How to DIY Vinyl Wrap a Car

To give your car a fresh new look, you can do a vinyl wrap at home for a few hundred dollars.
Written by Jessie Devine
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Got a scratch or ding? Tired of your car’s paint color? Try a DIY car wrap! All you need is a roll of vinyl wrap and a few tools to change your car’s whole look.
Whether you want to cover up imperfections or try a sick new paint job without the cost or commitment, DIY car wrapping can be a great way to refresh your car’s look. It’s also inexpensive compared to painting. The DIY car wrap vinyl will run you $300-$750, while the standard
cost to paint a car
is anywhere between $1000 and $4500 for supplies and labor.
If your car is ready for a new look, but you’re not sure how to start, check out the following how-to.
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trustworthy super app
, has created this guide to DIY car wrapping, including pros and cons, how-to steps, care, and removal.
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What is a vinyl car wrap?

A vinyl car wrap is a thin sheet of colored vinyl that comes in rolls. It is applied to the exterior of a car to change its color without the expense or permanence of a new paint job. It can also be used to protect a car’s paint.
Vinyl car wrapping can be done in a professional shop, but if you’re careful and patient, you can do a great DIY car wrap at home.

Should I vinyl wrap or paint?

Vinyl car wrapping and painting have different uses. Take a look at the following table to make your decision.
Vinyl Wrap
Protects paint
Is the paint itself
One wrap
Multiple coats
Takes about 2 days for installation and curing time
Takes bout 3-5 weeks in the shop
Can be done at home
Should be done professionally

How to DIY wrap a car with vinyl

If you’ve never done a DIY vinyl car wrap before, check out the following step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Make a plan

First, you should choose what car color and wrap you want on your car. A simple, one-color wrap? Or maybe a cool graphic one? What about gloss, matte, or carbon fiber? The possibilities are endless. You can find wraps online at shops like
or by doing a quick search on Amazon.
Next, you want to decide where you’re going to work. It should be a clean, indoor space free of dust and debris (which can stick to the vinyl). Decide if you’re going to ask someone to help you, and set aside a whole day. Wrapping will only take a few hours, but you should let the vinyl cure for 24 hours before driving.

Step 2: Set up your workspace

When we recommend working indoors, we’re serious. Little details show up in vinyl, so dust particles will cause problems. You also want to work where you can control the temperature
If your workspace is too hot, the vinyl will activate too quickly, giving you little time to work. It also can stretch too thinly, which will make it weaker. But if the workspace is too cold, your vinyl will become brittle and prone to breaking. The ideal DIY car wrapping temperature is around 68°F.
Now is the time to gather all your tools and supplies. You’ll need:
  • A 25-foot roll of 60” vinyl (for most average cars)
  • Heat gun
  • Infrared thermometer
  • Grease and wax remover
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • 70%-90% isopropyl alcohol
  • Lint-free cloths (microfiber works)
  • Utility knife
  • Squeegee
  • Cotton wrap gloves

Step 3: Prep your car

It’s time to set up your canvas. Minor scratches are no big deal, but bigger blemishes will be noticeable beneath a vinyl wrap. They can also cause bubbling and tearing in the vinyl, so it’s best to get dents out of your car and remove scratches from your car's paint before doing a DIY car wrap with vinyl.
You should also remove any parts of the car you don’t want to be wrapped. You can remove mirrors, door handles, headlights, and more.
Then, make sure you clean your car very well. Use the wax/grease removing cleaner, followed by the all-purpose cleaner (must be wax-free), and then do a final wipe down with the isopropyl alcohol and lint-free cloths.

Step 4: Prep the vinyl

The first step is to measure each piece you need—one for the hood, one for each door, and so on. Then, measure again! Triple check the measurements before you cut the sheets because creating seams in vinyl is very tricky for a first-time DIYer.
Next, cut the sheets a few inches larger on all sides than your measurements to leave a margin.

Step 5: Lay the vinyl sheets

It’s good to have a buddy for this step!
Wearing gloves, stretch the sheets out and remove the backing. Stretch with equal tension to remove all the wrinkles, and then lower the sheet onto the surface. You can use the utility knife to sculpt the vinyl over gills or side vents.

Step 6: Remove air bubbles and wrinkles

If you see any air bubbles or wrinkles, you can gently lift the vinyl, use the heat gun to heat the area (to no more than 120°F), and very gently re-stretch the sheet to lay it flat.

Step 7: Finishing touches

Once you’re satisfied with the way the vinyl looks, trim the extra except for a 3mm margin. Use the heat gun to activate the adhesive on the edges and seal the edges to the panels. Then activate the adhesive on the rest of the vinyl with the heat gun, and use the squeegee and gloved hands to smooth it down.
During this process, pop any remaining bubbles with a very thin pin and press the vinyl down.

Caring for your vinyl wrap

Let the vinyl cure for 24 hours before driving.
Then, you’re good to go! To wash your DIY vinyl-wrapped car, clean gently by hand with a soft sponge. Don’t use brushes with stiff bristles, a high-pressure washer, or any harsh chemicals, as these can damage the vinyl wrap. Also, be aware that not all car waxes or polishes are vinyl-safe, so check before using.

Removing your vinyl wrap

One of the benefits of a DIY car wrap in vinyl is how easy it is to remove and replace! If you want to change the color of your DIY vinyl car wrap or go back to your original paint color, remove the wrap like this:
  • Start with a scraper on the edges to lift them
  • Reheat the edges to loosen the adhesive
  • Gently lift vinyl off

Does car insurance cover car wraps?

The answer to this question will depend on your coverage. Insurance will not cover the cost of purchasing your DIY car wrap vinyl or the cost of installation.
However, if you have
full coverage
and you let your insurance company know about the wrap ahead of time, you can get coverage! You might have to pay a few more dollars per month on your premium. The wrap may need to be insured as a car accessory or add-on, but if you set it up properly, you can be compensated if your vinyl car wrap is damaged in an accident.
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You can do a DIY car wrap in vinyl in a few steps. You should:
Make a plan
Buy your vinyl
Set up your workspace
Prep your car
Prep and lay the vinyl
Remove air bubbles
Do the finishing touches
Insure your car wrap
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