Vinyl Wrap vs. Paint Car: Which is Better? (2022)

Owners who decide to beautify their cars often have a dilemma about applying vinyl wrap vs. paint. No one can tell the right answer about this subject. Whatever option you choose, you will protect your vehicle, make it stylish, and potentially increase its resale value.

However, the differences between these two options are significant. You should consider wrapping if you need to have your car done quickly and without spending too much money. On the other hand, painting implies a better result but at a much higher price. Let’s take a look.

Table of Contents

  • Vinyl wrap vs. paint Car Quick Comparison Chart
  • Car Wrapping
  • Wrap coverage
  • Wrap finishes
  • Car Painting
  • Paint types
  • Car paint finishes
  • Car Wrapping vs. Car Painting
  • Vinyl wrap vs. paint – What to Choose?
  • Summary

Vinyl wrap vs. paint Car Quick Comparison Chart

Vinyl wrap vs. paint Car

FeaturePaintVinyl wrap
VarietyLimited colorsLimitless
DurabilityDepends on maintenance and way of useUp to 10 years
Installation timeAbout three weeksAbout three days
MaintenanceRegular polishing and waxingStandard car wash with soapy water
Price$3,000 to $10,000$2,000 to $5,000 with installation
Resale valueDepends on color and work qualityExcellent

Car Wrapping

A car wrap is a film made of polyester or vinyl you should adhere over the car surface. Vinyl comes in 60 inches (1.5 m) wide and 25 feet (7.6 m) long rolls and a clear protective laminate.

One is typically enough for wrapping an average vehicle and costs $2,500, plus design and installation. Nowadays, you can find two types:


It is a thin film reminding of a sizable car sticker and cut in a specific way to conform to your car shape.


This rarer and thicker type doesn’t conform to the car’s edges and corners but comes in the desired design. You can choose digitally printed vinyl wrap in various patterns and use it for particular purposes.

Wrap coverage

The primary advantage of this option is the possibility to apply it over as much of the vehicle surface as you want.


In this case, you should use wrapping as a paint replacement for the entire vehicle. It is a quick way to change the color of your car.

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


Applying a partial wrap is an excellent way to accentuate your vehicle look. You can apply it over the roof, hood, mirrors, or spoiler.


Blackout wraps look like full wraps, but they include wrapping all existing trim pieces besides factory paint. In other words, you can cover wheels, grilles, and window sills.


Interior wraps are an excellent option for beautifying plastic trim pieces inside your vehicle.


The protective film is a ceramic, typically clear coating that protects the existing paint from damage.

Wrap finishes

Wraps come with several extra finishing options, such as:


This vinyl wrap finish type is a popular option that provides a look similar to the same kind of paint finish.


Both matte paints and wraps come with the same look. Matte wraps are convenient for upgrading the existing paint or color change.


Satin finish with a subtle metallic shine is an excellent mix of gloss and matte finishes. You can use it to upgrade existing finishes.

Carbon fiber

This wrap finish design with woven carbon fiber mimics carbon fiber body panels. You can use it to beautify a vehicle’s roof, hood, and mirrors.


This impressive finish is an enhancer of other options. It includes numerous patterns, including diamond, forest-themed, or camouflage.

(Video) Is Vinyl Actually Better Than Paint?

Car Painting

A paint job is a cosmetic car treatment that includes:

  • Sanding and priming
  • Painting and drying
  • Waxing or polishing

You can pick out a few options, including:

  • Custom paint
  • Satin clear (high-gloss) paint
  • Pearl paint

Paint types

You can find two car paint types on the market, but you should be careful when buying. Some sub-types, like acrylic lacquer and aliphatic polyurethane, are banned in a few states because of environmental concerns.


Most modern vehicles are painted with this paint type. It has stayed resistant to color fading for a decade but is pricey and hard to apply.

You can use it to cover any existing paint, but it is impossible to use lacquer over urethane paint. The downside of this option is that it is not convenient for a DIY project.


