Satin, matt, wrapped or dipped. Here’s what you need to know about looking your finish.
We get a lot of questions on how best to look after matt or satin finishes for paints, after-market wraps and dips. Rather than telling you what to use, let’s go over what a matt surface is, how it works and why you need to treat it differently to gloss.
How do we perceive colour?
In order to understand maintenance firstly let’s look at how the eye perceives colour so we understand how the surface is made.
Newton observed that color is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colors and absorbs all the others. We perceive only the reflected light as a colour from the surface of an object.
For example, black absorbs all light so we do not see a colour reflected, while a red surface absorbs all other colours but a small spectrum of light in what the eye perceives as the colour red.
How do the different surfaces give different effects?
As you can see in these two diagrams, the difference between a gloss and matt finish in not the colour but how the light reflects off the surface. A matt finish is made with an uneven clear coat, designed to reflect the light away from the eye. The diagram shows the light (or perceived colour) reflecting away while the gloss reflects back in a consistent manor.
How to look after gloss surfaces
Before we look at matt finishes firstly let’s understand why we look after gloss finishes the way we do. For a normal gloss finish, shampoo’s with gloss enhancers (wash and waxes) polishes and hard waxes are all designed to keep the clear coat surface flat, clean and consistent which allows light to evenly reflect back to the eye.
Polish achieves this by filling in minor imperfections in the clear coat and removing contaminants that prevent a unison reflection back to the eye. Waxing adds another physical flat glossy layer that further enhances the light reflection unison and strength.
Why you shouldn’t polish and wax a matt finish
The imperfections on the matt clear coat surface is what makes matt; well matt. By using a shampoo with a gloss enhancer (commonly known as a wash and wax) this can introduce a reflective layer on a matt surface. When washing a matt car, always use a soft, gloss or wax free shampoo to ensure a consistent and natural finish.
Using a polish will fill in and start to flatten the irregular clear coat surface, creating an inconsistent finish, while a wax will strengthen the shine and give an even stronger flatter reflective surface. So in short, all the products that work so well on gloss, have a detrimental effect on matt.
Protecting your matt finish
The best way to look after your matt or wrap finish is to wash often with the right shampoo every two to three weeks max. Autoglyms Bodywork Shampoo does not contain any fillers, gloss enhancers or solids that would change or interfere with the structure of the clear coat surface. It’s only agenda is to softly remove dirt from the surface for a clean finish.
There are Autoglym products that you can use to protect the surface that will not interfere with the matt reflection. Using Aqua Wax after every wash provides a physical barrier that doesn’t interfere with the consistency or lack of for a matt reflection.
For exceptionally dirty vehicles that may need further cleaning, consult the wrap or paint supplier on how best to treat it.