Useful Car Tips

Paint vs. Wrap

March 12, 2019

Ever wanted to change the color of your car? Repainting is the classic way, but vinyl wraps have steadily been increasing in popularity. Wraps—as the name suggests—are large vinyl graphics applied directly over the original paint of a vehicle. They’re quick to install and remove, generally cost less, and offer a level of customization that’s almost unheard of with paint. However, wraps aren’t perfect. They can only be applied on vehicles with existing paint in excellent condition, for one. Also, proper application requires a certain degree of finesse that not all shops offering wraps can provide, meaning you may have to shop around to find a proper wrap professional in your area.

Both methods have their respective pros and cons and will work better for different situations. For some, the customization advantage of wraps will win them over. Others may simply be looking for a quick exterior touch-up, which regular paint is just fine for. Yet still others may be swayed to one side or another by one factor alone: price.


While a low-quality paint job may only cost around $500, the end result will be at a level noticeably below that of a higher-quality paint job. These can range from $1,000 on the lower end to $5,000 or more on the higher end. High-quality wraps on the other hand can range anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 for a professionally-done full wrap (full meaning the entire car instead of just one or two panels). These wraps will have a life expectancy of 4-10 years and can be removed quickly at any time.

This is in fact another advantage for wraps--that is, they are able to be easily removed on a whim. We’ll cover that a little later, but what this means for you is that resale price is not affected. For example, you can buy a new Toyota Corolla, say, in red, decide to wrap it purple, and then take off the purple wrap before selling it, thus keeping the manufacturer’s original red paint (which, by the way, the wrap does a great job of protecting). This obviously isn’t possible with a conventional paint job.


Paint fades over time, as you may have noticed on older cars, and is more susceptible to UV rays than a laminated vinyl wrap. Wraps protect every square inch of paint they cover, mitigating the effects of all natural hazards and other weathering. A 4-millimeter layer of wrap is enough to protect your car from stone chips, door dings, and general abrasion. However, you should expect a longer service life with paint. Using paint also gives you the ability to layer coats. This gives you a certain degree of versatility, allowing you to fine-tune the paint’s overall thickness, protection, and visual effect.

If you want to preserve the pristine look of your vehicle with little maintenance, wraps are for you. A simple hand wash with soap and water should be enough to keep your wrap looking good-as-new. Look into specialty detail sprays and ceramic coating packages if you want to take that extra step to preserve the wrap. Your wrap installer should have some recommendations. Preserving paint is more time-consuming, requiring washing and waxing on a regular basis to maintain it.


Let’s consider some further details, like customization. Customization is another way in which wraps might work better for you. Virtually any color and design can be applied to a custom vinyl wrap, even textures. The same level of customization simply can’t be found with paint and this may be reason enough to sway you towards a wrap. Repainting is expensive and more time-consuming, meaning wraps might be more suitable for you if you like to frequently change the look of your car. Removing a wrap is just as simple and again much less time-consuming than repainting.

There’s no correct decision here, as both options are great for different purposes. Want the most durable, long-lasting finish available? Spring for a professional painting job, and don’t be afraid to pay a little more for higher quality. Like to have your car looking pristine with the ability to change colors on a whim? Consider a wrap done by a trusted shop. Either way, you can’t go wrong, and we hope our quick guide will help you come to a decision.

That’s a wrap!

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