We get this question posed frequently on the MontrealRacing.com discussion forum: Which method is better to change the color of your vehicle: plastidip or vinyl wrap?
As with any product choice, an assessment of your needs should be done first. Ask yourself questions such as: What is your goal? What is your budget? What is the long term plan for your vehicle?
Usually, people inquiring about these products either have promotional vehicles that they use for a business or simply want to change the color of their vehicle for esthetic purposes. Wrapping or dipping your vehicle also serves to protect the paint from wear and tear which is an added benefit.
I can speak from personal experience with regards to a vinyl wrap on two fronts: I worked as an installer at Sticky Grafix ten years ago and I’ve had a wrap on my personal vehicle. The goal with my own wrap to have a promotional vehicle that would attract attention for MontrealRacing.com at car shows and I couldn’t have been happier with the results both in terms of the attention I got and the quality of the wrap. The job was done by Overlay Graphics on the south shore.
A wrap is applied in sections and can take several days to complete. It’s not something you can do yourself without having any prior experience. Ensuring a smooth application with no creases can be extremely difficult, especially for non-flat surfaces like bumpers and fenders. It often takes more than one person to apply – one to hold the vinyl and the other to apply it to the vehicle. If you want a wrap, my suggestion is to have it done professionally.
The wrap can be left on for years without any deterioration of the product. I drove my vehicle all winter and had no issues whatsoever. I’ve spoken with people who had had their wraps for three or more winters and have had no issues. You may experience some fading in the color as a result of sun exposure but ask your installer about a guarantee. Many vinyl manufacturers will guarantee their product for exterior use for several years.
A wrap can be removed with no harm to the pain underneath. There vinyl may leave some residual glue residue but there are special products that can remove it without harming the paint (I usually just use my fingers). The one danger is that paint can be peeled off along with the wrap if the vehicle was repainted shortly before installation. For OEM paint, or a high quality paint job, it’s never a problem.
A vinyl wrap is the more expensive of the two options. Just the material cost to wrap a standard sized-vehicle can be about $500-$700. The rest of the cost will be labor. Expect to pay anywhere from $1000-$2000 in labor alone for a total of anywhere between $1500-$3000 all depending on the size of the vehicle, the type of vinyl and the experience of the installers.
Plasti Dip is a relatively new product in the automotive scene but has already evolved quite a bit. It’s a rubberized protective coating which is applied via spray gun (or even spray can for small applications), much the same way a body shop would paint your vehicle. All areas of the vehicle not to be painted must be masked off including windows, lights, wheels and moldings.
Contrary to a wrap, a dip is something with little-to-no experience is capable of executing, however the result will vary according to this experience. I still don’t recommend doing it yourself if you want anything resembling a nice finish.
Most dip finishes are matte given the nature of the material. As I mentioned earlier, the product continues to evolve and recently we were introduced to some very nice looking pearl and gloss finishes.
Like a wrap, a dip will protect your paint and can be safely removed without damaging it. How long will it last? There is no definitive answer because of the variety of factors involved such as the quality of the application, the number of coats, the climate, the amount of usage etc. It’s safe to say that it probably won’t last as long as a wrap though. The upside is that a dip can be “repaired” because it adheres to itself very nicely. If you scratch a wrap, the entire body panel will need to be redone.
The main advantage that a dip has compared to the wrap is the cost. Many garages and individuals can offer a full Plasti Dip job for as little as $250. That may sound great but you will really get what you pay for with a dip and it can look awful if not done properly. I highly recommend having an experienced installer do it for you. Prices may go as high as $750 but you will be much happier with the result.
isiner les 750.00 $, vous risquez cependant d’être plus satisfait du résultat final. Photo credit: Plasti Dip Rive-Sud: Facebook.com/plastidiprivesud
So when should you get a dip and when should you get a wrap? If you plan to keep the vehicle a long time and want a smooth, glossy and very durable finish that almost cannot be distinguished from paint then you should get a wrap. I’d get a dip if I’m on a budget or don’t intend to keep the same color for very long. We all want to keep our cars looking fresh and a dip is inexpensive enough that it can be changed from year to year. You definitely don’t change your wrap from year to year unless you are doing it yourself.
In both instances, a proper installation is key. Do your research and find an experienced installer. Our forum is an excellent resource and you can get testimonials from dozens of people who have already gone through the experience.