Man holding vinyl wrapping tool applying blue vinyl on car

Can I Vinyl Wrap My Own Car?

If you’re looking to spice up your commercial fleet with a slick new color or a unique design promoting your business, vinyl wrap is a no-brainer. It’s a high-quality look that’s sure to catch eyes on the road. But vinyl wrapping your vehicle is an investment. That’s why many people think, “Should I hire a professional, or can I wrap my own car?”

DIY Vehicle Wrap Pros and Cons

If you’re a pro-DIY-er, you’re probably ready to dive in head first. But before you get your hands dirty, consider the pros and cons of installing vinyl wrap yourself.

Pros of DIY vehicle wrap installation include:

  • Cost. When you take on wrapping your vehicle yourself, you avoid the labor costs of a professional installation. It’s up to you what material you choose and how much you want to spend. 
  • Creative Control. Tailor your vinyl wrap to your vision and apply it exactly how you want it. You can create your custom wrap to align with your branding or preferred look.
  • Flexibility. When you wrap your own vehicle, it’s on your terms. Work on it at your own pace to fit your schedule or your business’s needs. 

Cons of DIY vehicle wraps installation include:

  • Skill and Expertise. When it comes to vinyl wrapping, there’s a lot of room for error. If you’re a first-time wrapper, achieving that seamless, skin-like finish may be challenging. You could waste a lot of time, materials, and money just trying to make it look right.
  • Time-Consuming. Vinyl wrapping is a long and tedious process. It requires a sharp eye for detail and a lot of patience. Prepare to invest time in your DIY vinyl wrap application.
  • Quality. Be aware that you will get what you pay for. Less expensive vinyl wrap may not last as long as professional-grade vinyl wrap. Also, an amateur job may look just like what it is.

DIY vehicle wrap installation can be a cost-effective option for vinyl wrapping your vehicle. But be prepared for a time and labor investment. Also, it requires some expertise, so you probably shouldn’t even attempt it if you haven’t done it plenty of times before.

Professional Vehicle Wrap Pros and Cons

It’s tough to beat a seamless wrap installed by the experts. You can bring your vision to life without the stress of making an installation mistake or choosing the wrong material. When you hire a professional to install your vehicle wrap, you see your vehicle transform without lifting a finger.

Pros of professional vehicle wrap installation include:

  • Expertise and Experience. It’s always a relief to know your vehicle is in good hands. Professionals at Lettering Express have 35 years of vinyl wrapping experience, so we know the ins and outs. A professional can tackle any obstacles that come up and ensure top-quality vinyl application. 
  • Time Efficiency. A professional vinyl wrap installer has completed hundreds of vinyl applications, so they’ve gotten pretty quick at it. A typical vehicle wrap installation at Lettering Express takes three to five days, so you can show off your slick new ride ASAP.
  • Professional Finish. With a steady hand, a sharp eye, and the best tools, a professional vinyl wrapper can replicate every curve and line of your vehicle. You can expect a flawless finish, free of air bubbles or tears. 
  • Creative Guidance. When you present your vision to expert designers, they’ve got the creative minds and tools to bring your dream to life. Not sure what you want? A professional designer can help you create the perfect vinyl wrap to achieve your branding and business needs.

Cons of professional vehicle wrap installation include: 

  • Cost. Professional vinyl wrap applications can come with a higher price point. High-quality materials, design complexity, and labor increase the cost of professional application.
  • Scheduling Constraints. When hiring a professional, you’ll have to work around the technician’s availability and your business needs. Plan accordingly to schedule the application around your business operations. 

When determining if you should DIY or hire a professional, think about your priorities. If you want an option that’s cost-effective, flexible, and on your own terms, you may prefer DIY. If you’ve got high standards for your vehicle’s vinyl wrap, consider hiring a professional. It’s an investment that pays off in quality, longevity, and wow factor. 

How to Wrap Your Own Car

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and wrap your own vehicle, you’ll need some tools to achieve a smooth, seamless finish. 

Tools you will need include: 

  • Teflon-coated back cutter
  • Small magnets
  • Soft magnetic tape-measure
  • Felt-edge squeegee
  • Breakaway knife with spare 30-degree blades
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber towels
  • Heat gun
  • Lint-free gloves
  • Cutting tape
  • Air compressor
  • Vinyl wrap material
  • A friend to help

Vinyl wrapping is not a one-person job. Getting help from someone else can help ensure you get a high-quality finish while cutting down on your labor time. 

11 steps to vinyl wrap your own car are: 

  1. Measure Car Dimensions. You’ll need this to know how much vinyl material you should purchase for the entire project.
  2. Measure Each Section. As each section of the car will need to be wrapped separately, you’ll need to know how much vinyl is required for each piece. Allow three inches of extra vinyl for each section and 12 extra inches for the fender areas. 
  3. Cut the Vinyl. Use the knife to carefully cut the vinyl to fit each section. The vinyl side should be facing down. Label each section as you cut it with the right measurements and section of the vehicle.
  4. Clean and Prepare the Car. Ensure the vehicle is clean of any dirt, dust, and flaws. Pay special attention to grooves and edges because they have the most dirt. Dry the car completely with microfiber towels, or the adhesive won’t work
  5. Apply the Vinyl. Start with flat sections first, then move to the more difficult sections. It’s helpful to have a second pair of hands here to help manage the vinyl application. 
  6. Remove Creases and Bubbles. Use a squeegee at a 45-degree angle to push out the trapped air with medium pressure. Overlap your squeegee areas to ensure all air bubbles are pushed out.
  7. Remove Any Excess Vinyl. Leave enough excess to tuck the vinyl around the edges and hide any cracks. Be careful not to damage the paint below the vinyl. 
  8. Tucking the Vinyl Edges. Don’t put too much stress on the vinyl as you tuck the edges. Pull it carefully over the section while flattening it out. 
  9. Secure the Vinyl. Use a thermometer and heat gun heated to the correct temperature for the material to remove the wrinkles and stretch the vinyl over the vehicle’s curves. Be careful not to overheat the vinyl, or it will cause it to deteriorate.
  10. Clean After Wrapping. Once you have finished the vinyl application, clean the surface of your car again. Ensure to give proper care and maintenance to your vinyl wrap to ensure the longevity of your hard work.
  11. Admire Your Handiwork. Congratulations! You just vinyl-wrapped your own vehicle.

Cost to DIY Wrap a Car

The total cost of DIY-ing your own vehicle will depend on the size of your car, the vinyl material you use, and the quality of tools you buy. 

3M is the most expensive and highest quality wrapping material. Avery offers a more cost-effective option, best for shorter-term vinyl wrapping. 

Larger vehicles like trucks or vans will require a lot more material than a compact car. The finish you choose can also increase the price. Chrome vinyl wrapping often costs more than satin or matte. 

And, of course, how much material you may waste during the process adds up.

Transform Your Ride

If you want to turn your car into a mobile business promotion, you have options. Whether you seek out a professional or take up the wrapping game yourself, you’ll end up with a totally transformed vehicle.

Wrapping your own vehicle can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. But if the investment, tools required, time, and energy are out of your comfort zone, we know just who can help. At Lettering Express, we’ve helped transform hundreds of vehicles in our community. That’s why we are OKC’s vinyl wrap installers. Message us today, and we’ll help bring your dream vehicle to life.