Maintaining the new look of cars over the years is of high demand for many car owners. And vinyl wrapping has been the choice well received for quite a long time. For some people who don’t know or even have never heard of this method before, there are many questions about it but the first one that usually arises in car owners’ mind is “how much does it cost to wrap a car?” Today we would take the distinct pleasure of giving the answer to that question and providing you with some other fundamental information about this method.
What is car wrapping? Why choose car wrapping over car painting?
Before getting to know how much does it cost to wrap a car? We should know what car wrapping is. In general, wrapping a car is a technique which provides your car with a protective cover without using the complicated or sometimes flashy paint respray, just sticking the design you like to the surface of your car. As simple as it may sound, the wrapping job requires quite a great deal of time and effort.
Then why should you choose car wrapping over car painting while painting can provide a protective cover? Well the answer is the advantages that car wrapping has while they are disadvantages to painting. The first one is, of course, the price. If “How much does it cost to wrap a car?” is the biggest concern inside your head when it comes to furnishing your car then car painting is not an option for you as it costs way more money than wrapping. Not only that, after you have had your car painted, regular washing is highly recommended. If you do not do the cleaning often, the surface of your car is contaminated with microscopic dust and other toxic elements and as a result your car’s surface is badly damaged. Yet, cars covered with wrapping are easily maintained in good conditions even if you forget tidying them up as they are effectively protected from microscopic dust thanks to amazingly protective layers. Besides, when you are a person who wants to change the color or the appearance of your car to feel like you are having a brand new car, car wrapping is a wonderful choice due to the fact that the beneath painting remains in the perfect condition as being removed when the wrap is applied correctly and maintained properly. This is the proof showing that car wrapping is an option worth considering.
Pros and cons of painting and wrapping
As mentioned above, wrapping has some advantages which are the disadvantages to painting but what are the drawbacks of car wrapping? and what benefits does painting offer? Let’s find out.
First let’s start with painting. The biggest selling point of painting is that the cover can last for a lifetime if the paint is of high quality and the car after being painted is taken well care of with frequent washing. However, it requires quite a sum of money to get your car sprayed with well class paint. Not only that, you will need to invest time in the frequent washing, which is quite impossible for folks who are up to the neck with work. Another setback is that painting is a lengthy process which can last for weeks so for people who use cars as the only mode of transport it is unlikely to choose this method. And finally, if you wish to change the look of your car after a while, you will have to remove the paint layer before you have your car repainted.
As for wrapping, it can address all the problems of painting. Firstly about the cost, while painting costs from $3,000 to $10,000 or more, the cost of wrapping a car falls between $1,500 and $5,000 on the basis of materials and project. Secondly, the time for a professional to wrap your entire car is just one or two days, which is way less time-consuming than painting. Thirdly, the cover that wrapping provides is easy to be removed when you desire to upgrade the look of your car. Moreover car wrapping offers the customers a wide range of colors and options. Car wrapping is designed by computer programs so you can choose how your car looks or in other words car wrapping is customized and your car is tailored for you alone. You can choose glossy and matte finishes or chrome and metallic color options. This is one benefit that many people think the cost of wrapping a car is worthy. And finally, a car wrap consists of a variety of big vinyl decals which can be used to cover every inch of the car body, specifically the hood, doors, fenders, roof, decklid and bumper. This means that not only the exterior but also the interior of your car is well taken care of.
Yet, wrapping has some negative sides, too. If you are not rolling on money and you are in search of a way to wrap your car as economically as possible, it’s best to keep in mind that the quality is worth the money you spend. In addition, should your car suffer any scratch or scuff, you may end up losing the cool look of your car as the underlying paint will seep through that crack.
That’s some advantages and disadvantages of painting and wrapping. You should sleep on them so that you can make the right decision when wishing to “dress up” your car. Now let’s find out the answer to the most interested question: how much does it cost to wrap a car?
How much does it cost to wrap a car?
According to the experts, based on the size of your car and the complexity of your wrap the cost of wrapping a car fluctuates.
In terms of size, the bigger your car is, the more it costs you to wrap your car.
Table 1: The cost of wrapping the entire car based on the car’s size
|Type of car||Cost of wrapping|
|Family sedan||at least $3,000|
|Compact crossover||at least $3,500|
|Full-size SUV||at least $4,000|
|Truck||at least $4,000|
Source: Alex Belov, General Manager of Tinting Chicago
Note: the cost mentioned above includes vinyl of the best quality.
About the complexity of the wrap, it is in harmony with the price. If you wish to wrap your car with a carbon-fiber-look vinyl and chrome treatments it will cost you $6,000 and go up from there.
And should you be rolling in money, you can choose the most exotic wrap which costs about $10,000 and even more depending on the difficulty, the materials and the size of your car.
So as you can see, there is no specific answer to the question “How much does it cost to wrap a car?”
Can you do the wrap yourself?
The answer is of course yes. You can do the job without taking your car to a wrapping professional. But it’s not a piece of cake especially when you are not one who is good at technical things.
How much does it cost to wrap a car in a DIY way?
Because you do the wrapping work yourself, the cost of wrapping a car is cheaper than the one we mentioned above as the cost of labor is counted out. The size of your car and the type of material you use are two factors that make up the cost here.
There are four popular types of material on the market.
- Carbon fiber: loads of people use this type of material on hoods of the car and it costs about from $3 to $7 per square foot.
