How To Choose Between Vinyl Wraps And Paint Protection Film

How To Choose Between Vinyl Wraps And Paint Protection Film

Many car owners may have an interest in vinyl wraps and/or paint protection film. Though many people believe that paint protection film (PPF) is simply a clear, transparent version of a vinyl wrap, the two services are not the same. In fact, they are completely different in function, material and installation. Vinyl wraps can allow car owners to alter the appearance of their vehicle(s) in relatively quick and cost-effective ways. PPF, on the other hand, is essentially a method for adding a protective coating to the vehicle’s body, rather than altering its appearance. Deciding which is right for you and your vehicle will depend on a number of different factors, including the type of vehicle you own, your budget, your customization wishes and more.

Vinyl Wrap: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Vinyl wraps are commonly used by car and other vehicle owners to alter the exterior appearance of the vehicle in question. Of course, changing the paint color of the vehicle directly is always an option. However, car paint can be a very expensive and time-consuming process. As such, many car owners choose instead to invest in vinyl wraps, which offer more customizable appearance options as well as protective benefits for the car’s existing paint job.

Vinyl Wrap: What Is It And How Does It Work?

  • Material. True to their name, vinyl wraps are made of a type of vinyl plastic material, usually polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is an incredibly versatile material. It can be produced in nearly any color or color combination. Many manufacturers also offer their vinyl wraps with a variety of different finishes, including popular light-reflective finishes, in which the exact appearance of the vehicle will change depending on the angle of sunlight. Vinyl wraps can also be printed with designs and text, making them a popular option for business owners who want to use their vehicles for advertising purposes. 
  • Cost. The cost of vinyl wraps can vary depending on the quality, thickness and durability. Common, high-quality vinyl wrap manufacturers include 3M and Avery. Their vinyl wraps — and others of reputable make — have a proven quality, longevity and durability. It’s important that, as a vehicle owner, you invest in a high-quality vinyl wrap, as inferior wraps may result in damage to the vehicle’s body and actual paint job. Because vinyl wraps are primarily a design choice, rather than a protective coating, they tend to be very thin and lightweight. For example, a vinyl wrap large enough to cover an entire vehicle may only weigh about five or six pounds in total.

Compared to the cost of repainting a vehicle, which can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming, vinyl wraps are a quick and affordable option for anyone interested in changing the appearance of their vehicle. For a small two-door sedan, professional vinyl wrapping may cost about $2,000. The cost to wrap a smaller truck, van, or SUV typically starts at around $3,500.

  • Installation. Along with the quality of the vinyl wrap itself, it’s crucial that you entrust the installation of your vinyl wrap to an experienced and skilled professional. The application of a vinyl wrap is a very specific and delicate process. Only an experienced professional will be able to install/apply the vinyl wrap to your vehicle without damaging the vehicle’s paint or other exterior features. It’s highly ill-advised that an amateur attempt to apply a vinyl wrap themselves. In nearly every case, a vinyl wrap will be completely removable, meaning that, if the car owner wishes, he or she can change out or replace their vinyl wraps whenever they would like. The temporality of vinyl wraps, then, are another appealing aspect of these types of car exterior alterations. 

  • Maintenance. While vinyl wraps are a temporary solution, there are some techniques that vehicle owners can employ in order to protect their vinyl wraps and ensure they last as long as possible. For example, washing your vinyl wrapped-car by hand, using a soft rag, is generally safer than going through a mechanized car wash. In addition, you can address any spots or stains with simple isopropyl alcohol rather than more intensive or harsh cleaning agents. If possible, park your vehicle indoors or under a covered carport as often as possible. Excessive sunlight, ice, rain and other elemental factors can cause a vinyl wrap to deteriorate and/or become discolored more rapidly. 


Paint Protection Film (PPF): What Is It And How Does It Work? 

Many people mistakenly believe that a paint protection film (PPF) is simply a clear or transparent version of a vinyl wrap. However, this is not the case. Unlike vinyl wraps, which primarily exist to alter a vehicle’s appearance, PPF primarily serves a more pragmatic function. Since the 1950s, PPFs have existed as a way to layer additional protection on the exterior of your vehicle’s surface. The word “wrap” is commonly used to refer to PPF, however, it’s important to remember that PPF, in both material construction and function, is different from vinyl wrap.

  • Material. One of the most obvious differences between vinyl wrap and PPF is the actual material itself. PPF is not made of vinyl. Rather, it is typically made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is flexible, strong and transparent, making it an excellent material for protecting the exterior of a vehicle. In most cases, PPF can be made with different types of finishes, such as matte or glossy, depending on the vehicle owner’s desired style.

Because of its protective function, PPF is also thicker in weight — and thus, heavier — than vinyl wrap. Most common PPFs measure between six and ten millimeters in width. A full-body PPF can increase the overall weight of the vehicle on which it is applied by as much as ten pounds.

  • Cost. As is the case with vinyl wraps, the cost of PPF can vary significantly, depending on the quality of the film and the size of the vehicle on which it is applied, as well the complexity of the application process. The application process of the PPF can be complicated by the age and condition of your vehicle at the time that you wish to have the film applied. For example, any oxidation, paint chips, scratches and/or other vehicle body damage will need to be addressed before a PPF is applied. The cost of prepping your vehicle for a PPF can range between $300 and $1,000, depending on the amount of correction required. 