It is the affordable, easy-to-apply old paint type used for old-timers. Unfortunately, it is prone to fading and doesn’t last long. The most recognizable types are:

  • Acrylic lacquer – It was the first acrylic paint kind ever created. It is glossy and people love it, but it lasts for a limited period and is eco-harmful. Therefore, many states have banned its use.
  • Acrylic enamel – This acrylic paint forms a hard shell over the car surface, making it a durable option.
  • Acrylic urethane – It is a combination of these two paint types you can effortlessly apply. It comes with a long lifespan, an affordable price, and without legal limitations.

Car paint finishes

The paint finish determines the specific paint appearance by mixing it with specific particles until providing the desired result.

Gloss (solid)

The glossy paint finish is the primary and most affordable type available on the market.


This simple paint is a popular option these days. It shines less even when compared with a gloss paint finish type.


Getting metallic paint includes mixing it with metallic fragments for extra shine and reflectivity. The negative side of this expensive option is the impossibility of repairing scratches appearing on its surface.

(Video) How to Prep Bad Paint for Wrap: 1991 Toyota MR2


This stunning paint finish is a result of ceramic fragments added to it. It is expensive and looks fantastic but is impossible to repair after scratching.

Car Wrapping vs. Car Painting

It is vital to understand the difference between these two options before deciding to beautify your vehicle.


Both options protect the underlying car metal, but vinyl applied over paint protects it from fading and chemical damage.


It can be challenging to paint a small damaged car area without noticing a difference from the original paint. On the other hand, you can quickly cover that damage with a piece of vinyl wrap.


The vinyl wrap comes in a better variety of designs, styles, and finishes. Spray paint is typically limited by the factory paint color range and the designer’s skill when you look for a customized look.


Car paint is widely available on the market, and you can find numerous professionals who can do the job. On the other hand, specialist vinyl installers are rare, particularly outside city areas.


Vinyl wrap can last up to a decade, while well-maintained paint lasts even longer.

Installation time

Spray painting is a long process that typically lasts about three weeks and includes:

  • Stripping the old rusted or peeled-off paint
  • Spraying the surface with a base coat
  • Drying the paint
  • Polishing

On the other hand, you will need to wait only three days to have your car wrapped.


Once you apply car wrapping, it will require occasional washing. On the other hand, paint requires regular maintenance, waxing, and polishing.

(Video) Car Wraps vs. Paint (Wrappers Rant)


Spray painting is always more expensive than wrapping since the paint itself is more pricey than the vinyl wrap. For instance, you need to paint the entire vehicle, but it is not the case with wrapping.

If you want to apply vinyl, you can do it over the whole surface or only partially. Finally, spray painting is a time-consuming process, making labor costs higher.

Resale value

A new painting will increase the vehicle’s resale value, but it significantly depends on the chosen color and work quality. Car wrap protects the original paint, making the car’s resale value high after removal.

Vinyl wrap vs. paint – What to Choose?

Car wrapping

There are several reasons why to choose car wrapping instead of painting:

  • Car wrapping is quickly removable, and you can effortlessly swap color and design
  • It comes in better quality and lower costs
  • You can find numerous designs, including a digital one
  • It increases vehicle resale value
  • Installation is faster, and wrap lasts longer
  • This option offers better paint protection and more texture options
  • Maintenance is simpler
  • Wrap preserves existing paint, but you can’t apply it over cracked paint
  • It comes with the possibility of customization, making it an excellent solution for branding cars

Unfortunately, this option has its downsides, including:

  • It is impossible to wrap every car
  • A market is overflood with low-quality car wrapping options
  • Sun often damages car wrapping, making it looks unsightly
  • Its removal can damage the underlying paint
  • It is vital to be careful when washing a vehicle

You should also consider that some car owners prefer paint look and dislike wrapping.

