by Joshua Thomas
Car wrapping has been a fast-growing trend in automobile customization in the last few years as more and more motorists are preferring it over paint due to the trendier and more stylish look.
With a car wrap, you can easily change how your vehicle looks without any long term commitments such as a permanent color change. Also, it is a relatively faster method of spicing up your car as some wraps can take as little as a few hours.
But, what comes to many people's minds when they think of car wrap is the cost, and whether it is cheaper or more expensive than painting. In this piece, we help make this clear by highlighting the factors that determine car wrap cost.
A car wrap can cost anywhere from $1,000 and $5000, but there are also some types that can cause less than this and others way more than this price range. Hence, before you decide to go for a wrap instead of a traditional paint, you need to have a clear idea of how much you are likely to spend.
With that said, how much you end up paying for a car wrap will depend on several factors, and in some places it is also generally way much cheaper than others. Here are some of the key determinants of car wrap cost.
The type of vehicle that you drive is one of the main determinants of how much a car wrap will cost you just like when getting the car painted.
Different car models will have a different surface area to be covered and the design will also have a different level of difficulty and also take a different amount of time.
For example, a smaller 2 door car model will be much cheaper to cover than a larger saloon car or even a 4x4. And if you drive larger vehicles like vans, you can expect to pay even more.
Also, some vehicle models will have complicated bends and curves that will be hard to reach, and will hence make wrapping then car more tedious and time-consuming, which then makes it more expensive.
Your vehicle’s current paint condition is a major determinant of how much you will end up paying for a car wrap.
If the vehicle has body damage, oxidation or peeling paint, it will typically cost much more to wrap than one with a smooth body surface with little to no imperfections.
And this is because these paint imperfections will first need to be fixed or at least smoothened out to ensure the wrap will adhere well to the car's surface.
While some people will still go ahead to wrap the vehicle over the damaged areas, this often results in an unsightly and uneven body surface appearance, and the wrap also does not last very long.
One of the questions that you are likely to get from your car wrapping professional when you make that inquiry call is whether your vehicle has graphics or not.
The presence of graphics on the vehicle’s body will make the job a little more complicated, and this is more so if you want to keep them, which means you are also likely to end up having to pay more money.
Also, in some cases, it is impossible to wrap over certain graphics, and so the cost of wrapping your car will also include the cost of removing the existing graphics or even an older wrap and hence making it more expensive.
It is common for motorists to add different aftermarket components to their vehicles such as spoilers, grills, and antennas to spice up the look and also for other more functional purposes.
These extra components mean that there will be extra parts to wrap around, which besides being tedious also takes more time. This adds to the overall labor cost for the job, meaning you are likely to end up paying more to get your vehicle wrapped.
When getting a car wrap, you can choose to go with a solid color, which is what many people seem to prefer or have the vehicle wrapped in your preferred patterns with different colors or designs.
Solid colors are easy to do as it is all about covering the entire surface of the vehicle with one uniform color. Given that this is all about sticking the vinyl wrap and smoothening it out, a solid color will take less time and effort, and hence making it cheaper.
Patterns and other designs will require greater attention to detail, and they will also take more time and require better skills to achieve. What this means is that you will have to pay more for the job. The material cost also tends to be higher when doing anything else besides solid color which further adds.
Car wrap does not always have to cover the entire body as there are different types of wraps. Besides the full wrap, you can also get a partial, roof, bonnet, interior-trim or even a partial wrap. Many car wrap centers can also offer bespoke wrapping to suit your particular needs.
The exact wrap you want to get will determine how much you end up paying for the job. For example, a bonnet wrap will cost significantly less than a full or even partial vehicle wrap.
Also, some cars will come with some sleek black bumpers, which many motorists will prefer not to cover, and so the car wrap will end up using less material, and hence also cost less. Wrapping the bonnet and hood only can cost as little as $200.
Where you get the car wrapped will also be a big determinant of how much you pay for the job. Different professionals will charger differently for their services.
