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Similarities and differences between Paint & Vinyl Wraps

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Comparing Vinyl & Paint: The questions everyone is curious about, but probably doesn't know what to ask. This blog will address what a vinyl wrap is and how it stacks up against paint. ***Spoiler Alert*** Vinyl is better. The author is biased towards the benefits of vinyl, read on and you will see why.

Pictured below: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C63 AMG wrapped in Avery Matte Metallic Apple Green. The original color of this vehicle is white.

Looks like paint right? C'mon, can you tell the difference? When a vinyl wrap is applied properly it can look very close to a paint job. The question is do you know what a vinyl wrap is? If you don't, you're not alone. Many people mistakenly see vinyl wrapped vehicles on the road and think it's a paint job, or a really special paint job. Vinyl is essentially a film which uses adhesive. The adhesive bonds the vinyl to your painted surface. In this blog we'll explore what vinyl can be used for, and how it compares to paint.

Vehicle Vinyl Wrap Pros & Cons compared to paint

Whether you have a new car, a used vehicle you purchased, or perhaps you have a mechanically sound vehicle that needs to be aesthetically refreshed, a vehicle vinyl wrap could be for you. Here are some of the benefits of vinyl to consider. Vinyl allows you to change the appearance of your vehicle without losing the color of your paint that will still be under your vinyl wrap. This is a great option for vehicles that retain its value when it has OEM paint, but you want something different for when you own the vehicle. And get this, the color of your paint will NOT fade while the vinyl wrap is on top of your paint job. It literally protects your paint from fading from the sun's UV rays. But protecting your paint means nothing if you can't afford it, right? This is another great feature of vinyl. If you compare a good paint job, where the paint shop knows how to paint well, against a good vinyl wrap shop, paint can be twice to three times more expensive. Another financial benefit relates to newer cars. In recent years, vehicle manufacture companies have reduced available paint color options. And if it's not a typical color choice, the price will probably cost more money. A vinyl wrap allows you to choose a much more diverse amount of options. And there are some really good options. Such as:

Color changing vinyl - where your vehicle will have different colors visible based on the lighting and shade. It might look blue, but then purple in a different section.

Gloss, Matte, & Satin base options - As mentioned before, vinyl is cheaper than paint. This is specifically true when you consider less sought gloss colors, but more so with Matte and Satin finishes. This truly allows drivers to get a exotic look for ordinary vehicles.

Graphically Designed Custom Prints - Some wrap shops offer the ability to customize the vinyl wrap for your vehicle. Examples of this are themed wraps (think of one of your passions, let's say bowling. You could literally have your vehicle wrapped with a unique custom graphic design that puts your passion onto your vehicle. Gradient Wraps (where the color of your vehicle starts out as one color and then gradually changes to another by the time the wrap ends at the back of your vehicle). Camo Wraps (patterned variety of colors are designed throughout the whole wrap).

Rally Stripes, Chrome Deletes, and Wrapped Customizations - One great thing about vinyl... You don't have to wrap the whole vehicle. If you see a sports car with a striping kit on it, that's vinyl! Don't like the chrome around your window trim, delete it and make it black or whatever color you'd like!

This all sounds good right? It really is, but you should also be aware of where paint edges vehicle vinyl wraps. Let's start with the first and essential rule of a vinyl wrap. The wrap is only as good as the surface it's wrapped on. If your vehicle has rust, bad paint, defective paint, or body damage - A vinyl wrap might not be your best solution. To be fair, paint jobs will experience the same issues, however a paint job you can do it all in one project. Vinyl is a temporary solution. Most Manufactures warranty their vinyl between 5-7 years. The life expectancy of a vinyl wrap can exceed a decade, although it can last for 6 months! Why? It's the same as a paint job in the respect that the care of the vehicle does matter. Consider this, if you have two identical vinyl wraps on the same year, make, and model and one car is washed, kept in a garage, and avoids automatic brushed car washes, it will last a longer time. Compared against the vehicle that never gets washed, sits out in the sun with the contaminates (because it hasn't been washed), and when it is washed it goes through a car wash that doesn't take care of the cleanliness fully - the wrap will fail much sooner. Keep in mind, it is stated above, and you will see a pattern here... the same can be said for paint! A key difference to consider, painted vehicles can be waxed with normal waxing agents. A vinyl wrap could receive damage if a typical wax is applied. As such there are specialized vinyl "waxes" which are not harmful. Most spray bottles start around $13.00 and lasts a long time. Vinyl Manufacture companies will void your warranty if it is brought through a car wash. There is a good reason for this, remember vinyl is a film. It is applied to your paint job. Brushed car washes can and probably will do damage to the vinyl wrap finishes, as it would a painted vehicle.

Commercial Wraps & Advertising

Earlier I mentioned you may not have realized you have seen wrapped vehicles. This is where vinyl wraps are probably the most obvious to see and then recognize. Have you seen a van or truck driving by and it has company logos, a phone number, a web address, and the services they provide? More than likely that's a wrap! The benefits of a commercial wrap is it's cheaper than having a paint being used on the surface. The wrap can be removed if they vehicle is going to be sold or decommissioned. Custom business paint jobs to advertise are hugely expensive. The biggest benefit here is your vehicle(s) are transformed into moving billboards. Literally wherever you go the wraps are advertisements for your business. The downfall here, be careful how you drive. You might get a call about your vehicle speeding or cutting someone off.

The Final Score

While paint has been around much longer than vehicle vinyl wraps, it has been around longer than most people realize. The site hosting this blog has been in business since 1997. Vinyl wraps used to be reserved for the super or exotic cars. Once wraps gained traction, vinyl wraps are now a fantastic alternative to a paint job. While there is a place for paint jobs, a majority of vehicles can receive a less expensive, with more finished surface choices while preserving the original color of the painted surface.

Lizard Skinz opened up as Appearance Automotive in 1997 by Mike & Brenda Ucker. Their passion was to customize vehicles to help with business functionality, and personally making customer's vehicles look unique. Vinyl wrap started to really become more well known and Mike took courses in vehicle wraps and Lizard Skinz was born. The quality wraps and fair pricing pulled Lizard Skinz to the top of the industry in Columbus and beyond. Sadly, Mike passed away in 2018. Then COVID came along and Lizard Skinz closed down for over a year. In 2021, Lizard Skinz reopened and rebuilt Mike and Brenda's legacy. Once Lizard Skinz reopened, the unsolicited awards started rolling in. Recognized for the quality, customer service, and fair pricing, Lizard Skinz was awarded the best Wrap Shop in Columbus by Preferred Mechanic for 2021, 2022, and 2023. likewise awarded Lizard Skinz with the title top 15 Wrap Shops in Columbus out of over 300 wraps shops for 2021, 2022, and 2023. Last but just as important as the last two unsolicited awards for Best Wrap Shop in Columbus, in 2022 our Graphic Designer was awarded 4th best Graphic Designer by UpCity.

About the Blogger:

Anthony is the operations manager for Lizard Skinz, a DBA of Appearance Automotive in Columbus Ohio. Prior to joining Lizard Skinz, Anthony worked for imageOne (Recognized as as one of the Small Giants by Forbes) as the Columbus Manager for Managed Print. A Graduate from Colorado State University - Global Campus, Anthony has his degree in Information Technology. As such he is passionate about technology. He also enjoys playing guitar and is a huge Star Wars fan, (see his wrap above), and a Star Trek Fan. Anthony and Brenda met through a Widowers group, and haven't looked back since then. Combined, they have 6 children ranging from 23 to 11 years old. For any questions, or to receive a quote, call Lizard Skinz at 614-299-WRAP (9727) or visit www.Lizard

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