A vinyl car wrap is like a giant, stretchy, removable sticker for your vehicle. Wraps are made of highly formable vinyl, which comes in large sheets and can be molded around the curves of your vehicle. You’ve probably seen a vinyl wrap on a company owned vehicle for advertising. Wraps are also a convenient way for NASCAR race cars to change their appearance from race to race. With advances (and price drops) in vinyl wrap technology, vinyl car wraps are now accessible for non-professional drives too. When properly applied, vinyl wraps do not harm your vehicle’s paint and are fairly easy to remove.

Whether you’re looking for an economic way to advertise your small business, an alternative to repainting, or hoping to transform your car’s look, a vinyl car wrap may be the best way to give your car a makeover. Most wraps, whether full or partial, are applied by professionals, but products for wrapping your vehicle yourself are also available for skilled do-it-yourselfers. Professionally applied partial wraps (just your roof or hood, for example) start at $250; full wraps that cover your entire vehicle can range from $2,500 to $6,000. Wrapping your vehicle yourself may cost as little as $350 for a midsize car, depending on the type of wrap you choose.

In this article, you’ll find out what wrap best meets your needs, and how much it’ll cost. You’ll learn whether wrapping a car is cheaper than painting, whether a wrap protects your vehicle’s paint, how long the wrap will last, and more…

In This Article

What Does a Car Wrap Cost?

The cost of a vinyl wrap depends on many factors, including the make and model of your vehicle, whether you want a full or partial wrap, the style and brand of the vinyl film selected, graphic design features, and whether you want professional installation or are planning to do it yourself. Basic partial wraps — just your roof or the hood of your car, for example, can start at around $250 for professional installation. Professionally installed, full wraps start around $2,500 and go as high as $6,000. Here are a few examples from around the country:

  • Revolution wraps (Lincoln, NE): Full vehicle wraps range from $2,500-$3,500
  • Lucent Wraps (Costa Mesa, CA): $11-25 per square foot for full, solid color, vehicle wraps. A Ford Focus, for example, has about 230 square feet of wrappable surface area, so that’s $2,530 to $5,750.
  • First Class Car Wraps (Miami, FL): Full color change car wrap cost will range from $2,500 to $4,000.

Next, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that determine the final cost of a car wrap.

Factors Affecting Wrap Price

Vehicle Dimensions

The size of your vehicle is probably the most important factor for determining how much it will cost to wrap your car, because size determines how much vinyl you’ll need to buy to wrap the car. A Mini Cooper will cost less to wrap than a large truck or full size van, and wrapping a motorcycle is even less expensive than wrapping a compact car.

The curves and bumps on a vehicle also affect how easy (or difficult) it is to apply the vinyl wrap. It is more difficult to smooth out the bubbles and get the vinyl wrap to lay flat on a curve, as opposed to a flat surface. For example, a curvy VW Beetle will require more smoothing around its corners than a boxy Nissan Cube. This additional work may add to the hours of labor you’ll be billed by a company (or the time you can expect to spend in the garage if you apply the wrap yourself).

Are you thinking about wrapping your truck, rather than a car? Read more about the specifics of wrapping a truck in our in depth truck wrapping article: How Much Does It Cost to Wrap a Truck? Truck Wrap Cost (Pro and DIY).

Vehicle Condition

The surface of your vehicle must be smooth to properly apply a wrap. Installation over surface damage doesn’t work because the vinyl won’t be able to adhere to the surface underneath. If your car has any surface damage, from chipped paint to dents, the professional installer (or yourself, if you opt to DIY), will have to do the repairs necessary to flatten out the surface before installing the vinyl. The extra a time this prep work takes affects labor costs, and can significantly increase the cost of having your car wrapped.

Full vs Partial Wrap

With a full wrap, your entire vehicle will be covered by the vinyl, including door jams (but excluding the engine bay). When done professionally, the cost of a full wrap will also usually include the time involved in removing the bumpers, badges, lighting, door handles, mirrors, body kits, etc.

Partial wraps are good for a custom look or for advertising purposes. The cost of a partial wrap will vary depending on the size of your vehicle and the textural challenges involved in wrapping it as described above.

Wrap Finish

There are 12 different wrap finishes: Gloss, Matte, Satin, Carbon Fiber, Chrome, Gold, Brushed, Glow-In-The-Dark, Color Change, Camouflage, Reflective and Custom. All of these come in multiple colors too. For an idea of just how many options you have, see 3M’s poster showcasing colors and finishes. There are also several different brands of vinyl wrap, some are expensive and top of the line, while other offer more affordable, but lower quality, vinyl.

