Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!) - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion (2023)

Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!) - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion (1)Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!)

What's up Corvette Forum,
Been getting a lot of questions about how to pull off a sick looking badass vinyl wrap so thought I would do a COMPLETE write up on my process outlining my trials and tribulations with this project. When I say "complete" I mean this thing has everything you need to know to do this yourself. It is long, has lots of reading, some occasional pics(haha LOTS), maybe even boring at times, BUT if you are even considering doing this, READ ALL OF IT. It will save you time and money. I would have killed for a write up like this when I started this project. Couldn't find hardly anything so through LOTS of internet research, youtube, and trial/error I have come up with this method that works well for me. Enjoy:
Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!) - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion (2)

BACKGROUND:
Matte finishes are an old school style that has been slowly coming back into play over the past few years, ask anyone that has been to SEMA in the last few years. It was seen on old hot rods and such when the car needed to be fast and looks were not as important. A quick prime or spray-can finish allowed the cars to be driveable without the bodies rusting out. The look has been revived by manufacturers of exotics such as Lamborghini and Aston Martin and recently for 2011 Mercedes Benz has offered several Matte colors as optional finishes.
Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!) - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion (3)

Since it is the "in" thing right now and I am not a huge fan of Mag Red (oem color of my car) I decided to give it a go. The problems with paint that exist right now is that it is permanent, but more importantly to me, it is VERY fragile.

Painting it and getting it to look right requires all panels to be painted at the same time because if you do them individually at different intervals it will look different when you put the car back together due to air temp conditions, spray gun settings, humidity, etc. It is insanely hard to get a nice, even finish with paint too. Not to mention there is no sanding and buffing out imperfections, that would result in glossy spots. Even if you are good enough to lay down a perfect paint job the fun begins when you actually drive the car. Bird droppings will etch the finish and require a repaint of that panel (oh wait you can't just paint one panel, make that a repaint of the car) Water spots (hard water) will do the same thing. Scratches or nicks are there to stay and can't be buffed to make look better. Even the manufacturers that offer matte finished don't have nearly the kind of warranty as they do on base coat/clear coat finishes. BMW actually makes you sign a wavier before you take delivery of a Frozen Gray M3 that outlines the care procedures and what you can/can't do.

Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!) - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion (4)

Needless to say, paint was not even a consideration for me. Especially since it is a trend thing I know that I won't want to keep it matte forever, my taste seems to vary by month (I think a few others on here know what I mean Vinyl Wrapping DIY Tutorial... (Lengthy and Major PICS!!!) - CorvetteForum - Chevrolet Corvette Forum Discussion (5))

Some other advantages to vinyl vs. paint are the ease of application and consistent look/finish; 100% removeability, cost, no diminished value, and OEM paint protection.
Like I mentioned before this stuff is not permanent at all. It is rated anywhere from 3-8 years for outside use on a car and it varies based on the type of climate you are in. I live in Minnesota and we have a car "season" which is roughly six to eight months long depending on how hardcore you are about driving in inclemate weather. I am hoping to get one season out of it before I peel it off so durability isn't much of a concern for me.

When you paint a car, in almost all cases, you decrease the resale value. Even if it is a factory color it will not be worth as much once a prospective buyer sees it has had work done before. There is a guy on here who had his Z painted matte pearl white and I think it looks INSANELY BADASS and I love the look of that car. But as with any mod, not everyone likes it and with a color like that you significantly decrease the amount of potential buyers that would be interested. The vinyl can be peeled off in a matter of hours with a heatgun and some patience. When done slowly and heated right there is almost no adhesive left behind for cleanup either. My car will be parted out for a GTM project so it really doesn't matter to me but if I had a NICE car I would definitely want to be able to remove this stuff and go back to the paint underneath at some point.

That brings us to paint protection. This stuff is very similar to the 3M invisible stone shields that people put on the "high wear" areas of the car. Now imagine that your whole car is wrapped in a protective coating like that. The vinyl wrap will protect against rock chips, sand blasting, bird crap, acid rain, light scratches, and since it isn't clear: UV light too. There is a slight difference in thickness between a clear bra and a vinyl wrap. The bra/stone shield material is usually around 8 mils thick whereas the vinyl wrap material is 2-4 mils. So there isn't quite as much protection capability BUT it is still a barrier between the OEM paint and the outside world and there will be some preserving qualities about it.

Hopefully that sheds some light on differences and advantages of vinyl over paint, the biggest being looks and the removability. When I am done pretending to be Batman I can simply pull it all off and go back to the stock color.

DISCLAIMER
Before we really get into the "how to" part I would like to ad a disclaimer that this project was STUPID DIFFICULT. I, like many on here, am a DIY guy until the end. I love tampering with stuff and working on my car and getting the satisfaction that goes along with getting your hands dirty and being able to say "i did that". With that being said this project was 1,000 times more involved than I thought it would be. I will say I had no prior experience with vinyl (except black out tape on window trim at work) but after watching countless vids on youtube it looked do-able for anyone with basic competence. I was incorrect. The pros make it look easy, it most definitely is not. I just want to throw this out there for anyone who sees this thread and thinks "i'll order up some vinyl, grab some buddies and beers, should be able to knock this out in a weekend no problem". If you are not a perfectionist, extremely patient, or an anally retentive person then STEP AWAY FROM THIS PROJECT, it is not for you. But if you are like me and are VERY patient and have more time than money, and you like putting in the labor to get something to look right, then by all means have at it.
I would also like to mention that one other user on this forum had a bad experience with the removal of vinyl and damaging his paint. I am not a pro, I do not endorse this method, recommend it, or guarantee it in any way shape or form. I have no worries about removal myself and have faith in what the manufacturer says the product is capable of but that is just me. This tutorial is simply a documented process that I used, nothing more. I am not responsible for anyone that damages their car using methods outlined here.

PREP WORK:
First you should wash the car, wrapping over dirt looks trash. Depending on the finish of your car a might recommend some clay too. Run your hand across the paint and feel if it needs it or not. I clayed every panel to just to be safe. After washing and drying comes disassembly. I won't get into detail here about how to take apart your car, there are plenty of other threads for that. I assumed that wrapping with vinyl was simmilar to painting in that yes, you can leave things like handles, mirrors, bumpers, etc on the car and work around them, but to get a pro level job you should take as much apart as you can. This allows you to wrap edges instead of just trimming around stuff.
Detrimmed body panels+wrapped edges= classy looking job and less chance of peeling edges in the future.

After hours of disassembly are complete (I'm talking bumper covers, doors, handles, mirrors, fenders, headlamp covers, tonneau cover, fender liners, hood, etc) I clayed all panels that would get the vinyl treatment. You don't want foreign crap under your vinyl because you will see it and it looks bad. After all panels are clayed I prepped them with denatured alcohol. This will strip off any grease/wax that may still be present and promote good adhesion of the vinyl. Yes there is a TON of time already into this project and we haven't even really started yet. I warned you didn't I?

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