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Vehicle Wrapping vs. Car Painting : The straight skinny

Posted by Frank Murch | Nov 18, 2014 2:36:00 AM

Charles Ellingworth is making a statement.  He has one of the most unusual and interesting trucks on the road. Why? He did a truck wrap with the American flag.  The result - outstanding.




People often ask about the cost of a car wrap vs. painting. There are some cut rate paint deals out there that could get you a new paint job for under $1000. If price is your thing, then that may be a deal. If making a statement is your goal – the cut rate paint job is going to make the wrong statement.

A vehicle wrap is about making a statement. The printing that can be done is simply far beyond anything possible with paint. The detailed graphics, the color transitions, the ability to do more with your vehicle’s surface is dramatic. In this case the paint work required to do this truck wrap would have been $10,000 or more. Digital printing makes it possible is do such truck wraps. see more here

The wrap is a layer of vinyl, digitally printed with your image and then sealed with a top laminate that physically protects the print from the sun’s UV exposure and the worlds little scuffs and scratches. 

That ability makes it possible to have a dramatic and distinctive finish that really stands out.

Flag-Wrap-8-21Wraps don’t last as long as paint - 5-7 years is about right. If the car is stored inside and taken care of – it lasts longer. If it is in the Arizona heat and sun, probably less. But the average useful life of a fleet car is less and the average lease is less.

Cost: A high quality paint job can range from $2,000-$10,000. Wraps are in the $2000 - $5000 range. Just like paint, quality differences drive price. Cheap wrap jobs like cheap paint jobs look…. Cheap. Focusing on price is a false savings. Getting the quality in the materials and installation is really where the value is.

Fit and finish: Installing the vinyl of the vehicle is likely to cost as much as the materials. A quality installation may have a few seams, a slight wrinkle or other small issues.  It is the nature of the process. Paint has its issues too – orange peal, a sag or a fish eye. It happens.  If you want perfection, the costs go up, a perfect paint job and a perfect wrap job both can be twice or even three times more than a very good job. The sweet spot is in the middle. Don’t go with the cheapest – because you will get the cheapest

Taking it off: The adhesion on paint is about 6 Pounds/inch. The adhesion of vinyl is about 2 Pounds/in. This is for OEM paint jobs. Aftermarket paint is generally lower.  As a result, with a little work, a wrap can be taken off.  On lease cars, this exposes a factory paint job in really good condition that increases the value of the lease return.  The wrap will take the punishment and protect the paint underneath. All the little scratches, scraps and many of the minor dents are in the wrap. Leasing companies love this when it works out. The condition differences can pay for the wrap on a high end 3 year lease return.

Flag-Wrap-undonCOn the other hand, cars get damaged and they are repaired. Often a new car with 3 to 30 miles on it will have a small repair to cover up a shipping damaged bumper or panel. It is very possible the wrap will take off some paint.

Horizontal surfaces.  Wraps on hoods, roofs and desk lids can see high temperatures. This can and does “burn” the paint over a period of years.  Using a wrap for advertising, these surfaces are not as valuable for attracting attention – we often do not wrap them (a roof is not the right place to feature your phone number – Only people is tall buildings and helicopters can see it.

So why wrap a vehicle?  Simple, it is to draw attention. If you use your vehicle for business – advertise your business with a wrap. It is extremely effective. Wrapping a vehicle makes the phone ring.

If you have a high end car, wrap it – the Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes or Corvette will be even more distictive in a flat black wrap. Next time we will look at a Shelby Cobra.

Want to wrap your car?  Give us a call

Contact us for a consultation


Areas Served: decal, decals Oceanside CA, decals Carlsbad CA, decals San Marcos CA, decals Vista CA, Decals , car wrap, car graphics, car wrap Oceanside CA, car wrap Carlsbad CA, car wrap San Marcos CA, car wrap Vista CA,

Topics: Truck Wraps, fleet graphics, car wrap


Whether you need a channel letter set, a monument signs, ADA signs, wayfinding signs, lobby signs, or any other type of commercial building signage, we can help! Signs for San Diego is the best sign company for building signs.


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