Spray painting

Painting is a permanent finish for your vehicle that comes with numerous advantages. A list of crucial ones includes:

  • Re-painting is not considered a modification
  • Correctly done, painting increases the car value and lasts longer
  • It is a better solution for vehicles with damaged paint and numerous imperfections, scratches, and dents
  • It is better to use paint if you want to improve a car’s appearance

Painting is an excellent option for your vehicle, but you can notice a few disadvantages, including:

  • It is a time-consuming process that includes more steps
  • It is necessary to remove old paint before applying the new layer
  • It is more expensive than wrapping


Since both car wrapping and painting have numerous advantages and a few downsides, choosing between them is ultimately personal. Wrapping is an excellent option to beautify your vehicle without spending too much money.

On the other hand, painting is costly but last longer. Besides your preferences, it is crucial to determine the original paintwork condition that will make your dilemma easier.

(Video) Vinyl Wrap VS. Paint Job

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Is it better to wrap or paint a 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.

Do vinyl 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.

Is wrap or spray paint better? ›

But most of the time, car wrapping is cheaper. When you spray paint a car, it's a permanent modification and the process is almost impossible to undo. Depending on the car model and intricacy of work, it will minimally cost $1,000 to over $10,000. However, car wrapping is a lot cheaper, quicker and easily removed.

How long does 3M vinyl wrap last? ›

In the vinyl wrap world, the top two brands are 3m and Avery; each claims their materials will last for seven years. Yet, they also each have varying warranties for their materials. 3M's most popular wrap film series 1080 is three years on vertical surfaces.

Can you wash a wrapped car? ›

You can bring your wrapped vehicle to an automated brushless car wash, though hand washing is safer and more thorough. Brush car washes may be too rough on the film, degrading it and causing peeling and lifted edges. If a car wash uses water spray and no brushes, it should be safe for most wraps.

Do wrapped cars scratch easy? ›

Since your car wrap is a vinyl film that comes in different finishes, it doesn't have the protective topcoat that is typical to paint jobs. This is the main reason why the wrapping material is prone to scratches.

Why would you wrap a car rather than paint it? ›

Wraps are Low Maintenance

Still, it's really just about using gentle cleaning methods and avoiding harsh jet washers or extended periods in direct sunlight. Paint, on the other hand, needs an investment of time if you want to keep it looking sparkly fresh; you'll need to wash and wax it regularly.

How long does a wrap last on a car? ›

You should expect your car wrap to last roughly five to seven years, depending on the finish and proper maintenance.

Is it cheaper to paint or wrap? ›

Cost is a likely factor in a wrapping vs painting decision: is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car? Paint jobs run from $500 (low quality) or anywhere between $1,000-$5,000 (high-quality). A professional wrap runs between $2,500 to $5,000. There is also a labor cost to remove the wrap that may range between $500-$600.

Is paint more expensive than wrap? ›

Custom Paint Job Cost vs.

Many factors play into the cost of both a custom paint job and a vehicle wrap but wraps are almost always cheaper. The cost in material and specifically labor on a custom paint job can range anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 and that's for a basic design.

What color vinyl lasts longest? ›

Metallic colors like silver and gold will fade more quickly because of the metal flake content. We'll explain that momentarily. Standard colors are more durable with reds on the lower end of the range. The most durable options in any vinyl product palette are typically black, white, and transparent.

Does vinyl wrap fade in the sun? ›

Like many other materials, car wraps with extended exposure to UV rays can fade over time. Choosing a vinyl wrap that features additional UV protection can protect the integrity of your custom wrap.

Can I wax a wrapped car? ›

3M does not recommend using wax or other similar coatings on vehicle graphics. Vinyl wraps may be run through car washes. Touch less car washes are the best for graphic care.

Can a wrapped car go in rain? ›

Rain will not affect the car wrap. You can't rinse the wrap off with water. You do want to be careful using a squeegee on the windows; the squeegee itself won't hurt the wrap, but if you press down too hard, you risk scratching the wrap with the edge of the squeegee.

Does wrapping a car ruin its paint? ›

Although they've been around for quite some time, many vehicle owners often ask us, does a car wrap damage paint? The truth is that a vinyl wrap or car wrap as some call it, is completely safe to be applied to any type of paint – whether it's gloss or a matte finish.

Does vinyl wrap increase insurance? ›

Yes, installing a vinyl wrap on your car or truck will have an impact on your auto insurance. Hence, we recommend that you review your car insurance policy thoroughly before you get a vinyl car wrap.

