A lot of car and truck owners wonder about making big changes to the looks of their vehicles. Fitting some custom accessories and aftermarket parts can do a lot to the look, but nothing says personalization quite like customizing the body covering in some way. This could come in one of two forms, either a custom paint job, or a vinyl wrap. In today’s article, we’re focused on truck wraps, and helping you decide if a truck vinyl wrap is the best choice for you.
If you're rocking a vehicle a tad smaller than a truck and still want to get it wrapped, checkout our car wrap article for lots of helpful info.
Whether you put a vinyl wrap on your truck or your car, it’s a thin film of vinyl sheeting that has adhesive on one side. They are attached to the surface of your car, providing a dramatic and personalized change in color and overall design without having to actually remove any of the car’s original clearcoat, base coat or other coloring/paint features.
The truck vinyl wrap is like a second skin around your truck’s paint work. Outwardly it will look exactly as you want, but underneath the original paint is still there. The process is fully reversible.
The cost of a truck wrap will depend entirely on the size of your vehicle and the exact design and style of vinyl wrap that you choose. We should point out, first of all, that regardless of any other factor, it’s not exactly a cheap process. For some, they are stuck between the expense of a vinyl wrap and the expense of a new paint job, not knowing which to choose.
There are three cost scenarios depending exactly on what you choose:
- You’d be satisfied with a relatively inexpensive and simple repainting job. If this applies to you, then the process is a little more troublesome in terms of steps, but the overall cost should still be lower than that of a high-quality vinyl truck wrap installation.
- You’d like a higher-quality paint job, perhaps metallic or pearlescent. Depending on the exact color you choose, the cost would be around the same or possibly slightly more than a vinyl truck wrap.
- You’d only be happy with a unique, customized paint job with multiple colors, flames on the sides or perhaps a rich matte finish. In this case, your paint job will cost you a lot more than achieving the change effect through a vinyl wrap.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $1800 to $5000 depending on the size of your vehicle. It’s not just the wrap itself you have to purchase, but the help to install it. We’ll get into that in more detail below. First, however, we’d like to make a case for vinyl wraps over custom paint jobs, based on the numerous benefits they bring.
If you're looking to install it yourself, make sure to use our vinyl sizing guide to ensure you get the right amount of material.
There are 4 main benefits to getting truck wraps instead of repainting.
While the first scenario mentioned above is possible, it remains the most likely scenario that a paint job will cost you a lot more than a vinyl wrap. There’s a further cost factor to consider, too, which is either restoring your truck’s original color or at least a regular color when it comes to resale of the truck. Your custom paint is not likely to be to everyone’s tastes, and it can dramatically strip away the truck’s otherwise universal appeal.
It’s far easier to achieve a pleasing level of personalization on your truck with a wrap. Painting is a complex business. You have to first strip away the old paint, which takes a great deal of time and skill, and then apply new paint layer and layer, along with primer, clear coat and more. The wrap, while not exactly easy in itself, can be done in single layer, and the aftermarket is rich with choice so you can find something --- or create a custom design --- that suits your personality. That’s far harder and more complex to achieve with paint.
Repainting a car just leaves you with a new paint surface to stress over and worry about. An added benefit of a vinyl truck wrap is that it is a protective cover as well as a stylish and visually impacting one. Protect your paint against chips, dings, scratches and other things that could blemish the surface or even affect resale value down the road.
Here’s the clincher --- you can easily take it back! Even if you get your truck wrap, and subsequently decide it was a mistake, then you can have it removed and return the vehicle to its original form. The same is true if you plan to sell your truck and you want to get back its original color. Buyers might be willing to spend more if they know the paint has been so well protected over time.
Reversing a custom paint job is not so easy.
Despite what the name suggests, a truck wrap is not as simply as wrapping a birthday gift or just taking a roll of color and unrolling it around the truck surface to cover surfaces. It’s not for the inexperienced hand to do, especially if your truck is built with a lot of curves or intricate edges and detailing. That’s why we recommend that, in most cases, the best policy is to have a professional do the work. Though it will certainly cost more, the results will be far more pleasing.
If you do a lot of DIY work on your truck, however, and it is an ongoing project that you are undertaking, then there’s no reason for you not to try and save some money and try it for yourself. You can get great tips from “how-to” videos like this one, and if you have the space, equipment, the know-how and a good deal of confidence, then have at it. The key with DIY is to know your limitations, so if it does become too much, then don’t be afraid to admit defeat and have a professional take a look.
To conclude, below we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked points about truck vinyl wraps:
Products vary from brand to brand, but to use a popular brand like 3M as an example, you can expect each film to be about 90 microns in thickness. It comes in 1.54m rolls.
Yes, temperatures exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit can have a negative impact on your vinyl wrap when installing. You should make sure that you can work in a cool (but not cold) environment to allow the vinyl wrap to properly conform to the contours of your truck’s surface. Too cold and it will be stiff and unable to fit complex edges; to hot and the material becomes stretchy and hard to handle.
Yes, you can, and we recommend hand washing over a drive-through car wash. If you take it to a car wash, you should us an automated brushless wash. A brush wash may cause peeling or the edges to lift up somewhat. In the end, hand washing is far safer, using soft sponges and cloths to get the job done.
Although it should go without saying, you can't wash your car immmediately after wrapping your truck. Vinyl needs at least 12 hours to rest and set before use or movement, and especially washing.
Pressure washing is okay to do, but you should keep the water pressure below 2,000psi. Also, your spray nozzle should have a 40-degree wide angle spray pattern, spraying water below 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, keep the nozzle at least a foot away from the wrap surface when washing.