Can You Clay Matte Paint?

clay bar on matte painted car

Do not try this at home.

For those of you who don’t already know, matte paint is very similar to “normal” glossy paint except for the glaring fact that it doesn’t shine. Caring for matte paint is similar as well, but in many ways matte paint is a lot easier to maintain than a glossy car. Along those same lines, a question on the blog came up today about claying to remove embedded contaminants from a matte clear coat. As you may know, claying removes microscopic debris that has been lodged into the clear coat – often times it is this debris that contributes to the cause of swirl marks. Well we tried it on the matte test hood and came up with some interesting conclusions about claying matte paint..

Clay and matte don’t mix.

A matte clear coat is basically made up of a bunch of tiny dimples (hills, imperfections, etc.) very similar to sand paper. It’s this texture that diffuses light rather than specularly reflecting it like a glossy car would (read more here). When it comes to claying, these dimples wreak havoc on the clay bar. While you’re not necessarily doing any damage, the clay bar can’t to glide across the surface; it’s like rubbing a block of cheese on a cheese grater. In order to be effective, it must be able to glide freely otherwise you’re just dragging a piece of clay on your car. For this reason claying is not part of matte paint care, but that’s hardly all we found out.

Clay requires clay spray.

clay spray on matte carAs you may know, clay requires a lubricant to do it’s thang. By “thang” I mean glide across a glossy surface and pick up anything protruding from it. Problem is, and we suspected this before testing, almost all clay lubricants on the market utilize silicones. This is fine for a glossy car, but on a matte car the silicone will pose problems due to its filling tendencies.

Claying assists polishing.

Claying is really only used in the detailing world before you polish, unless, of course, the car is just filthy and covered in debris. If not removed before polishing, the debris could be swirled into the paint by a high speed polishing machine. We already know you don’t have to polish matte paint due to it’s inability to reflect light specularly (like a mirror). It doesn’t show scratches, so no scratches, no polishing… no real need for clay. Easy, right?

Contaminants are preventable.

Like anything that comes into contact with your vehicle, debris and contaminants are preventable with regular protection. Typically the only glossy cars that really need claying are those that haven’t been sealed correctly or frequently enough. For a matte car, sealing with Matte Paint Sealant gives you roughly 6-9 months of protection depending on weather. Protection against bugs, acid, water spots, staining, etching, and, of course, airborne debris. As long as you remember to seal regularly, your finish will be safe.

The Answer

Because you can’t and don’t really have to clay matte paint we designed Matte Paint Cleanser to decontaminate the surface and losen any embedded contaminants. Whether you’ve got caked on bird crap, sap, or environmental fallout clinging to your paint, you shouldn’t worry. The product is designed to do most of the work for you, making your job as easy as a spray and a wipe (much less work than claying a car).

From the above you know you don’t really need to clay a matte car, and if you try to, it will get a little messy. Most things that we need to fix are preventable, and if you keep your matte car protected at all times, you won’t run into any issues with embedded debris and contaminants calling your clear coat home. While Matte Paint Cleanser is available for cleaning and decontaminating when needed, don’t forget that you don’t have to deal with any issues as long as you stay on top of your business and protect the finish. So get to protecting and let us know what questions you have regarding matte paint if anything comes up. If it’s good it just might get a response on Behind the Detail.

  • http://www.d2gdetailing.com Michael

    Thank you for all your articles on matte paint! I have a 2013 SL 550 in Matte grey in a few weeks and your articles are a wealth of information! Especially your product line …. which i can tell you most pro detailers don’t know about. Typically when it comes to matte paint, Chemical Guys and Swissvax are the only names mentioned. But I will be ordering your kit and reviewing it on a few major forums. And if they are good, maybe get your company some business!

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