New Paint Job? Replace your Color with a Wrap

Vinyl Wrap instead of Paint

A brand-new Porsche Cayman is being turned from classic silver to bright green with a matte black hood . Just steps away, a 1972 Chevy Impala convertible is being covered in mirror-like chrome. There’s no paint involved, the cars are being wrapped in big sheets of vinyl. And on the wall above where the wrapping is being done is a sign that says this: “Paint is dead.”








Commercial vehicles wrapped in vinyl to become rolling billboards are fairly common these days. But this year has seen a boom in private cars getting wrapped in vinyl. No splashy logos, often no graphics at all. Just color and special effects such as carbon, matte black or anything that makes the car stand out. A BMW is wrapped in matte orange, an Audi wrapped in a gray metallic vinyl, expensive cars are not being re-painted but wrapped. “The finish is flawless,” said Smith, an expert at a local wrap shop. “You don’t have to worry about the paint running, about it being wet-sanded badly.” Like most others that are in the wrapping vehicles, the bulk of their work is wrapping commercial vehicles, turning them into moving billboards. But more and more, wrap shops are wrapping private vehicles in vinyl. Sometimes it’s for a look you can’t get with paint — consider a chrome Mercedes or a Saab covered with white alligator vinyl. Other times, it’s to preserve the original paint’s integrity; “You can’t take a Ferrari off the lot and paint it green,” said one installer, you’ll knock a lot of dollars off its value.







Anything is Possible!

The owner of the Porsche wanted a green one, Smith said, but that would take close to a year to get. So he bought a silver one and is having it wrapped in green. The key is that the silver paint is still intact, underneath. 3M, one of the largest makers of vinyl wrap, guarantees that it won’t leave any glue or residue during the first five years.  After that,” Smith said, “it starts to get a bit permanent.” The price is dependent on the square feet being covered, but vehicles are in the $3,000 range. That’s more than some paint jobs, less than others.

“We haven’t scratched the surface,” Smith said, using a questionable phrase for someone in his business. “We can do refrigerators, boats, bikes, jet skis …”. He actually put one on a refrigerator — his own. Smith covered his refrigerator with a black matte finish because his wife was tired of the kids’ fingerprints on the shiny surface. “Within three to five years,” Smith said, “wrapping a car will roll off everyone’s tongue as often as painting.”

Soni had a couple of reasons to have his leased BMW 135i covered with matte orange. He owns The Party Shop and when he opens up a few temporary Halloween stores this fall, he’ll have the phone numbers put on his rolling pumpkin.




Vehicle Wrap Care Instructions

To maintain the appearance and increase the longevity of your wrap, the following is recommended:

Regular hand washing, avoiding abrasive chemicals with strong solvents

  • Avoid brushes, as they can dull the finish of the laminate and can cause scratching
  • Rinse off any residue thoroughly with clean water
  • Allow vehicle to air dry or use a microfiber cloth to dry

Pressure washing can be used when hand washing is not an option

  • Avoid excessive pressure that can cause damage to the graphics
  • Do not direct the spray at a sharp angle to the graphics
  • Avoid spraying directly at wrap seams
  • Trim back all lifted edges, and seal with an edge sealer or replace the section of the graphics if necessary
  • Water pressure – maximum 800psi to 2,000 psi
  • Water temperature – maximum 72 to 180 degrees
  • Spray nozzle spray pattern of 40 degrees
  • Minimum distance of nozzle to the graphics – 12 to 18 inches
  • Spray angle – 45 degrees, sweeping spray
  • Never use a Turbo pressure nozzle

Avoid Carmauba-based waxes, which are popular for vehicles without graphics because they can be buffed to a high shine. The buffing process needs to be rigorous and can cause damage to the graphics. Teflon or silicone-based polish used should be specifically designed for use on vehicle wraps. Most vinyl manufacturers recommend not using any waxes or polishes on matte, textured or other unique finishes and it is important to remove any residue (gunk) as soon as possible to avoid staining and other damage. Any cleaner used should be tested in an inconspicuous place first

For a gas spill be sure to wash off the residue quickly with soapy water; an isopropyl alcohol wipe down followed by a cleaning with a citrus-based cleaner will help remove oil, tar or asphalt that may build up to the graphics. Follow any chemical cleanings with a regular washing with water and a mild cleaner. Rinse with clean water and dry with a lint-free or microfiber cloth.  In short; KEEP IT CLEAN!