Revamp Your Ride: A Comprehensive Guide to Vinyl Wrapping Your Car

how to vinyl wrap a car


Car enthusiasts are always looking for ways to improve the look of their vehicles. One increasingly popular method is vinyl wrapping, which involves applying sheets of vinyl to the surface of a car to give it a new, unique appearance. Vinyl wrapping has become a popular alternative to traditional painting because it can be done more quickly and with less expense.

Not only is vinyl wrapping an affordable way to add style and personality to your vehicle, it also provides protection from weather and other environmental factors that can damage your car’s paint job. Vinyl wraps are available in an array of finishes, including matte, gloss, satin or even chrome.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right wrap for your car’s style. In this article, we will provide a detailed guide on how to vinyl wrap a car from preparing the car’s surface before applying the wrap to caring for your newly wrapped car.

Preparing the Car for Vinyl Wrapping

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Before starting to apply vinyl wrap to your car, it’s crucial that you clean the surface as thoroughly as possible. Any dirt or grime left on the surface can prevent the vinyl from properly adhering and could even cause bubbles or wrinkles in the wrap.

Start by giving your car a thorough wash using soap and water, followed by a rinse with clean water. Once you’ve rinsed off all soap suds, take a microfiber towel and dry the entire surface of your vehicle.

Removing Decals and Stickers

If there are any existing decals or stickers on your car’s surface, they will need to be removed before applying vinyl wrap. To do this effectively, start by using a heat gun or hairdryer on high heat to soften up the adhesive.

Then use a plastic scraper (avoid using metal so as not scratch or damage your paintwork) to scrape away at each section of sticker gently. If you encounter any stubborn residue after removing the decal altogether, apply some goo-gone or another adhesive remover solution recommended for automotive surfaces onto it with a microfiber towel and leave it there for some time before wiping it away.

The Importance of Sanding

Sanding out rough spots may take some extra time investment but is paramount to achieving satisfactory results when wrapping your car in vinyl. Even tiny scratches in paintwork or roughness can cause air pockets while applying vinyl wraps over them. To begin sanding down areas with imperfections, use an 800-grit sandpaper initially then move up to finer grits progressively until you reach 1500-grit abrasive paper (or finer).

The surface should feel smooth overall after this procedure; if not entirely smooth rub down again until every bump has been removed completely. Finish off with a final wipe down of the surface with a microfiber towel before moving on to the next step.

Choosing and Applying Vinyl Wrap

Vinyl Wrap Types and Pros/Cons

There are several types of vinyl wrap available on the market, each with their own unique set of pros and cons. The most commonly used types include cast vinyl, calendared vinyl, and carbon fiber vinyl. Cast vinyl is considered the highest quality option due to its ability to conform to all shapes and contours of the car’s surface.

It also has a longer lifespan than other types, with some lasting up to 10 years. However, it can be more expensive than other options.

Calendared vinyl is a great budget-friendly option for those looking to wrap their car on a budget. It is thicker than cast vinyl which makes it more durable but also less flexible.

This means it may not conform as well to complicated curves or shapes. Carbon fiber vinyl is a popular choice for those looking for a unique look for their vehicle.

It has a textured appearance that resembles carbon fiber weave, providing an eye-catching finish. However, it may not be as durable or long-lasting as cast or calendared wraps.

Measuring and Cutting Vinyl Wrap

Properly measuring and cutting the vinyl wrap is essential to achieving a professional-looking finish. Start by taking accurate measurements of the area you want to cover using a tape measure. Be sure to add an additional 5-10% of material for any mistakes made during installation.

Next, use sharp scissors or an X-Acto knife with new blades to cut the wrap according to your measurements. Make sure you are cutting on a flat surface so that your cuts are precise.

Applying Vinyl Wrap

Before applying the wrap, ensure that your work area is clean and free from dust or debris that could get trapped under the material during installation. Begin by laying out the wrap over the section of the car you want to cover.

Use a squeegee to smooth out any air pockets or creases that may have formed during shipping. Next, use a heat gun or blow dryer to gently warm the wrap, making it more pliable and easier to manipulate.

This will also help the vinyl bond more effectively to the car’s surface. Use your squeegee to press the wrap firmly onto the car, starting from the center and working your way outwards.

Be sure to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles as you go along. Repeat this process for each section of the car until it is completely wrapped with vinyl.

