Whether you call it “paint replacement wrap” or “solid color wrapping,” this category of “paint wraps” is wildly popular and starting to give custom paint a run for its money. Solid color wrapping vinyl has been available in the United States since 2006. Its growth has really taken off in the last year and shows no sign of slowing down. One of the biggest draws at SEMA 2012 was solid color vinyl. In years past it wasn’t unusual to hear about a celebrity with a matte black wrap on their Ferrari or Lamborghini. Today you may see your dentist or golf buddy driving a matte black wrapped Lexus, Cadillac or Mustang. The most popular factors driving the growth of the solid color category are: color and texture choice, wraps can be done without having a printer or laminator, it’s easy to install, and costs much less than a custom paint job.
Hundreds of Options
Matte black is the most popular color for solid color wraps, but there are plenty of new and exciting colors and textures popping up that are helping fuel colossal growth. The fact is that there are hundreds of different options available to any wrap shop that cares to pursue this lucrative market. Films are available in gloss and matte finishes, of course, but there are endless colors and a variety of textures available including carbon fiber, brushed metallic, snakeskin, ostrich, crocodile and honeycomb.
Specialty films with custom textures, such as this carbon fiber example, can be used to enhance a design or simply as a highlight. (Image courtesy of Oracal)
Single color wraps are still the norm but more and more wrap shops are pushing the envelope and incorporating several different colors and often different textures into a single wrap. There are exciting additions to the solid color line up almost monthly. Here are but a few examples to wet your whistle:
• Oracal has more than 90 color choices and has added some exotic textures
• Both 3M and Avery now have eye-catching chrome film options
• MACtac has iridescent or “shade-shifting” choices and
• Arlon has brushed metallic, carbon fiber and solid colors that match one another.
Whether you add chrome accents or opt for an entire brushed aluminum metallic wrap, the choices and combinations available with solid color wrapping vinyl are almost limitless, so there’s no reason for any car to be plain and boring.
With the number of existing wrap shops and now the ability for sign shops, paint protection installers and window tint companies to get into the game with solid color wraps it is no wonder the category has doubled over the course of just one year. There are lots of advantages to going with paint wrap film. Here are some to think about.
• Solid color wraps are typically easier to produce than printed wraps because solid color wraps do not require image and text design, printing or laminating.
• Solid color wrapping film often has a built in protective layer on top of the color, which means that you have UV protection without laminating.
• Solid color wrapping vinyl is ready to go “out of the box,” which means wrap shops to spend time and money on ink or laminates.
• Many wrap shops are focusing on solid color wraps because they can turn the jobs faster and get more projects out the door than if they had to print and laminate.
• Shops that do not have a printer and/or laminator can now get into the wraps market without having to sub-contract work or invest in new equipment. All they need is a good installer and the ability to sell solid color wraps.
• Solid color wraps are relatively easy to install because—though adhesive systems will vary between brands—most offer some kind of air-escape (egress) technology that allows for repositionability and faster installation. Many brands of white solvent printable wrap vinyl don’t offer the same degree of repositionability.
• Installers also like solid color wrapping vinyl because—since most of these films are made of cast vinyl—they are highly conformable.
• In addition, the built-in protective laminate layer—3 mil to 4 mil—gives the film enough body for easy handling.
• Most solid color vinyl come in 60" widths so there are more options for seamless installation on hoods and larger surfaces. Installers are not limited to the width of their printer.
• A trimming mistake on a solid color wrap doesn’t bring the job to a standstill. Instead of having to reprint the damaged panel and wait to laminate, it you can simply replace the solid color panel and continue almost immediately.
While solid color wraps will never replace traditional printed/laminated wraps they are definitely gaining in popularity and are here to stay.
Solid color wrapping vinyl does have some quirks to be aware of, but there are good workarounds.
Matte black wraps are becoming increasingly popular. (Image courtesy of FELLERS)
Some solid color wrapping vinyl, particularly matte, chrome and carbon fiber are prone to surface scratches when an installer uses too much pressure, and/or a hard squeegee. Soft felt squeegees and micro-fiber squeegees are recommended because they are less likely to damage or scratch the vinyl surface. Check the manufacture’s product installation guide before starting the wrap. Most product data bulletins have helpful tips and tricks and will tell you what not to do.
It is possible to “remove” minor surface scratches by heating the vinyl with a heat gun or using an isopropyl alcohol and water mixture but deeper scratches cannot be removed unless the entire panel is replaced.
Another caution during installation is using too much heat. Too much heat on matte vinyl can result in shiny spots that can’t be removed. Some manufacturers recommend using a heat gun instead of a torch when installing solid color wrapping films, particularly matte colors.
A final caution for solid color vinyl installation is that you never wet apply films with air-egress because water can get trapped between the vinyl and the surface creating a potential for mold and mildew to form.
For paint protection installers and window tint companies that are used to wet installation there is no need to worry, the air-egress technology allows you to slide and reposition the vinyl and squeegee it into place by collapsing the air-egress channels.
Following the manufacturer’s installation guidelines will help you avoid pitfalls and have a successful wrap.
Today’s solid color wrapping vinyl surpasses custom paint jobs when it comes to cost customization and turnaround time. Until recently if you wanted to customize your vehicle, paint was the only choice, an expensive and time-consuming process.
Now we’ve got solid color vinyl wraps that are easily mistaken for custom paint jobs, but can be had at a fraction of the cost. Many gloss colors have a “wet paint” look and the matte colors often offer better depth than paint.
Solid color wraps also give owners of exotic vehicles the ability to customize without affecting the vehicle’s value, and protect the original paint at the same time. You can also combine several colors and textures of solid color wrapping vinyl to achieve a one of a kind look.
Solid color vinyl offers an exciting way for your customers to express their individuality and customize their vehicles. The choice of colors and textures continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down. Solid color vinyl wraps are here to stay in a big way.