Over the last few years, we have wrapped several cars and done a lot of partial wraps. All that experience and hard-learned lessons would be lost if we didn't share it.
Here we share tips and tricks to help those who are looking to wrap their own cars.
A question we often get asked is: "Can vinyl wrap a car yourself?"
Yes, you can wrap a car yourself as long as you have the time and patience required to wrap a car. Vinyl wrapping a vehicle is not a difficult task but does require patience and a lot of time.
To wrap a car yourself, you will need a small budget, a few tools, time, and patience. Before you start wrapping a car yourself, make sure to read this article to learn from our experience and avoid common pitfalls.
How to Prepare a Vehicle for Vinyl Wrapping
Preparing a vehicle for the vinyl wrap is the most critical part of wrapping a car.
First, you will need to fill any dents or deep gashes with a primer, and make sure the repaired surface is flat.
Next, wash the vehicle thoroughly to remove any contaminants or debris; you are producing a clean surface to work with.
Using a clay bar, remove any last-minute debris or contaminants while the vehicle is still wet.
Dry the vehicle with either an air compressor or a moisture absorbing towel to avoid debris from a microfiber towel.
Once the vehicle surfaces are flat and clean, you are ready to begin.
Next, you can start vinyl wrapping your car. When you think of vinyl wrapping a car, think of it as just applying giant stickers on larger surfaces.
How much does it cost to vinyl wrap a car yourself?
To vinyl wrap a vehicle yourself, you will need the vinyl itself, which varies in price significantly depending on Size, Brand, Color, and Finish.
On average, to wrap a vehicle, you will need to purchase a 5-foot x 60-foot vinyl roll to wrap most size vehicles, which can cost anywhere from $200 to $800 on average.
Regardless of the color or finish, you may choose, you will be saving. Thousands of dollars by vinyl wrapping your vehicle yourself rather than a shop.
An auto body shop will charge between $2,200 - $5,000 depending on the vinyl of choice, the size of the vehicle for a full vehicle wrap.
The price varies mainly due to the fact that there are countless brands of vinyl wrap for vehicles, including Avery Dennison, 3M, KPMF, Vvivid, SOTT, etc.
For colors, the vinyl wrap comes in any shade you could ever imagine from Single Colors, Color Shifts, Chromes, Patterns, etc.
For finishes, you can purchase different types of vinyl with a Gloss Finish, Matte Finish, Satin Finish, Metallic Finish, etc.
Vinyl Wrapping Tools
To wrap a car yourself you will need:
- Vinyl wrapping felt squeegee.
- Heat gun
- Trim removal tools
- Vinyl cutter
- Car cleaning supplies
- Microfiber towels
- Knife-less tape
- Vinyl wrapping magnets
- Vinyl cutting knife/blade.
In essence, to vinyl wrap a vehicle yourself, you will need the vinyl itself, the necessary tools, but most importantly, time and patience.
How much vinyl do I need to wrap a vehicle?
Depending on the size of the vehicle, different amounts of vinyl will be needed accordingly.
For smaller size vehicles like convertibles or coupes, expect to need on average, a 5 ft x 50 ft vinyl roll.
For sedans, expect to need, on average, a 5 ft x 55 ft vinyl roll.
For SUVs or larger vehicles in general, expect to need, on average, a 5 ft x 60 ft vinyl roll.
How long Does it Take to Vinyl Wrap a Car Yourself?
On average, to complete a full vinyl wrap on a vehicle by yourself plan on 30 to 40 hours or about two weeks.
The time to wrap a vehicle varies slightly due to the skill level and the complexity of the vehicle body.
If you leave it up to the experts, we have seen body shops wrap a vehicle in as little as two days or up to two weeks.
5 Things to Keep in Mind When Wrapping a Car
Over the years, we have collected several vinyl wrapping tips and tricks that we are going to be sharing with you based on our experience.
- Prep is the most essential step in the entire process of vinyl wrapping. The film will not stick properly to any surface that is not clean and clear of contaminants.
- Do not cheap out on the film. If you are on an extremely limited budget, save up a few extra bucks and purchase a film from one of the brands mentioned above to ensure you are getting a quality product with air release and memory properties.
- Use the triangle method when vinyl wrapping meaning to stretch the vinyl in three different directions to release the air under the vinyl and get rid of any bubbles, creases, or fingers.
- Pre-stretch the vinyl by heating it with a heat gun and stretching the film by 2% to 5% to prevent the vinyl shrinking significantly when it cools.
- To avoid scratching the vinyl film when wrapping, spray a thin coat of water on the film when squeegeeing.
- Do you need a heat gun to vinyl wrap a vehicle?
- Technically it is not required but is highly recommended to ensure the longevity of the film.
- Can you vinyl wrap a vehicle that has dents?
- You can vinyl wrap a vehicle with dents, but the dents will show through the vinyl wrap. We recommend just getting the dents removed before applying the vinyl wrap to ensure a perfect finish.
- Can you wrap a body panel that has primer or Bondo?
- Yes, as long as the surface is clean, the vinyl will still stick. If for any reason, it does not, you can use an adhesive promoter.
- Is it cheaper to vinyl wrap or paint a vehicle?
- For quality purposes, vinyl wrap is a cheaper alternative compared to a high-quality paint job but is more expensive than a low-quality paint job.
- Can you get your vehicle vinyl wrapped for free?
- Potentially, if you are a company owner, a video creator, or another career that may be useful to a vinyl wrapping company for promotions, you could potentially get a discount or free work.
- How long does vinyl wrap last on a vehicle?
- Vinyl wraps on a car usually lasts 5 to 7 years.
- Can you wash a vinyl wrapped vehicle?
- Yes, vinyl wrap is washed the same as paint, just with less force and more caution.
- Does vinyl wrap fade?
- After several years a vinyl wrap could potentially film, but if the vinyl is taken care of and kept out of the sun frequently, then it is unlikely.
- Can vehicle wraps damage the paint on a vehicle?
- If the paint under the vinyl wrap is of low quality, there is a possibility that the paint could become damaged.