Your selection of brand and finish will affect over all cost of your wrap. For most types of wraps, VVIVID offers the lowest prices and a variety of truly unique wraps you won’t find in other brands. Avery-Dennison’s prices come in a close second, with Arlon and 3M’s prices tying for third. Oracal and AAA Auto Wrap also offer a limited selection of wrap types, but their products are not available in many types of wraps.

We’ve gathered prices off Amazon for comparison. We selected black for consistency (or the closest neutral color, if black wasn’t available), but be aware that prices for different colors might be different. You should be able to wrap a midsize car with 300 square feet of vinyl wrap. Since vinyl wrap is often sold in rolls that are five feet wide, you’ll need a 60-inch roll for a midsize car.

As you go through this list of finishes, if you need help imagining what they’ll look like on your car, try 3M’s online wrap customizer for a visual.

1. Gloss

This type of wrap has a shiny, reflective, glossy sheen.

2. Matte

3. Satin

This type of wrap has a slightly shiny finish, somewhere between gloss and matte. It conforms well to vehicles with curvier bodies.

4. Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber wraps come in matte, high gloss and brushed metal finishes. The ease of re-positioning a carbon fiber wrap will make it easier to wrap areas like your roof, fenders, hood, spoilers, interior dash areas and side view mirrors. Choosing a carbon fiber wrap is far less expensive than buying a genuine carbon fiber hood, which can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,400 — and more.

5. Chrome

Chrome wraps are one of the trendiest vinyl wrap finishes on the market; they’re also among the most expensive and most difficult to install. Following are prices from Amazon:

6. Gold

Gold vinyl wrap comes in a variety of sheens, although it is usually high gloss; it may also be brushed.

7. Brushed

Brushed vinyl wraps have multiple color layers that give them their distinctive look. They’re available in a variety of colors.

8. Glow-in-the-Dark

During the day, glow-in-the-dark wraps are a pale, almost white shade of blue or green. At night, they glow brightly using solar energy absorbed during the day.

  • 3M — Not available
  • Arlon — Not available
  • Avery — Not available on Amazon
  • Oracal — Not available on Amazon
  • VViViD Glow in the Dark Vinyl Wrap — About $3.70 per square foot; about $1,100 for a midsize car

9. Color Change / Chameleon

Also known as chameleon wraps, color change wraps may display two colors at once, depending on the light in which your vehicle is seen and the angle from which it is viewed. Popular color combinations include purple/gold, purple/blue and silver/rainbow.

10. Camouflage

No matter the area in which you’re hunting, there’s probably a style of camouflage vinyl film to match. Some options from VVIVID include Woodland and Desert

  • 3M — Not available
  • Arlon — Not available
  • Avery — Not available on Amazon
  • Oracal — Not available on Amazon
  • VVIVID Woodland Camouflage Vinyl Wrap — About $1.50 per square foot; about $450 for a midsize car

11. Reflective

Reflective vinyl wraps usually come in smaller sizes, perfect for creating racing stripes or other details on your vehicle (prices are quoted accordingly).

  • 3M — Not available
  • Arlon — Not available on Amazon
  • Avery — Not available on Amazon
  • Oracal – Not available on Amazon
  • VVIVID Reflective Gloss Silver White Vinyl Wrap — About $9 for 1 foot by 48 inch decal; for larger sizes, about $2.50 per square foot; about $750 for a midsize car

Custom Wraps

If you want your car wrap to advertise a product or service, or you simply want a unique design for your car, a custom vehicle wrap can be a unique alternative to a paint job. One benefit of choosing a wrap for a custom design instead of painting is that the wrap is removable. Plus, they’re easy to maintain because they require no waxing and only the occasional wash. Online wrap design businesses such as Custom Car Wraps allow you to design a mockup of your car wrap and then submit your design for a quote from a wrap shop in your area.

Custom wraps tend to be less expensive than custom paint jobs. A custom wrap usually averages between $500 and $4,000, while a custom paint job can range between $1,000 and $10,000.

Wraps are either digitally printed or pre-cured. A custom wrap design, such as a company logo, can be digitally printed onto the wrap film. The graphic design work required to create the wrap adds to the final cost of the project. Pre-cured wraps come in a variety colors and textures and are ready to be applied to the vehicle. Here’s how custom and non-custom wraps compare:

  • Paint replacement wraps: These wraps, which range from $2,500 to $6,000, allow you to change the color of your vehicle without repainting it. Paint replacement wraps are available in a variety of pre-cured designs and textures.
  • Graphic advertising wraps: These digitally printed, custom design wraps are used to advertise your small business. They start at around $250 for partial wraps, although the cost can run as high as $4,000 for full wraps.
  • Vehicle restyling wraps: These pre-cured wraps allow you to add an accent or detail to your car. For example, you’ll use them to add racing stripes to your Camaro or a black roof on your 328i.

