Vinyl wraps are common on business vehicles. They offer a simple way to brand a truck when you do not want to repaint. Unlike painting, which is a time-consuming and expensive process, a vinyl wrap is affordable and easy to install. Plus, it protects your coat! But how long do they last?
How Long Does a Wrap Last On a Truck?
Vinyl wraps will last between five and seven years if you take good care of them. If you leave them under the sun every day and you do not wash them or you wash them with harsh abrasives, they will barely last two years, but there are some simple care techniques to make them last much longer.
On most business trucks, the vinyl wrap will not last more than seven years, as the truck is exposed to elements outside. When exposed to the sun, the vinyl bakes and becomes challenging to remove from the surface of your truck. Its lifespan is also significantly shortened.
Simple practices such as parking your truck in the shade will increase the lifespan of your truck’s wrap significantly. However, if you still drive under the sun every day, your wrap may not go past the fourth year. Trucks that experience lighter use and where the environment is not sunny, the wrap lasts to the seventh year.
Under normal conditions and with good care, the average lifespan of a wrap is about five years. Some of the factors that affect how long your wrap lasts are as follows.
What Determines How Long a Vinyl Wrap Lasts?
Exposure to the sun is the main factor that damages your vinyl wrap. If the wrap is ever exposed to hot sun, it bakes and may be challenging to remove from the surface of your truck. It also weakens and becomes prone to damages from abrasives and other factors within the environment.
The damaging UV radiation from the sun will also fade the colors on your vinyl wrap. There is no way to avoid sun exposure when you are driving. However, you can avoid it when you are not.
When you are home, keep your truck in a garage and protect it from sun exposure. At the workplace, you need a shade where your truck can be protected from the sun and still have the branding exposed.
Dirt can also shorten the lifespan of your vinyl wrap. Grease, gunk, and grime can weaken your vinyl, leaving it prone to damage. The dirt will wear down your vinyl if you do not wash it frequently.
Washing also ensures that you not only protect the wrap but also keep it looking fresh. However, you have to avoid abrasives when cleaning.
Extreme temperatures are an enemy of your wrap. If the wrap is exposed to high temperature, it weakens, becomes malleable, and is more prone to wear and tear. If it is exposed to extremely low temperatures, the vinyl might crack.
If a wrap is not installed correctly, it will wear down fast. You might start noticing signs of tear, bubbles under the wrap, or dirt under the wrap. You can ensure that doesn’t happen by having a professional install the wrap.
How Can I Care for the Wrap to Lengthen its Lifespan?
You need to wash the vinyl wrap by hand using a non-abrasive material or use low-pressure to clean. Cleaning a wrapped truck is always a challenge. You do not want to clean the truck so frequently as that will damage the wrap, and you do not want to leave grime or grease the surface as that too damages the wrap.
The best way to care for the truck, therefore, is to minimize cleaning and ensure it doesn’t get grease, grime, and road gunk. If it still gets all these, wash it with a non-abrasive cleaner by hand. Use a soft rag or a sponge to clean the surface of the vehicle completely.
When washing, do not use any strong solvents as these too might have an effect on the wrap. Automated brushes may make your cleaning easier when you are cleaning metal, but these brushes affect lifespan of your vinyl wrap as they scratch and dull the surface.
After cleaning, you can use silicone-based or Teflon polishes to protect the wrap. However, avoid carnauba-based waxes. If your truck has textured, matte, or specialty wraps, avoid using wax or polish.
After cleaning, you need to protect the surface from dirt as much as possible. You can do that by wiping off spills as soon as they happen. You can also remove grease only on the greased part using a citrus-based degreaser.
When you only degrease the parts that need degreasing, you will avoid cleaning the whole truck, which can damage vinyl wrap on parts that do not need cleaning. Can you pressure wash a wrapped truck?
