Informational Guide

Car Wrap Vs Paint

It's time to update the look of your vehicle, but it can be confusing knowing the best method to use. What are the differences between the car wrap vs. paint, and which should you choose? In this guide, we break both options down, so you can make up your mind.  

Custom wrap paint for cars requires the use of decals that fit over the auto body parts to transform how the vehicle looks. Each piece is applied with a heat treatment to ensure the adhesive bonds to the auto body. With the decals, there is no change made to the paint of the vehicle. It is still under the wrap in the same color it was. 

With all of the car paint wrap colors available, it’s easy to get a unique look without a lot of work. Can you wrap a car with bad paint? You can, but it might lead to imperfections in the surface of the decals. Does wrapping a car damage the paint? If the paint is in good condition and the decal is performed by a professional, you shouldn’t have any trouble when you remove it.  

There are different types of car wraps to consider: 

  • Cast 
    The majority of wraps are cast vinyl wraps. These include a thinner colored film that conforms to the shape of the vehicle. It’s similar to placing a large sticker over the body and using heat to make it adhere to the surface. 
  • Calendared 
    These are less common because they are thicker. It's designed with protection in mind, but they aren't as able to conform to the vehicle surface, so you would need a special installer. 

When wrapping a car, you could expect up to seven years out of the material if you take care of it. The only significant problems you could run into include fading or peeling over time.  

What We Like

  • Completely customizable 
  • Paint protection 
  • Easily removable 
  • Cost-effective 
  • Quick installation 

Things We Don’t 

  • Cheap wraps don’t look good 
  • Damage can cause original paint to show through 
Car Wrap Vs Paint

Car Paint (Overview + Pros & Cons) 

The traditional way of making a car look newer or change the color has always been to paint the body. There are different types of automotive paint to consider: 

  • Urethane 
    This is the newest option and has become the preferred method. It’s more expensive but also lasts longer. 
  • Acrylic 
    This is the traditional paint type and is still used often with classic vehicles. It’s less expensive than urethane and easier to apply, but it won’t last as long. 

With car paint, you can also choose the finish. Consider the differences between a gloss, matte, pearlescent, metallic, and solid finish before making up your mind.  

If you choose high-quality paint and get a professional job done, it could last ten years or more with the right care. However, there are some serious downsides to painting the car. For starters, it costs more and you have to give up your vehicle longer. If you don't choose a professional shop, you also deal with a sub-par job, with the worry of streaks, runs, or overspray paint 

What We Like

  • Factory-like finish 
  • Custom colors/finish available 
  • Repairs imperfections 
  • Can be done in small sections 

Things We Don’t 

  • Expensive 
  • Takes longer 
painter spray car

Car Wrap Vs. Paint: Which Is Better For Your Car? 


What’s the car wrap vs. paint durability factor? Does wrapping a car ruin the paint? Not if the job is done right. You can have a wrap applied, and the paint remains intact underneath for when you are ready to remove it. However, if the wrap gets damaged in any way, the paint underneath can shine through. The same can be said about a paint job that gets damaged too. However, the paint is covered with a clear coat for some protection.  


Deciding between getting a car wrapped or painted could come down to the look you hope for. With the paint job, you can restore the factory finish of your vehicle or change the entire color. On the other hand, the car wrap makes it simple to add eye-popping graphics and unique elements to your vehicle. There’s also no commitment, so if you don’t like it, you can simply remove it. You also don’t have to worry about paint splatter with a car wrap. 


Which lasts longer – when you paint or wrap a car? The vinyl wrap is easier to maintain and could last seven years or more with the right care. Is a car wrap better than paint? Not usually. The paint job can last much longer, but you must clean and wax it regularly. If you don’t have this much time to invest, you might be better suited with the wrap, but you may have to trade a couple of years in exchange.  

Application Time 

One of the top reasons to use a vinyl wrap car instead of paint is because of the installation time. The wrap is created without your car in the shop. Once it is ready, the technicians will have you bring your vehicle in for a quick installation. On the other hand, when you get a paint job, it can take days or weeks, depending on how much work there is. Not only will the technicians have to paint every coat, but there’s drying time in between each of them.  

Ease of Application/Removal 

The application and removal process is something to consider for car wrap or paint replacement. A big difference between painting and wrapping a car is how it is applied and removed. The wrap is applied like a big sticker. It’s also easy to remove, rarely causing any issues with the paint. However, painting a car is a much larger endeavor. The body needs to be sanded, primed, painted, and then a clear coat is applied. It can't be easily removed but requires repainting if you want to change it.  


As you consider whether to paint vs. wrap a car, it's essential to realize that there's a level of customization with either option. Car wraps allow you to create unique graphics and advertisements that would be hard to achieve with paint. However, custom paint jobs can be performed in a variety of colors, and it's simple to add unique aspects, such as flames or stripes down the sides. Read through car and paint wrap reviews to determine which suits your proposed design the best.  


Does a car wrap protect the paint? It can keep the paint in better shape, but you must maintain it. Most importantly, you want to hand wash it every few weeks and ensure that no dirt is left on the surface. Don’t take your wrapped car through an automatic car wash. On the other hand, the custom paint job might require more care. Not only do you want to hand wash it, but you should also polish it and wax it for further protection.  


Is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car? The biggest factor between the car wrap cost vs. paint is how much labor you will pay for. When you paint the car, there’s more labor involved, so the price rises naturally. However, the car paint vs. wrap price could be different based on the materials alone. In some cases, the wrap costs more than the paint needed to complete the job, especially if you are only having a small section worked on. Another aspect of the cost to wrap a car vs. paint is how much time you are without your car. When painting, plan to be without the car longer, which could hinder your ability to work and make money.  

Car Wrap Vs. Paint FAQs 

Does wrapping a car devalue it? 

Because the car wrap won’t damage the paint, a wrapped vehicle could be considered more valuable. If the new owner doesn’t like the wrap, it’s simple to remove and enjoy the beauty of the paint job underneath.  

Can you wrap a vehicle yourself? 

Can you wrap a car instead of paint? With a small budget and a few simple tools, you can wrap the car yourself and save more money. However, you want to take your time and be careful to ensure a job well done.  

Will removing car wrap damage paint? 

If the paint is in good shape and you use a high-quality wrap, there should be no issues. However, if you are wrapping a car with paint chips or other imperfections already in place, the wrap could create more damage when it is removed.  

Can you vinyl wrap a car with bad paint? 

If you want to wrap your car instead of painting it, you need to remove imperfections first. When there are dents, scratches, scrapes, dust, or contaminants on the paint, the wrap won’t be able to adhere properly.  

How long after painting a car can you wrap it? 

It depends on what type of paint has been used. In some cases, the paint is considered completely cured within 30 days, and you could apply a wrap. Otherwise, you might need to wait a few months. Ask the auto body shop that painted your car for their recommendation.  


Is it better to wrap or paint a car? If you are deciding between getting my car wrapped instead of painting, you have several issues to keep in mind. Don't make the decision hastily and determine what's best based on your lifestyle, budget, the desired outcome, and willingness to maintain the completed work.