Matte Paint Care Myths: DEBUNKED!

Matte White Ferrari

There’s nothing in this world quite like allowing fact to bust the cap off mere theories. Believe me, in the detailing community, all sorts of nonsense churning out on the interwebs. Troll some detailing forums, you’re guaranteed to see them – a whole muck of unadvised claims without much evidence to back it up. Still don’t believe me? Well believe this… there are actually people out there who think polishing protects their car. Nevertheless, I’m here to shine some light on a few matte finish myths that have been circulating for quite some time.

MYTH #1: You can’t protect a matte paint finish.

Busted. While this may have been the case when matte paint first emerged into the automotive marketplace, it certainly is not the case today. At the same time, this myth does make sense if and only if the protection product uses fillers, silicones, or any type of wax. So what’s that mean? It means the only (effective) way to protect matte paint is with a liquid matte paint sealant specifically formulated not to increase the surface’s gloss rating.

MYTH #2: It’s hard to take care of a matte painted car.

The problem here is in the wording. If you consider taking care of a “regular” (non-matte) car hard, then sure, maintaining a matte car might be tough for you. Chances are if you’re on this blog you care about your car and how it looks, and with that said, chances are you understand where I’m coming from here. Taking care of a matte painted car is no more work than properly caring for a glossy car. By the way, the mere fact that you’ll never be polishing your matte car makes it that much easier to care for. Matte finishes are way less susceptible to clear coat scratches and swirl marks simply because the matte finish is non-reflective. If you know about the science of scratches, you also know that when there’s no light to reflect off a scratch the human eye has a hard time really seeing it. Myth tackled.

MYTH #3: Matte paint is just regular paint without a clear coat.

Absolutely not. In rare cases, maybe your aftermarket matte paint job has no clear coat, but if you get it from the factory it definitely will. In fact, it’s actually the clear coat that makes factory matte paint look flat with its microscopic imperfections and “dimples” (read more). If you got your car or motorcycle painted matte in a booth by a third-party, I recommend making sure they put on a matte clear coat over the pigment layer of paint. Without a clear coat your messing with fire.

MYTH #4: Dish soap is safe to use on matte paint.

Dish soap is formulated to do one thing (unless you use that brand that moisturizes your hands), and that thing is to strip grease and grime off of hard surfaces (ie. plates, glass, etc.). As you now know, you can most certainly protect matte paint – using dish soap to clean the car will weaken the bond of any sealant or substance on the painted surface of your car. So in a sense it may not do damage to the paint, but it’s certainly doing more than just cleaning it. Do yourself (and your matte finish) a favor and get a no-shine matte car wash soap that uses no fillers, no silicone, and won’t strip your matte paint of its layer of protection.

MYTH #5: Matte paint is super fragile and not at all durable.

matte finish rulesEhhh, not quite. Not sure where this one started from, but I guess everybody speculates on exotic items and that they aren’t built to last. Matte paint, if it’s from the manufacturer, is absolutely designed to last the entire life of the car. Going back to Myth #3, that’s why we put clear coat on our cars – longterm protection for the pigment layer of paint. Because most matte paint does in fact use a clear coat layer, the only thing you have to worry about is protecting that clear coat layer with a matte paint sealant.

MYTH #6: The dealership will know what to do.

If only I had a dime for every instance I’ve heard this one. Trust me, dealerships are good for just about one thing: selling you a car… and most of them are terrible at doing that. They did not manufacture your car, they are not related to the development company who created the paint, and they definitely don’t read the entire manual before telling you how many miles your car should go without an oil change. Leave the paint care to professionals who understand the science behind matte paint and not those who only get paid if and when you purchase the car from them. Face it, most dealerships are rigorously trained to say “yes” no matter the customer’s question. Think about it… does this model have ABS? “Yes, for an extra $3,200.” You get my point.

Anyway, when all is said and done, if you’re lucky enough to own a matte car… it needs specific attention. There are things you should know and things you should avoid. There are secrets and tips, and believe me there are a whole bunch of knuckle heads online who’ll take any theory that pops in their head and post it to a forum as advice. The bottom line is trust the experts – that’s why we’re here. Whether you drive a 2004 Subaru WRX or a matte C63 AMG, we can help… just email, comment below, or ask us on facebook to get your answers straightened out once and for all.