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Detailing matte wraps & paint finishes -
9 min read Thursday 18 February 2021

Detailing matte wraps & paint finishes


Matte wraps and matte paint finishes (including those of the 'satin' variety) have seen quite the surge in popularity in recent years, and not just as an aftermarket choice, either. More and more OEM manufacturers are offering matte paint in particular as an option when speccing a new car, and even partial or full vinyl wraps are now coming from the odd factory. And, there's no denying that aftermarket vinyl wraps are proving more popular than ever, too. It's pretty easy to see why.

So, we thought we'd put together a piece on the key rules you'd be wise to follow upon detailing matte paintwork, or any wrapped car... including the vehicles with those dreaded matte or satin vinyl finishes. Don't worry, with the right products, it's far easier than you might think, we've even put together an extra special kit to help you on your way.


The wash stage is identical to any other wash stage, right up to where - on paintwork at least - we'd start full decontamination. It works in the same way for any wrapped vehicle, along with those that can be followed as the cleaning stage for both matte wraps and matte paint finishes: Firstly, and as always, we tackle the wheels. Our Imperial Wheel Cleaner Together with our Barrel and Detailing Brush Trio is always the ultimate combo for cleaning alloy wheels, but it's also possible to use the Citrus Power Bug & Grime Remover included in our special kit to clean them, too.

Citrus Power is packed with powerful cleaning agents and degreasers that, once agitated will break down the harshest grime, it's also wheel wax and sealant friendly, too.

Whatever product you choose, cleaning your wheels first also gives you the chance to flush out your arches, but the importance of doing this before the bodywork should never be underestimated. Not only does this process push your maintenance wash to more of a detailer's standard, but it will help stop any stray particles from being blown out and interfering with your protection layers later. So, no matter the finish of the car your drive, always clean your wheels first, and then you can move on to the body.


We all know that the pre-washing stage is important on paintwork to help prevent inflicting swirl marks during contact washing. Now, contra to popular belief, and although vinyl is made to be pretty hardy, it is possible to scratch the surface by dragging grime and grit across it. This is especially prevalent on gloss and satin wraps (like the finish here), but matte wraps are also reasonably easy to damage.

Matte paint of course, should be treated exactly the same as gloss paint, and this means that a thorough pre-wash is always a must!

So, with all that in mind, the next stage is to, once again, use our acclaimed bug and grime remover spray, Citrus Power. Spray across the vehicle, either across the whole surface, or targeted, depending how dirty the vehicle is, and allow the solution to dwell for a few minutes before safely rinsing away the heaviest soiling. The only way a wrap differs to any other finish here is in the rinsing, you simple have to be extra careful around edges and joins with your pressure washer. Think of vinyl as nothing more than a big sticker, depending on the age of the wrap, and the condition, it can be lifted on the edge, so take care around the risker parts and avoid spraying the powerful jet up close to edges.


Why is it important to use snow foam on a wrapped or matte finish car? For exactly the same reason as it is on any car. Snow foam does two jobs here, not only does it safely lift and lubricate heaver soiling on the outer panels, allowing it to be rinsed away, but it also works its way into panel gaps and door shuts, cleaning out the awkward areas you may not see, or even be able to get to. This flushes out dust and grime, once again helping to prevent any interference later when applying your protection layers.

As with any good pre-wash stage, Avalanche Snow Foam is the go-to product. Use Avalanche together with our Foam Lance to get the absolute best coating possible and allow the luscious foam to dwell on the surface for several minutes to really target and loosen any surface-based dirt and grime.

Finish up the snow foam stage by rinsing off the solution with a jet wash, working from the top of the vehicle down. Allowing the water to travel this way will ensure that all loose particles are completely rinsed from the vehicle.


As always, the two bucket method is one of the keys to a super-safe wash. On wraps and matte finishes it's also crucial to use Lather Car Shampoo, to lift and lubricate grime, but also because it contains no glossing agents or rinse aids that will affect matte/satin finishes. Lather is simply an extremely powerful cleaner, but one that's gentle enough to be used on delicate finishes.

