These past few years have been tough on drivers. Lots of us have been stuck at home and now, just as things are opening up again, we’re hit with sharply rising gas prices. If you’re going to drive, it had better be fun.
Enter vinyl car wraps. This is an industry that’s been exploding recently, with innovations in vinyl technology that are giving drivers new options for durable and affordable custom looks. Leave boring behind by installing your own vinyl car wrap that will take your drive from mundane to amazing.
Start with the Right Tools
DIY projects are everywhere today, and wrapping up your own car is definitely one you can tackle on your own. You’ll need to set aside a good amount of time and assemble a few tools, but this is a relatively easy project to do yourself. An extra set of hands is a bonus.
If you want to wrap your own car, here are the tools you’ll need to get started:
- a sharp knife with a fresh blade to make easy cuts
- a tape measure that will help ensure accuracy before cutting your vinyl
- a felt-edge squeegee to smooth out the vinyl and get rid of any air bubbles
- a heat gun that works the vinyl’s muscle memory and helps it settle into place
Always start with a clean vehicle that’s in good condition. Vinyl will give it a new look but it can’t cover existing blemishes or areas needing repair, so you’ll have to take care of these first. Once your car is freshly washed to remove wax, dirt, and grease, give it a rubdown with alcohol and a microfiber cloth to make sure it’s ready for a smooth vinyl application.
Use Quality Vinyl
With vinyl, the adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies. For wrapping cars, make sure you order cast vinyl. This type of vinyl is thinner and more pliable than calendared vinyl, making it more suitable for car applications. It’ll also be more durable and last longer.
Big companies invest heavily in research and development, and there have been a lot of advancements in car vinyl in recent years. To avoid frustration and an inferior product, DIYers are best off sticking with 3M or Avery to ensure they’re getting a good quality vinyl. This will help with ease of application, give you a great selection of colours and finishes, and improve the overall look of your project.
Take Your Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and, especially if you’re new to wrapping, you shouldn’t expect your vinyl project to be finished in a day either.
Vinyl application is finicky and rushing it will lead to disappointing results. Find a place that’s protected from the elements to make application easier and more predictable, and set aside about a month if you’re a beginner who wants to wrap your entire vehicle yourself. This will give you enough time to give your full attention to the project, carefully manage the finer details like cutting edges, and even consult a few YouTube videos if you find yourself in a tricky spot.
How It’s Done
Wrapping your own car requires patience but the end result can be immensely satisfying. Make sure you measure carefully, leaving a couple of extra inches on each side so that you don’t come up short without a perfect finish on all the edges.
Carefully peel the liner from the vinyl and lay it out section by section. This is when it’s really helpful to have an extra person to lend a hand, but if you’re working solo, you can remove the backing section by section to give you more control. Glass the vinyl by pulling outwards on each corner to give it a glass-like finish and remove all of the wrinkles before you start sticking it down.
It’s also helpful to pre-stretch the vinyl so that it’s ready to handle curved areas better. Pull it out towards the corners (not the edges). This ensures any shrinking that happens will naturally curl up around the edges, avoiding creases in your final project.
Section if off and working at an angle, using your squeegee to smooth out wrinkles and air bubbles from the centre of the wrap towards the outer edges. If you find it tricky to get the vinyl to lay flat, you can lift the film from the edges and try again. This is also a helpful technique when you’re working with curves. Lift the vinyl gently to help it relax fully into the dips, preventing it from popping up later.
Wrap the vinyl around the edges and use your knife to trim the excess. Once you’re happy with the application, using your heat gun will ensure a flawless finish and seal the edges of the wrap.
Trust A Professional
If you want a professional look, you can certainly put in the time and effort to do it yourself. Having a bit of extra vinyl on hand can be helpful if you measure wrong or overwork the vinyl, causing nicks or burn holes.
Professionals make it look easier than it is. If you lack the patience, time, or attention to detail that’s required to get a perfect vinyl wrap, you might be better off leaving it to the professionals.
With the right tools, a weather-controlled bay, and the skill and expertise that comes with experience, a professional vinyl installer is your guaranteed way to make your car look brand new and one-of-a-kind. As far as the cost is concerned, the car type and materials used determine the price for a car wrap. The style of the wrap, size of the vehicle and the complexity/curvature of installation are some other factors that add into the price of installation.
Have Some Fun
Whether you make it a DIY goal or hire someone to get the job done, wrapping your car with a fresh vinyl wrap is an easy way to change up your look. Unlike manufacturers’ paint choices, vinyl comes in an endless array of options that can be mixed and matched with overlaminates to make any dream car a reality.
Vinyl is fully removable and easily accessible, making it a great option for drivers who are looking to have some fun. Get back out there on the road with a car that’s a joy to drive.