Things you will need to install car wraps
- Grease Remover
- Paint-safe Cleaner
- Lint-free Towel
- Heat Gun
- Heat gun
- Utility knife
- Cotton gloves
- Masking tape
- Tape measure
Temperature, environment, and storage of car wraps
When dealing with vinyl car wraps, it is important to keep a close eye on the temperature, environment, and storage.
Car wraps only begin to adhere to surfaces once they are exposed to a certain temperature. If the temperature in the room is too high, the adhesive in the car wraps will begin to activate. This will make your life really difficult, and most likely result in ruined car wraps.
If the temperature is too low, however, the car wraps will become too brittle which increases the risk of them tearing before you can apply them. For this reason, we recommend that you keep it in a place with a constant room temperature (approximately 22 C).
The environment is also crucial to ensure a smooth application of your car wraps. If you apply them outdoors, you will risk sudden changes in temperature (see above). An outdoor environment can also expose the car wraps to dust and dirt. This can be disastrous if it makes its way under the car wraps. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you work in an indoor environment.
The above advice also applies to when you store your car wraps. Make sure you keep them in an indoor environment with a constant temperature. Radiators and other heaters should not be anywhere near them. Many kinds of car wraps are also sensitive to moisture and humidity, so ensure you keep them in a dry place.
Preparing the vehicle for your car wraps
Before you begin the application process, it is important that you clean the vehicle completely. As mentioned above, dust and dirt can quickly become visible beneath car wraps and create ‘tents’. The first step is, therefore, to clean the vehicle with paint-safe grease and wax remover, and then rise it with water.
The reason why you should take care to remove all the grease is that it makes it difficult for the car wraps to stick to the vehicle. Too much wax can also create bubbles under the car wraps. Solvent-based learning products are better than isopropyl alcohol for this purpose.
Next step is to dry the surface of the vehicle with a lint-free towel. While the flat surfaces tend to be easy to clean, the ridges and edges can contain dirt and grime. To make things easier, wrap your lint-free towel around a squeegee to get into all the corners. The edges and corners are particularly important to clean, as the car wraps are fastened here. Too much dirt in these areas will make the car wraps peel off prematurely.
Because the vinyl car wraps connect with the surface of your vehicle by adhering to it, you will want to get rid of all the grease and wax. As with dirt and dust, grease can undo all your hard work. Ensure that you use a dedicated grease cleaner. Alcohol-based products are not nearly as effective, as they simply are not as thorough at getting rid of grease.
Now that you have removed dirt, grime, dust, grease, wax, and everything else, it is time to dry the surface. Use a blow dryer or heat gun if you are short on time. As soon as you have dried the surface, proceed to apply the car wraps so you do not risk more dirt getting in the way.
Applying the car wraps
Applying car wraps is not easy. There is a good reason there are professionals specializing in this skill. The most difficult part about applying car wraps is perhaps to exercise patience. Even for trained (and patient!) professionals, it is a good idea to have some help. An extra pair of hands will make the application process a lot easier.
Before you start applying, whether alone or with assistance, it is a good idea to plan how you are going to do it. A good starting point is to cover the flat surfaces first, as these are the easiest. If there is anything that sticks to the car, such as logos or hood ornaments, you would be wise to remove these first prior to applying the car wrap. Check the instruction manual for the vehicle or research online how to best do this.
Before you apply the car wraps, you will want to measure how much you need for each part of the vehicle. Get out your tape measure and find out. Make sure you leave a few inches on each side for ‘bleed’.
Time to cut out the required amount of vinyl wrap! Roll out the car wraps on a flat surface that is dirt and grime free, like your vehicle. Grab a utility knife, and cut out the required amount of vinyl wrap.
The next step is to remove the backing paper from the car wraps. This is where it really helps to have an extra pair of hands to assist you. Make sure that you keep the car wraps stretched, so you avoid any creases. With the vinyl stretched out, apply the car wraps to the vehicle surface.
Your vehicle will most likely not be completely flat in many places. There will be curves, even if they are only slight curves. In these instances, it is important to start in the center and then work your way out to the edges. Starting from the center, you slowly peel back the liner as you make your way out to the edge of the section you are working on.
Grab your squeegee and apply pressure on the car wraps as you apply them. This will ensure that any air that is trapped under the car wraps is pushed out and does not create bubbles. Every time you swipe the surface with your squeegee, make sure that you cover the edge of the previous swipe to eliminate all trapped air.
There is a clever way of checking if there is any trapped air under the car wraps that escaped your attention. Use a heat gun to heat up the surface you have applied the car wrap too, and bubbles will appear if you have not applied enough pressure. It is important, however, to not overheat the car wrap as this will damage it.
If you are afraid of making an expensive mistake, do a test run before applying the entire car wrap. Apply a small section to a piece of glass to test exactly how much pressure you need to apply. This will help you avoid making costly mistakes when you work on the actual vehicle.
Working out the details of your car wraps
When you are dealing with the nooks and crannies of the vehicle, you will inevitably encounter some difficulties. When you apply the car wraps, you may notice that some of the corners create what looks like crow’s feet. Rather than flatten them or cut at them, slowly lift off the vinyl wrap and apply some heat to reduce the wrinkles. Use the squeegee to flatten out the wrinkles as you re-apply the car wrap.
When you are dealing with the edges of the vehicle, you can make life easier by heating up the area between two edges. Wearing cotton gloves, you can help put pressure on the car wraps when you apply them around the edges. This method will ensure that the vehicle ends up looking like it was painted rather than wrapped. In other words: it will look professional.
While it is important to leave a few inches on all sides when cutting out the material for whatever section of the vehicle you are working on, this bleed area should be removed. Once you have applied the car wrap, it is important that you cut off any extra material on the sides. Why? Because otherwise, it will quickly lead to dirt, air, and grease getting in under the car wraps and undo your work. The same goes for when you are working the corners of the vehicle.
Post-heating your car wraps
Now you are almost done. Almost. At this final stage, it is important to pay close attention to any areas you may have missed. Use your heat gun and squeegee to correct any mistakes, creases, bubbles, etc. When you encounter bubbles at this stage, it is not worth it to remove the entire wrap just to get rid of the bubble. Instead, use a pin to deflate it, and then flatten it out.