2-4 capfuls of Lather in one bucket will be plenty to shift the remaining grime so, tackling the lighter soiled areas first, wash around your car, remembering to move across the vinyl or matte paint in straight lines, and utilising your rinse bucket to clean out your mitt after each panel before going for another dip in your fresh wash solution.

Once the car is complete and thoroughly rinsed (don't forget to flush out those door jambs and panel gaps), the final part of the wash stage is to dry the surface using our Aqua Deluxe Drying Towel… as you'd expect we've included one here in our special kit.

You'll notice here that we haven't decon washed the vehicle before drying, this is because vinyl is more sensitive to chemicals than paintwork. Metal fallout removers and tar & glue removers shouldn't be used on wraps as they can soften the surface. In addition you should never clay any matte wrap or paint finish. On the bright side, vinyl is designed to repel these kind of contaminants, and fallout removers can be used on matte paintwork. One last thing to note is that polishing matte paint and wraps isn't possible, although it is possible to lightly polish some gloss wraps as a last resort, if dirt has already become ingrained.

All that said, drying your vehicle after every wash is especially important on matte and satin finishes, because they tend to pick up spots and water marks even more easily than gloss paintwork. And with a matte finish, you can't even polish these out later. Luckily all this can be sorted easily with our super- absorbent towel, and there's no chance of inflicting scratches and swirls with one of these, either.


The last stage, as you'd expect, is safeguarding your work by adding protection. With any matte finish, using a hard wax isn't an option, waxes have gloss enhancers that may diminish matte properties. As for satin and gloss wraps, some waxes can be used, but it's always important to air on the side of caution, with these it's not so much the gloss, it's the solvents used in waxes that can soften the surface of the wrap. An exception here is using Glisten spray wax, which is safe on all wraps and matte finishes. You can also use Finale Quick Detailer to finish off your detail.

Another option, one that we find preferable for a hardy 12-months protection, is using our Caramics Paintwork Protection Kit. This is safe on all finishes, and offers an SiO2 Ceramic coating that's not only impervious to water, it chemically bonds to the surface to stop grime from sticking. This will prevent dirt from becoming ingrained in the vinyl or paint, and make the car easier to clean the next time around. A win - win!

Our Caramics Kit uses special Ceramic Wipes for application. All that's required is to prepare the surface with the supplied Prep Spray, before using a wipe on each panel to apply an even coating. Then you buff off any residue and that's it - a whole 12-months protection.

Again, there's a couple of options for glass cleaning and protection. In our kit we've included our amazing Caramics Glass Cleaner which will quickly clean the muckiest windows, and even leave behind an extra layer of SiO2 protection. All that's needed here is a spray and a wipe, and you're good to go with better vision and the most extreme water beading.

Alternatively our Caramics Glass Protection Kit includes a ceramic coating that uses the same type of wipes as our Paintwork Protection Kit for 12-months durability. This can be further topped up and strengthened during maintenance washes using Caramics Glass Cleaner.

One thing's for sure, nothing lets down a great detail like streaky, smeary glass. So, make sure you clean yours on every detail.

Another great finishing product (after you ceramic coating has cured of course) is our Caramics Gloss Enhancer, this user-friendly quick detailer is actually ceramic infused, so it will also boost the life of any coatings, all the while adding a level of SiO2 protection itself.

Caramics Gloss Enhancer is safe for use on all finishes, it's also ideal for use on subsequent maintenance washes, but bear in mind that it's designed to add acres of shine, which is great for gloss and satin wraps or paintwork, but may diminish matte properties.

A simple spray-on and wipe-off affair, it's a real kitbag essential for enhancing any ceramic coated vehicle.


DO NOT use polishes, glazes, waxes or abrasives on matte and satin finishes. Spray wax is fine, such as Auto Finesse Glisten. However, do note that any waxes have gloss enhancers that may diminish the matte properties.

DO NOT use any wax that has a paste-like consistency - the crackle top coat of the matte surface will be affected.

DO NOT use Iron Out on matte wraps. It can be used on matte paint surfaces, though. Iron Out effectively melts metal shards that are stuck in a paint's surface.

DO NOT clay bar any wrap.


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