Pressure washing can damage the graphics on the vinyl wrap. As such, you need to avoid pressure washing as much as you can. For commercial fleets, however, you may not have an option but to use pressure washing.
If you have to pressure wash the truck, keep the water pressure lower than 2000 psi and the temperature under 180 degrees. Even then you still need to stay a distance of not less than 12 inches from the nozzle to the vehicle. Turbo pressure nozzles should be avoided at all costs.
When pressure washing the truck, use a sweeping spray by tilting the nozzle at a 45-degree angle. Avoid spraying any damaged wraps or wrap seams.
When It’s Time to Replace Your Wrap
Even if you take good care of your wrap, it still won’t last forever. Most do not even go past the fifth year. You need to replace the wrap if it shows signs of damage such as stains, lifting, and wear.
You can also replace the wrap if you need to update its design of the branding of your company changes. When you are ready to sell your truck, or you need to promote a new product on the truck, you also need to remove the wrap.
It is easy to remove the wrap without any damages on the paint. Unlike paint, which you have to sand down, the wrap doesn’t involve that much work, and it keeps the paintjob beneath it protected from elements.
Note that, for the vinyl to stick perfectly on the surface of your truck, the paint on the truck needs to be perfect. If there are surfaces where the paint is chipped or there are rough spots, the vinyl wrap will not adhere perfectly.
Is a Vinyl Wrap Better Than Paint?
You can apply paint or use a vinyl, depending on the effect you need and your budget. There are other factors that you need to consider too to ensure that you get the best for your truck.
The first factor is the time it takes to apply the paint or the vinyl wrap. With paint, the technician has to remove the old paint and add fresh coats of paint. Each of the coats added will need at least eight hours to dry before the next one.
If the paint shop is busy, your truck will be painted in two weeks or more. In a less busy paint shop, your truck will be ready in between three and five days.
Installation of a vinyl wrap takes a shorter time, especially if the paint job is perfect. The process only requires washing the car, drying it, and applying the vinyl wrap. If there areas on the car where the paint is chipped or rough, it needs to be corrected before vinyl wrap installation – this will take a shorter time compared to painting the entire truck.
Vinyl is also easier to remove compared to paint. Even if the vinyl stays on the car for seven years, the paint beneath it will still look as bright as it did when the wrap was installed. Paint is more permanent and requires a rigorous sanding process to remove before you re-apply.
The Cost of Vinyl vs. Cost of Paint: Which Is Cheaper?
The cost of paint will depend on the quality of the paint and the number of coats a paint shop applies. This also applies to vinyl wraps, which are available from different brands and in different qualities.
Low-quality vehicle painting costs about $1,000. However, this will chip and crack after only a few months. A good-quality paint job will cost between $3,000 and $10,000 and will last for many years.
A vinyl wrap will cost you between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on the vinyl quality you go for and the size of your truck. For companies that need adverting, wraps are more affordable than paint jobs.
A custom paint job will be more expensive than the standard $3,000-$10,000 approximate cost. The paint job needs a skilled artist to do the logos and other features that speak of your business brand.
With a vinyl wrap, you can achieve the same effect as with a paint job, but without adding any more money. If you need to have a metallic look, you can go for metallic finishes. You can also go for matte or textured finishes to make the wrap look appealing on your truck.
You can reproduce any graphics you need on the vinyl wrap. Your viewers will be treated to all the colors and graphics you want on your vehicle.
Paint jobs are advantageous in that they can last as long as the car lasts. You have to apply high quality paint and have a professional do it. Most wraps will only last for five years and then you need another.
Vinyl wraps offers an easy way to brand your truck for your business. For a personal truck, you can add the colors and graphics you like and then remove them when you need to add others.
With good care, the vinyl wrap will serve you for about five years. If you do not take care of it, the best you can get is a year. Observe the guidelines above, and you will enjoy the beauty and affordability of your vinyl wrap.
Ensure you pick high quality vinyl that does not fade and resists damages from elements.