Sankul Nagpal
Dec 17, 2022
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8 min read
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Tips & Advice

Car Wrap Vs Paint: a Guide to Refresh Your Car’s Looks

Car Wraps versus Paint

While OEMs might be slow in updating cars to make them look more appealing, there’s a quicker alternative that can transform your car's appearance! Yes, we are talking about car wraps. An option that has opened the doors of creativity for many, wraps are the gen-z alternative to painting, which is typically a single colour job that covers the entire car. But despite the creative advantage, are car wraps better than paint? Let’s find out with this comprehensive car wraps vs paint comparison.

Before diving into the head-on comparison, let’s take a quick look at the concept of car wraps as well as painting, along with their most common types and finishes. 


Car Wrapping

If you ever happen to see a car boasting a somewhat quirky appearance, chances are that you are seeing a wrapped car. Applied onto a clean and clear surface of paint or bare metal, car wraps are custom-fit decals that come in a wide range of colours and textures and can be applied on a surface of any shape, size or design. In contrast to paint, a wrap can simply be removed when desired, and a new wrap can be slipped on in just a couple of more hours. 


Types of car wraps

Now that you’ve got a basic idea about car wraps let’s see two of the most common types of car wraps available in the market.


Cast/Vinyl Wraps

The most common type of car wraps is cast wraps which are vinyl films that can tightly be placed over a variety of surfaces. Vinyl wraps come with different levels of thickness and can be customised and cut to fit even tricky areas of the car, making Cast wraps convenient and versatile. Installation of a Cast wrap is much like a large sticker that is wrapped over your vehicle with the help of a heat blower and blade to ensure it adheres well. Vinyl wraps can also be used to protect the paint underneath.


Calendared Wraps

Compared to Cast Wraps, Calendered Wraps are a rarity in the market nowadays. Calendered wraps are thicker than their cast wrap counterparts and can provide better protection and safety from unwanted cuts. However, they can also be challenging to install, especially on hard corners and tricky curves.


Finishes of Vinyl Wraps

With ample options to choose from vinyl, wraps come not only in a wide range of different shapes and sizes but also in different finishes, the most common of which are: 

Gloss: A look similar to what is offered by a regular glossy paint job.

Matte: A look similar to what is offered by a matte finish paint job with no gloss attached.

Satin: A finish that can be described as a cross between matte and gloss finish, somewhat similar to the metallic paint job.

Carbon Fiber: A finish that has carbon fibre woven into the wrap, usually popular for hoods, mirrors and rooflines.

Textured: Finish that is rather interesting and mimics some of the quirkiest patterns such as themed finished, camo etc.


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Benefits of getting your car wrapped

If the underlining base paintwork of a car is in good shape, the process of installing a wrap is substantially faster than a paint job with a good quality professional job taking anywhere between 3 to 7 days.

Vinyl is diverse, customisable and comes with a wide range of colours, textures and designs to make your car stand out. As easy as installing a vinyl, removing it is also a simple, quick and easy task. A Vinyl can be taken off with ease anytime the user needs to switch colours.


Downsides of getting your car wrapped

Since the final result of a car wrap depends heavily on the condition of the base paint it is put over, cars with old, deteriorating, and poor quality paint jobs cannot be wrapped with ease.

Vinyl wraps come with a limited time frame within which the wrap can be easily removed; if left to sit on for years, the removal of vinyl wraps can damage the underline paint job of your car.

Despite UV protection, wraps are prone to sun damage, especially in a country like India. If any portion of the wrap is peeled off, cut or damaged, the Vinyl starts to look ugly and degrade over time. Vinyl requires a careful washing regime which, if not followed, can damage the wrap. For insurance and other legal purposes, a wrap is considered a modification.


Car Painting

No matter how much care you take while washing or cleaning your car, it's likely that your car paint will wear off/loose its lustre over time. This is where car painting comes in. Car Painting is one of the most common options for those who wish to either restore the paint job of their cars or change it altogether. Car Painting is a comprehensive process that involves cleaning the car’s body, degreasing, sanding and repairing. Once the base of the vehicle is smoothened, cleaned, degreased and repaired, multiple coats of paint are then evenly sprayed on the car. Once the coats dry out, a clear coat is then added to finalise the job.


Types of Car Paints 

A complete car paint job is a rather lengthy process and is typically done per the user's preference in terms of types of paint as well as the finish. The most common types of car paints include:


Acrylic

The old-school paint type that was as common as a housefly back in the 80s and 90s, this type of paint is now usually found on antique vehicles. Acrylic paint is simple and inexpensive but is prone to fading in the long run.


Urethane

The modern-day paint type that is now the most common type of paint, the Urethane paint type, is more expensive than acrylic but is more advanced and can last longer. Applying Urethane paints also requires care and caution, with multiple layers properly coating the car.


Finishes of Car Paints

Much like wrapping, a pint job can also be done in a variety of finishes. Some of the most common paint job finishes include:

Gloss/Solid: The most common finish, this is the look that most cars originally come with.

Matte: Much like wraps, paint offers a matte finish, which is also a common finding in luxury cars.

Metallic: A finish only offered by paint, this finish is infused with metallic fragments that give it its signature finish and feel. If damaged, this finish can be pricy to repair.

