If you’re looking for a quick, affordable change to your van’s exterior, vinyl wrapping may be the answer. Vinyl wrapping is generally quicker than a brand new paint job, and the options for design are nearly limitless. Whether you want to advertise your business or just change the exterior of your personal vehicle, wrapping your van is something to consider.
In This Article:
What Is Automotive Vinyl Wrapping Exactly?
Vinyl wrapping is a process in which a large, adhesive piece of vinyl is wrapped over a vehicle’s existing paint. Vinyl wrapping is most often used on vans for advertisements, but it can also be used with a single color or pattern to change the look of a van’s paint job.
Van wrapping occurs in three stages: design, production, and installation:
Design. The design stage is important for getting the graphics right and making sure it will stand out on the vehicle. High-resolution images are key since the final decal will be very large — you don’t want pixelated images driving down the highway! Simple designs can sometimes offer more impact since a potential customer may only see your vehicle for a few seconds while stopped in traffic. This stage and the production stage may be omitted if you are simply changing the look of your van with pre-manufactured vinyl rather than getting a custom design for an advertisement or other use.
Production. The production stage is when the wrap is printed on vinyl. These wraps are usually printed on vinyl rolls measuring 5 feet wide and 25 feet long. Printing such a large piece of vinyl is expensive, so you want to do your due diligence to make sure your design is perfect during the design stage.
Installation. The last step is installation. You can have a wrap installed professionally, or you can do it yourself. A professional may take anywhere from 6-8 hours to install an advertising wrap. The process first involves removing vehicle trim and then precisely placing the vinyl onto the vehicle’s surface. All seams are smoothed and creases and bubbles are removed. Trim is then replaced.
Benefits of Vinyl Wrapping a Van
Local companies often wrap their vans to advertise their services and get more eyes on their brand. Contact information, paired with an eye-catching graphic, produces a moving billboard for your business.
Just some of the businesses that wrap vans include caterers, household repair companies, cable companies, carpet cleaning companies, and housekeeping companies.
Removing the vinyl wrapping is fairly easy, revealing the original paint job once again. Wrapping does not damage paint and is, therefore, a good choice if you plan to change your company logo or design or return the van to its original color before selling it.
Van Wrapping Prices
The cost to wrap a van will vary depending on the size of the wrap, whether it is a partial or full wrap, the design of the wrap, and the shape of the van to be wrapped. (A van with more curves is harder to wrap because the installer must stretch and shape the vinyl to fit the contours of the van.)
The price also depends on whether the wrap is cast vinyl or calendered vinyl. Cast vinyl is of a higher quality and is, therefore, more durable and more easily shaped to fit a vehicle’s shape. Most cast vinyl wraps last three to seven years.
Calendared vinyl is primarily useful for decals or lettering on relatively flat surfaces because it is difficult to shape. It may not last longer than a year. However, at 40-50% less than the price of cast vinyl, it may be a good choice for short-term advertising.
The Cost to Wrap a Van Professionally
We contacted several companies and found that professional wrap installation starts at about $250-$900 for single graphics or partial wraps, while a full wrap for a van can cost between $3,000-$5,000, plus extra for any design and custom printing. Custom printing on vinyl starts at about $250. Expect to pay more if you are working with them to create a design from scratch. Keep in mind that some companies offer package rates that include the cost of the vinyl, plus the design, printing, and installation services. When getting estimates, make sure to ask what services the estimate includes.
You can expect a company to take at least two or three days to complete the installation of a full vinyl wrap, while partial wraps are often completed in just one day.
The Cost to Wrap a Van Yourself
If you want to wrap your van on your own, expect to need between 75-100 feet of vinyl (considering a width of 5 feet). At an average price of about $1.70 per square foot (about $415 for a 5′ x 50′ roll), you can expect to pay between $640-$850 for the vinyl (view prices on Amazon). You will also likely need a few low-cost tools, such as a squeegee for applying the vinyl, a razor blade knife for cutting the vinyl, and a sturdy, plastic card to smooth the vinyl and eliminate bubbles. You can purchase these tools separately or as kits (view prices on Amazon). A heat gun or blow dryer may help stretch and mold the vinyl to the van’s exterior.
If you want custom-printed vinyl, you also need to factor in the cost of getting it designed and printed — at least $250 for a logo, and potentially much more, depending on the level of design you require.
Installing your own vinyl is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of preparation, attention to detail, and patience. If you are new to the process, get familiar with the required steps before you commit to the project. Your van’s exterior will need to be exceptionally clean, and you will need to remove hardware and trim to properly adhere the vinyl to all surfaces. Poorly applied vinyl will look sloppy and may not stick to your vehicle as well as it should. Even experienced DIYers can find vinyl installation to be a difficult project. Set aside several days for installation, and enlist the help of friends, if possible. (Two sets of hands are always better that one when handling large pieces of vinyl.) For those interested in wrapping their van themselves, the video below shows the vinyl installation process and demonstrates the techniques necessary to get the job done — and done right.
Vehicle wraps can be a great way to advertise your business or just give your van some personality. They are available in a wide range of colors and patterns, and they are easily removed. A professionally installed full wrap will cost between $3,000-$5,000. You will probably spend under $1,000 in materials if you take over the installation yourself, but be prepared to put in the time and effort necessary to make it look great and last long.