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Our cars’ exteriors are an expression of our unique style and personality. When you want to liven up your car’s exterior, you might not want to pay a fortune for an extensive paint job. Car wraps, commonly used on commercial vehicles for branding and advertising, are becoming increasingly popular among private vehicle owners as an affordable alternative to paint. So how much does it cost to wrap a car? We have researched this subject to get you all the answers you need!
Vinyl wrapping can cost between $2,000 to $6,000. Wraps with intricate designs using high-end materials can cost upwards of $10,000. The overall cost typically depends on:
- The amount of vinyl used.
- The type of vinyl (matte, glossy, chrome metallic, gradient color) used.
- The difficulty of removing and reinstalling door jams and body panels as part of the vinyl application process.
You might be surprised to learn that although pricey, vinyl wrapping is often more cost-effective than a full paint job. Keep reading to learn the many advantages of vinyl car wraps.
What is Car Wrap?
A car wrap can be used as an alternative to a full paint job to change your car’s exterior color or add a custom design to your vehicle. Car wraps are typically affixed by a professional. The process involves meticulously cleaning and decontaminating the car’s exterior and then wrapping the entire surface with thin, adhesive vinyl.
A loose vinyl wrap is first positioned atop the car’s exterior. Then, the edges of the wrap are trimmed to fit perfectly around door jams and window trims, headlights, taillights, and panel gaps. Any remaining air beneath the vinyl wrap is pressed out with a squeegee. Finally, a heat gun is used to adhere the wrap to the car.
Once applied, it is challenging to tell the difference between a vinyl wrap versus paint. Limitless design options let you add images, text, and color in any configuration to your car’s exterior. Car wraps are available with various finish types such as glossy, matte, gradient color, and chrome metallic.
Car wraps are long-lasting, but they are not permanent. You can easily change your car’s exterior color and design by merely removing the wrap. The application, removal, and reapplication of a car wrap does not damage your car’s original, exterior paint. Car wraps help to protect your car’s exterior paint from environmental damage.
How Long Does a Car Wrap Last?
If properly maintained, a car wrap can last as long as five years. The environment where you live will have the biggest impact on the vinyl so, protecting your car from the elements is the best way to ensure the longevity of the car wrap.
If possible, park your car in a garage, beneath a carport, or in a shaded area. Keeping your vehicle covered will protect the vinyl wrap from exposure to sunlight, dust and debris, snow, and salt. If you cannot park beneath a solid or shaded area, you might consider using a car cover when your car is parked.
Easy to Clean
A vinyl car wrap can also be washed and waxed regularity to avoid long-term damage from dirt and salt. Specialty waxes, designed for vinyl wraps, protect the wrap’s finish from exposure to the sun’s UV rays and prevent small scratches and dings from kicked-up road debris.
How Do You Wash Car Wraps?
Avoid using an automatic car wash to clean a car with a vinyl car wrap. Abrasive soaps and stiff bristle brushes used in automatic car washes can scratch the surface of the vinyl, leaving the wrap looking faded and worn over time.
You can hand wash the car’s exterior using a microfiber cloth, soft bristle brush, and non-abrasive soap. Heat can be damaging to vinyl so, adjust the water temperature to lukewarm. If you plan to use a pressure washer to clean your car, select a mild pressure nozzle because too high of pressure can indent the vinyl.
As we’ve previously mentioned for overall maintenance, you can wax a vinyl car wrap but use only wrap specific waxing agents and protectants. Regular waxes can be abrasive to vinyl. You might also try a waterless car wash liquid not only to clean your car but leave behind a protective coating.
No Need to Buff
Avoid buffing a vinyl car wrap. Buffing puts the vinyl at risk for small scratches resulting from tiny dirt particles still on the surface that you might not be able to see. Vinyl wrap finishes should not need buffing to keep their glossy or metallic look.
How Much Does it Cost to Clear Wrap a Car?
If you are not interested in bold colors, chrome finishes, or eye-catching designs, but you do want to protect your car’s exterior paint, you might want to consider applying a clear wrap. Paint protection films (PPF), also known as clear wraps or clear bras, are adhered to your car similarly to that of a vinyl wrap. PPF’s protect your car’s exterior paint from weathering and road debris.
The cost of applying a PPF depends on:
- Whether you choose a professional application or a DIY application.
- The size of your car or the amount of transparent wrap material used.
- Whether you choose to wrap individual parts of the car (door handles, side rear-view mirrors, bumper, hood, headlights), wrap the car’s entire front end, or wrap the whole vehicle.
For a professionally applied paint protective film, you can expect to pay between $300 and $2,000 for the entire vehicle.
For a DIY application of paint protection film, you can expect to spend between $40 and $150 depending on the and size of the clear wrap roll.
Is Wrapping a Car Worth It?
If you are looking for an affordable, non-permanent method to change the look of your car’s exterior, then a car wrap is probably worth it. When you want a new color or design, you can remove the wrap and do the process again using a new wrap for a whole new look.
In addition to giving your car a unique design, vinyl car wraps can also help protect the car’s original exterior paint. Car wraps protect the paint from exposure to the sun’s damaging UV rays, so the original paint color will not fade over time. A wrapped exterior prevents the original paint from getting scratched or chipped from road debris because the vinyl acts as a protective layer.
If you want to express yourself with a flashy car without lowering the car’s resale value, remove the wrap when you are ready to sell to return to the car’s original color. Your car will look brand new to prospective buyers.
How Much Vinyl Does it Take to Wrap a Car?
Calculating how much vinyl it takes to wrap a car depends mostly on the car’s height and length. The expertise of the installer is also a factor since a more experienced wrapper will likely make fewer mistakes and waste very little vinyl.
Vinyl suppliers typically sell vinyl in 5-foot wide rolls of 25-feet or more in length. Check with the supplier for roll dimensions when you make calculations for your car.
We looked to CARWRAPSUPPLIER.com to determine how much vinyl it would take to wrap an average car. Using a simple formula, and calculating additional vinyl for the occasional mistake, CARWRAPSUPPLIER estimates it would take:
- 50 to 55 feet of vinyl for small cars.
- 60 to 65 feet for mid-sized cars.
- 65 to 75 feet for sedans, crossovers, and small pick-up trucks.
- 75 to 100 feet for full-sized cars, SUV’s, trucks, and minivans.
How Much Does it Cost to Remove a Vinyl Wrap?
The professionals who applied your car’s vinyl wrap can easily remove the wrap for roughly $500 to $1,000 depending on the labor involved. Car wraps can generally be peeled off within a few hours. The sticky residue is then removed from the car’s exterior before the car is returned to you.
No matter what size car you have or what your color and style preferences are, vinyl car wraps seal the deal when it comes to exterior protection and expression.