Paint has been the standard of finishing cars from the very beginning and it has endured the test of time. That said, while vinyl wrapping started being used as an ad display, with its advancement it has become an alternative to repainting. It is a more cost effective way of getting a new look, and offers the advantage of letting you go wild on color choice. There is also the added advantage of preserving the original paint job, as vinyl wrap lasts up to 10 years. The beauty of it is you can do it yourself. Here’s how:
There are a number of tools you need to make this DIY activity a thorough success. The time taken will be determined by the complexity of the car’s design. Simple designs will take an average of 10 hours, while models with many contours will take a longer time. The tools required for this task are:
- A measuring tape,
- Paint cleaners and alcohol,
- Philips screw driver,
- Utility knife,
- Plastic/Teflon squeegee,
- Heat gun/torch.
Getting the Vinyl
The cheapest I have found to get vinyl is Amazon.com. The amount of vinyl you need will be determined by the car you want to wrap. Vinyl rolls usually come in a standard measure of 25 feet long and a width of 60 inches. When measuring your car, take into consideration the areas where the vinyl will fold into the curves or go under the car (like the hood). This will help you make an accurate measurement. Remember that it is better to get more vinyl than less vinyl.
Prepping the Car
To get the car ready for vinyl wrapping, you will need to thoroughly clean it so that the adhesive will adhere to the car. This means ridding the car of any oil, rust, and any evenness. Remember to thoroughly clean under the hood, panel edges, and bumpers so as to remove any hidden dirt. You will then rub down with Isopropyl alcohol and fill any chipped paint. Finally, remove any parts that will not have the vinyl wrap, like side mirrors and bumpers.
I highly recommend practicing complex curves before you start. I found going to your local salvage yard and picking up some body parts is a great way to get the hang of this without messing up your own car. If you don’t have anything local check on eBay or I have also used Wolf Auto as well. Look for parts with a lot of sharp curves. Bumpers and Fenders are really good.
Laying the Vinyl Wrap
In order to have an easy time in your DIY project, it is essential to cut the required lengths of vinyl wrap for every individual body panel before you start to stick it to the car. This is where the tape or magnets come in handy. As you cut the required lengths with the utility knife, you keep them in place using either the magnets or tape. Remember to cut extra length for folds, curves and seams.
Sticking the Vinyl
Once the wrap is in position you can now remove the backing paper as you stick the vinyl in place. In order to overcome any trapped air, use the squeegee to smooth out the vinyl. Depending on the part of the car, you can start from the bottom or top, then work your way down. In order to stretch the vinyl wrapping, you can use a heat gun or torch. This requires a lot of sensitivity in order not to burn the vinyl. If in doubt, just stretch with your hand as it is quiet malleable.