Wrapping a car is a big decision. It’s not as simple as slapping some vinyl on and calling it a day. There are many things to consider before you wrap your car, such as the cost and time commitment involved.
In this blog post, we will explore all aspects of wrapping a car yourself, from choosing the right vinyl wrap to preparing the surface and finishing the job. We’ll also answer some common questions about DIY vinyl wraps, so you can decide if this is the right option for you!
What Is A Vinyl Car Wrap?
A vinyl car wrap is a large piece of vinyl that is installed to cover the entire surface of a car or at least partial areas of it. This can be used for both aesthetic and functional purposes, such as protecting the paint job from weather damage or marketing a business.
Vinyl wrapping is typically handled by a professional installer, as it’s a challenging process. However, some creative and cost-conscious folks may consider doing it themselves.
Vinyl Wrapping Vs. Painting: Which Is Better?
There are several benefits to wrapping a car instead of painting it. For one, vinyl wrap comes in many colors and finishes, so you can achieve any look you want. It’s also much cheaper to wrap a car than it is to paint it.
The temporary nature of a vinyl wrap is also appealing to many people. For example, if you lease your vehicle, you cannot make permanent changes like painting your vehicle. Vinyl lasts for around 5 years but can be removed at any time.
Additionally, the vinyl wrap adds a layer of protection to the original paint job. So if you’re trying to protect your vehicle’s resale value while changing up the look, a vinyl wrap is a great idea.
Can I Wrap My Car?
If you’re feeling confident and have some time on your hands, then yes! You can wrap your car yourself. However, we recommend taking your car to a professional wrap shop for the best results.
If you are dead set on doing it yourself, there’s a lot to consider. You have to buy the vinyl and the tools, prep the car, apply the vinyl wrap, and finish the process.
Read on for information on all these vital steps and take note of why this is usually a job best left to the pros.
Buying Vinyl Wrap Materials For Your Car
When you’re ready to wrap your car, the first step is to purchase vinyl wrap. You can find vinyl wrap online or at most auto stores. Be sure to buy enough wrap to cover the entire surface of your car.
It’s also important to buy the right vinyl. While you’re already cutting costs by attempting to DIY the job, you still need to buy quality materials. In fact, ordering cheap, knockoff vinyl can make the installation process that much more difficult.
Whether you’re installing yourself or leaving it to the pros, it’s best to purchase high-quality vinyl from a reputable manufacturer, like 3M or Avery.
Vinyl Wrapping Tools
In addition to purchasing vinyl wrap, you’ll need some tools to help with the wrapping process. These include a utility knife, squeegee, measuring tape, and masking tape. You will also need a heat gun, as heat is key to the installation process.
To purchase a quality vinyl wrapping set you should budget at least $100 and possibly more.
Preparing To Wrap Your Car
Before you start wrapping, it’s important to prep the surface of your car. This includes cleaning it thoroughly and removing any dirt or debris that could prevent the wrap from adhering properly.
If your paint job is peeling or uneven, you may need to have it repaired before you begin. You need a completely clean surface to ensure the best installation.
How To Prepare A Vehicle For Vinyl Wrapping
As we noted, the first step is to wash your car and make sure it’s completely clean. Next, use a clay bar to remove any contaminants that might be on the surface of the paint.
Are you covering any additional areas like trim? Make sure everything has been cleaned and detailed. Once the paint and trim areas are smooth, you’re ready to wrap!
Laying Your First Sheets Of Vinyl
Now it’s time to start vinyl wrapping your car! Begin by laying down a sheet of vinyl in the center of the car. Use a squeegee to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles. Then, work your way outwards towards the edges of the car.
Keep in mind by this point you should have measured and measured again to ensure the vinyl, as placed, will cover your vehicle. If you have a design or logo that requires specific placement, make sure you set it correctly before making any cuts.
The heat gun will help you soften and stretch the vinyl wrapping material to move it into place and hug the contours of your car. If you need to move a section or smooth something out, use the heat gun again. Cold temperatures will stiffen the vinyl up, so it’s best to do this in an indoor, temperature-controlled space.
