Matte finishes and how to maintain them


Matte finishes used to be reserved for the likes of Lamborghini, Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes to name a few, however these days they are becoming a more common site as Hyundai and Harley Davidson have started mass producing these finishes over the last few years and vinyl wrapping has exploded worldwide thanks to 3M’s range of 1080P vinyl wraps. All it takes is a look through the halls of SEMA in Las Vegas to see every second vehicle in a matte finish.

There is however a lot of misinformation about these finishes, mainly on how to maintain them, or more importantly what not to do! So let’s delve into the world of modern day matte vehicles and answer the most commonly asked questions.


Can I use any sort of car care products on the finish?

Unfortunately hardly any general, off the shelf car care products that you find in automotive parts stores are suitable for this finish. These products nearly all contain some form of gloss enhancing agents, abrasives, waxes or silicones which will destroy the finish by creating patches of gloss which can not be undone. This includes most shampoos and quick detailing sprays. Remember, 99% of vehicles are manufactured to be glossy, so all these products are made for gloss paints so their sole purposes is to maximise this gloss. Something that you do not want.

So I can not polish or wax my vehicle?

No. This will instantly destroy the paint as the polishes will abrade the surface causing it to smooth out, creating gloss. The wax will fill the voids in the matte finish, once again smoothing the paint creating gloss. Even rubbing the paintwork a bit to vigorously with a cloth can easily damage the finish.

Can I still get scratches on my vehicle?

Yes, just as easily as any other vehicle. The major difference is even the smallest scratch can not be removed once it is in the matte finish. While gloss paints can have these scratches polished out through the means of compounds and polishes, matte vehicles can not as once again it will destroy the finish (noticing a pattern yet?). Therefore it is extremely important that good wash technique with the two bucket method is employed and only the best microfibre products should touch the paint.

Can I take the vehicle to a car wash?

No car wash, wether it is automatic or a hand car wash should touch the vehicle. This is because of two reasons. The first, is any car wash with any sort of brush will easily scratch the finish and two, even if no brushes are used, all the products that the car wash will use will contain gloss enhancing agents, waxes or silicones which again will glossify the finish.

So does all this mean that I don’t need to protect the finish?

Unfortunately matte finishes are more susceptible to damage from the environment then their gloss brothers. They are extremely prone to water spotting, bird dropping and bug damage which can easily stain the surface.

So after all of this, how on earth do you take care of the vehicle?

Washing requires the use of a proper shampoo containing no gloss enhancers what so ever made specifically for matte finishes. We recommend using Nanolex Matte Shampoo with the two bucket wash method using a soft microfiber wash mitt. For any finger prints, dust or water spots we recommend using Nanolex Matte Final Finish that renews the finish. Finally to protect the vehicle we recommend using Nanolex Spray Sealant which acts as a protective barrier, much like a wax or polymer sealant.

nanolex main

If all this  sounds a bit to difficult, Attention To Detail offers a complete Matte Detailing Package where the vehicle will be properly prepped and protected for the next 12-24 months. We will also train you in the correct way to wash the vehicle so you can spend more time enjoying the finish rather than pulling your hair out trying to maintain it! We are one of the only companies in Townsville trained and experienced in properly taking care off matte paint and matte vinyl wraps so contact us today if you have any questions.

Waxes, Sealants, Coatings & durability explained!

As chemical technology changes and advances, so does the terminology and it can sometimes become very confusing for a consumer looking at buying some car care for their vehicle, as what they once knew is now something completely different! So let’s break it down a little bit into what we believe are the three main different types of products that add a layer of protection to your vehicle.


WAX – This is one of the oldest words used in the car care industry along side the term polish. Generally we call a wax a product that contains a lot of natural ingredients such as Beeswax, Carnauba wax, Linseed oil and Montan wax. In their highest concentration they are usually found in small containers as a thick paste and depending on their grade or percentage of Carnauba, their prices can be from as little as $20 to well over $1000! High quality waxes are favoured by a lot of enthusiasts as they would argue they achieve a greater natural shine and depth to a vehicle, especially on dark colours. They can also be easily layered on top of one another to add to this effect. Their weaknesses however are usually in durability lasting from 1-6 months depending on the quality of the wax and the application method, but for enthusiasts that enjoy working on their vehicle it is a small price to pay. Some of the best wax manufacturers in the world are Dodo Juice, Swissvax and Polishangel.

purple haze

SEALANT – This term started being used long after the introduction of waxes and referred to a mainly synthetic or man-made chemical product usually in liquid form for easier application. They are usually polymer based and created from certain silicones, resins and petroleum distillates. Due to waxes having fairly low life spans, sealants were invented to maximise durability and give a wider range of options (adding fillers, adding abrasives, adding cleaning agents etc.). Enthusiasts will usually comment that sealants give a “glassier” look to the vehicle as opposed to a wax and their durability can range from 3-12 months. A sealant will usually offer more water sheeting then water beading like on waxes (sheeting refers to water rolling off from the paintwork in a large sheet like puddle). A good option that professionals do is layer a wax on top of a sealant to get the best of both products, this is referred to as “stacking”.


