How much does paint protection film cost?

Evaldas Zabitis

Evaldas Zabitis

Paint protection film (also known as clear bra) is a protective, self-healing layer that helps to prevent your car from rock chips, corrosion, and even swirl marks. While PFF is costly, it saves money in the long run by keeping your paint in top condition.

So how much should you expect to pay for a PFF service? And is the investment worth it?

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Is paint protection film (PPF) expensive?

Protecting a car’s paint with PPF is expensive. The only option that’s more expensive than PPF is a repaint, and many cars aren’t worth it.

The price of fully covering a car with PPF varies between $2,000 and $7,000, which seems a lot at first. However, the price may seem more fair after understanding what paint protection film is and how it works.

Putting paint protection film on a black car
Source: Shutterstock

PPF usually consists of 3 layers: adhesive, polyurethane, and clearcoat.

The most important layer is polyurethane – a very flexible and durable material that reduces the surface tension when heated. It provides the film with self-healing properties – scratches and other surface imperfections smooth out when heat is applied.

What affects the price of paint protection film?

Everything from the film’s type to a vehicle's paint condition affect the price of PPF. Let’s discuss the factors that could help you reduce the cost of PPF services.


You can save lots of money by installing PPF partially. Some people choose partial coverage because they only want to protect the most vulnerable areas, while others cover their entire car in stages to space out the financial burden.

Here are the most common coverage options.

Car partial paint protection film front coverage
Car partial front coverage with PPF

Partial front coverage is the cheapest option. PPF covers the front bumper and headlights fully, but the hood and front fenders only partially.

It’s a very effective yet economical choice because the front of a car suffers from road debris and bug splatter the most. The cost of partial front coverage varies between $800 and $1,300.

Car paint protection film full frontal coverage
Car full frontal coverage with PPF

An additional $500 should get you full frontal coverage – a very popular option that’s still way cheaper than full coverage, yet protects the most vulnerable areas.

This option usually includes full coverage for the bumper, headlights, front fenders, the hood, and side view mirrors, so you won’t see any film edges on panels, unlike on a partially covered front.

Car paint protection film full coverage
Car full car coverage with PPF

Full car coverage protects every painted panel, the headlights, and tail lights. It takes way longer to complete, but ensures your whole paint job is protected from swirl marks and UV damage. However, full coverage costs a few times more than the first two options.

Most PPF installers are open to unique requests, so you can choose your own coverage combination. Some of the most common custom requests are partial front coverage with side view mirrors included or full car coverage excluding the roof.

Type and condition of the vehicle

PPF installation can be surprisingly quick and affordable if your car is small and tidy. Smaller panels are easier to work with, especially if it’s a 2-door car.

The paint job has to be in a nearly pristine condition before installing paint protection film, therefore, professionals thoroughly wash, clean, and even polish cars before installation. Paint correction should also be performed before applying the protective film to prevent vulnerable spots.

Installation quality

Professionals value their time, so if you find a deal that seems too cheap to be true, it probably is.

A proper paint protection film installation requires removing handles, trim, antennas, and other exterior bits. It usually comes down to disassembling some of the interior, too. All of this is required to hide the edges of PPF and protect them from accidental peeling.

Cheaper installation services usually don’t include disassembling, so they only tuck the protective film around the handles and other bits, often leaving many weak spots and exposed edges.

Additional protection

Some body shops also offer protection for PPF, such as waxing or ceramic coating. While it’s not necessary, additional protection will extend the life of PPF and keep your vehicle's paint shiny for longer. However, ceramic coating alone can cost up to $3,000, so the final price may be more than you've bargained for.

If you plan to apply additional protection yourself, remember that PPF is different from your car’s paint surface. You can’t use wax that contains more than 5% of kerosene or naphtha. Also, avoid any colored wax. Be extra careful while polishing around the edges of the film.

PPF types

Not many know about different types of PPF because body shops don’t mention them often. You should know which type of PPF you’re buying, because each has different properties and varies in price:

  • PVC PPF is the earliest type that was popular more than a decade ago, so it’s known as the first-generation PPF. It’s much firmer than the other types, therefore, harder to install. PVC PPF starts losing its essential properties after 2-3 years, making it a popular choice among those offering cheap PPF installation.
  • PPF TPH is an improved version of PVC – it’s more elastic, durable, and doesn’t deteriorate in color. This film is the best choice if you want cheap and effective protection.
  • PPF TPU is the latest and most expensive film type. Thanks to its distinct chemical composition, PPF TPU is very flexible and easy to install. It won’t deteriorate for many years. Moreover, this type of film is about 40% shinier than the original car paint.

Knowing that PVC is the cheapest, and TPU is the most expensive PPF type helps you evaluate whether a PPF service is worth the price, so don’t hesitate to ask what type of film your chosen body shop is going to use.

How to choose the best paint protection film

The PPF market has become very diverse in the past decade, offering clear, satin, and even colored PPF, each available in different thickness. Choose what's to your own liking, but avoid uncertified PPFs.

Grey car with PPF
Source: Unsplash

The manufacturers of uncertified PPFs often don’t meet quality standards and use outdated materials. For instance, the adhesive in first-gen PPFs starts to yellow just after a couple of years, yet some manufacturers still use it to reduce manufacturing costs. The film tends to be thinner, firmer, and prone to premature cracking.

Only choose certified PPFs and PPF installers. Manufacturers of certified paint protection film usually also offer installation training courses, ensuring their products are manufactured and installed properly.

Benefits of using auto paint protection film

PPF has greatly improved over the years, extending its life and adding features.

Here are 6 key benefits of PPF that will help you decide if paint protection film is worth the money in your case:

  1. Protection against scratches and chips. PPFs protect the paint not only from rock chips, but also from minor scratches and swirl marks thanks to self-healing properties.
  2. Prevents chemical reactions. Road salt and grime contain harsh chemicals, eating away your clear coat and paint. PPF is more resistant to these things, ensuring longevity and durability.
  3. Simple maintenance. Most PPF repels dust, grime, and water, so even if the surface becomes dirty, a quick rinse should revive the shine. Moreover, while waxing and ceramic coating is allowed, it’s not necessary.
  4. Easy replacement. You can always peel off the film and replace it with a new one. It requires way less time and effort than repainting.
  5. Protects against fading. Acar’s paint starts fading after 2-3 years, mostly due to UV rays. PPF lasts at least 5-7 years before it starts yellowing or cracking.
  6. Customizable. Modern PPFs are available with a gloss or matte finish, and you can even choose from various colors.

PPF will definitely keep your paint nice and fresh for longer, but how long paint protection lasts depends on its quality, installation, type, and price. More expensive PPF pays off in the long run, while the cheapest options won’t last long and can even damage your paint when peeling it off.

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Evaldas Zabitis

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Evaldas Zabitis

Evaldas has been writing since middle school and has had a passion for cars for as long as he can remember. Right after getting his driver’s license, he spent all of his savings on shoddy cars so he could spend time fixing, driving, and selling them. Evaldas is always interested in automotive technical innovations and is an active participant in automotive community discussions.