Edging And Finishing
Once all of the vinyl is laid down, it’s time to trim the edges. Use a utility knife to carefully cut away any excess wrap. Again, when you wrap a car, quality is important – a cheap knife won’t do the trick!
Then, use a squeegee to smooth out the edges and ensure that the wrap is flush with the car’s surface. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Finally, use an edge sealer pen to firmly seal and make sure the vinyl is secured around all edges and won’t peel up.
Cleaning After Wrapping
After you’re finished wrapping, it’s important to clean the surface of your car again. This will remove any dirt or debris that might stick to the wrap. Simply wash your car gently wash water and dry it with a clean microfiber cloth. Then enjoy your new look!
Caring For Your Wrapped Vehicle
Whether you wrap your own car or have a professional do it, you are still responsible for ongoing maintenance. To keep your vehicle looking great, just follow these simple care instructions:
-Avoid harsh chemicals and use a gentle soap to wash your wrap
-Do not use a pressure washer on your wrapped vehicle, as it can cause the material to tear or pull up
-Avoid extreme weather, including heat
-Park indoors or under covered areas whenever possible
How Much Does It Cost To Vinyl Wrap Cars Yourself?
The cost of vinyl wrap varies depending on the size of your car and the type of wrap you choose. Quality vinyl costs a lot more than knockoff versions, but it will be easier to apply and last longer.
For a medium-sized vehicle, you will need at least 60 feet of vinyl. 3M vinyl rolls come in a variety of sizes and prices. An average 1080 Series Vehicle Wrap to cover one mid-size vehicle would cost about $800. Add to that car prep solution, application fluid, the installation kit and tools, and you’re easily looking at $1200 or more.
Remember, it’s better to have extra material instead of not having enough to finish the job. You can find calculators and formulas online to help you calculate the exact amount of material your will need, but it’s still smart to order more than you think you will need.
Now don’t forget to add the cost of your time and labor! When you add it all up, the money you save by doing it yourself may not make up for the extra effort, or the value and longevity that a professional installation provides.
And worst-case scenario, you mess up the wrap and have to start with new vinyl, or even worse than that, you damage the paint in the process. Are the savings really worth it? You’ll need to decide.
How Long Does It Take To Vinyl Wrap A Car?
Wrapping a car takes anywhere from one to two days, depending on the size of the car. Additionally, the time to wrap a car varies, of course, with your experience level and if you’ll have assistance.
If this is your first time, assume it will take longer than you expect! If you have someone who can assist you, this can prove very helpful. They can offer extra hands in terms of moving and manipulating the vinyl.
When you take your vehicle to a professional installer, most can have your job completed the same day. So if time is of the essence, factor that into your plans, as well.
How Can I Remove Vinyl From My Vehicle?
If you ever need to remove the vinyl wrap from your vehicle, the process is relatively simple – basically the opposite of how you would wrap a car.
Start by heating up the vinyl with a heat gun or hairdryer. Then, use a hard plastic squeegee or a razor blade to slowly and gently peel away the vinyl. Once all of the vinyl is removed, wash the surface of your car to remove any residue.
If you’re worried about damaging your vehicle’s paint during removal, most installation shops will provide these services. Call and find out – some will provide this free for a vehicle they wrapped, or for a small fee if you wrapped it yourself.
Pros And Cons Of DIY Vinyl Wraps
There are both pros and cons to wrapping a car yourself. The biggest pro is that it’s cheaper than taking your car to a professional wrap shop.
However, the biggest con is that it’s a time-consuming process, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Vinyl surfaces are susceptible to damage, especially during the installation process when you’re exposing them to heat. Inexperience can be costly.
Although plenty of automotive DIYers are used to working on their own cars, vinyl film is not your average auto part! You need to have the basic tools, knowledge, and skillset to ensure you aren’t wasting your time and money.
Find A Professional Installer Near Me
If you’re not interested in wrapping your car yourself, we can help! Use our wrap shop locator to find a professional installer near you. Our experts will provide top-quality services at a great price.