COATING – This is the latest term and has only been in existence for the last couple of years. Coatings have become a real game changer in the industry offering some amazing properties and durability never before seen. They are usually tied in with words such as “Nano”, “Glass”, “Ceramic” and “Quartz” as they use very similar chemical structures on a molecular nano level and cost a large amount of money to create for the volume of product due to this high technology. Coatings usually come in very small containers (under 50mL) and are usually in a clear liquid form. The reason they come in small containers is 20mL is usually enough to coat an entire average sized sedan! They will also leave a much thicker layer on the vehicle compared to a wax or sealant that can actually be measured by a paint depth gauge. The main advantages to coatings are their extremely long durability from 1-3+ years depending on application/brand, usually have a very high tolerance to chemical resistance (pH 2-11 in most instances), can give added hardness to the paint acting as a scratch resistant barrier and are referred to as self cleaning due to their extreme water sheeting properties. Their weaknesses are mainly in application as they are not as user friendly as waxes and sealants and therefore usually only applied by professionals with training in the product and have a very long curing time which can take up to 5 days to fully harden and set. If the coating has to be removed it has to be aggressively machine polished off unlike a way or sealant which can easily be removed with a solvent, clay bar, paint cleaning product or even a heavy duty car wash shampoo. Some of the best manufactures are Nanolex for true nano coatings or Gyeon for Quartz coatings.


The durability factor for a lot of products is hard to say as each vehicle is driven differently. If a vehicle is driven every day and parked in the sun all day long obviously the product will not last as long as on a vehicle driven only on weekends and parked inside of a garage so the durability is given in a worse case and best case scenario. Beware of certain companies claiming “lifetime warranties” or “lasts for 10+ years” as they simply do not exist, period. There is usually some fine print involved stating “must be reapplied every 6-12 months or warranty is void”. Everything eventually wears off due to a mixture of chemical, abrasive and UV breakdown. The day a coating gets invented that can last forever on a vehicle is the day every single high end multi-billion dollar vehicle manufacturer puts them on at a manufacturing level to protect the paint on their $500,000+ supercars…

Now one thing to point out is car care companies love to jump on bandwagons and will use the latest and greatest terminology to describe their product. What this means is just because a product has the word “Nano” or “Ceramic” in it, does not necessarily mean it is a coating and most times will simply be a sealant. Coatings are usually not seen in general retail stores and cost $50-$200 for very small bottles so if that product you picked up of the shelf costs $9.95 and says Nano on it, let’s just say that car care manufacturer might not be telling the complete truth. Unfortunately the car care industry is quite unregulated so manufacturers can get away with putting wild exaggerations on packaging.

What exactly is “Paint Correction”?


So what exactly is paint correction and how does it differ to the old “cut and polish”. Paint correction is the process of permanently removing imperfections within the finish of a vehicle through the means of using multiple diminishing abrasives getting finer and finer until the level of finish desired is achieved. A variety of different machine types, pad types, compounds and polishes are chosen to best suit the vehicle’s degree of imperfections. The process can be compared to the same process a jeweler would go through polishing a precious stone from something rough to a flawless stone. Defects in the paintwork such as oxidation, holograms, swirl marks, water etching, marring and light scratches can be carefully removed, often restoring paintwork to better than showroom condition.

Depending on the paint type, a correct single step machine polish can remove 50-75% of these marks and restore depth and gloss to your paint work once the paint is properly decontaminated. This other 25-50% requires multiple stage machine polishing and is the most time consuming part of the paint correction process. However for a customer demanding perfection, it makes it worth it in the end.  This process can be a complete transformation of your vehicle’s paintwork and requires a lot of time, patience and expertise. Paint depth, paint hardness and temperature put into the paintwork through the machine polishing process all have to be considered carefully to ensure no damage is done. Paint correction is rarely offered in the general detailing world and is what separates the level of expertise of a detailer.

In most situations, paint correction is a much better option then respraying a complete vehicle. The overall finish can look glossier and deeper; this is mainly due to panel and paint shops leaving a lot of buffer trails/holograms in the paint and then quickly masking them up with a cheap glaze which will wash off after a couple of weeks. The paintwork is kept original and usually OEM paint is sprayed much better then aftermarket paintwork due to the paint types used and strict quality control. Paint shops will often leave runs in paintwork or rough tape lines edges which easily show a poor quality respray. Most importantly paint correction is a much more cost effective option then a $5000 respray so should always be the first option to look into.

The diagram illustrates some of the different defects that are commonly found in the finish on most vehicles and shows the depth that some of these can be. During paint correction we usually only remove 1-3 microns of paint which is usually only around 1-5% of the paintwork on the vehicle depending on the amount of paint to begin with.


The below image shows what swirlmarks look like under a microscope magnified 800 times.

Microscopic image of swirls

before and after