Car wrapping has become bigger and better in recent years.
Put simply, car wraps are plastic coverings with adhesive on the back. They go straight over a car’s paintwork, covering it in a high-quality, durable plastic wrap.
There are also so many colours to choose from ranging from multi-coloured wraps, metallic and pearlescent wraps to custom wraps with personalised graphics. You can really let your dreams run wild with car wraps, all without ruining your paintwork.
Car wrappers are now everywhere in the UK and more people are considering wrapping their car instead of choosing other cosmetic changes.
This article will cover what you can expect to pay for car wrapping, factors that affect the cost and common questions around car wrapping.
Average Cost of Wrapping a Car in the UK
By collecting quotes from 6 car wrapping services and 8 secondary sources, we found these quotes for wrapping cars and vehicles. All prices include VAT and labour, but not any pre-wrap work which may be required prior to wrapping.
|Gloss or Matte Standard||Satin or Metallic||Pearlescent||Printed Graphics||Custom One-Off Design|
|Small Car (e.g. VW Golf, Ford Fiesta)||£1,800 - £2,000||£2,000 - £2,250||£2,550 - £2,700||£2,500 - £3,000||£3,000+ plus design fees|
|Medium-Sized Car (e.g. Audi A3, Ford Focus)||£2,000 - £2,250||£2,250 - £2,500||£2,700 - £3,200||£3,000 - £3,500||£3,500+ plus design fees|
|Large Car (e.g. Mercedes Class C, BMW 4)||£2,500 - £3,000||£3,000 - £3,500||£3,700 - £4,200||£4,000 - £5,000||£5,000+ plus design fees|
|4x4 or SUV||£3,500 to £4,000||£4,000 to £5,000||£5,200 to £5,700||£5,500 to £6,000+||£6,000+ plus design fees|
|Van (e.g. Transit)||£3,500 to £4,250||£4,000 to £5,250||£5,200 to £5,750||£5,500 to £6,250+||£6,250+ plus design fees|
Extra Costs of Car Wrapping
|Cost of Removing a Car Wrap||£300 - £600|
|Touching Up Paint and Removing Rust Prior to Wrapping||£50 - £300|
|Partial Wrap (e.g. a bonnet, doors or roof)||£300 - £1,000|
As we can see, you’re looking at between £2,000 and £2,500 for an average wrap on an average-sized car. £3,000 will get you a higher-end metallic, satin or even pearlescent wrap. High-end wraps on high-end, large vehicles, can easily cost some £5,000.
What is a Car Wrap?
Car wraps are plastic sheets made of polyvinylchloride (PVC) polymer, which is frequently referred to simply as ‘vinyl’.
These vinyl sheets are pre-coloured during manufacture or are printed with graphics or colours. Car wraps can be practically any colour, finish or pattern – there are tons of standard colours available in all types of styles and finishes.
It’s even possible to get your own graphics printed onto vinyl, e.g. if you’re promoting a business or are looking for a custom one-off design.
Whilst they are durable, fade-resistant and waterproof, wraps are not permanent. In fact, they only last 5 to 7 years.
That may seem like a downside, but actually, this is partly why wraps are so popular. They allow people to try weird, wacky and eccentric designs and paint jobs without stripping and painting the entire car.
Moreover, if you don’t expect to keep a car forever and want to sell it in a few years time, the wrap can be removed to expose the original paintwork once more.
For some inspiration of how awesome car wraps can look, check out this car and vehicle wrap Pinterest board.
Pros and Cons of Car Wrapping
Like anything else, car wraps are not without their caveats. Here are the pros and cons of wrapping a vehicle:
Pros of Car Wrapping
- Temporarily Change a Car’s Appearance: Car wrapping is an innovative way to restyle a car without changing its paint job. You’re not committed to your design for life and it can be removed.
- Bright and Powerful Colours: Car wraps are striking and look awesome. They provide a professional finish that looks stunning when done properly.
- Choice: The choice of wraps is near-limitless.
- Cost-Effective: Professional wrapping is not much less expensive than a respray, but the finishes and effects you can get at that price are much more impressive. This makes it much cheaper to go down a wild pearlescent or custom graphic route.
- Custom Graphics: Car wraps are also used to wrap cars with custom graphics, e.g. sponsors or promotional business graphics.
- Not Just Cars: Wraps can actually be put on any vehicle, not just cars.
- Covers Bad Paintwork: If you need your car to look great but it has flaky, dodgy or damaged paintwork then a wrap is an effective way to freshen up the entire aesthetic of the car without a respray.
