XPEL VS 3M Paint Protection Film: Which One Should You Choose?

PPF, or Paint Protection Film, is a revolutionary way of protecting a car’s exterior, capable of shielding the car’s paint from scratches, dents, and other damage caused by road debris, chemical contaminants, or even daily wear and tear.

Nowadays, PPF is very popular among car owners, and not without its reasons: it’s very strong and effective at protecting your car’s paints from both physical and chemical damage; it’s easy to clean and maintain, and despite not being a cheap product, it can improve the resale value of the car, making it a good overall investment. 

Due to this popularity, there are now so many brands offering a variety of PPF films, each with its own unique offerings and benefits. 

However, XPEL and 3M are considered the two top brands of PPF on the market today. Both brands have established themselves as trusted names not only for PPF but for various other automotive products. 

In this article, we will compare 3M and XPEL’s PPFs as the two leading products in the market. We will explore the features they offer, their unique benefits, limitations, and other factors. By the end of this article, you’d have enough knowledge to make an informed decision on which of the two PPFs is the right choice for you.

Before we dive into the specifics of 3M and XPEL PPFs, however, let us first discuss the basics of the PPF as a product, so we can better understand the features and benefits offered by XPEL and 3M.

What is a PPF?

The PPF (Paint Protection Film is a thin, transparent layer of film that is designed to stick on a car’s exterior, therefore protecting the car’s paint beneath it. Think of PPF as an invisible shield, protecting your car’s paintwork from both physical damage (chips, scratches, etc.) and chemical damage (stains from bird droppings, UV rays, water damage, etc.). 

PPF can be made from various materials, including vinyl, polyester, and polyurethane, and the benefits of PPF go beyond mere protection. Due to its glossy, transparent look, it can enhance the car’s aesthetics and give it a showroom-like look. 

Not to mention, it is very thin, so unlike traditional car bras, it is virtually unnoticeable, maintaining your car’s original appearance, just shinier.

Important Factors to Look For When Choosing PPF

Before we delve further into discussing which between XPEL and 3M PPF is better, let us discuss some key considerations to have when choosing a PPF product.

While most PPF products in the market offer more or less similar things, they aren’t made the same. Here are the key aspects to consider:

  • Type of finish: most PPFs are clear and transparent with a glossy finish, but there are also other types like colored PPFs, tinted PPFs, matte/satin PPFs (giving the car a satin-like appearance,), and even color-changing PPFs, among other types.
  • Durability: the most important quality to consider in a PPF is its ability to protect your vehicle’s paint. Look for PPF films that offer excellent protection against scratches, chips, and chemical damage. High-quality PPFs also offer self-healing properties, meaning they can repair minor scratches with exposure to heat (i.e., direct sunlight.)
  • Ease/cost of installation: some PPF products may be more difficult to install or even require professional installation (which will translate into additional cost.) Especially if you are a car owner that prefers to take the DIY approach, choose a PPF product that is easy to install with clear instructions. Ask the manufacturer, or check reviews on how forgiving the PPF is when it comes to repositioning the film.
  • Clarity: assuming you are choosing PPF with a glossy finish, the clarity of the PPF will be an important factor to consider. Look for PPFs that offer high transparency levels so they can display your car’s natural paint color and finish. Avoid PPFs that have a hazy or yellowish appearance.
  • Warranty: check the warranty policy offered by the PPF manufacturer, and check the fine prints. For example, XPEL offers 10 years warranty with a lifetime installation guarantee, while 3M only offers 7 years warranty and no installation guarantee. 

Considering these factors (as well as others) would allow you to choose the right PPF for your vehicle according to your needs and your budget.

When discussing XPEL and 3M PPFs below, we will also use the same criteria. 

XPEL Paint Protection Film

XPEL PPF Overview

XPEL is one of the most prominent players in the automotive industry, having been around since 1997. 

With its decades of experience, XPEL has developed a range of very high-quality PPF products with advanced technologies that could protect any vehicle from the challenges of both everyday driving scenarios and extreme conditions. 

XPEL PPFs especially emphasize durability, transparency (optical clarity), and self-healing qualities and are among the best in the business for those. This has earned XPEL a reputation as the leading manufacturer of PPF in the world.

