Xpel vs SunTek vs STEK vs FlexiShield Paint Protection Film
At FTA Styling we have over 5 years of experience installing a variety of paint protective films. As of April 11th, 2019 we primarily offer 3 brands of PPF at our Stayton and Salem locations: Flexishield, STEK, and Llumar. Our lead PPF technician is an Xpel Certified installer. He started his career in southern California and recently moved to Albany, Oregon to join the FTA Styling team. Being from southern California, Paul has extensive experience installing paint protection film on high-end cars such as Porsche, Tesla, Maserati, Bugatti, and many others.
We strive to take paint protection film installation to the highest level possible, and to do so we must offer the best product available. We’ve spent a lot of time with each film individually and have even gone to the extent of extreme testing to learn about the durability of each film among other characteristics. Here I’ll be sharing what we’ve observed with each film and our recommendations.
Xpel Ultimate+ PPF
Our lead PPF installer has the most experience with Xpel clear bra. He’s knows the film like the back of his hand. Xpel has been around for years and was the first to market with a self-healing top coat. Xpel revolutionized the Paint Protection Film industry with this advancement in technology. That was years ago and nearly all manufacturers now use self-healing technology in their films.
One thing Xpel does extremely well is computer cut pattern creation. The DAP software is awesome to use and 99% of the times the patterns are spot on. Because of DAP’s pattern accuracy we use it on almost every install to ensure our clients are getting maximum coverage and a very clean, nearly invisible look. The downside to DAP is the cost. Xpel charges a monthly fee to use their software and if you don’t use Xpel film you have to pay a fee for every square foot of film you cut.
Xpel’s adhesive is very strong, which is great if you never plan on removing it. It has a very strong hold and rarely, if ever, has lifting issues, even years down the road. The downside to an aggressive adhesive is that it can be prone to leaving lift lines and other adhesive marks if you need to adjust the film or remove a piece of debris.
Xpel Gloss and Clarity
Xpel clear bra has amazing gloss. When we measured the film with our gloss meter we found it consistently measured better than all other films in the test. Clarity is different, however, and we’ve found that when comparing Xpel to other films it tends to have more orange peel, so while it does have a high gloss, it doesn’t appear as clear or invisible as some other films. We’ve also seen issues with defects in the film, and it’s not uncommon. Xpel does warranty this, but it can be disruptive to business as it takes time and can really impact shops with low inventory.
Other notes about Xpel
We’ve been told by our local Xpel rep for Salem that we must be exclusive with them to offer their film, meaning we would only be able to offer Xpel Prime Tint and Xpel Ultimate+ PPF.
So to sum up Xpel Ultimate+ PPF:
-Revolutionized the industry with Self-Healing Technology
-DAP has spot-on computer cut patterns that fit nearly every make and model perfectly
-DAP has lots of fees, especially if you use another brand of film
-Xpel’s adhesive is very aggressive
-The film sometimes comes with defects, which can take up valuable time
-Xpel won’t sell certain installers film unless they are exclusive with Xpel
-Xpel is the glossiest film, but clarity is lacking due to orange peel.
SunTek Ultra PPF
SunTek Ultra Paint Protection Film has built up quite a reputation in the last few years. Eastman is the company that owns SunTek and Llumar. We’ve tested and worked with both films and they are the same film. SunTek is known for its ability to flex and stretch over complex curves.
SunTek’s cutting software is called TruCut. TruCut is a versatile software. It has a monthly fee, but no cutting fees. I would argue that the TruCut pattern database comes in second only to DAP. The patterns are very accurate on 80% of vehicles. One feature I really like about TruCut is Auto-Nest. This feature puts all the pieces of the pattern on the least square footage of film possible, saving you material cost. With DAP this has to be done manually, which can take a lot of time.
SunTek Ultra has a low strength adhesive, which many installers really like. A low strength adhesive allows you to lift the film with less risk of lift lines and makes stretching without “silvering” much easier. The disadvantage of a low strength adhesive is when you stretch over large areas the film has a tendency to pull back and leave adhesive marks at the edges, and the film is more sensitive to tension. In some extreme cases we have seen high tension areas lift/peel after a few months with SunTek.
SunTek Gloss and Clarity
The film is a step below Xpel in gloss, but has less orange peel. Another issue we’ve seen with SunTek that you don’t see with other films is yellowing over time. This isn’t as common in northern climates, such as Salem, Oregon, but in areas that get lots of sun it can be a serious issue, especially on white or light colored vehicles.