Cons of Car Wrapping
- Similar Price to Re-Spray: If you want a simple, permanent colour change then wraps aren’t always the best choice.
- Temporary: Wraps will only last 5 years or so, but this isn’t necessarily a negative thing, just something to consider if you expect to keep your car for longer.
- Need to be Fitted by a Professional: Whilst DIY wrapping is possible, it’s tough work and small mistakes can be extremely frustrating and costly. Professional fitting is nearly always advised. It’s also much easier with a team of at least two, preferably three or more.
Factors that Affect the Cost of Car Wrapping
The two main factors that affect the price of wrapping a car or vehicle are:
- The size of the car and its surface area
- The vinyl wrap, e.g. pearlescent, multi-coloured or custom wraps will cost much more. Single colours will cost the least.
Larger cars or vehicles cost more to wrap, but it’s also the complexity of the car or vehicle that matters. Wrapping a Lamborghini wouldn’t require an awful lot more to wrap than say, a Volvo estate car, but you can guess which one costs more!
Off-the-shelf vinyl wrap colours and finishes (e.g. matte or gloss) are cheaper than bright metallic, pearlescent or custom or more niche designs.
But still, pearlescent and multi-colour wraps don’t increase the price by huge margins until you get into custom or high-end territory.
How to Choose a Car Wrapping Service
Some car wrapping services operate as signage or graphic printers whereas others operate as car bodywork or custom shops or even as private garages or mechanics.
Always look for a portfolio of recent work – this is crucial for car wrapping. Experience is absolutely vital to get a professional hassle-free finish. The more experience the wrapper has, the better.
Ask the wrappers what brand wrap they use. 3M is probably the most popular car wrapping brand, and if you want custom graphics of any kind, 3M can print them themselves and then forward the wrap onto the wrappers. Avery Dennison and Hexis and two other popular wrap brands to look out for.
Wraps should always come with a guarantee. 3M say their wraps should last for 3 years or 36,000 miles, but will usually last 5 years.
Many wrap firms provide 3-year warranties which seems about the standard warranty length for a car wrap. This will depend on how well you look after your wrap.
The Car Wrapping Process
Car wrapping typically takes 1 to 3 days, longer for very large or complex cars or vehicles.
The Vehicle is Intensively Cleaned
A vehicle’s paintwork has to be spotless prior to wrapping. Some parts will even be removed to wash them properly. The car will then have to dry fully.
The Vehicle is Checked and Prepped
The vehicle is inspected for any issues that might prevent a clean wrap. Rust and flaking paintwork will need to be fixed prior to wrapping. This is an extra cost to consider – you can’t wrap a car with totally knackered paintwork.
The paintwork of the car is typically primed using a special pre-wrap primer. This will not affect the paintwork.
The Wrap is Applied
Wrapping takes a team of 2 or more. The wrap will have to be stretched and bonded to the car with the use of a heat gun. It’s a fairly slow and iterative process. Some parts will have to be removed to wrap properly.
Checking and Rebuilding
The wrapped car will be checked and quality controlled and then rebuilt.
Aftercare for Wrapped Cars
Some wraps shouldn’t be cleaned for a week or so after application. Caution is advised when using pressure washers (try and avoid them) and also some mechanical car washes.
Wash the car regularly and by hand. Any stains that are left unattended will become hard, if not impossible, to remove. The better you look after the wrap, the longer it will last. Never use solvents or abrasive detergents – opt for a specialist wrap cleaner instead.
Notify the DVLA of Your Wrap, And Check With Your Insurer
Failing to tell the DVLA of cosmetic changes to your car could incur a fine and might invalidate your insurance.
Notify the DVLA and your insurer if you choose to wrap your car. This is in Section 7 of the V5C vehicle logbook – find out more here.
To Sum Up
Vehicle wraps are very trendy and for good reason. They’re a superb way to try something new on your car without fully committing to a permanent change. That’s great if you want to shift your car on within 5 to 7 years, which is about the lifetime of a wrap.
Wraps also provide an opportunity to design and display some crazy designs. They’re also perfect for business promo, sponsors and other graphics.
Wrapping cars is not overly complex but practical experience is crucial – it’s a tricky process and there are lots of industry tips and tricks which help smooth the process and obtain the best finish.
With professional fitting and careful aftercare, modern vehicle wraps should last at least 5 years. Some even report them lasting 10 years if the car is not used every day and is kept undercover.