If you plan to get the car wrap from one of those high-end auto customization shops run by the celebrity-like "car-wrappers", you are likely to pay more than you would when you get the same service from a regular or local shop.
It is possible to get a decent quality full car wrap at your local wrap center for as little as $1,000, but the same job would cost upwards of $5,000 when getting from those fancy high-end auto wrap centers.
However, it is also worth noting that getting the job done by a professional and more experienced individual, you are more likely to get a long-lasting and more aesthetically appealing wrap than when getting it done locally. In other words, you always get what you pay for.
As you try to figure out how much you are going to spend on a car wrap, it is hard not to want to know what sets it apart from regular car paint. And while many motorists will prefer a car wrap due to its obvious aesthetic appeal, there are still many other factors that set it apart from paint.
First, unlike car paint, car wrapping is a relatively faster job because there is do drying time, and you also do not have to apply several coats.
A typical car paint job can take between 3 days and 3 weeks while even the most complicated car wraps will hardly ever take more than 3 days with most regular jobs taking just a couple of hours to a day.
Besides being fast and easy to apply, a car wrap will also take little effort to remove. Whereas a car paint is permanent and will require a lot of scrubbing and sanding to remove, getting rid of a car wrap is as easy as peeling it off.
Better yet, a car wrap does not damage your car's paint, and so once you remove it, a thorough clean-up is all you need to get the original vehicle color back.
Car paint durability mostly relies on the type and quality of paint used and also how it is applied. But if done right, car paint can last for the lifetime of the vehicle.
With car wrap, on the other hand, the durability will also depend on the material used to wrap the car and also the quality of the job. A good car wrap should last between 2 and 10 years if you take good care of it.
But, like paint, how long a car wrap lasts will largely depend on how you maintain it and its exposure to the elements. If you take good care of your car wrap, on average you can expect to have it in your vehicle for around 5 years.
When it comes to maintenance, car paint will generally give you a harder time. Most car paints are formulated to withstand the elements and UV protection. However, most will require more maintenance because you only need to keep them clean and wax them regularly.
Car wraps do not require any expensive products for maintenance because you will only need to keep the surface clean by wiping it with a wet soft cloth.
While the car wrap seems to have many advantages over car painting, it falls short when it comes to the cost as it can be quite expensive.
To paint your vehicle, you can spend as little as $500 or even less as it depends on where you are and the condition of the car. But, to get even the most basic car wraps, you will need to spend at least $1,000.
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Maintenance is crucial to ensure your car wrap lasts long, and hence gives you the best value for your money. And besides keeping it clean, the most important thing when maintenance is concerned is to protect the wrap from elements like sun and rain.
If your wrap has some kind of UV protection or you can get a good product that provides UV protection, the better. Always parking your vehicle in a garage is important to keep the wrap in good shape, but if you do not have one, a cover will be very useful.
When it comes to cleaning a car wrap, you should avoid the automatic car washes as they will easily damage it. Instead, use a soft microfiber cloth to clean your vehicle to avoid scratches.
If you are tired of plain and boring car paints, a car wrap is the next best alternative as it will open up new possibilities when it comes to customization.
But, overall a car wrap will cost more than car paint and will also often require more care and maintenance as it is more delicate.
And while several factors will determine how much you pay for the car wrap such as the car model and whether you want a solid color or patterns, on average you will spend between $1,000 and $5,000 to get your car wrapped. However, there are still some car wraps that can cost up to $10,000.
About Joshua Thomas
Joshua Thomas just simply loves cars and willing to work on them whenever there's chance... sometimes for free.
He started CarCareTotal back in 2017 from the advices of total strangers who witnessed his amazing skills in car repairs here and there.
His goal with this creation is to help car owners better learn how to maintain and repair their cars; as such, the site would cover alot of areas: troubleshooting, product recommendations, tips & tricks.
Joshua received Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University.