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How To Vinyl Wrap A Car | Creative Solutions With a Tesla Model 3

THE FULL GUIDE TO WRAPPING A VEHICLE

So you've decided to get some research under your belt before taking the plunge in vinyl vehicle wrapping - you've come to the right place!

As specialists in the field of vinyl wrapping, we've got experience wrapping all sizes of 4-wheeled vehicles and more, from Coupes to People Carriers, Horse Boxes to Lorries; even Helicopters, Boats and a Band Saw! - our Installation Team are some of the best in the South West, and here to help you up-wrap the questions you may have about personalising your vehicle.

This blog will explore wrapping a car from the point of view the great Tesla Model 3. A Private Client wanted to take their monochromatic Pearl White Tessie, and transform it into a glowing Satin Finish Metallic Orange vision.

Stay tuned to find out about vinyl, its diverse applications, the stages of wrapping a car from bonnet to boot including those tricky areas and shapes, and the legalities you need to be aware of when making cosmetic changes to a road vehicle, finishing up with an extensive FAQ of your most asked questions.

WHAT IS VINYL CAR WRAP?

Vinyl wrap is a blend of polyvinylchloride (PVC) polymer, from which the word “vinyl” comes from, with additives to make it flexible, rollable and super adhesive. It comes in every colour you could think of including iridescent fades, and gloss, satin, carbon fibre and matte finishes. Something we at Creative can offer too, is bespoke printed vinyl of scenery, images and scapes in high-resolution stunningly vibrant colours if you don't want a single colour.

There is a huge range of options available to customise your car; including full car wraps, car graphics, car stickers, car signwriting, go-faster racing stripes, customised car wraps such as carbon fibre bonnet wrapping, if you imagine it- we can make it happen.

VINYL CAR WRAP DIY & WHY TO CALL CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

Wrapping your car does not have to cost heaven and earth. Thanks to the advances in vinyl car wrap technology, its within reach to completely change to look of your car within a budget.

You'll see hundreds of online tutorials for DIY-jobs, with tools and equipment readily available at your local DIY store. To make sure your car is looking its best, we would highly recommend having a professional job though - vinyl is fickle, and needs to be applied in a heat-controlled, dust-free space with many other parameters to consider.

If you struggle wrapping Birthday and Christmas presents, imagine wrapping something with 100x more edges, and won't be forgiving if errors are made on large exposed surfaces. You can be assured that a professional is using the best vinyl on the market for the work you would like to have done.

A quality car wrap can last 5-7 years, perhaps even 10 or more with proper installation and care, and can protect the resale value of your car by protecting the paint from UV exposure. It can be easily removed when you want to sell, or change vinyl without damaging the paint work underneath. We also offer an eco-friendly vinyl that could last you up to 12years!

THE FULL CAR VINYL WRAP GUIDE

Now you have the information on what vinyl is, and why we highly recommend a professional job, lets jump straight into wrapping a car! This process is demonstrated on the Tesla Model 3, but applies to any vehicle. Ready to get started?

PREPARING TO WRAP YOUR CAR

After contacting us with your inquiry, we will ask the Reg and Model of your vehicle, as well as some images. This is so we can accurately digitally map your vehicle, and the amount of vinyl needed. Our brilliant in-house design team will then digitally render your vehicle and can send mock-ups of your finished car as well as potential samples and images of the vinyl you've chosen.

DINKS, DENTS AND DAMAGE Considering the canvas, minor scratches won't pose a problem, but chips, dents, gouges, and rust will need to be noted, or smoothed out efficiently before a wrapping. When the vinyl sticks to these, it can tear or bubble affecting the finished looked considerably, ruining the wrap job. If you plan on wrapping your car because of these dinks and issues, you don't need to go to the trouble of getting your car professionally back to manufactured levels, as long as the area is smooth, primed and protected, our team can assess these areas and have a good chat about how to proceed.

LOCATION We have a dedicated work room for vehicles of all sizes. It is a clean, and controlled environment, and very important to be dust-free and heat controlled to allow the vinyl to act its best when its time for application. As discussed earlier, vinyl is heat-reactive, so these parameters need to be at the top of the priority list. Vehicles need to arrive as clean as possible so don't go to a field party the night before! - and don't use a wax based cleaning products prior to your wrap. As with paint and body defects, dust, wax, oil and grease,  debris and stuck on bugs will effect your finish.