Different XPEL PPF Products

XPEL offers four main PPF products:

  • XPEL Ultimate Plus: the gloss and completely transparent/invisible PPF is the most popular PPF product by XPEL. Available in three different thicknesses: 7 mils, 10 mils, and 12 mils. The 7-mil Ultimate Plus is the most affordable, while the 12-mil is the most expensive but also the most durable. 
  • XPEL Stealth: a matte/satin PPF that is designed for cars with matte, magno, frozen, frosted, or other types of flat finishes. Comes with the same thickness options as the Ultimate Plus
  • XPEL TracWrap: this PPF product is designed for temporary DIY installation and comes with 8 mils of thickness. More affordable than Ultimate Plus, but obviously not as durable
  • XPEL Armor: This paint protection film is designed for industrial and commercial use and for larger cars like trucks and SUVs. It is the thickest XPEL PPF (13 mils) and has a textured finish for added protection against extreme environments and conditions. 

Key Features and Benefits of XPEL PPF

As discussed above, XPEL offers four different PPF products with their own unique features. 

However, as the leading brand in the PPF industry, all PPF products by XPEL offer the following benefits:

  1. Exceptional durability

XPEL’s PPF products are known for their top-notch durability, and are very effective in protecting your car’s paint against both physical and chemical damage. XPEL’s high-quality film ensures the PPF can withstand the rigors of everyday driving and extreme weather conditions, preserving the car’s paint underneath and protecting your car’s resale value.

  1. Self-healing properties

Many PPF products offer self-healing features, but XPEL’s self-healing technology is among the best available in the market. With this feature, XPEL PPF can repair minor swirl marks and scratches when exposed to heat, which can help maintain the PPF’s clarity and longevity. 

  1. High-quality finish and transparency

XPEL PPF is engineered with optical clarity as one of its main emphases, focusing on ensuring the paint of the vehicle is displayed as close as possible to its original color. Especially with the XPEL Ultimate Plus, the film is almost totally invisible, so you can display your car’s pristine appearance without sacrificing protection.

  1. Hydrophobic qualities

XPEL PPF products offer hydrophobic qualities. Meaning, they will naturally repel water and other liquids. This feature will not only prevent water spots and stains from being formed on the PPF’s surface but will also allow easier cleaning. 

  1. Professional installation by XPEL

Except for the XPEL TracWrap, which is designed to be a temporary, DIY PPF solution, all PPF products will include professional installation services by trained professionals. So, you can ensure you’ll get a properly installed PPF with a 100% precise fit. No wrinkles, bubbles, or even misalignment.

Limitations and Drawbacks of XPL PPFs

While, as we can see, XPEL PPF products offer numerous benefits, they aren’t perfect in all aspects, and there are a few drawbacks to consider: 

  1. Price: one potential limitation that may be a deal breaker for some is XPEL’s higher price point compared to other PPF products in the market, even among other premium brands. This can make XPL PPFs undesirable for budget-conscious car owners.
  2. Not very easy to install: as mentioned, you’ll get a professional installation service with any purchase of XPEL PPF. However, DIY enthusiasts may find XPEL’s installation process more challenging than other PPF products. Not to mention, if you attempt to install the PPF by yourself, improper installation can void the warranty.
  3. Longevity: XPEL does offer a 10-year warranty, but the limitations are pretty strict. If not maintained correctly, the XPEL PPF may not last the full 10 years. 

Despite these drawbacks, XPEL PPFs remain popular choices among car owners, especially for those who wouldn’t mind paying more for better quality, superior protection, and great longevity on their PPFs.

3M Paint Protection Film

3M PPF Overview

3M,short for MInessotay Mining and Manufacturing, is a very old and established company, founded in 1902 as—as the name suggests—a mining company. Yet, it quickly grew and diversified its product line including to automotive in which it has been a leader since the early 1990s.

3M’s first PPF product was developed for use on military aircraft in 1992, and in 1995, 3M introduced its first PPF product for cars. 

Today, along with XPEL, 3M is one of the top manufacturers of PPF in the world, and their PPFs are widely used by many car owners, car dealerships, and body shops all over the world. 

Different Types of 3M PPFs

3M offers a wide range of paint protection film products under its 3M Scotchgard™ brand, some of the most prominent ones are:

  1. 3M Scotchgard™ Paint Protection Film Pro Series: 3M’s flagship PPF with high-gloss transparent finish. Designed with optical clarity to display and enhance the natural car paint’s color.
  2. 3M Scotchgard™ Paint Protection Film Matte Series: PPF with a non-glossy, matte finish. Same level of protection as the Pro series.
  3. 3M Scotchgard™ Paint Protection Film Pro Series with a Clear Bra Pattern: The Pro Series, but comes with aclear bra pattern that has been pre-cut to match specific vehicle models. Easy installation and more precise fit for DIY enthusiasts.
  4. 3M Scotchgard™ Paint Protection Film Pro Series with a Custom Installation: Pro Series with precise cutting and custom installation to ensure tailored protection of the owner’s vehicles.

All 3M Scotchgard™ PPFs come in one level of 8 mil thickness and 7 years warranty.

