Have you ever driven or walked by a car with a cool design, logo, or color? It’s probably the result of a vinyl car wrap.
Vinyl wrapping is a method of redesigning your car using thin films. It is a more cost-effective solution than a paint job to revamp an old car or add a custom design.
There are four main types of vinyl wrap: clear, colored, textured, and customized. Clear vinyl wrap is a great way to protect your car’s original paint and prevent scratches. Colored vinyl wrap is an opaque film that also protects the car’s original surface while allowing you to choose a new color or to cover up chips on the surface. Many people choose to revitalize old cars or change specific parts of the car using this method of wrapping. A less common type of vinyl is textured wrap, which comes in the form of matte vinyl or vinyl with a glossy or chrome finish. Finally, customized wraps are often used by companies who want to advertise their services. These wraps can include logos, contact details, and other designs.
Step 1: Choose your design
This first step is the most essential and will partially determine how much the wrapping costs. You can customize the panel design or choose a solid design, such as a particular color. If you’re a graphic designer, you can even use custom graphics. If you choose to wrap the whole car, make sure there are no dents or scratches, as these can interfere with the application process.
Step 2: Measure your car
A professional team will take your car’s measurements, which will determine how much vinyl wrap you need and can also help you figure out how much the final product costs.
Step 3: Clean and dry your car
Cleaning and drying your car prepares its surface for the vinyl wrap. If the car is not properly cleaned before the application, there is a risk that particles on the surface will ruin the final result. As part of the cleaning process, experts will spray the entire panel of the car with water and a special solvent that prepares it for the wrap.
Step 4: Print and apply the wrap
After the vinyl is printed and laminated, leave it to the pros to apply the wrap. This is the most complicated step, as it involves applying a special fluid to the vinyl and then sticking the adhesive side of the wrap onto the car. Using a rubber-edged plastic knife and possibly a heat gun to avoid air bubbles, experts align the wrap in the proper spot or over the entire surface and press it into place.
1. Don’t do it yourself
Vinyl car wrapping is a complex process that requires the know-how and tools of a pro. While it’s not impossible to do yourself, the end result might not be of the highest quality, and you’d need to enlist the help of at least one other person since wraps come in huge swatches.
2. Don’t wrap your car outside
Experts should have some sort of garage or workspace that keeps your car safe from the elements, but even after your car is wrapped, you should keep it as protected as possible. Dust particles and insects can damage the vinyl film during the wrapping process, and natural elements like mud and bird droppings can ruin the wrap if you don’t maintain it.
3. Don’t clean your car with abrasive chemicals
Driving your vehicle through a car wash, using strong chemicals, or power washing your car will ruin the wrap. Even a rough cloth can damage the film, so it’s best to clean the wrap yourself with a soft cloth and a gentle product recommended by a professional.
If you’re wondering if a vinyl car wrap is worth it, here are some ways wrapping your car could benefit you:
- Advertises your company or services
- Cheaper than a paint job
- Easy to remove (by a professional, of course)
- Lasts for about 5-6 years but can last for up to 8 years, if maintained correctly
- Gives your car a unique style
- Protects your car from minor cuts and scrapes, as well as sun damage
Although there are many advantages to choosing vinyl wraps over a new paint job, there are a few downfalls to consider as well:
- Doesn’t protect the car as well as a paint job
- Easily ruined by insects, dirt, bird droppings, and other natural elements
- Hard to clean
- Might ruin your car’s paint during the removing process
- Risk of rust or ruined texture from trapped water if the wrap is not properly applied
- You can’t repair car wraps (although you can remove or replace them)
Factors such as the size of the car, type of vinyl film, and whether it’s a whole or partial wrap affect the price of the final result. Because vinyl wrap is a cheap material, the process is less expensive than a paint job. However, be wary of companies which have low rates, as the durability of the film may not be up to your standards. The average starting rate for a sedan is about $3,000 (the most expensive starting rates are for sports cars, at about $4,000-$5,000). Vinyl wrapping is also considered a car modification, so this may affect how much you pay for car insurance.
Vinyl car wrapping is a great way to rejuvenate or add a unique flair to your car. Wraps are cheaper than a repaint, result in a smooth finish, and are durable enough to last for years if properly taken care of. While there are some disadvantages to choosing a car wrap over new paint, the benefits include advertising your company, saving money, and protecting your car from minor scrapes. Overall, vinyl wraps are a helpful tool for revamping your vehicle and can keep your car looking brand new.