What is a car wrap and what's involved in getting a car wrapped?
Custom car wraps are a hot topic lately, as the popular trend has exploded and quickly become a common sight on supercars and vehicles of all shapes and sizes. But there’s also a lot we don’t know about today’s vehicle wraps and the proper vinyl installation process such as, how long you can expect a vehicle wrap to last? What’s the cost of a car wrap versus traditional paint? Does a vinyl wrapped car need to be washed and maintained any differently?
Well, in order to answer those questions and other common car wrapping myths, we’ve enlisted the help of vehicle vinyl expert Tiago Teixeira at Sekanskin, a Canadian-based car wrap company based in Mississauga, ON. If that name sounds familiar, it should as Sekanskin made headlines after wrapping the love-it or hate-it Deadmau5 “Nyan Cat” Ferrari 458, and more recently, the EDM superstar’s Porsche 911 and McLaren.
Read on, as we find out everything you need to know before deciding to vinyl wrap your vehicle according to the pros with 15 things you probably didn’t know about vehicle wraps.
1. What is a car wrap and what’s involved in getting a car wrapped?
Vehicle wrap or “car skin” as we like to call it, is something that completely covers the exterior of the vehicle entirely or partially by either changing the colour, finish or design of the cars existing panels. This process is non-permanent in most cases and typically ranges from 1-7 days of completion depending on the installers and specifications of the project.
2. Does wrapping damage my vehicle’s paint?
The preferred answer is no, and this is typically the right answer. Although, like everything there are always factors involved such as: If the car has been repainted; was the repaint done properly and professionally. You also need to consider if the vinyl wrap installer is professional and experienced enough not to cut the paint during the install. You should also find out if the vinyl product being used is from a reputable / trusted brand and that the installer isn’t using too much adhesive promoting primer.
3. Is the cost of a custom vehicle wrap justifiable compared to traditional paint?
The cost of a fully wrapped vehicle in comparison to a fully painted vehicle is definitely more affordable. Paint is better because it is permanent. Conversely, vinyl wrapping is more desirable for the very reason that it is not permanent. Vinyl can be removed at a client’s desire and doesn’t affect your vehicle’s resale value for being “repainted.” Vinyl achieves virtually the same end result (if professionally installed) and carries the benefits of being more affordable and non permanent. Also, having a “second skin” for your vehicle allows that extra layer of paint protection against variables that could potentially damage your paint and even leave bare metal exposed to issues such as rust, rocks, scratches and chips.
4. What does a car wrap offer over custom paint?
Custom paint jobs can be extremely expensive. In some cases custom vinyl jobs don’t even alter the price and when it does it is typically not anything substantial. It is also easier to do multiple colours in custom patterns using vinyl.
5. How long does the full vehicle wrap procedure take?
Vinyl installers take specific amounts of time on every piece of the car depending on difficulty, size and type of vinyl. This is also dependent on the skill level and experience of the installer.
6. How long does a car wrap typically last?
How long a car wrap or car skin can last will always vary depending on the maintenance of the driver and the overall quality of the install. On average, four years seems to be the going rate for daily driven wrapped vehicles. Most quality manufacturers like 3M offer warranties of up to seven years, although most of our client’s typically sell or rewrap their vehicles within the first 3 years or so.
7. How easy is it to remove the vinyl wrap?
Depending on the install and quality of vinyl used, vinyl wrap removal is not all that difficult. Usually, just a bit of carefully monitored heat with the heat gun will help soften the glue just enough so that the vinyl can be peeled off the vehicle easily.
8. Can I wrap a car myself, is it a DIY kind of project?
You could try. But be warned, it’s a tough task for even a mediocrely skilled installer and not all that easy to do yourself.
9. Can I or should I wrap my leased vehicle?
Wrapping a leased vehicle is becoming more and more popular. The interesting concept of it is that you can pick literally any colour from the dealership and then wrap it to the desired colour of your choice while still protecting the factory paint underneath. The colour change won’t protect the vehicle from very large stone chips, but it will however protect the paint against small surface scratches and exposure to road debris.
10. What’s the difference between a partial and a full car wrap?
The difference between a partial skin and a full skin is that a partial wrap covers only parts of the vehicle such as the roof, hood and or trunk, while the a full skin covers the entire exterior.
11. Does a wrapped car need to be washed differently?
Using a soap and water hand wash is the preferred method of cleaning any vehicle wrap. Touch or touchless car washes are not highly recommended, but if the installation was done professionally, it shouldn’t be an issue. In the case of a matte coloured wrap, you won’t want to wax the finish, but with most gloss vinyl car wraps you can wax it and polish it similar to paint.
12. Can you fix damaged vinyl?
Damaged vinyl is sometimes salvageable, but typically it can be inexpensively replaced if it’s on a small panel of a wrapped vehicle.
13. Are wrinkles and/or bubbles normal?
Wrinkles or bubbles are not normal and usually the sign of a novice wrap. Sometimes, a few dust spots are considered normal and often they’re even unavoidable in factory paint jobs. But, seeing a lot of dust is also not a sign of professional vinyl install and should be addressed.
14. What is the warranty for a vehicle wrap?
Warranties depend on the quality of film and brand, but can last up to seven years.
15. What’s the difference between an expensive wrap and a cheap wrap job?
There are many differences between an expensive wrap and a cheap wrap. Expensive wrap jobs typically correlate to a professional install. In many cases, the prep work alone can take a full day of cleaning and removing parts from a vehicle (doors, hood, etc) to ensure a clean long lasting job. When a company charges a cheap bill, they typically aim to wrap the vehicle in 1-2 days to maximize the minimal profit they’re after. This usually leads to “cutting corners” and also careless installation problems. In many cases, an undertrained and “cheaper” installer can make costly mistakes such as cutting the paint of the vehicle underneath the vinyl wrap or leaving areas of the factory paint colour exposed (which looks bad). An expensive and more professional wrap job should consist of a seamless bubble free installation. The corners should look clean and all areas of existing paint colour should not be visible.