Key Features and Benefits of XPEL PPF

3M PPFs have smaller varieties than XPEL’s, and most of them share the same features and benefits, as follow:

Key Features and Benefits of XPEL PPF

3M PPFs have smaller varieties than XPEL’s, and most of them share the same features and benefits, as follows:

  1. Excellent Protection

3M’s PPFs are engineered with high-quality materials to ensure thorough protection of the car’s paint against abrasions, rock chips, and other harsh elements of the road

  1. Optical Clarity

3M’s Scotchgard™ PPFs are engineered to be optically clear, and the film is virtually invisible. This allows us to display the car’s original finish and paint color and enhance it, whether with a glossy or matte finish.

  1. Self-healing qualities

3M also offers excellent self-healing technology, enabling the PPFs to repair swirl marks, chips, and minor scratches on their own with exposure to heat. This helps the PPF to maintain its pristine look and enhance its longevity.

  1. Easy maintenance

3M’s PPFs are designed to be resistant to dirt, debris, and stains, so they are easy to clean and maintain.

  1. 3M authorized professional installation

While some 3M PPF products can be installed by the car owners themselves—perfect for DIY enthusiasts—you’ll also gain access to Authorized 3M installers that have been trained to apply the PPF precisely to minimize the risk of misalignment, wrinkles, or bubbles.

Limitations and Drawbacks of 3M PPFs

While 3M PPFs offer numerous benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider.

First, although most 3M PPFs are designed to be professionally installed, DIY enthusiasts who’d like to install their PPFs themselves may find 3M PPFs more challenging to install than other brands that offer more user-friendly installation options. 

Another consideration ist that the self-healing technology may not be very effective in repairing significantly deep scratches, which may require us to replace the whole PPF. 

Despite these drawbacks, 3M PPFs remain an excellent option for car owners who’d like reliable protection of their car’s paintwork. 

XPEL vs. 3M PPFs: Key Comparisons

As we can see, both 3M and XPEL PPFs offer very similar core features, and both are very high-quality. However, there are also some key differences to consider.

Here is a comparative analysis of XPEL and 3M PPF in different aspects: 

Price and value for money

XPEL PPFs are typically more expensive than comparable 3M PPFs. Considering both of them offer similar features and protection capabilities, 3M is the clear winner in this category, and will provide you with a better value of money.

Protection and durability

XPEL and 3M are both leaders in the field when it comes to durability and resistance to physical and chemical damage. Both XPEL and 3M PPFs also offer excellent self-healing capabilities. 

However, worth noting that 3M PPFs only come in one thickness level (8 mil), while  XPEL offers thicker 10 mil and 12 mil options, which naturally offer higher degrees of protection. 


XPEL offers a 10-year warranty for its Ultimate Plus PPF, and the warranty is transferable to a new owner when the car is sold. 3M only offers a 7-year, non-transferrable warranty. XPEL is the winner in this category.


Both 3M and XPEL PPFs have superior optical clarity and are virtually invisible. However, XPEL offers a thinner option (7 mil) which allows a more natural look. XPEL is a slight winner due to the more options given.


In conclusion, both XPEL and 3M offer very high-quality PPF both in terms of protection and aesthetics. 

XPEL PPF is generally more expensive, but it does offer better warranty and more options. On the other hand, 3M PPF only comes in one level of thickness and a more affordable price, making it the preferred option for some.

Ultimately, choosing between the two brands would depend on the car owners’ individual preferences and budget.

Should I Look for Another Alternative?

While as we’ve explored, both XPEL and 3M PPFs have their benefits, there is another compelling alternative.

ID Protection PPF emerges as a better alternative to 3M and XPEL PPFs with its affordability, emphasis on professional installation, and superior protection quality.

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider ID protection PPF:

  1. Value for money: ID Protection provides superior value for money with competitive pricing and cost-effective packages. You can enjoy the superior protection quality and reliable performance without breaking the bank. ID Protection understands the importance of cost-effectiveness without compromising on quality and protection.
  2. Superior protection: ID protection’s PPFs are engineered to provide advanced protection against the harsh elements on the road, and come with excellent self-healing technology.
  3. Professional installation: ID protection emphasizes on its professional PPF installation service in Toronto, Markham, Mississauga and GTA with trained experts who understand the complexities of PPF installation for Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and other makes, ensuring a perfect fit and maximum protective capabilities of the PPF.
  4. Versatility of options: whether you’re seeking glossy optical clarity finish, matte appearance, or customized cut for your car, ID protection has the versatility to meet your specific requirements. 

Choose ID protection for the best value for money and peace of mind. Contact ID Protection today, and experience the benefits firsthand.