Is It Cheaper To Wrap Or Paint a Car?

Are you thinking of giving your car a new look?

You can go for a new paint job or design a car wrap and apply it yourself. Car paints and car wraps both look great on cars, but they have their respective pros and cons. In this Car Wrap vs. Car Paint comparison, we will analyze these aesthetic options in-depth.

With car wraps, you get decals that can be easily replaced. Car paints, on the other hand, are a permanent option that can’t be peeled off.

Is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car?

Wrap your car is cheaper than paint.

How much is a car wrap?

The car wrap cost is determined by the wrap style, the vehicle’s size, and how complex the installation process is. Due to these factors, the cost of wrapping a car can range anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000.

How much is a car paint?

On the other hand, the cost of a car paint job depends on the quality of the paint job and the design and color choices. The number of paint coats to be applied to the car is also another factor. The average price range for a car paint job is $3,000 to $8,000.

What’s the difference between wrapping and painting a car?

What's the difference between wrapping and painting a car?
Difference between car wrap and car paint

Design Options

There is an unending pool of designs that you can choose from for your car wrap. Car wraps allow you to be more creative with your car aesthetics. All you have to do is describe exactly what you want to your graphic designer, and you’ll have it done.

On the contrary, your design options with car paints are limited to the skill of your painter. Also, the more complex your design, the longer it will take to achieve and the higher the cost. This shouldn’t be a problem for you if you are a skilled painter. If you are not then you will need professional painting services to bring your creative designs to life.

Finishing Options

How many finish options does car wrap have?

Gloss Finish

As its name implies, the gloss finish has an impressive sheen that distinguishes a vehicle from others. Although it is easy to clean, it doesn’t hide scratches or any damage to it very well.

Satin Finish

Unlike a glossy finish, the satin finish is not as shiny. Although satin wraps are hard to clean, they hide damages better than the gloss finish.

Matte Finish

The matte finish does not have as much sheen as either the satin or gloss finish. This finish is perfect for car owners who want a new look for their cars but without the shine. While it is difficult to fix, it hides dents and car damages.

Additionally, you can also get carbon fiber or brushed metal finishing with car wraps.

How many finish options does car paint have?

Solid Finish

The solid paint finish is the factory-standard finish for cars and is usually in red, white, blue, and black colors. Apart from being the cheapest, the solid finish is easier to fix and is perfect for car owners who don’t want attention.

Metallic Finish

The metallic finish is shinier than the solid finish and gives the car a different look. For a shiny finish, aluminum powder is mixed with the paint. Unlike the solid finish, the metallic finish is not easy to fix and is harder to clean. One benefit of this finish is that it enhances the beauty of a car.

Matte Finish

The matte finish is not as shiny as the metallic finish and comes in silver, grey, or black colors. A car paint with this finish needs to be cleaned regularly. Although the matte finish is becoming popular, it is considered high maintenance and should only be chosen after thorough consideration.

Car paints also offer pearlescent finishing—something car wraps cannot provide. This type of finishing doesn’t reflect light but splits your finish into different colors through a process called refraction.


How long does a car paint take?

Several factors determine how long it would take to paint a car. These factors include the car model, bodywork, preparation phase, the type of paint used, and the application phase. The Rustoleum paint, for instance, takes 90 minutes to dry off completely. While the acrylic, metallic, and urethane paints take 24 hours to dry off. But, the entire painting process can take up to 4 days or some weeks to complete. It all depends on additional touch-up work needed.

How long does a car wrap take?

On the contrary, the processes involved in wrapping a car are quite different from the painting method. The first process is the design, followed by the printing, laminating, and trimming. The third process is the installation which could last for two days. After the installation is complete, the car would be left for one day before it is driven. On average, the entire car wrapping process could take about 2-3 days.

Ease Of Cleaning

For an easy DIY clean-up for car wraps, hand-wash your car once or twice every week. Use soft towels and avoid using car brushes because of their bristles. Clean off all difficult stains immediately, as they become harder to clean after sitting for too long.

Similarly, it is best to hand-wash your car paint. If you have scratches on your paint, you can be get rid of them with a car polish suitable for you. Additionally, you can apply a paint sealant to preserve your shine for some time.

Safe for Human

Car wraps are made of vinyl, and they are safe to put on a car with any finish. The car wrap serves two major purposes; they protect the original car paint and beautify your car.

On the other hand, car paint is not safe for the lungs and skin, especially if you apply it yourself. For safety, you should ensure that you are painting in a well-ventilated area, cover your skin and get a respirator.


The first place to avoid taking a wrapped car is an automatic car wash. While those have their benefits, the bristles of the brushes are too strong and harmful to the wrap. The hand-washing method is preferred for a wrapped car. Wrapped cars should be stored in garages, away from weather elements that will cause damage to them.

To maintain car paint, park your car in garages where the weather would not affect them. Another maintenance tip would be to hand wash them and avoid automatic car washes.

Although both aesthetic options require some level of maintenance, car paints require higher maintenance practices.


How long does wrap last?

Both wrapped cars and painted cars are affected by the weather. A wrapped car can get torn; the paint can also get peeled off a car. A car wrap can last for 2-10 years if handled carefully. Beyond normal wear and tear, a car wrap’s lifespan will reduce if exposed to the weather for too long.

How long does car paint last?

Car paint can be easily damaged by scratches and dents, which requires carefully looking after them. You stand a greater risk of getting scratches on your paint when you use a cheap paint job. The best way to protect your paint and increase its lifespan is through the use of protective sealants.


The benefit of car wraps is that they serve as an additional layer of protection for the original car paint. Therefore, when accidents happen, the car wrap is often the first to get damaged. To fix damage to the car wrap, clean up the damaged area and get rid of the dirt. Next, peel off the damaged part of the car wrap. The third step is to clean the area again after the vinyl has been removed. Finally, apply a fresh vinyl patch to the damaged area and seal with a heat gun or a hairdryer.

The method that will be used to fix a paint job is dependent on the extent of the damage that has been done. For minor scratches, all that is required is a soft cloth and a little polish that would be used to veil the scratch. Major scratches may require a fresh paint job.

Wrap vs Paint Pros and Cons


Car WrapCar Paint
Custom-made according to the taste of the car ownerEasier to clean and protect the car from chemical reactions and dirt
Protect the original car paintWith proper care, car paints also make the vehicle look good as new for a long time
Can be removed when it is no longer needed


Car WrapCar Paint
May leave scratches on your original painting if an amateur applies the wrapExpensive, and to get your money's worth, you should hire a professional
Not all cars can be wrappedThe entire process takes a long time

Sum up

If you have read up to this point, you should pretty much have formed an opinion by now.

Going for a car wrap is advisable if you want something temporary or have plans of selling your car. This method preserves your original paint color and the value of your car.

However, if your current paint job is damaged, go for a new paint job. Car wraps don’t work well on a bad paint job.

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