Stop! Read this before washing that Matte finish

No doubt matte finishes are getting popular, either painted or vinyl wrap. Celebrities, NFL players are all jumping to get a matte finish direct from the manufacture, BMW's Frozen or MB's Magno paint, or having their pickups and suv's repainted in a matte finish.

Surprisingly, what started with people rattle-can painting their cars because it needed to be painted and they couldn't afford to pay for a traditional glossy paint job, has now become a popular look. This trend started on extremely high-end cars, think Lambo and Ferrari, and has now reached companies like Dodge, Fiat, and Hyundai.

It's a great look. Different. Sleek. Clean. I immediately think of a matte gray finished Lamborghini Aventador, looking more like a fighter jet than a car, or a few of the matte finished vehicles I take care of.

It does, however, require special care to keep the finish looking, well, flat.

Paint Scratches and Chips

One issue that stands out the most is paint scratches and chips. Unlike a gloss paint job, matte paint can not be buffed or polished to remove them. Any type of polishing or sanding will smooth out the uneven finish and cause it to have a sheen to it. Because of this, automatic car washes, car wash products heavy on chemicals, and any kind of detergents like dish soaps need to be avoided. Any of these could produce unwanted marring on the paint.

If scratches do appear, the only option to remove them is to repaint. To complicate things, matching the shade is an issue with matte finishes so most likely a complete repaint will be advised.


Traditional, off-the-shelf wash products can not be used either. Store bought products, like anything labeled "wash and shine," will have fillers and wax in it that will literally fill in the natural unevenness of matte paint creating a shine. Obviously because of this, you wouldn't try waxing a matte finish either. Several companies do make matte finish sealants that can help protect the paint just like waxes and sealant for gloss paint.

Obviously, using any type of brush or sponge is a no-no. Anything that's going to just push dirt around and not lift it off the paint as you wash is not your friend. Either quality microfiber or sheepskin mitts or towels are the only way to go.

Quality products, proper washing techniques and patience can go a long way to help maintain the look of any finish. Or your friendly neighborhood mobile auto detailer.


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Ceramic Coatings & Detailing Specialist

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