Wrapping your car is a simple solution to achieving a unique and personalized look – but it is not always more affordable than paint.
We reached out to CarWraps, a company specialising in vehicle wrapping, to find out what you should look out for and expect before wrapping your car.
According to Grant Page, managing director of CarWraps with over 18 years in the industry, there has been an influx of low-quality products and services on the market in recent years.
This creates a minefield when quoting prices.
He said true wrap shops only use certain vinyls that are fit for the job and will not compromise on quality to meet a client’s budgetary constraints.
“Another huge misconception is that vinyl wrapping is cheap. Or at least cheaper than a respray. It’s not,” said Page.
If done properly, Page said dozens of hours go into one project.
“Often we cannot even charge for the time taken for a wrap, it will throw the figures way out of proportion,” he said. “The job is very labour intensive.”
Wrap shops in Europe and the United States see labour as the biggest cost, as vinyl is more affordable in these regions, he added.
Wrapping a car
Page said CarWraps recently wrapped a Land Cruiser for an international client in satin metallic “3M 2080” vinyl, sprayed its wheels, tinted the windows, and blacked out the chrome.
“Retail for this job was around R42,000.00 [excl. VAT]. For the very same job to have been done in the US from a reputable wrap shop, one would have paid around $7,000 (R103,000).”
According to Page, the following factors are the most important considerations for every wrap company producing a quote:
- Type and size of vehicle
- Complexity of design
- Colour of vinyl
- Brand of vinyl
- External wrap only, or all-inclusive
- Extras (e.g. Chrome delete)
“Clients who are looking for a wrap and are serious about getting a wrap done do not mind being asked all these questions, and the results are always spectacular,” he said.
However, there is vinyl out there that does not fall into the premium range and this is where things get complicated, said Page.
There can be significant deviations between even two different products from the same company, he added.
As an example, he used the Avery brand.
“Matte Black from Avery’s 800 series versus Matte Black from Avery’s Supreme film is vastly different in cost and one cannot offer the same guarantees or warranties.”
He said while it’s difficult to spot the difference once the vehicles are wrapped, time will slowly reveal which was the better choice.
Page likened the vast range of available materials to buying a car.
Every vehicle brand has its various models ranging from entry-level to luxury, and within these families you will find even more derivations – such as engine options and specification grades.
“So as a basis, we explain to our clients that our wraps start from R16,000 excluding VAT, and work their way up depending on the colour and brand of vinyl.”
Page provided the following estimations for what consumers can expect to pay when wrapping their vehicles:
- Hatchback/sedan in standard colour (no chrome) – R16,000 – R22,000 (excl. VAT)
- Double cab bakkie in standard colour (no chrome) – R18,000 – R24,000 (excl. VAT)
- SUV in standard colour (no chrome) – R22,000 – R26,000 (excl. VAT)
Full-colour digital prints fall into the same price spectrum as above, he said, while full chrome wraps with “true conformable chrome” range from R35,000 to R65,000 (excl. VAT).
Pros and cons of car wrapping
Page said the positives to wrapping a vehicle are plentiful if done correctly.
The vinyl protects the original paint of your car, you get a variety of designs and colours that suit your personal style, and you can change the wrap if you want a new look.
“It’s not messy like a respray, and best of all it’s not permanent.”
The negatives to wrapping your car, according to Page, are few.
“All the latest wrap material leaves no adhesive when the vinyl is being removed. If the installation professional has used knifeless tape on the vulnerable areas of your vehicle, there will be no cut lines, which we see daily from less-experienced wrap shops.”
Page said interested individuals must do their homework on types of materials, brands, and colours of vinyl that they want to use – and to not compromise on quality for price.
“Consider true wrap shops that have a dedicated division or factory that supply this type of service. If you have received the cheapest price, ask yourself why.”
Furthermore, he warned against using freelance agents and mobile applicators to perform wrap jobs.
“Ask yourself what is your recourse should you have a problem. Most of the time the problem is only experienced six months to a year later, or when you remove the vinyl exposing the actual workmanship.”