- Vinyl gloss: it’s usually used to wrap the surface of your car as it reflects the sunlight, which makes your car look more shining. The price of this material falls between $1.5 and $3.5 per square foot, which is half as expensive as carbon fiber.
- Vinyl matte: this one is not quite favored by car geeks as it can’t reflect the sunlight. The price of the type is from $2 to $3.5 per square foot.
- Chrome: this is the most expensive out of 4 types, about $8 per square foot. However it is in trend at the moment.
How to wrap a car on your own?
After reflecting on the question “how much does it cost to wrap a car in a DIY way” and you decide to wrap yourself, you will browse the Internet to search for the process of wrapping a car. And we are here to save your time by instructing you step by step on how to wrap your own car.
Step 1: Prep. You have to prepare:
- Heat gun
- Felt-edge squeegee
- Breakaway knife (30-degree blades are recommended)
- Small magnets
- Soft magnetic-tape measure
- Teflon-coated back cutter
- Spray bottle
- Microfiber towels
- Vinyl-wrapping lintless gloves
- Knifeless tape
- Compressor and Infrared thermometer are optional
- Car wash materials
- Car wax remover (in case you need it)
- Vinyl wrap
- Clay bar kit
- Isopropyl alcohol
And don’t forget to wear safety glasses , closed-toe shoes and even mechanic coveralls as working on your car could be dirty and dangerous. Remember that error is on the side of caution.
Step 2: Cleaning the surface
You need to clean the surface before you start the wrapping job. This is very important as an unclean surface could prevent the wrap from doing its best performance.
Step 3: Applying the wrap
You should start the work at a place that is roomy and dust-free. The ideal place is the one where the temperature is about 70-74 degree F as the vinyl is affected by the temperature.
Firstly, you need to select which part of the car you will start with. For novices, we advise you to start with flat parts like doors, hood or trunk lid and then move forward with more complicated ones. If there is part which gets in the way, remove it.
Secondly, you use the tape measure to estimate the amount of vinyl needed. Based on our experience, the amount should be added 6 inches both horizontally and vertically.
Thirdly, you cut the material without exposing the vinyl to dirty surfaces.
Next, you should ask for some help to remove the backing of the surface and drape the vinyl across the surface. For over lightly curved surfaces, you should drape with some tension.
Finally, you pick a center point and begin applying pressure to the vinyl with the felt-edged squeegee. You should push outward to the edges of the vinyl to eliminate any air bubbles.
In case of wrinkles, you should use the heat gun to make the vinyl soft and conform it to the surface.If there are clusters of wrinkles, use your hands to grip the end of the vinyl and pull up and out until the vinyl becomes flat.
And bubbles may appear during and after the process too. If found during the application process, lift the vinyl up and try again, if possible. If not, use the tiniest needle you can find, poke a small hole, and use lintless gloves to push the air out with your finger. You might need to use the heat gun to remove any wrinkles that formed because of the bubbles.
Step 4: Detailing and post heating
After applying the vinyl, you should pay attention to detailing and correcting the wrap to make it look professional and cool.
How long does the wrap last?
How long will a car wrap last? We bet this is the second important question that many of you are interested in after the first and foremost one: “how much does it cost to wrap a car?’ In fact, the lifespan of a car wrap is shorter than that of painting. Painting layer could last for a lifetime with great care as mentioned above while a car wrap could last for several years. However it’s not a short amount of time. The duration of a car wrap greatly depends on the condition of your car. It will have an influence on the performance and the success of the wrap. Applied to a poor surface such as one with scratches, dents, dings, corrosion or chipped paint, a wrap won’t last long as those defects in the surface of your car reduce the stickiness of the vinyl decals, things mainly used for wrapping a car. Otherwise if a vinyl wrap is applied to a surface which is in a perfect condition, it can last for at least 10 years and will keep its best looking for about 4 to 5 years depending on the surrounding climate and what type of elements your car is exposed to. However, you should keep in mind that after that length of time, it will take greater effort to get it removed from your car.
Author’s view – How much does it cost to wrap a car?
We have given you the answer to the query: how much does it cost to wrap a car? and some extra but must-know information about car wrapping. As the final remark, we would like to say that it’s not always the car wrapping that you choose when you want to improve the look of your car. When you wish to change the look of your car over the years or to beautify your car with designs that you like, then car wrapping is the best option. But if your car’s paint is in a bad condition, then repainting it is a smarter choice.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment. We will give you the response as quickly as possible.
FAQs on wrapping a car
Does wrapping ruin your paint?
The answer is definitely no. On the contrary, wrapping protects your paint as it provides a protective cover to your paint. Just imagine like it’s the armor of your paint, which ward off some certain harmful elements.
Do you wax a wrapped car?
You don’t necessarily do that. You just need to use a wet cloth to wash it. But remember that you need to dry your car immediately after moistening it to maintain the best look of your car. If you apply matte to your car, you should ask the manufacturer for the special washing techniques to take the best care of your car.
Does a car wrap prevent dust?
It depends. If your car has already had a rusted surface, then a car wrap can do nothing with it. However, if you wrap your car when it’s untouched, it’s a different story. When your car is not in a rusted condition, the wrap can make it impossible for scratches or rock chips to form and as a result the process of rusting does not proceed.
Does a wrap fade?
Definitely no. As far as we are concerned, the most state-of – the – art and high-quality wraps are designed to an extent where it’s impossible to fade. But if you are unlucky to get your car wrapped with wrap of poor quality then the answer will be yes.