Car wraps are an increasingly popular paint alternative for changing your vehicle’s appearance. However, there are still some common misconceptions when comparing wrap vs paint. Let’s clear those up.
When to wrap? When to paint?
Let’s start off with the biggest misconception of them all:
Wrapping to fix bad paint.
Let us point out right now… Most of the time, doing a car wrap to fix bad paint is not a viable option. There are a few exceptions, which I’ll get into soon enough. In the meantime, here’s why:
You need good paint to start with. Any imperfections in your paint will show through the wrap — Specially those of a textured nature. Not just that, but if your paint is weak, for example, a failing clear coat, it might not resist when peeling the wrap off.
When comparing wrap vs paint, the main point of using vinyl to change your car’s appearance is that it’s reversible. Meaning, if you change your mind, or need to return the car to stock to sell it, you can always revert back to the original state. But when your paint is bad, you really don’t have a good base to apply the wrap to. I don’t mean your paint needs to be show-quality to accept a wrap. It does however need to be healthy, with a strong clear coat and no deep scratches, dents, corrosion or other roughness.
The other big misconception and likely as predominant as the first one is…
Wraps as a cheaper alternative to paint.
Like we pointed out earlier, car wraps are not meant to fix your paint. They are also not cheap. The material itself is expensive and many man hours need to be put in to complete a quality car wrap project. Like paint, a lot of experience is involved and only highly skilled people can perform the wrap job flawlessly.
There is a time to paint and a time to wrap. That said, the cost of wrap vs paint is an important factor when making a decision. In most circumstances, a car wrap job will cost the same as painting your car. Of course, price varies on quality. A low quality paint job will likely cost less than a high quality wrap, and vise versa. In the end, you want a high-quality result. A high-quality result doesn’t come cheap.
The problem is, most people think of paint as being all the same and wraps as being all the same. They often make the mistake of comparing an average paint job with a high-quality wrap where the price might be similar, but the end results are nothing but.
This all said, here is the number one thing you need to know when it comes to making a decision whether to wrap your car or paint your car:
If your paint is good, you wrap. If your paint is bad, you paint.
Wrap vs Paint – When can a wrap be cheaper?
We mentioned a few exceptions were car wraps can be cheaper than paint. Let’s look at them below.
Wrap vs Paint – Race Cars
Race cars have to change their look very often. They change their colors and they change their sponsors. The cars often have multiple colors, stripes and designs. Likewise, to make quick color and design changes, wrapping can be done in a less costly manner than paint. Not to mention, when there are multiple colors, paint gets expensive really quick.
Race cars also incur damage on the race track where they need repairs more often than road cars do. Given it’s usually a panel or two that needs to be repaired, it’s cheaper to just wrap the repaired or replaced panel than to paint it. Painting requires quite a bit more prep time than wrapping, so for small sections that have to be repaired often, vinyl wrapping can be less expensive.
Wrap vs Paint – Small panel sections
To clarify, where the above transfers over to road cars is for example, small panel sections, like the roof. Since it’s only one section, and often just one panel, roofs can be wrapped more affordably than painting them.
Wrap vs Paint – To conclude
Reason for wrapping
You can change the color of your car without messing with the resale value. In fact, it can actually work in your favor, Since you are covering your paint, you are essentially protecting it. This could help protect your resale value. Before selling, peel off the wrap to reveal the paint below which has been protected from UV rays, contamination, scratches and paint chips. This can be as expensive as paint, but you have the option to remove it. Something you can’t do with paint. Additionally, if you are changing colors, unless you take the car apart and paint the engine bay, door jambs, trunk, etc, (very expensive) you will have a different color in those areas. Wrapping, you have the same situation, BUT it’s NOT PERMANENT. If you want your paint to match your engine bay again, just peel the wrap off.
Furthermore, there are some colors, finishes and effects that can be done with vinyl, that cannot be easily accomplished with paint. Some of these include chrome, color shift, pearl, and satin finishes. For these options, it would be often better to go with a car wrap instead of paint.
Reason for painting
Your original paint is in bad condition and will not safely accept a vinyl wrap. The paint imperfections will show through the wrap and even if it were to be wrapped, peeling the wrap off will likely bring the bad paint up with it. In this case, you need to paint rather than wrap. Additionally, if you are looking for a more factory-look with no seams and a matching engine bay, door jambs, trunk, then painting will be very expensive, but it’s the way to go for that. You can always wrap door jambs and such, but you can’t really wrap an entire engine bay to make the car look like it was that new color, from factory. Technically, a paint job can look better and deeper than a wrap. It can also look “factory.” But a paint job of that caliber will also be more expensive than a wrap.
Hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding of car wraps vs paint and when it’s best to paint your car rather than wrap it. You would also understand the reason why wrapping is just about as expensive as painting, but allows you other benefits that paint doesn’t and vice-versa. Hopefully this information can help you make a decision as to what would be best for your vehicle.