Are you thinking about wrapping your car? You have two options: you can take it to a professional or purchase a car wrap kit. Many people who haven’t wrapped their vehicle before choose the kit because they believe they will save money. Unfortunately, wraps and vinyl car decals are more difficult to apply than they may seem. While it might look like you’re simply adding a giant sticker to your car, it’s not quite as easy as peel and stick. Here are some things you should know about DIY car wrap kits before you try applying one to your vehicle.
You Need Exact Measurements
Before you can even start putting the wrap on your car, you need to know what size you need. You don’t want to guess, either. You need the exact measurements to purchase the right DIY car wrap kit. Otherwise, you will face one of two issues.
If you purchase too little, the vinyl won’t cover everything, which means some of your car’s original paint will be seen around the edges. Fixing this issue isn’t as easy as simply ordering more. Vinyl can vary slightly in color from dye lot to dye lot, and that means even if you order the same color, if it comes from a different lot, it may not perfectly match.
Some people may think they should buy a kit for a larger car or order a larger roll, just to make sure they have enough. However, then you have extra vinyl left over. Even then, if you don’t measure correctly, you may waste a lot of the vinyl. Remember, you may need to wrap the vinyl around and under the panel, such as on the hood.
Measuring your car for a vinyl kit isn’t quite as simple as taking a tape measure to it. If you search for “how much vinyl to wrap a car,” you’ll likely come across a specific formula most experts use. They recommend measuring the length of the vehicle and then multiplying by three, and some also suggest adding another ten or fifteen feet of vinyl.
Cut After You Place the Vinyl
While it seems backward, the easiest way to apply the vinyl is by first cutting a large piece then trimming it to fit your vehicle after you’ve applied it. Most people do it the other way. They try to cut pieces to fit precisely, but then they realize they’re off, and they end up going through two or three attempts before they perfectly cut a piece. This may not be an issue if you have a car vinyl wrap tool kit that contains pre-cut pieces, but it’s not always easy to find such a kit because every car model is slightly different.
What you want to do is cut a piece larger than you need, apply it, and then carefully trim it up. This way, you know you have a piece large enough to cover the entire area, so you don’t have to try to patch it or cut a whole new piece. While it may seem like you’re wasting vinyl, it’s less of a waste than you’d if you cut a piece only to find that it doesn’t fit.
Don’t Under- or Overstretch Vinyl Car Decals or Wraps
Vinyl can be stretched, and you’ll want to be sure to stretch it across the different surfaces of your car to cover them fully. However, you have to get the stretch just right. If you don’t stretch it enough, it may wrinkle. This often leads to people overstretching the vinyl. However, there’s a danger there, too. If you stretch vinyl too much, the layer of glue on the underside of the vinyl also stretches. If it’s pulled too thin, it may not be enough to hold the wrap in place. This can lead to parts of the vinyl coming up, creating a bubble. Stretched vinyl can also be more easily damaged.
Not Understanding How to Use the Heat Gun Properly
One vital part of your car vinyl wrap tool kit is a heat gun. It’s used to heat the vinyl so that the glue melts and it adheres to your car properly. However, if you’ve never used a heat gun before, you may not fully understand how it works. Many people don’t heat the gun properly. Without the proper amount of heat, the glue on the vinyl will not fully melt. The vinyl won’t fully adhere to your vehicle, so it’s more likely to come off or wrinkle.
Some people purchase a high-powered heat gun, but you don’t actually need one. A standard hairdryer puts out enough heat to melt the glue. However, you’ll want to use it on the low heat setting. You don’t need to heat the glue any hotter than that. Overheating vinyl can damage it and, in some cases, even cause discoloration.
Clean and Repair Your Car’s Exterior First
Before you add any vinyl car decals or wraps, you need to ensure that your car is clean. Any oil, dirt, wax, or other substance on the exterior of your car will get trapped under the vinyl, which can lead to unattractive lumps in the wrap. Over time, the debris trapped under the vinyl can shift, leading to wrinkles or tears in the vinyl. It can also scratch up your car’s paint job, which can be a problem if you remove the wrap or decal.
Be sure you thoroughly clean every part of your car that the decal or wrap will cover. This includes under and inside the hood, wheel wells, and other areas. Going through a car wash can be an excellent first step, but you’ll want to manually check and wipe down your vehicle right before you put the wrap on.
Rust is another issue you’ll need to deal with. The glue typically used on vinyl won’t fully adhere to rust, so it will likely come unglued quickly. Rust spots will also be visible through the wrap because they aren’t smooth. The rust may also spread under the wrap, so you’ll want to deal with any of these spots before applying the vinyl.
Finally, you may be tempted to wrap your car if it has a number of paint chips and dings on it. Unfortunately, these spots will also show through the wrap. That’s because chips in the paint create an uneven surface. The wrap won’t fill in or float over that surface, so it will still be noticeable. Before looking for “vinyl wrap car near me,” you will want to search for a car detailing company that can fix major rust or chip spots.
Be Sure You Have the Right Tools
In addition to a heat gun and several cutting tools (scissors, cutting blade, and whatever other cutting equipment you’re comfortable with), there are a few other items you’ll need. When using knives, you should always protect yourself, so wearing gloves and safety glasses is strongly recommended. You may want to use an infrared thermometer, so you know that you’re heating the vinyl properly.
However, the most important item out of these vinyl car wrap installation tools is a squeegee or similar item. You’ll need this to apply your wrap. It helps smooth out the wrinkles and fully stretch the vinyl across your car. You want to be sure that the squeegee you use isn’t too stiff. If you push too hard, you could tear the vinyl. Experts also recommend looking for a squeegee that has felt or a similar material on the end to avoid damaging the decal or wrap.
Once you have the right tools, you also need the right people. Having at least one other person helping you apply the vinyl is strongly encouraged. It’s very difficult to do alone and get it perfect.
Avoid the Stress—Hire a Professional!
As you can see, while it’s possible to apply a car wrap yourself, it’s also difficult and can be costly if you make a lot of mistakes. It’s easy to end up with wrinkles or bubbles in the vinyl. Instead of worrying about getting every little piece right, why not go to the professionals?
The question everyone asks when considering a car wrap is, of course, about money. How much does it cost to vinyl wrap a car? When you take into account the vinyl and other tools needed plus the time, you’ll find that it’s very affordable. The fact that these experts will also perfectly install the wrap is also worth the cost. You may spend your weekend applying multiple pieces of vinyl to your car only to find wrinkles or other issues. Don’t stress over it—let TNT Signs handle it!
Our team of experts can wrap your car in just about any style you want. Why search for “professional car wrap near me” when you have a team you can trust? Whether you want a solid color or are looking to brand a vehicle for your business, we can handle it. Contact TNT Signs today to learn more about our car wrapping process.