When it comes to making a statement, a car wrap can speak volumes. This automotive makeover is increasingly in demand, according to Sign & Digital Graphics. So whether you’re considering colorful vinyl coverings for promotional purposes or to change up the appearance of your personal ride, take the time to review the options, pros and cons, and costs involved.
Businesses have typically used car wraps, according to Popular Mechanics. Companies can enhance their corporate fleet with an eye-catching, professionally designed wrap to help increase visibility and get their name, logo and other information in front of potential customers, notes Total Landscape Care.
“Within the last six years or so, the industry also started growing in the direction of personalization for private vehicles,” says Rod Voegele, president of Gatorwraps in Ontario, California. If a car owner wants to go beyond a manufacturers’ standard paint options, a wrap opens up a wide spectrum of colors and textures: metallics, shade-shifting hues, camouflage, wood grain, simulated leather and countless other options, Voegele adds.
Car wraps typically last up to three years, according to Road & Track. Wrap providers prefer vehicles with original paint jobs and no major damage in order for a wrap to adhere best and stand the test of time, says Troy Downey, owner of APE Wraps in Coronado, California. “A wrap will amplify any flaws in the car’s painted surface or body,” he adds.
A properly installed wrap can provide the original paint job a layer of protection from scratches, chips and fading from the sun, according to Popular Mechanics. However, wraps are not immune to the dents and scrapes that can happen on the road or in parking lots, Road & Track notes. But because wraps are installed in small sections, a technician might be able to replace one panel — instead of the whole wrap — if any damage occurs, Total Landscape Care says.
Sun, dirt, debris and salt air all take their toll on wraps, especially on horizontal surfaces, Voegele says. Buying a wrap with a UV-protective laminate may help reduce wear, Downey adds. The materials used to melt ice and snow on the roads can also damage the vinyl wrap, The Sign Center notes. Help prevent that damage by washing your car every week or so during the winter.
The cost to design and install a wrap varies depending on where you live and the size and complexity of your vehicle, according to Sign & Digital Graphics. The majority of wrap businesses operate on a price-per-square-foot pricing system, the site notes, with many charging between $6 to $15 per square foot. For a car or small SUV, that can total an estimated $2,000 to $3,000, Stoked Graphics says. If you do need to replace panels, it typically costs the same rate as to install the wrap, Stoked Graphics adds.
The wrap installation process may be more complicated than many DIYers may realize. The car’s surface needs to be meticulously cleaned, Popular Mechanics says, and parts such as molding and mirrors may need to be removed and then reinstalled after wrapping. Installation may be best left to a professional, according to Total Landscape Care.
Whether you’re looking to promote your business or simply want to express yourself, you may find that a car wrap is the way to go. Just make sure your car’s surface is clean, in good shape and that your wrap is protected from the elements.
All photos courtesy of Gatorwraps