Vehicle wrapping is a technique that has previously been used mostly on commercial vehicles for advertising and branding purposes, but is now increasingly being adopted by private vehicle owners. The process itself involves covering the whole exterior of a vehicle in a thin, malleable, adhesive vinyl. Once the vinyl has been positioned and applied, it is trimmed and cut away from around the windows, door jambs, panel gaps and trim details. It is then thoroughly stuck down onto the paintwork by working out any trapped air from underneath the vinyl with a soft squeegee, and using a heat gun to help it adhere and to work it around the contours of the vehicle.
The main reason people are now using the vinyl wrapping technique on thier own cars is to provide a complete color change. While in the past if you wanted to change the color of your vehicle you would have to get it completely repainted, vehicle wrapping offers an attractive alternative solution.
There are a number of advantages to having your vehicle wrapped instead of painted, the main one being the cost. Although a full vehicle wrap will still be a considerable investment, it is a far cheaper alternative to a full repaint. Also, unfortunately, a high percentage of auto body repair shops do not carry out paint repairs properly, and after having a vehicle repainted it’s very common to be left with imperfections in the finish, such as runs in the paint, an orange peel effect it the clear coat, bad color matching and then vast amounts of dust and over spray. In short, completely repainting a vehicle is a very messy, time consuming and labor intensive process and it can be very hard to find someone that can do it properly and if you do, you’re probably going to have to pay a premium – pushing the cost up even more.
In contrast, vehicle wraps are the complete opposite. They can be applied in as little as a day, create no mess for the vehicle owner, and if applied correctly by an experienced fitter, is little that can go wrong. The vehicle is simply washed and decontaminated, certain trim and exterior components are removed and then the vinyl is applied. More than one person is usually required at the beginning of the process, in order to correctly position and apply the large sheets of vinyl, but once positioned and roughly applied the rest can be done by a single individual.
The quality of the vinyl now available also means that it’s actually very had to tell the difference between a painted finish and a vinyl wrap, and most can even be polished and waxed just like a regular painted finish. As well as different colors you can also choose to completely change the finish, as most manufacturers now offer matte, satin, printed and even chromium vinyl types. Due to this wide variety of options, the possibilities are almost limitless. For example, you can have different panels in different colors, have decals, images and text easily worked into the design, and even contrast different finishes by having dark, matte finish racing stripes laid over a high gloss, bright base color for instance.
A vehicle wrap is not permanent and so can easily and safely be removed without any damage being inflicted to the paintwork. Therefore, if you get bored with the current color and fancy a change, the wrapping process can be repeated again and again as many times as you want without having to go through all of the prep work required if you want to have your vehicle repainted. Also, once a vehicle has been repainted, it unfortunately brings with it a certain stigma that may make selling the vehicle more difficult, as potential buyers may wonder if it has been in a bad accident, or they simply may not like the color. Whereas a vehicle wrap can easily be removed prior to selling if it is not appropriate.
Wrapping your vehicle actually benefits the original paintwork in a number of ways. Firstly, it helps to thoroughly protect and preserve it from the weather, keeping environmental contaminants away. Then, it provides a protective barrier against rock and stone chips, which can easily damage paintwork and lead to rust formation. It also acts as a barrier against the suns strong UV rays, which can oxidize and fade your paintwork. And lastly, instead of your paintwork being inflicted with scuffs, swirls marks and light scratches over time, the vinyl will instead take the brunt of these, being completely eliminated when the wrap is removed.
If you are considering having your vehicle wrapped, there are a few things to consider. You should ensure that you find a qualified professional to prepare your vehicle and install the wrap, because although it is a far more straight forward process that repainting a vehicle, there is still the potential for damage to be inflicted at certain parts of the process. You also need to make sure whoever is fitting the wrap pays sufficient attention to the edges, as the last thing you want is for it to start peeling and lifting off soon after it has been applied. The last thing to note is that once it has been applied, there may be a short curing period before you can wash and clean the exterior of your car, this is simply to ensure all areas of the wrap thoroughly adhere to the surface and any time you would have to wait would be far shorter than the time you may have to wait after having your vehicle repainted.
In conclusion, vehicle wraps are a relatively quick, easy and cost effective way to completely change the color and/or finish or your vehicle, whilst at the same time protecting and extending the life of the paintwork underneath. There is no particular time limit as to how long a vehicle wrap can be applied for, but if it is initially fitted correctly, and subsequently properly cleaned and maintained along with the rest of the exterior, then there is no reason why a vinyl wrap should not last the life of the vehicle, or at least for the period of time you own the vehicle, if that is what you require.