TIME TO VINYL

The best place to start a wrap are the main flat, open areas of a vehicle. As the bonnet moves independently from other areas its a great starting point with a large single sheet with minimal edging required. Our team are well versed in judging area coverage, and will cut sheets of vinyl for each face of the car as they go. Think of vinyl as big, big stickers.

The protective backing paper will be removed and tension applied by holding the sheet between 2 or more people, this helps reduce wrinkling and creases whilst being laid on the chosen panel. The vinyl is pressed from the middle outwards to remove air bubbles using a squeegee device, and starts to activate the adhesive backing.

If you've ever tried to wrap a single sheet of rolled royal icing around a cake, you'll know getting a 2D sheet to conform to a 3D object takes patience and precision.

By gently lifting the vinyl, applying a little heat from a heat-gun, the vinyl can be reapplied where air bubbles may have formed. The squeegee tool can then work the vinyl flat for a smooth finish.

This process is rinsed and repeated across the vehicle, but when wrapping the cars more extruded parts like mirrors, wheels, interior door, boot trims and grill, a little more time, heat, and stretch is required to make sure the adhesive is well bonded and flush to perfection. 

Bonnet wrap completed and smoothed to perfection
Bonnet wrap completed and smoothed to perfection
Drivers-side door, front wheel arch and door handle
Drivers-side door, front wheel arch and door handle
Roof wrap completed and next sheet of vinyl ready
Roof wrap completed and next sheet of vinyl ready
Boot finished, with tail-light fitting removed for seamless finish
Boot finished, with tail-light fitting removed for seamless finish
Completed back-end with door edges & wheel arches
Completed back-end with door edges & wheel arches

EDGING AND FINISHING

So we've covered the majority of the Tesla's main areas now on both sides. The image gallery above shows how the team moves down the sides of the car, working across the front edges, doors and roof. This Tesla Model 3 has the futuristic flush-to-car handles which are no issue for our team continuing with the one sheet of vinyl!

With the body of vinyl adhered, the most time is spent making sure those edges are cleanly cut around each panel, making for a seamless finish and no original paint work on display. In this image, you can see how the vinyl has been stretched across the top of the boot, joining the seam where the roof beam ends and is now ready for finishing.

The vinyl is cut just larger than the edge, heated and folded for a long-term bond. Remembering that this 2D sheet is folding around a 3D edge, the cutting precision is paramount, as cutting the vinyl short can leave exposed edges and not enough adhesive grip to stop the vinyl curling back.

PREMIUM FINISHES WE OFFER

We offer to vinyl wrap all externally viewable areas of a car when doing a wrap service. For the Premium Finish, we are also able to offer to work on the internal areas too. This includes the inside of doors and hatches, and all the way around the doors hardware. This makes the car appear to be manufactured as a completely different colour rather than opening the doors and seeing the painted white areas of the original paint job. As you can imagine the exterior of a car contains a lot of open panels, whereas the internal trims require that much more care and attention to cover all facets and faces.

Mirror Wrapping, waiting for vinyl to cool before cutting
Mirror Wrapping, waiting for vinyl to cool before cutting
Door stay interior wrapping to give complete coloured finish
Door stay interior wrapping to give complete coloured finish
Interior door stays wrapped around hardware
Interior door stays wrapped around hardware
Edge of external vinyl complete, ready for finishing edges internally
Edge of external vinyl complete, ready for finishing edges internally
Completed rear door internal edges as a premium extra
Completed rear door internal edges as a premium extra

JOB DONE!

ENJOY THIS WONDERFUL TESLA MODEL 3 - PEARL WHITE, TURNED BRILLIANT SATIN METALLIC ORANGE

Please feel free to browse the gallery of images below of the completed vinyl wrap, and take inspiration for your own potential vehicle!

CARING FOR YOUR VINYL CAR WRAP

We would always recommend cleaning your car often to prevent build-up of excess road dust and dirt - and with your investment into wrapping your car, wouldn't you always want it looking its best? Find a provider of car washing equipment that is made to work with vinyl vehicle applications, the best ones on the market will protect glossy finishes, and prevent hazing of matte vinyl finishes.

