Home » What is Vinyl Wrap? (Types, Costs, Pros & Cons)

What is Vinyl Wrap? (Types, Costs, Pros & Cons)

If you’re a car owner, you probably want to learn what is a vinyl wrap.

Wrapping a vehicle in this material is a good way to change its appearance without investing too much money. It is much cheaper than a new pain job, and when you get sick of it, you can simply take it off.

Another great thing about it is that you can cover just a part of the vehicle. Vinyl wrap offers some protection to the paint as well. An owner can choose between various patterns and designs, making a personal imprint on the car.

Car wrapping basics

What is Vinyl Wrap

As the name implies, professionals from a body shop will take a thin vinyl film and spread it over your vehicle. These films come in different designs and colors. Furthermore, if you’re good at graphic design, you can create a roll yourself.

Car experts will use various tools such as a heat gun to attach the film into place during the process. Car wrapping provides optimal results when you apply a film to flat surfaces. Any damage to a car will make it harder for cover to stick, and it is will likely fall off sooner. So, experts suggest that you fix any dents before wrapping a car.

The whole process is done in five stages:

  1. First, owners choose the design and whether they want to cover the whole vehicle.
  2. The car crew will take the measure of your vehicle, determining how much film you need.
  3. Then, the professionals will clean your car, so nothing on the surface can interfere with the application.
  4. They will laminate and print the vinyl to protect it from UV damage and potential scratches during the following step.
  5. Finally, the experts will apply the cover.

The process needs to be done in a closed space such as a garage or shed. Dust particles and insects can interfere with the installment ruining the results. The whole process is rather complex, and even if you’re good with cars, it is much better to be handled by professionals.

Among others, it is very important to calculate the necessary material. Amateurs often waste too much vinyl during the process, or they might make bad cuts for certain sections. When a professional company does this procedure, it is usually done in 2, 3 days. After that, the vehicle will have to stay in the shop for another day before you can drive it.

Vinyl car wrap types and costs

Vinyl car wrap types and costs

One of the main reasons people prefer wraps to paint is that it’s much easier to take off. Often, changing the paint will require additional steps and expenses, which is not the case with wraps.

Vinyl car wraps are amazing for companies. The print on the films is great, and you can use it for various branding purposes. For example, you can put your company’s name on a wrap, your phone, and email address. On top of that, the process can easily be scaled, which is especially important if you have a fleet of vehicles.

A person can choose between 3 types of vinyl wraps:

  1. Colored vinyl wrapping is especially great for older vehicles. A company will place an opaque cover personalizing the car and instilling a new life. The process is usually cheaper than a simple paint respray. You can use colored vinyl wrapping to create styles like matte, or you can use it to change specific areas of the car’s body.
  2. Clear vinyl is the most common type of car wrapping. Although it is not as creating as colored vinyl wrapping, it is a good way to protect the original paint. With this protective cover, you can preserve the car’s surface, preventing potential chips and scratches.
  3. Companies usually go with advertising covers. These are custom-made wraps that usually have a company’s logo and name but can also include contact details and other artwork. The same kind of pattern can be placed on numerous vehicles helping you spread the message around.

While car wraps do offer some protection, they are not as great as paint treatments. Nevertheless, if you consider that they also freshen up your vehicle, they suddenly become a good investment.

There are several factors you need to consider when calculating the cost of wrapping. Of course, the size of the car is the main thing. The type of cover, design, job complexity and wheel wrapping are other things to keep in mind.

Here are the basic prices based on the type of car:

Type of vehicle Starting price for wrapping
Motorcycle $1,500
Traditional sedan $3,000
Crossover $3,500
Full-size SUV $4,000
Truck $4,000
Sports car $5,000

Benefits of vinyl car wraps

There are a few reasons why vinyl wraps are so awesome:

  • Vinyl wraps are easy to take off with the right tools. However, they are unlikely to fall off by themselves. Although this is a thin film, it nicely adheres to flat surfaces.
  • Vinyl is a very cheap material. This makes the whole process cheaper than a paint job. You can hire a car company to put a wrap for as low as $1,000, while car repainting usually starts from $3,000.
  • Covers are very versatile and can quickly modernize an old car. They are especially amazing for sports models, but you can use them for almost anything. Vinyl wraps are also a great way to give the car a personal touch.
  • While vinyl is not that thick, it still provides minor protection to the hood and the body. When you notice the first signs of wear and tear, you can easily replace it with a new, updated design.
  • Normally, car wraps last about 5, 6 years, but with proper maintenance, they can serve you for 7 or 8.

In a way, car wraps are luxury products. Of course, they are not a necessity, but if you have money, you can do all sorts of cool things with them.

Drawbacks of vinyl car wraps

Although this looks like a great esthetic solution, there are a few situations where wraps will do a subpar job:

  • There is always a risk of hiring a bad car wrapping company. Cheap services might seem tempting, but they can completely ruin the vinyl causing bubbles to appear on the surface. Furthermore, poorly installed wraps will quickly show signs of wear and tear.
  • Bird dropping, insects, and other filth will quickly damage the wraps. What makes it even more troublesome is that you cannot scrub the surface as you will damage the film. Cleaning, in general, can be a major hassle.
  • Once you get a cover, you will need to inform the insurance as it is considered a car modification.
  • Sometimes, a company will make a mistake during installment trapping the water beneath the film. This is even more dangerous than air bubbles, as water can cause rust.
  • In case your car gets damaged, you might have to remove the entire wrap to repair it. This is especially true if parts of vinyl wrapping connect one to another.
  • If you hire an unprofessional car company during uninstalling, they might ruin your paint.

How to maintain a car wrap?

How to maintain a car wrap

Due to the fact that covers are very sensitive, you will have to pay extra attention during maintenance.

Ideally, vinyl wraps should only be cleaned with hands. Drive through, or any other volatile procedure will completely ruin the material causing it to peel. Depending on a wrap, you might be able to use a pressure washer. Even then, the pressure and temperature need to be low. Instead of going with a focused spray, make sure to use a wide-angle.

Try to clean your wrap by using a soft cloth. Even cloth with a rough surface can damage the cover. Also, make sure to remove spills and any other filth as soon as it appears.

Strong chemical products are also troublesome. Most polishes have an abrasive substance that will damage the material. So, go and buy a product that is specially used for wraps. We recommend that you consult with a wrap installing company.

Keep in mind you can’t repair car wraps. But there is an option of replacing a particular section. This usually works with simple covers that can be bought in any store. However, when a car owner uses a custom design or when sections continue onto each other, it will be hard to continue the image.

Final thoughts

Wrapping a car is a good way to protect it from surface damage. It costs much less than getting a new paint job, and you can experiment with various designs. They cost from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on a vehicle and some other factors.

Maintaining a wrap can be a major pain. It requires a lot of patience, and it is better to clean the car yourself with a soft cloth. If you properly maintain the vehicle, the wrap can last for up to 7 to 8 years.

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