Pearlescent: Much like metallic particles, paints can also be mixed with ceramics which can make the paint pop out. This finish is quite expensive to apply and is limited only to those who really want it.


Benefits of getting your car painted

Getting a paint job is a hassle-free process when it comes to service availability, as paint shops and professional artisans are almost omnipresent.

Paint is the best option for cars that are classic, antique or widely popular for their colour or finish. A paint job retains the market value and aesthetics of the vehicle while still retaining its OG looks.

A pint job is permanent in nature and is professionally applied in layers over the vehicle’s metal body. The result is a finish that is smooth, strong and less prone to damage and wear. 

While a paint job entails a longer application timeline, the process however is much simpler and hassle-free. For insurance and other legal purposes, a re-paint isn’t considered a modification. With proper wash care and polish, pain can last a lifetime without looking bad.


Downsides of getting your car painted

A paint job requires the old layer of paint to be removed before the new one is applied; therefore a paint job can only be done by a professional expert and with precaution, without which the result might come out to be unsatisfactory.

A quality paint job requires a substantial amount of time as compared to wraps. The average timeline includes anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks. This means if you choose to paint your car, you might be away from it for too long.

Since a paint job is a comprehensive and multi-layered process, there are higher risks of things going wrong and the result is compromised.


Car Wraps vs Paint: The Ultimate Face Off

With proper knowledge about both car wraps and paint, it's time to decide which one to go for. And to help you make an informed decision, we’ve pitched both methods head-on with each other:


Cost

Regarding cost, wrapping and painting can be done for a price as low as 10,000 to as high as over a lakh. The overall cost depends on several factors such as the area to be painted/wrapped, the quality of the wrap/paint itself and the finish so desired. But when it comes to a complete paint job vs a complete wrap job with quality materials, a wrap job costs less than a quality paint job.


Time Consideration

When it comes to painting, the time taken to complete the job depends on several factors such as the quality of paint, the number of layers applied etc. On average, a good quality paint job can take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. In contrast, Wraps take anywhere between 1 to 7 days for a good quality application. So as far as the time factor is concerned, wraps are the go-to choice.


Look Permanence 

When it comes to painting a car, once done, there is no turning back. You will be stuck with the paint job until and unless you decide to spend a substantial amount on repainting. In contrast, wraps come as a safer option in case the end result isn’t satisfactory or if you are someone who wishes to change their vehicle’s look more often. Wraps can simply be removed for reapplication or change.


Durability

Durability is something that is very user specific. Nonetheless, a paint job, if taken care of, can last the entire lifetime of the car, whereas a wrap with proper caution can last a maximum of 10 years, depending on the quality of the wrap. A wrap, however, if used for more than its lifetime, can cause damage to the car’s paint when removed. Moreover, a wrap is also prone to cuts from washing equipment and other simple scratches, which a paint job is usually prone to.


Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, keeping a pain job looking shiny and fresh requires a great deal of care with regular washes, polishing and even waxing. A wrap, on the other hand, requires less attention, with a simple cloth wipe removing the dust, and helping you make your car look shiny and fresh.


Customisation

While both paint and wraps offer customisation, when it comes to painting, the only customisation you can do is choose the choice colour and type of finish. In wraps, however, users can choose everything from colour, fit and finish to design, texture and pattern.


Resale Value

While a complete paint job is often seen with doubtful eyes, a shiny and newly painted car surely appeals to a lot more buyers and only has a minute effect on the resale value, provided the vehicle hasn’t been involved in an accident. In contrast, wraps can affect the resale value more than a paint job, as wraps are often applied to achieve distinctive colours, patterns and styles that might not appeal to all.


Conclusion

Cars are one of the most loved machines across the world. That is the reason why people indulge in all sorts of customisations to make their vehicles stand out. And the best way to customise your car is to make it wear a colour you like by either painting it or wrapping it up. But what to choose? That's exactly what we tried to tell you. And now, with extensive knowledge of the car wraps vs paint saga, you hope you can make an informed decision.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is it better to get your car painted or wrapped?

Ans: The decision of deciding whether to get your car painted or wrapped depends on various factors such as cost, time, desired finish etc. 


Q2. What's cheaper car wrap or paint?

Ans: The overall cost of both paint and wrap depends on several factors such as the area to be painted/wrapped, the quality of the wrap/paint itself and the finish so desired. But when it comes to a complete paint job vs a complete wrap job with quality materials, a wrap job costs less than a quality paint job.


Q3. Is it better to paint your car or wrap it?

Ans: If you want a solution that can be easily changed every time you desire something new, a wrap is for you. If you want a more permanent solution, then go for painting.


Q4: Is it easier to wrap or paint a car?

Ans: A quality paint job requires a substantial amount of time as compared to wraps. The average timeline includes anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks. On the other hand, a wrap job can take anywhere from 3 days to 1 week.


Q5: Are car wraps more durable than paint

Ans: Durability is something that is very user specific. Nonetheless, a paint job, if taken care of, can last the entire lifetime of the car, whereas a wrap with proper caution can last a maximum of 10 years, depending on the quality of the wrap.


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Sankul Nagpal

Sankul Nagpal

Advocate | Creative and Legal Content and Copyright Specialist | Freelancer