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Textures & Finishings

4 min read
There’s more to a car’s exterior than just its colour — you can jazz up the look by requesting for special finishes. Here’s some advice on how to take care of glossy and matte finishings.

You’ve seen them: cool-looking cars painted in some striking hue, such as Indy Yellow or Frozen Blue, with a finishing that looks absolutely amazing.

Cars with interesting texture on the body, such as matte or satin finishing, are also becoming more popular these days. Some finishing trends have made a comeback and are so popularglos that car manufacturers, such as BMW and Lexus, are also offering them as a factory option. Looking good takes maintenance. Some car owners may have misconstrued ideas about how to care for their car’s exterior.

Cars with a matte, flat finish have a non-reflective look and a textured feel as opposed to those with a glossy, shiny finish. For some reason, there are people who think that matte paint cannot get wet and therefore shouldn’t be washed. Others are of the view that there’s no way to protect the finish. All these opinions are, in this day and age, unfounded.

Glossy vs Matte Finishes
Technology has improved the durability of car finishes, and the matte paint is no different. That said, there are still differences in how to care for it. A car paint job usually involves a primer, several layers of colour and a clear coat. And it is this clear coat that distinguishes gloss finishes from matte finishes.

With a glossy finish, the clear coat fills every imperfection on the car’s surface, creating a smooth and glossy feel that is enhanced by polishing and waxing. This will ultimately give a car more visual depth. With a matte finish, the clear coat is left deliberately imperfect, creating a surface of tiny dimples and dents that scatters light all over the place instead of uniformly. And because of the imperfections, matte finishings attract dirt more easily.

Cleaning Tips
Matte finishes are prone to etching; there are matte-specific protective sealant products that will help with this. Do not use untested care products or you may end up ruining the finish. When washing your car, avoid putting through an automatic car wash. The brushes, rollovers and harsh chemicals may remove sealants and protectants, so only hand-wash, and do it with a quality recommended product.

While gloss finishes are not as prone to etching, exercise common sense and avoid car wash services that have brushes and rollers that are obviously worn out, old or dry — these may end up scratching the gloss finish on your car.

For both finishes, regular washing is important. Road debris such as oil, tar and bird poo will attach to your car’s exterior. The longer these remain, the harder it is to remove them. Use a quality microfibre cloth, and use clean mitts to remove dirt. A cotton or loose weave cloth may leave bits of fuzz on the car’s surface, especially on a matte finish due to its uneven surface. Use a pH-balanced, non-detergent car wash for automotive finishes. Clay cleaners are great for removing contaminants on your car’s body, but avoid using them on matte surfaces. Unlike gloss finishes, waxing, polishing or clay-bar treatment can permanently damage matte finishes.

Sealants specifically formulated for matte finishes are easier to use than paste wax, because they can be applied on a wet car and don’t require cure time. They also don’t leave a hazy residue on the trims. For gloss finishes, you can use car wax or a sealer to bring out the shine. Sealants are great for longer protection and durability, while waxes are known for depth and give a better visual sheen. Dark-coloured cars, according to car enthusiasts, benefit most from applying the sealant first and then following up with waxing.

With any finish, scratches or toxic matter will be difficult or impossible to rectify without losing its characteristic property, so be mindful where you park! Avoid parking lots located under trees (bird poo!), or in tight parking areas (clumsy drivers and passengers!). Keep a bottle of detailer spray and a microfibre cloth handy. For matte finish, make sure the spray is formulated for it. The spray is great for touch-ups and perfect for removing fingerprints, water spots, and other minor mess.