DIY Wrap Buying Guide

In today's economy many auto enthusiasts are to turning to DIY (do-it-yourself) vehicle wrapping as an alternative to the cost and expense of custom paint jobs. According to one source, the average cost of a professional paint job can be as much as $1500 and is usually warranted for only one-year. Although most people think immediately of digitally printed wraps such as those seen on fleet vehicles or other promotional rides the cost of having custom digitally printed wraps installed makes this option out of the reach of many of us. In fact, the average cost of a full vehicle wrap can be between $2700 to $3200—which is almost twice as much as a high-end paint job. So, why did I even bother mentioning vehicle wraps? Because, there are a wide variety of manufacturers who make custom films which can be used to wrap all or parts of your vehicle and are economically priced to boot.

Whether you choose Rwrap's wide format carbon fiber wraps or 3M's DiNoc film there are a wide variety of films to choose from and all within the reach of you average consumer. Be careful though to know what it is that you're purchasing as many films are not rated for outdoor or have a limited one-year life (this is the case with many of the cheaper calendered films) so be sure to ask your vendor about the lifetime of the wrap material you will be purchasing.

Ready. Set. Wrap!

Once you have decided to take the plunge and invest the time, energy and money into wrapping your vehicle yourself you have to ask yourself the following question: How much wrap material will I need? Most of us are interested in wrapping our vehicles do not intend to fully cover our entire car with vinyl so the almost no one will want to cover every square inch of their ride with vinyl film. Funnily enough, however, a quick search online will provide you with a list of queries where people are asking someone to provide them with the total surface are of this or that vehicle.

According to one site's lead designer, you would need about 16.6 yards of film to wrap your average SUV so we can safely assume that your standard compact car would require at least a 10 yd roll. Not only does this seem like a complete overkill but such an approach could get expensive in a hurry. A more sensible approach to vehicle wrapping is to think in terms of wrapping areas such as the hood, fender, mirrors, side panels, roof, etc. Rvinyl offers a huge variety of pre-sized sheets which are perfect for wrapping smaller areas. Simply select the desired length from the drop down menu and add it to your cart-it's that simple.

A Quick Calculation

So let's try to figure out just how much material you would need to wrap a whole car. Doing the measurements ourselves based upon what people are selling we find that we get pretty close the 16 yard figure about:

If we assume that the hood and roof would require more or less the same amount of film (i.e., 72 by 60-inch sheets each) and that the trunk is about half this size we have a total of 180" in length. The average length of a US vehicle is roughly 14 feet so on each side we have a total of 168" per side. The grand total would be 516 inches in length.

So, what have we learned? Simply that, although it can be done, it will take a ridiculous amount of material to wrap your average, American-made sedan or coupe (in the neighborhood of 15 yards of vinyl film). In essence, the best choice for any DIY vehicle wrapper is to go with a company like Rvinyl who can provide you pre-measured sheets of film both to save you the waste and expense of trying to purchase enough film to wrap your entire car.

Like It or Not, It's the Law

It is clear that window tint laws exist for good reason: to insure that our drivers can well-enough and not become a danger to themselves or anyone else on the road. Because of this it’s to know the factors which might contribute to over-dark tint not only to avoid failing inspection or getting a ticket but to protect both ourselves and everyone else.

DIY Wrapping Resources

  • Vinyl Wrap Installation Instructions
  • Wrap Installation Video
  • Application Tools