Another significant factor in the cost of PPF application will be the level of coverage. Some car owners may choose to have a PPF applied over the majority of their car’s body. Others may choose to cover only high risk areas, like the bumper and the side mirrors. Partial coverage can start as low as $700, whereas full car coverage can cost as much as $9,000.

  • Installation. In most cases, an experienced professional will be able to apply a PPF to your vehicle in just a few hours. Many body shops may recommend that you leave your vehicle overnight to safeguard against any potential application errors and to ensure the success of the application. As is true with vinyl wraps, a PPF should only ever be applied by an experienced and trusted professional. 

  • Maintenance. Maintenance for a PPF is quite similar to regular car cleaning and maintenance of a vinyl wrap. Experts recommend that you keep your vehicle away from water for the first two weeks after the PPF is applied. Never pick at the film or try to push out air bubbles. In most cases, air bubbles will resolve on their own. Regular hand-washing with a soft rag and a gentle soap cleanser is usually all that is needed to maintain the quality of the PPF and its full protective functions.  

Frequently Asked Questions: Vinyl Wraps Vs. Paint Protection Film

Q: How do I choose between a vinyl wrap and PPF?

A: Choosing between a vinyl wrap and PPF will really depend on the wants and the needs of the vehicle’s owner. Keep in mind that the primary difference between the two is their function — vinyl wraps are not meant to be protective, while PPF is entirely meant for protection.

If you are interested in a relatively inexpensive and fast way to protect your vehicle, PPF is likely the best option for you, as it can be applied to some or all parts of your vehicle as an additional protective layer. If your primary desire is to alter the exterior color and/or overall appearance of your vehicle, then vinyl wrap may be your preferred option. Vinyl wrap can also be printed with customized text and designs, making it a great option for advertisements on your vehicle.

Q: Which lasts longer, vinyl wraps or PPF?

A: The longevity of vinyl wraps and PPF can really depend on a number of different factors. Correct, professional installation from the beginning can play an important role in ensuring that both vinyl wraps and PPF last as long as possible. Consistent care for both vinyl wraps and PPF, such as regular washing, can extend the life of both. Other longevity factors include protecting your car from sunlight and the elements and careful, incident-free driving. 

In most cases, PPFs will last longer than vinyl wraps. The average lifespan for PPF is about ten years, while vinyl wraps usually last about half of that time (about five years).

Q: Does the quality of vinyl wraps vary significantly?

A: The quality of a vinyl wrap can vary depending on the material composition and the manufacturer. Reputable, respected manufacturers of vinyl wraps include 3M, Avery and ORAFOL, among others. Keep in mind that vinyl wrap installation by an experienced professional is just as important as the quality of the vinyl wrap itself. Trusted professionals at Rvinyl have the skill and experience needed to ensure the longevity and durability of your vinyl wrap. 

Q: Can vinyl wraps and PPF be used together?

A: Technically, yes. Vinyl wraps and PPFs can be used together. Typically, if you are interested in the design options of a vinyl wrap with the protective qualities of PPF, it is possible to use them both at the same time. Essentially, once the vinyl wrap has been applied and fully set on your vehicle, a PPF can be applied on top of the vinyl, whether over the entire car or simply on specific areas. Consult a professional to learn if combining vinyl and PPF is the right course of action for your vehicle’s needs. 

Q: How long do vinyl wraps last?

A: On average, vinyl wraps last about five years. This is assuming correct installation from the beginning, including paint and body prep work before the vinyl wrap is applied. Regular care and maintenance of the vinyl wrap can extend the wrap’s life as long as possible. This includes keeping your vehicle out of direct sunlight and minimizing exposure to the elements as much as possible. Vinyl wraps can also begin to peel away from your vehicle as time goes on, especially in certain areas, such as around the wheels and bumpers, which may affect the overall appearance of your vehicle. In some cases, applying PPF on top of your vinyl wrap can help to extend the life of your vinyl. 

Q: How long does PPF last?

A: PPF is a much stronger, more durable and protective material than a vinyl wrap. With the right installation, care and maintenance, PPF can last as long as ten years. 

Q: Where can I get a vinyl wrap or a PPF applied?

A: Most professional, full-service body shops will be able to apply a vinyl wrap and/or PPF to your vehicle. Given the cost of one or both of these services and the potential for damage to your vehicle, you will want to entrust the installation to experienced and skilled professionals. Some body shops specialize in wraps and PPF, and they will be able to guide you throughout the process and advise you on the best options for your specific vehicle. 

Rvinyl Vinyl Wrap and PPF Professional Services

Rvinyl Vinyl Wrap and PPF Professional Services

With years of proven experience and hundreds of satisfied clients, Rvinyl is an industry leader in the application of vinyl wraps and PPF, along with a host of other automotive services.

Rvinyl can work with any budget to make your customization dreams a reality — offering vinyl wraps from trusted brands including Avery, 3M, ORAFOL, and many others. Similarly, Rvinyl’s PPF solutions can protect your vehicle for years into the future. 

As a body shop and auto parts store, Rvinyl has the comprehensive knowledge and experience needed to ensure the highest possible quality of vinyl wrapping and PPF installation for your vehicle. With a variety of options and offerings, Rvinyl is sure to have the unique vinyl wrapping and/or PPF solutions that you need to customize your vehicle as you dream of doing.

Contact Rvinyl today to learn more about pricing and availability. Amateurs and car enthusiasts can also enroll in The Wrap Institute at Rvinyl to learn about DIY vinyl wrapping and PPF application. Rvinyl is here to assist you every step of the way.