Car wrapping has quickly become a hot trend and is becoming a common sight with supercars, company vans and is appearing on vehicles of all shapes and sizes. In fact wrapping a car is a common technique used in formula 1 to add branding to the vehicles.
A vinyl car wrap is an easy way to give your car a new color or perhaps a chance to embark on the new trend of a matte finish. Car wraps cost a less than the cost of a new paint job – plus these vinyl wraps even protect the paintwork from scratches.
This article is going to look at everything you need to know about wrapping a car and we’ve also put together this handy resource post to help with finding the appropriate tutorials and guides.
What is a car wrap?
Vinyl car wrap is essentially a second skin, something that completely covers the exterior of the vehicle. Car wraps vary and can cover the car entirely or only partially and they can be used to change the color and finish.
The vehicle wrap starts as a large piece of adhesive-backed vinyl that’s been designed specifically for application onto vehicles. There is an endless choice of color, styles and designs to choose from. You can even go as far as incorporating printed images, photos and graphic designs although this will give a boost to the car wrap cost.
This is how companies and organizations expertly brand their vehicles whilst keeping down costs. Essentially car wrapping is a custom paint job on a budget.
What types of car wrapping can you get?
The world of vinyl car wraps has opened up a whole new way of customizing cars and with car wrap costs being low, it’s ideal for those on a smaller budget. You can get everything from matte black and satins to chromes and camouflages. With so much to choose from, getting a custom paint job has never been easier!
Satin clear applications are for those who want to keep the color of their vehicle but are looking to add a fine layer of protection to the paintwork and perhaps change the factory paint finish. These types of car wraps are also thicker than the matte finish and will help provide some form of protection against general road wear-and-tear.
The more popular option is the matte finish which is generally used for a complete color change. These types of car wraps don’t offer that much protection to the paintwork as they are very thin.
Is car wrapping legal?
The simple answer is yes. There are obviously things you need to be aware of. Certain films have been limited for road use and this is something worth discussing with you installer. Chrome and reflective films are intended for off-road use only or minor graphics (as opposed to complete coverage) and you must always remember to re-register your vehicle with its new color.
If you’re thinking about wrapping a car then always check with your insurance first. Some insurers will view car wraps as a modification and may increase your premium as a result.
How much does a vinyl car wrap cost?
This will largely depend on what it is you’re having done to your vehicle. Generally speaking, vinyl car wraps cost less than a respray. The most important part of wrapping a car is the element of non-permanence. As much as a paint job may cost more, car wrapping is only temporary and can be removed at will.
Each individual job will be priced based on a quotation for the scope of the work that needs doing. Car wrap costs can vary based not only on who is doing the work but the material being used and the size of the vehicle. Larger vehicles will incur higher charges as they will take longer to complete. If you find the car wrap cost seems too low then it’s always worth checking what another company will offer as the last thing you want is a poor job.
Car wrap costs can vary dramatically between installers and there’s normally a very good reason for it. Companies charging lower amounts to wrap your car are aiming to get the job done in a couple of days and as a result can be cutting corners. Those charging higher car wrapping prices will potentially be doing a more thorough job. It could take a whole day to simply remove and clean parts of the car to have it prepped and ready for installation.
How long does car wrapping take?
This entirely depends on how much of the vehicle is being wrapped but can take anywhere between 1 and 7 days. More complicated car wrapping projects will obviously take longer. The time factor of a vinyl car wrap will also largely depend on the skill and experience of the installer.
Why should you choose a car wrap over a custom paint job?
Custom paint jobs are usually a very expensive way of customizing a car, but the main difference is the ability to use more than one color. Another important factor to take into consideration is the market value of the car. A cheap paint job is definitely not a good thing, and where a professional vinyl car wrap is only temporary it will actually work to protect the paintwork instead of damaging it.
By choosing a vehicle wrap, you also avoid the inconsistencies associated with a cheap paint job and could potentially work in your favor when selling, especially if prospective buyers wish to keep the car as it is, but – failing that – the wrap can be removed and the initial color reinstated.