Do not use brush car washes! They are far too harsh for vinyl, and you will end up tearing or scratching your application - best to stick to a warm, soapy damp cloth and bucket. The same with not washing your car with a wax-based product before wrapping, we do not recommend it for after care either - the wax can mar the texture of your vinyl affecting its appearance.

Pressure Washers are okay, but make sure the psi is much, much lower and never above 1300 PSI, gentler pressure is better. It is possible to safely pressure wash a wrapped vehicle, but it is not the most risk-free solution.

VINYL VEHICLE WRAPPING FAQ

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO WRAP A CAR?

We have a dedicated blog on how much it can cost to wrap your vehicle here.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRAP A CAR?

We can fast-track orders if you need vehicle graphics pronto. Typically, we can turnaround orders for standard vehicle graphics (wraps, basic sign writing) within 48-hours providing you deliver the vehicle to us clean and ready to go.

For complicated projects, we need to take longer. Typically, 4-5 days. For example, we recently wrapped a brand-new Range Rover and to do a professional job, the bumpers, wing mirrors, exterior trim and grilles had to come off. This is a delicate process, as you can imagine, and it adds to the lead time. That particular project took us 5 days. Custom designs of this nature can take up to a week, so please bear this in mind.

HOW LONG DOES A CAR WRAP LAST?

A quality car wrap can last 5-7years, sometimes even 10+ if well cared for!  Depending on the quality of the wrap, type of vinyl wrap, the care taken before, during, and after installation, and environmental factors, car wraps can last from 3 to 10 years. More often than not we find 5-7years is about right considering what a car goes through throughout the year.

DO I NEED TO TELL MY INSURANCE PROVIDER & DVLA I'VE WRAPPED MY CAR?

Yes - Despite a vinyl wrap only being a temporary cosmetic change over your car’s original colour, you should indeed tell your car insurance company and the DVLA right away if you’ve just had the vehicle wrapped. This also applies to any ‘signwriting’ you’ve had done on a vehicle if it involves the same process as a wrap i.e. the application of your company’s logo or livery on a company car or van in the form of printed or plain colour vinyl film.

CAN I PUT MY WRAPPED CAR THROUGH A CAR WASH?

We recommend a less harsh approach when caring for your new vinyl wrap. Opt for handwashing, and not brush car-washes as they are too harsh and will damage the vinyl on your vehicle. We also do not recommend wax-based soaps as these affect the finish of the vinyl. A pressure washer is okay, but only gently and at a lower psi.

WILL CAR WRAP DAMAGE MY CAR PAINT?

You may think this as the strong adhesive is bonding to the paint of your car, but it can be easily and safely removed when you want to. Wrapping your car is actually a protective measure! It protects the paint from UV light and can mean your cars re-sale value is better maintained.

CAN MY CAR BE WRAPPED IF IT IS DAMAGED?

Vehicle vinyl wrap sticks best to smooth factory paints and any smooth rigid surface. It won't bond well or will make damage appear worse if the surface is peeling, heavily dented, gouged, chipped, flaking, or textured. It also will not work on any non-rigid surface like rubber, or materials that are porous or spongy.

I WANT TO BE GREENER AND AM WORRIED ABOUT ALL THAT PVC, CAN YOU OFFER AN ECO-FRIENDLY RECYCLABLE VEHICLE WRAP?

We can indeed. Being Devon-based we have a heartfelt appreciation for our environment and can offer this eco-friendly vehicle vinyl as a viable, recyclable, and greener option, with no compromise to quality or longevity.

CAN YOU WRAP OTHER VEHICLES, EQUIPMENT, OR MACHINERY?

We will sure give anything a go! We have wrapped and given vinyl graphic applications to your more unusual vehicles including Tuk-Tuks,  boats, a band saw, and even a helicopter! We are yet to see a motorbike come through our wrapping facilities, but are happy to discuss, or recommend a specialist in the area. We would never undertake work we would not be 100% happy to give back to you, so you can rest assured you'll be getting the best service from us, even if not done by us.

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Vehicle Graphics, Vehicle Livery, and Vehicle Wrapping Services

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We hope you have all the information you need, if you would like a quotation please either fill out the form below, call us on 01297 630130 or email us at sales@creative-solutions-direct.co.uk;

Posted by Samantha on November 23rd 2021

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