Wrapping the Car Yourself

When calculating the cost savings of wrapping your vehicle yourself, keep in mind that applying vinyl wrap is a tricky task that requires patience, a steady hand, a friend to help, tools that most people don’t already have and many, many hours — even if you’re a professional. You’ll also need to disassemble many parts of your car so that the wrap can be tucked into panel gaps, like door mirrors, headlamps, tail lights, bumper covers, and so on. You may break a few trim pieces that will need replaced.

You’ll first want to purchase a complete car wrap toolkit with everything you need and your own wrap, which can be found on Amazon in a variety of colors and styles (even carbon fiber weave).

If you’re a beginner, you may want to start with a small vinyl wrap application, such as wrapping a simple hood, as opposed to wrapping your entire vehicle as your first project. Applying vinyl wrap is definitely a skill acquired through practice. The following video shows you the basic steps to apply a vinyl wrap.

Is Wrapping Cheaper Than Painting?

In most circumstances, a car wrap job will cost the same as painting your car. Wraps and paint vary in quality and price; a poor-quality paint job is much cheaper than a high-quality wrap, and a poor-quality wrap is often much less expensive than a high-quality paint job.

If you’re trying to decide whether it makes more sense to paint your car or wrap it, consider the following:

  • Is your current paint job of poor quality? If so, a wrap will adhere poorly; repainting is the right choice. If your current paint job is of good quality (smooth, even coat with no deep scratches, dents or overall roughness), you can either paint or wrap your car.
  • Do you want a temporary change, are you advertising? If so, wraps are an excellent choice because they can be applied quickly and are highly customizable. And, you can remove them later if you need to change you advertisement.
  • Are you looking for a factory-fresh look with no seams and a matching engine bay, door jambs and trunk? If so, painting is likely your best option, although it may be more expensive than wrapping.

For an in depth cost comparison between painting and wrapping, see our article Car Wrap Cost vs Paint Job Cost: Which Is Cheaper Upfront, Long-Term.

Do Vinyl Wraps Really Protect Paint?

Despite popular belief, vinyl wrapping a car doesn’t protect your car’s paint very well. For a quick science lesson on how well vinyl wraps protect your paint (compared to a paint protection film), watch the following clip. The video starts at 7:20 where the video’s creators do a simple demonstration.

If you’re looking for paint protection, and don’t care as much about the color change, paint protection film (also called clear bra) is more appropriate. Read all about it in our article Clear Bra Cost? Paint Protection Film Costs for All Methods (XPEL, Etc.).

How Long Does a Wrap Last?

On average, vinyl wraps can last seven years, while graphic print wraps only last five to seven years. However, the wrap will not stay perfect for this long. Areas where the wrap has been tightly applied (around the front bumper cover and the spoilers, for example) are more prone to wear and will begin showing tears and bubbles sooner than other areas. The following factors all play a part in how long the wrap will last:

  • The quality of the vinyl selected
  • How well the paint was cleaned before the wrap was applied
  • How many miles the vehicle is driven
  • The type of terrain on which the car is driven
  • The environment in which you keep your vehicle (outside vs. in the garage)
  • How frequently your vinyl wrap is hand washed (frequent washing helps extend the life of the wrap)

When you determine that your vehicle’s wrap is ready to be removed, you can take it to a professional car wrap installer for removal. Professional wrap removal usually costs between $50-100 per hour; a wrap that has been poorly applied or has strongly adhered to the vehicle’s base paint layer may take longer to remove. Wrap removal is an additional cost you’ll want to consider on top of the initial cost of wrapping your car.

Because of the high cost of professional wrap removal, many people choose to remove the wrap themselves. If you wish to do this, you will need a heat source, such as a handheld hair dryer — or better, a heat gun or blowtorch, to heat the wrap as you carefully remove the wrap at no more than a 45-degree angle. You’ll also need a squeegee to get every bit of the wrap off. Be careful: If primer was used when your wrap was applied, removing a car wrap without professional help can be nearly impossible.

In Summary

While wrapping your car can cost thousands of dollars and won’t save peeling paint, it can be a great way to make a major statement. The possibilities for vinyl wrapping your car are endless. You can choose carbon fiber, gold chrome, light reflective or camouflage. You can blackout your roof to make your car look more modern. You can even advertise your company. If the cost of wrapping a car is currently outside your budget, keep in mind that as the technology progresses, the cost to wrap a car will likely continue to decline dramatically.

Looking for a professional wrap installer? The Wrap Society has a useful and comprehensive list of vehicle wrap installers across the United States.