Do wraps devalue a car? ›

When a car is wrapped, the resale value is considerably greater than for a car that has been repainted. This is primarily because the wrapper can be removed without damaging the car. Since the wrap preserved the paint, the value of your car is higher because it still looks new.

How do you maintain a car wrap? ›

Wash Regularly
  1. Do no use any abrasive polishes or cutting compounds.
  2. Do not use any polishing or wax products on matte or textured films.
  3. Use all purpose cleaner if there is wax or wax residue on the surface.
  4. Only use Isopropyl alcohol and water (2:1) on Matte or Satin vinyls.

What are the cons of getting your car wrapped? ›

What Are the Cons of Wrapping Your Car?
  • Wrapping Doesn't Work If Your Car Is Damaged. ...
  • You Get What You Pay for. ...
  • Everybody Will Keep Asking You If You Have Wrapped Your Car. ...
  • Vinyl Wraps Aren't for Everyone.
18 Jul 2022

Do car wraps last in the sun? ›

Not to be dramatic, but the sun is a wrap's biggest enemy! Vehicle wraps that last longer (10 to 12 years) are typically vehicles that are not exposed to as much direct sunlight for whatever reason. Sun exposure is the main factor in the deterioration over time of vehicle wraps. So try to park in the shade, if you can.

Can a wrapped car be unwrapped? ›

The answer is: YES. If the vehicle has been wrapped with a high-quality car wrap vinyl then the removal process is very easy. All is needed is a heat source, preferably a heat gun, some experience and a lot of patience. High-quality films made by Avery and 3M are designed to leave no adhesive residue when removed.

What is the longest lasting car wrap? ›

A Car Wrap's Foundation – The Vinyl. In the car wrap industry, there are two big vinyl suppliers: Avery Dennison and 3M. Avery Dennison offers their Supreme Wrapping film SW900 that claims to have durability lasting up to 12 years.

What is the cheapest paint job for a car? ›

Basic: The most inexpensive paint job involves as few coats as possible, using synthetic enamel paint. For the basic job, the painters are unlikely to paint areas that are not normally visible, such as the inside of the hood. Basic costs range from $300 to $1,000.

How much does a paint job cost for a car? ›

Quality and Paint Preferences

Prices can range up to around $1,000 for this type of paintwork. A higher quality paint job that includes bodywork, such as dent/rust/damage repair, can cost as much as $3,500. Multi-coat, high-quality paint jobs can cost as much as $8,000 or more, depending on color and vehicle.

How much does it cost to wrap a car? ›

Average Cost to Wrap a Car

Generally speaking, car wraps can start as low as $2000 for a small, two-door vehicle and can go as high as $10,000 or more for a larger, more complex vehicle wrap, depending on the factors outlined above. More typically though, a vehicle wrap will fall within the $2,500 – $5,000 price range.

Does your car lose value if you wrap it? ›

Increased Resale Value

When a car is wrapped, the resale value is considerably greater than for a car that has been repainted. This is primarily because the wrapper can be removed without damaging the car. Since the wrap preserved the paint, the value of your car is higher because it still looks new.

Can you wax a wrapped car? ›

3M does not recommend using wax or other similar coatings on vehicle graphics. Vinyl wraps may be run through car washes. Touch less car washes are the best for graphic care.

Is it cheaper to respray or wrap a car? ›

Car Wraps are Cheaper

Whatever the design, you get more bang for your buck with a vehicle wrap. Wraps are now cheaper than your average full-body respray, especially if you want to include an intricate design.

How much does it cost to repaint a car? ›

Basic costs range from $300 to $1,000. Standard: The cost of a standard paint job usually includes sanding the body and removing rust before painting to get an attractive finish. Standard costs range from $1,000 to $4,500.

Can I wrap my own car? ›

Can I vinyl wrap my car myself? Absolutely! Vinyl car wrap can dramatically change the look of your vehicle, but it only requires a few basic tools, a clean work area, and a patient approach.


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