Remember, practice makes perfect! It may take some time and patience but with persistence, you can achieve a flawless finish.

Finishing Touches

Trimming Excess Vinyl Around Edges

After applying the vinyl wrap to the car’s surface, there will be excess material around the edges that needs to be trimmed. To do this, use a knife or blade to carefully cut along the edge of the car. It’s important to go slow and steady and avoid cutting too much or too little of the vinyl.

A steady hand is key, so take your time. It’s best to start trimming from one end of the edge and work your way down.

This ensures that you don’t accidentally cut too much off in one spot and ruin your hard work. Remember, precision is key when trimming excess material on a vinyl-wrapped car.

Smoothing Out Air Bubbles and Wrinkles

No matter how careful you are during application, there may still be air bubbles or wrinkles in the vinyl wrap once it’s applied. To address this issue, use a squeegee to gently smooth out any irregularities on the surface. Start at one corner of the area with a bubble or wrinkle and slowly press down with your squeegee as you move towards its center.

Be sure not to apply too much pressure as this can damage or rip the vinyl wrap. If you find that an air bubble is particularly stubborn, try using a heat gun on low heat setting to soften up that area before smoothing over it with your squeegee.

Properly Sealing Edges with Heat

Once all excess material has been trimmed off and air bubbles/wrinkles smoothed out, make sure all edges are adequately sealed by using a heat gun set at low temperature settings. Hold the heat gun over each edge for just long enough for it to slightly tighten up against its surface – around 2-4 seconds should do it – then press down firmly with your squeegee. This helps to create an airtight seal and prevent any moisture or other debris from getting under the wrap.

By taking these steps to finish off your vinyl-wrapped car, you can ensure that it looks as professional and seamless as possible. Remember, patience is key when working with vinyl wrap – take your time and be precise for the best results!

Maintenance and Care for Vinyl Wrapped Cars

Protect Your Investment: Proper Care Techniques for Maintaining the Vinyl Wrap of Your Car

Once you have gone through the trouble of wrapping your car in vinyl, it is crucial to maintain its pristine appearance. Fortunately, with proper care techniques, it is easy to keep your newly wrapped car looking clean and shiny for years to come.

The following tips will help keep your car’s vinyl wrap looking as good as new: Firstly, avoid parking in direct sunlight whenever possible as prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause the color of the vinyl wrap to fade or change over time.

If you cannot avoid parking in direct sunlight, consider using a car cover or parking in a shaded area. Secondly, when washing your wrapped vehicle, use only mild soap and water along with a soft-bristled brush or sponge.

Avoid using any harsh chemicals such as bleach or acid-based cleaners which can damage the surface of the vinyl wrap. After washing your vehicle, be sure to dry it thoroughly with a clean microfiber towel to prevent water spots from forming on the vinyl wrap.

What Products Should I Use (and Avoid) When Washing My Wrapped Vehicle?

When washing your wrapped vehicle there are several products that should be used and avoided. Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to cleaning your newly wrapped car:

Do use mild soap and water along with a soft-bristled brush or sponge. Don’t use harsh chemicals such as bleach or acid-based cleaners which can damage the surface of the vinyl wrap.

Do use a pressure washer set on low pressure if available. Don’t use abrasive materials such as steel wool or scouring pads which can scratch the surface of the vinyl wrap.

Do make sure you rinse thoroughly before drying with a clean microfiber towel. By following these simple steps you will be able to effectively maintain and care for your newly wrapped car, preserving its shine and color for years to come.


In this article, we have covered the steps necessary to properly vinyl wrap a car. We began by discussing the importance of cleaning and preparing the car’s surface before applying any vinyl wrap.

We then delved into different types of vinyl wrap and how to choose the right one for your needs. We also covered how to measure, cut, and apply the vinyl wrap using specific tools like squeegees and heat guns.

Despite its difficulty, we learned that with patience and persistence, anyone can create a professional-grade finish on their own. We discussed proper maintenance techniques for keeping your newly wrapped vehicle looking new for years to come.

The secret is in using gentle cleaning products and avoiding harsh chemicals that may damage the vinyl. Overall, while it may be a tedious process, wrapping your car with quality vinyl is worth it in terms of both protecting your vehicle’s paint job and providing an eye-catching new look.

So what are you waiting for? Get started on transforming your vehicle today!

Scottsdale Auto Detailing Blog