If you’re between going for the vinyl wrap or the traditional paint job, here are some reasons that vinyl might be your new best friend. For starters, vinyl is significantly more durable than a paint job, not to mention easier to replace if things do get a little rough.
Vinyl sits on top of your car and acts as a protective shield, so if it gets scratched or damaged it's the vinyl that you’re replacing instead of doing corrective work on the actual body of your car.
A good paint job will last you years, even decades, depending on how well you take care of your car. However, this can be a double-edged sword. After a few years you might want to switch it up and put some new personality into your ride, but because of how expensive a paint job can cost that just isn’t really an option to do as often as you can with wrap.
Vinyl wraps are easy to remove and leave no residue behind, so if you want to replace them every so often you can definitely do that. Granted, applying a vinyl wrap isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers, but it’s definitely less expensive than hiring professionals to paint your car or truck.
Speaking of professionals, you can apply your own vinyl wrap at home, and you can use a wide variety of patterns and different finishes. If you wanted a paint job that was one solid color then that’s one thing, but once you start to get personalized with it you begin to deal with more requirements, more professionals, and more costs.
How To Get Wrapping
Once you’ve picked out the wrap design that you want, there are a few prep steps before you start putting it on.
What You’ll Need
GunSkins Vinyl Wrap: Of course you’ll need to start by picking out your favorite design, whether it’s a classic camouflage pattern like GS Military OCP, or something a bit more modern and sleek like the Kryptek Wraith design.
Heat Gun: GunSkins vinyl is a heat-stretch material instead of a heat-shrink, so having a heat gun to apply a steady stream of warmth will help get the vinyl smoothly over each panel.
Exacto Knife: While you can use any knife, we recommend an Exacto knife due to its precision and sharpness.
Car Soap: Before you start applying the vinyl, you’ll need to do a deep clean on your car, so make sure you’re using a reliable car wash soap.
Microfiber Towels: Drying your car is critical, so having a few clean microfiber towels will help in the process.
Start With a Clean Car and a Clean Space
An extremely essential part of applying the vinyl to your car is making sure that every inch of your vehicle is clean (very clean). Any dirt, dust, or grease will pose a threat to your wrap so it’s important to do a deep clean. Your space needs to be clean as well, so use the opportunity to clean up and vacuum your garage or pressure-wash your driveway.
At the end of your typical cleaning process, use a clean microfiber towel and do one last wipe down using rubbing alcohol. This will ensure that your car is dust-free and your wrap will stay strong. Dry off your car and get ready to wrap.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Now that your car is clean, take your sheets of vinyl wrap and prepare them for application. You want to work panel by panel. If you’re working with a design that needs to line up to make the pattern work, make sure you’re maintaining consistency where your sheets line.
Measure out the size of each door and body panel, your car will likely have breaks that you can follow. Once you have your measurements, trace out the rough shape onto the back of the vinyl sheet and add a little extra space. You can always cut off extra, but you won’t be able to add more material to a sheet that’s too small.
When it comes to your hood and the top of the car, you won’t be able to use one complete sheet, so you’ll have to make a seam with two sheets.
Begin To Apply
Especially when working on larger panels, we recommend having a friend help you hold the vinyl. Once you have every piece cut and laid out, hold the sheet stretched out and remove the back of the sheet.
While it might be tempting to start from one edge of the panel and work towards the other side, it’ll actually be easier to remove any air pockets and wrinkles if you start from the center. While one person holds the sheet from above, gently press the vinyl into the center of the panel and begin to press the sheet onto the panel with the squeegee, away from the center.
Use the heat gun you have to keep the vinyl warm, remember that GunSkins vinyl is heat stretch, not heat shrink, so keeping it warm while applying will make the process much easier.
Smooth Out Your Edges
Air bubbles are important to smooth out while working in the main portion of the panel, however, the edges are just as critical. Use the squeegee and patience to make sure every nook and cranny is properly covered by the vinyl before using the knife to remove any excess.
Allow the vinyl to wrap slightly around the edges of each panel so that it disappears around the corner, then gently hold your knife and run it down the edge slowly and smoothly, cutting off the excess and hiding the edge on the backside of the panel.
How To Know How Much Vinyl You Need
Because your car obviously isn’t a flat square, it might seem a little tricky to figure out how much vinyl you’ll need to cover it. Use a measuring tape and get a general estimate before ordering so that you don’t under or overshoot your purchase, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s better to have more than you need than less.
Imagine that your car is a box and measure each side individually. Your hood and top will likely be the easiest parts to measure since they are one large piece. GunSkins Large Sheets come in 24x50-inch pieces and you’ll need to get enough to cover everything that isn’t glass or mirror.
Tips To Get the Best Wrap
Wrapping your car can be easier than painting it, however, to get the process and finish just right there are a few tips to keep in mind. The main thing you’ll need is patience. Taking your time to get the wrap just right will help you avoid air pockets and wrinkles, giving you a phenomenal-looking wrap.
Start on a Smaller Panel
If this is your first time wrapping a car, it might seem a little intimidating. To build confidence and experience you can always practice on smaller items like a holster, but if you just want to jump into the car work then we recommend beginning with a smaller panel on your car.
This will give you a good feel of the vinyl and the process so that when you start lining up sheets on the hood you’ll feel ready to go.
Work on a Warm Day
GunSkins vinyl works best in warm conditions, so working on a comfortably warm day is going to be prime. If it’s too cold out the vinyl won’t stretch properly and you’ll have to do a lot of work with the heat gun, too hot and you might struggle to keep the vinyl right where you want it.
Remove Any Attachments and Do Them Later
Things like hood ornaments or bike rails shouldn’t be too difficult to remove, but they will be a major pain to wrap while on your car. Do yourself a favor and remove them before wrapping. If you can’t remove the emblem, wrap it and then carefully work around it with the Exacto knife.
Wrap Works Best on Good Paint
While vinyl can cover up a bad paint job, the material will have a harder time sticking to rust damage than it will a solid coat. That goes for any other damages as well.
While the pattern can cover any surface on your car's exterior, if you have any dents or scratches the vinyl will sink into these and show them, so while a great pattern might slightly distract from things like this, don’t expect to be able to cover up any rough spots with these.