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Is Matte Paint Worth It?

Looks great, but is it worth the extra required maintenance?

Matte-paint finishes – famous for their flat, non-reflective appearances and sandy, rough textures – have become an increasingly trendy part of the automotive landscape. In the early days, they were extremely hard to manage. Dealers would warn that even the smallest blemish, like bird droppings, would be enough to eat through the thin clear coat within 20 minutes. It was, and it did happen all of the time. When a salesman at Lamborghini was asked about the dangers of the matte paint of the Aventador in their showroom, he told me that it would have to be clean all the time to ensure it stayed pristine, but also to be careful washing it, as too much rubbing in one spot would create a shiny spot that couldn’t be repaired. So…keep it clean, but not too clean?

Fortunately, matte finishes have come a long way since then. That early Lamborghini is an example of a car with factory matte paint and auto makers say durability has improved, so much so they now meet the same standards as regular paint.

How does matte paint work? Exactly the same as conventional automotive paint, except for the clearcoat. In a matte finish paint job, that clearcoat dries to a rough texture, rather than drying smooth. This forms the unique surface texture responsible for the dull, sheen look of matte paint.

Numerous auto makers offer factory matte finishes, and there’s a trend toward matte paint in the automotive aftermarket. Jeff Pabst, general manager of Pfaff Autoworks, has overseen the application of custom matte-paint jobs on many used cars.

“We’ve done about 20 matte-paint jobs in the past few years, on everything from Porsche 911s to Audi R8s to Audi TTs and even Range Rovers,” Pabst said. “In each case, the customer is looking to be different from the norm.”

Still, a matte-finished vehicle isn’t for everyone.

Shoppers shy away from matte paint for several reasons: uncertainty about the long-term durability of the paint, skepticism about the unique care and maintenance regimen and some well-perpetuated misconceptions.

Caring for matte paint isn’t necessarily difficult, though it does require some extra effort . Special cleaners, sealants and polishes are required to maintain the texture and finish, meaning most matte cars are hand-wash only, and that drive-thru car washes are typically off limits. Various matte-paint sealant products (not waxes) are available for protection and durability.

It is important to remember that waxing, polishing or clay-bar treatment can permanently damage matte paint. Luckily we have found that people who are buying matte cars are likely to do research about the finish, and ensure they’ll be able to handle the care regimen, with specialty products available to help them do so.

How We Can Help

If you have a vehicle with matte paint, we are happy to help you with almost all of the same services Island Detail offers to regular vehicles. We can do complete detailing and exterior detailing, the only difference being that we do not wax or polish a matte finish during detailing.

On the Island Color side of things, we are able to repair bumpers, do paint chip repair, and touch up mouldings and other bits and pieces as per norm. We are equipped with the correct matte clear coat required to finish the job and make an identical match to your existing finish.

Do you have a matte vehicle that could use some work? Give us a shout anytime, we would love to hear from you.

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