Wrap vs Paint - When to Wrap and When to Paint Your Car (2023)

Car wraps are an increasingly popular paint alternative for changing your vehicle’s appearance. However, there are still some common misconceptions when comparing wrap vs paint. Let’s clear those up.

When to wrap and when to paint? Let’s start off with the biggest misconception of them all:

Wrapping to fix bad paint.

Let me point out right now… Most of the time, doing a car wrap to fix bad paint is not a viable option. There are a few exceptions, which I’ll get into soon enough. In the meantime, here’s why:

First off, you need good paint to start with. Any imperfections in your paint will show through the wrap — Specially those of a textured nature. Furthermore, if your paint is weak, such as a failing clear coat, it might not resist when the time comes to peel the wrap off.

When comparing wrap vs paint, the main point of using vinyl to change your car’s appearance is that it’s reversible. Meaning, if you change your mind, or need to return the car to stock to sell it, you can always revert back to the original state. But when your paint is bad, you really don’t have a good base to apply the wrap to. I don’t mean your paint needs to be show-quality to accept a wrap. It does however need to be healthy, with a strong clear coat and no deep scratches, dents, corrosion or other roughness.

The other big misconception, likely as predominant as the first, is as follows.

Wraps as a cheaper alternative to paint.

Like I pointed out earlier, car wraps are not meant to fix your paint. They are also not cheap. The material itself is expensive and many man hours need to be put in to complete a quality car wrap project. Much like paint, a lot of experience is required and only highly skilled people can perform the wrap job flawlessly.

(Video) Vinyl Wrap vs. Paint (WHICH & WHY)

There is a time to paint and a time to wrap. That said, the cost of wrap vs paint is an important factor when making a decision. In most circumstances, a car wrap job will cost the same as painting your car. Of course, price varies depending on quality. A low quality paint job will cost less than a high quality wrap, and vice versa. In the end, you want a high-quality result. A high-quality result doesn’t come cheap.

Comparatively, most people think of paint as being all the same and wraps as being all the same. They often make the mistake of comparing an average paint job with a high-quality wrap where the price might be similar, but the end results are nothing but.

Correspondingly, here is the number one thing you need to know when it comes to making a decision whether to wrap your car or paint your car:

If your paint is good, you wrap. If your paint is bad, you paint.

Wrap vs Paint – When can a wrap be cheaper?

Earlier I mentioned a few exceptions were car wraps can be cheaper than paint. Let’s look at them below.

Wrap vs Paint – Race cars

(Video) WHY WRAP & WHY PAINT?

Race cars have to change their look very often. They change their colors and they change their sponsors. Moreover, the cars often have multiple colors, stripes and designs. Likewise, to make quick color and design changes, wrapping can be done in a less costly manner than paint. Not to mention, when there are multiple colors, paint gets expensive really quick.

Race cars also incur damage on the race track where they need repairs more often than road cars do. Given it’s usually a panel or two that need to be repaired, it’s cheaper to just wrap the repaired or replaced panel than it is to paint it. Painting requires quite a bit more prep time than wrapping. For small sections that have to be repaired often, vinyl wrapping can be less expensive.

Wrap vs Paint – Small panel sections

To clarify, where the above transfers over to road cars is when referring to small panel sections. Since it’s only one section, and often just one panel, roofs can be wrapped more affordably than painting them. The same thing goes for hoods. Many sports car owner like to run a different color hood. Often black, or matte black. This is a ideal situation for using a wrap rather than paint.

To give you a perfect example, we sell hood and roof wrap kits for a few different Porsche models. These are a great option as a partial wrap that can easily be reverted back to stock later on. Again, you need a good base paint for these. Check them out:

Porsche 991 GT3 RS Hood and Roof Wrap Kit

Porsche 991 GT3 Hood and Roof Wrap Kit

(Video) Should You Wrap or Paint Your Car?

Wrap vs Paint – To conclude

Reason for wrapping

The main benefit of a wrap is you can change the color of your car without messing with the resale value. In fact, it can actually work in your favor. Since you are covering your paint, you are essentially protecting it. This could help protect your resale value. Before selling, peel off the wrap to reveal the paint below which has been protected from UV rays, contamination, scratches and paint chips. The entire process can be as expensive as paint, but you have the option to remove it. Something you can’t do with paint.

Additionally, if you are changing colors, unless you take the car apart and paint the engine bay, door jambs, trunk, etc, (very expensive) you will have a different color in those areas. When wrapping, you have the same situation, BUT it’s NOT PERMANENT. Similarly, if you want your paint to match your engine bay again, just peel the wrap off.

Furthermore, there are some colors, finishes and effects that can be done with vinyl, that cannot be easily accomplished with paint. Some of these include chrome, color shift, pearl, and satin finishes. For these options, it would be often better to go with a car wrap instead of paint.

Reason for painting

Let’s say your original paint is in bad condition and will not safely accept a vinyl wrap. By the same token, the paint imperfections will show through the wrap. Given the weak paint, if you still insisted in wrapping, peeling the wrap off in the future will likely bring the bad paint up with it. In a case like this, you need to paint rather than wrap.

Additionally, if you are looking for a more factory-look with no seams and a matching engine bay, door jambs, trunk, then painting will be very expensive, but it’s the way to go for that. You can always wrap door jambs and such, but you can’t really wrap an entire engine bay to make the car look like it was that new color, from factory. Technically, a paint job can look better and deeper than a wrap. It can also look “factory.” But a paint job of that caliber will also be far more expensive than a wrap.

Hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding of car wraps vs paint and when it’s best to paint your car rather than wrap it. You would also understand the reason why wrapping is just about as expensive as painting, but allows you other benefits that paint doesn’t and vice-versa. To conclude, his information can help you make a decision as to what would be best for your vehicle.

(Video) How To Wrap a Car Hood In ANY Color (Detailed Beginners Guide!)

Check out the gallery below to see the process of wrapping a Ferrari 458 Spider as well and the KI Studios Porsche Cayman S.

KI Studios Pre-Designed Car Wrap Kits

At KI Studios we design and sell car wrap kits. We have a series of pre-designed printed wrap livery kits in on our online store. We also design and print custom liveries. We ship our kits worldwide. You simply choose a local wrap shop to install them for you.

By far the most cost-effective way to get a custom racing livery car wrap for your car is to choose from one of our pre-designed wrap kits. It would be an original and unique wrap as you get to choose your own color combination. We sell very low volumes of these kits, so the chances of someone else picking your same design and color combination are extremely low. Additionally, there are no design fees like with fully custom wrap designs. You simply pay for the print and we ship it to you for local installation at your preferred wrap shop.

See the entire collection of KI Studios printed livery wraps.

FAQs

Is it better to paint or wrap car? ›

Vehicles wraps are generally more durable than paint. While a top-tier paint job can last the life of a vehicle, standard paint jobs typically only last a couple of years. A high-quality vehicle wrap will last up to 10 years.

How can you tell the difference between a wrap and paint? ›

For changing the color personality of your vehicle, you have two options: a vinyl wrap or a paint job. The main difference between a wrap vs paint is that paint is permanent and a vinyl wrap is removable. What kind of makeover you opt for depends on your goals and preferences.

How long after painting a car can you wrap it? ›

General rule is: 'at least 30 days'. Very rarely, less time than this will work. Usually because extra hardner was added to the paint to speed the curing time.

Do wraps look as good as paint? ›

A wrap can be a solid color or a simple color scheme that looks exactly like paint to the casual eye, so even if you're not trying to make a big statement with your vehicle, vinyl can be an affordable alternative to paint.

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Last Updated: 11/18/2022

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