and grime that inhibits that adhesion. Contaminants from the road, the environment and nearby industrial emissions can embed themselves deep inside the paint’s surface. Only decontamination as part of a comprehensive paint correction process can remove this contamination, so it’s a necessary step when applying a ceramic coating or installing paint protection film. 

My car is new or well-maintained — do I still need paint correction?

Yes! New cars are often scratched, dinged and/or contaminated before the owner gets the vehicle. Even regularly detailed vehicles will still require some level of paint correction. You may not need multiple stages of compounding and polishing if the paint is in good condition, but if you truly want a long-lasting bond between the paint and the protection, a light polish is needed at the very least.

The Verdict on Paint Correction before Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film

Simply put, you need paint correction before installing a ceramic coating or paint protection film for two reasons:

  • To ensure scratches, stains and other blemishes aren’t locked-in under the protection.
  • To ensure the protection forms a durable bond with the surface. 

If you’re looking for a ceramic coating or paint protection film in the Chicago area, our shop Simon’s Detail has a team of dedicated paint correction specialists ready to prep your vehicle before protection. Click the button below to book now!

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