Are YOU Doing it Wrong? Proper Matte Paint Protection

Matte Paint, Matte Paint Protection, Matte Sealant

Here at Behind the Detail, we like to help people with their matte paint questions. There are some things you DEFINITELY should do, and some things that aren’t a good idea.  When it comes to things you definitely should do, protecting it is number 1. Protection is an easy thing to do when all it takes is applying a product to the surface once a year. Right? So what’s the issue then? It all has to do with the kind of product you’re using. There some things to look for and some thing to look out for. But for starters, let’s begin with the basics.

Matte Paint Basics

The many aspects of matte paints unique look has been covered in many of our articles.  Here, I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version while providing you opportunity to read more from some of our other posts.

Matte paint surfaces are ones that refract (misdirect) light as it bounces off of the surface.  When light hits a glossy car, most of the light bounces off into a similar direction guided by the geometric angle of the oncoming light. Basically, all light that comes in one direction, bounces off together in one direction. Matte paint is different. Matte paint isn’t smooth.

matte paint clear coat reflection diagram

Matte paint diffuses light, therefore creating a non-reflective surface.

The surface is actually covered in microscopic hills and valleys. It is designed this way so that when light hits the surface at one angle, all the light that bounces off, goes in different directions, giving it that “dull” look.  That’s also why you can’t wax matte paint.

This uneven surface is the key to the “matte” look. Compromising this surface with wax, silicon, or any other fillers will change the look. Same thing goes for the way you handle the surface. If there’s a stain, you’ll want to make sure that you are not scrubbing and buffing really hard, this can grind down the uneven surface and make it smoother, thus altering the dull appearance.

By protecting your paint with a coating (not a wax), you’re going to be preventing these stains, water spots, and other issues you might have. This is going to prevent the need to aggressively buff the finish. That being said, not all matte protectants work properly; so there are some things to look out for.

Things to be Concerned About

With all the buzz about matte paint, it’s only natural that more and more products become available. Just to forewarn you, it’s always good to know the details of the products that are going on your car, especially a matte finish car.  So let’s label out some things that should raise a red flag in your mind:

Can be applied by machine!

  • A machine should NEVER touch the surface of a matte car! It’s extremely risky even with a fine pad. We explained this above about the special surface of matte paint.

Dries on the Surface

  • Products that need to dry on a surface tend to be more difficult to remove. This will tempt you to work harder to get it off, even scrubbing with a microfiber towel can be risky.

Alter, enhance, or sharpen the finish

  • Many matte car owners are concerned about using any product that could change the look, a matte specific product shouldn’t intend to change anything, it should try to keep it looking original.

Things That You Should Look for

Usability and functionality are two things that are big when it comes to matte products.  The usability of the products is what keeps users safe from the need to scrub hard and potentially altering the look.  There are a few things that matte paint protectants should aways have!

Invisible barriers, not fillers

  • This is the difference between matte coatings and waxes, you can’t fill in these groves, so the barrier needs to be invisible to keep the matte look and working WITHIN the grooves and NOT covering the grooves

Protection from stains, water spots, road contamination

  • Since the protectant is not meant to alter the appearance, its one purpose is providing durability.  Provide protection from stains, bird droppings, salt, and light scratches.


Being knowledgable about matte surfaces allows the ability to know what should and shouldn’t go on them. Matte cars can very easily be a daily driver’s vehicle. If they are protected properly, they can handle the demands of the road and environment. There are multiple products out there and if you’re looking to invest, be educated and think about your decision.


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  • kelly

    well the points which you have shared are really nice. thanks for sharing with us.