So to sum up Suntek Ultra PPF:
-TruCut software is the runner up to DAP with great patterns and a user friendly interface
-SunTek has great flexibility and stretch
-The adhesive with SunTek has something left to be desired
-SunTek is not as UV stable as other films and has a tendency to turn yellow in some environments.
STEK DynoShield PPF
STEK (not to be confused with SunTek) is our premium choice Paint Protection Film. First to market with a hydrophobic top coat, they are leading the pack with innovation. The flexibility of STEK is on another level. We’ve used it on motorcycle tanks, fairings, and extremely round mirrors, and we rarely, if ever, run into issues with silvering or lift lines.
You must bulk install or use another software to computer cut the film as STEK does not have a cutting software.
The adhesive with this film is sensitive to concentration of slip and stick solutions. We’ve found that the adhesive performs amazing with the proper solution mix, the best of both worlds really. Though, with the wrong solutions the film can have trouble sticking to the panel. If the film needs to be removed it comes off very clean. We haven’t seen any lifting issues with STEK long term.
STEK Gloss and Clarity
STEK DynoShield PPF is absolutely the clearest film on the market. The cap sheet that comes with STEK is one of the main reasons it is so clear and glossy. However, with a cap sheet there are some downsides. Cap sheets create static electricity and add time to the job because the protective layer has to be removed before installation. In some extreme cases we’ve had the sheet generate so much static that when we loaded the plotter the shock sent through the usb actually crashed the computer. This is a rarity, however, and usually it’s just a small uncomfortable jolt haha. The other problem with the cap sheet is tunneling, we’ve had multiple rolls go to waste because the roll lost tension and the cap sheet caused tunnels in the film that show up as bumps.
Other notes about STEK
STEK is headquartered in Bellevue Washington, just a few hours north of our Salem location, so film is usually delivered next day, which we love.
So to sum up STEK DynoShield PPF:
-No cutting software available
-Hydrophobic top coat means you don’t have to ceramic coat this film, it’s already super easy to clean and has great stain resistance
-Best clarity of any film on the market
-Cap sheet is the reason for high gloss, but can be a pain to deal with
-Adhesive is my favorite to work with, does exactly what you want when your mixes are right
FlexiShield Paint Protection Film is a quality film at a great value. We’ve been using FlexiShield for about 6 months and have been very happy with it’s performance.
RAP is the software FlexiShield offers, and we are currently testing it. The pattern database is currently pretty small, but is growing quickly as FlexiShield uses a laser scanner to custom build a pattern for each make and model. We are looking forward to improvements in the software as the User Interface of the current version leaves much to be desired.
FlexiShield’s adhesive is stronger than Suntek and less aggressive than Xpel. It’s a good middle ground, grabs when you want it to and can be pulled up without much fuss.
FlexiShield Gloss and Clarity
The gloss and clarity is great, but it does measure a few points lower than Xpel and other films with a gloss meter. The orange peel has a “tighter” appearance which looks great on pretty much any vehicle. FlexiShield has a hydrophobic top coat just like STEK, but comes without a cap sheet so it’s a little easier to work with. The lack of a cap sheet does come with a downside, however, we have noticed a cloudy appearance in some rolls. In our testing this cloudiness goes away with hot water or after sitting in the sun for a few days. Unfortunately this means if the hot water doesn’t work, the customer may have some concerns upon pick up that you’ll have to explain will go away with time. It’s not a big deal, but on some vehicles can take away from the “wow factor.”
Other notes about FlexiShield
We’re very happy with FlexiShield’s support and since they are located in Arizona, we are able to get shipments to Salem, Oregon within 2-3 days. The film itself is packed with value when comparing the cost to other films on the market.
So to sum up FlexiShield PPF:
-Cutting software is still in it’s infant stages
-Hydrophobic top coat
-Adhesive is a great middle ground between SunTek and Xpel
the Xpel vs SunTek vs ST
EK vs FlexiShield debate there really isn’t a clear overall winner. Every paint protection film here has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Xpel is great at branding and offers a super glossy film with a strong adhesive and the best cutting software in the business. SunTek has great stretch and a software that gives DAP a run for it’s money. STEK has phenomenal clarity and gloss, is hydrophobic, and has the best looking film on the market. FlexiShield has a great value, especially being a hydrophobic film, and great user support.
At FTA Styling we offer STEK and FlexiShield Paint Protection Film in Stayton and Salem, Oregon.
Feel free to call if you have any questions or to schedule a consultation for one of our locations.
3130 Portland Road NE
Salem, OR 97301
1840 Pacific Ct
Stayton, OR 97383