What’s the difference between partial and full car wrapping?
Partial car wraps will only cover specific areas of the car, normally the hood, roof or boot, whereas a full vehicle wrap will completely cover the car.
How long can a vehicle wrap last?
This can vary on a number of things, including the quality of the install and the day-to-day maintenance of the vehicle. Some manufacturers, like 3M, will offer a car wrap warranty that could be anything up to 7 years. Generally speaking, a vehicle wrap will last about 4 years but most people will either sell their car or have it re-wrapped.
If the manufacturer does provide a recommended lifespan for the car wrap, then I would advise not overstepping the time frame. Leaving a vehicle wrap on the car for longer than advised could result in damage to the paintwork when it’s removed.
Does car wrapping damage the paintwork?
As long as it’s done correctly, wrapping a car shouldn’t incur any damage to the paintwork. There are always a number of factors that can affect this, including whether or not the vehicle has had a recent respray, and whether the vinyl car wrap installer is a professional and knows what they’re doing. It’s probably also worth noting whether or not the vinyl is from a reputable brand.
In fact a vehicle wrap could even provide an additional layer of protection to your paintwork and prevents exposure to the elements. There are of course some instances where if you wrap your car you may cause damage and that’s if the vehicle has been repainted. Anything other than the original paintwork is in danger of being partially removed when the vinyl car wrap is eventually removed.
A bad installation could result in razor blade scratches and adhesive marks on the paintwork which also ultimately lead to wrap failure. If the vinyl material used isn’t appropriate, and let’s say is actually for signage, the lack of flexibility and extra strong glue could cause serious damage. It’s always worth paying a little extra to have the job done properly as the costs further down the line could be much higher.
What about if my car is unpainted?
This is a big no. Car wrapping is impossible on a raw surface such as unpainted bodywork. The surface texture does not allow for proper adhesion which will cause the wrap to fail.
It might also be worth noting at this point that wrapping a car will not hide imperfections such as rust, chips or scuffs. The vinyl material is very thin and so these types of marks will show through.
How do you maintain a vehicle wrap?
The advice is to normally wash the car by hand. Using a car wash could damage the vinyl, yet if it’s been installed correctly, then theoretically this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you are wary then washing by hand is always a safe choice. This is particularly important if you have a partial car vinyl wrap as the corners and edges are more likely to start peeling and lifting off the vehicle.
If the vinyl car wrap is glossy then you’re likely to want to wax and polish it which is fine. The vinyl would act like a normal paint job.
The real secret of car wrap maintenance is purely basic and simply requires cleaning often. Removing dirt from the surface will prevent contamination and will also help stop the vinyl becoming stained or damage from road grime.
Can damaged vinyl be fixed?
When you wrap your car, it’s always worth being extra careful, or even paying professionals to do it for you. If the vinyl becomes damaged, it can be salvageable but if it’s a small panel, then it may be simply cheaper to replace it.
If you’re finding bubbles or wrinkles in the car vinyl wrap that’s usually the sign of a poor job and they should definitely not be there. If what you have are just a few dust spots, then this is fine, but seeing a lot of dust could be an issue.
If your vinyl becomes damaged, the first thing you should do is speak to the installer. They may be able to get away with only replacing a small segment or panel but may need to re-print specific sections depending on your design.
Is it easy to remove vinyl car wrap?
If the quality of the vinyl car wrap is good – and we’re talking the actual material as well as the installer – then removing it should be hassle-free and fairly easy. Some concentrated heat and a bit of peeling should remove it no problem, but there are obviously warnings to consider and hiring a professional installer to do the job might work out better for you in the long term. (Not to mention it might be the cheaper option if you accidentally damage your paintwork.)
If you’re not sure on how to remove your car wrap and are looking for a professional to remove it, approach the person who installed it. They’ll more than likely be able to provide a removal service and if you were happy with the installation, you know that you’ll be relaxed and confident that they can do a good job.
If you found this post helpful and would like to find out more on where to go for custom wraps and how to install them yourself, then visit our resource post here.