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The 4 Rules of a Proper Car Vinyl Wrap

Car Wrapping

  1. Plan & measure
  2. Clean
  3. Don’t over stretch
  4. Post-Heat

Plan & Measure

measuring car for vinyl wrap Part of this is actually done before you even buy the vinyl. Without measuring how would you know how much vinyl to get? Guessing could be dangerous by underestimating the amount of material you get & will have to stop your work before it is complete and order more material. It could take a week to get in your additional vinyl film (unless you pay extra for overnight/2-day service that could cost almost as much as the extra vinyl film itself) and you run the risk of not being able to get vinyl wrap from the same dye-lot. So, lots of problems and your car will look funny unfinished until you can get the extra vehicle wrap vinyl material installed.
The easiest way to calculate how much vinyl you need, is to take the length of your car, multiply by 3 and add 10 to 15 feet, round it up to the nearest roll size you can buy. Measure  your car for all the areas you want to wrap with vinyl film. Always add extra for the edges, so you have somewhere to grab the material. Calculate with squares and don’t forget that all of the vinyl wrap CWS sells is 60″ (1.52m) wide. Don’t forget that on some areas you will want to go underneath the the body panel. For example, if your hood is 4’x5′ you will need a 5’x6′ piece to do it properly and easily without causing any headaches. You will be going underneath and over the inside lip of your hood to make it look flawless and not to get any lifting from the wind while driving at higher speeds. At, we always recommend to get 5′ to 15′ extra vinyl film (depending on difficulty of your car’s shape and of the material being used) when doing a complete vehicle wrap. This will ensure you have enough material even if you mess up a panel of the car or if later you get a damage to the vinyl that needs it to be replaced, you have it from the same dye-lot.


washing car for vinyl wrappingClean you car completely to get rid of all waxes, oils and other dirt. The vinyl adhesive does not stick well to wax and oil, so make sure you get rid of all of it from your car before vinyl wrapping your car. Pay close attention to critical areas that will have most of the dirt and oils; such as wheel wells (especially in the inside), bumpers, engine hoods, rocker panels and around edges of panels. A final wipe-down just before you install the vinyl on a section is recommended with Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. If you have any rust spots, those will have to be fixed as glue does not stick to rust for long and the shape and unevenness or bubling of rust will show through the film. Your car will continue rusting underneath the vinyl if not eliminated.  Any larger paint chips may also have to be filled in as these “recesses” will also show through. Remember, vinyl film is like putting skin on your car and because it is not very thick imperfections can easily show through.

Don’t Over Stretch

overstretched car vinyl wrap It is easy to stretch the vinyl too much especially when heat is applied. Vehicle vinyl film has a memory of it’s original shape and it will want to get back to it. So, be careful, because when you stretch the material, you also stretch the glue too. If the vinyl film becomes too thin it will also thin out the amount of glue per square inch which in turn makes it less effective at adhering to your vehicle. This could mean lifting or curling of your vinyl wrap installation in the near future. Overstretched vinyl film is also less protection on your car and can adversely change the film’s look. Stretches out the pattern for patterned ones like Carbon Fiber vinyl wrap. For solid colors it may make its gloss finish less glossy and matte finishes more glossy. You also run the risk of tearing the film by overstretching.


Post-heating for vinyl wrapsThis last step is where many installers and most DIY’ers make a mistake or just don’t do it. This should never be skipped. Your vehicle wrap is not complete until you post heat! Post heating is for areas where you stretched the material around complex shapes, curves, corners, etc. For areas that are flat and no stretching of the material was necessary you don’t need to post heat. Read more about post-heating in this dedicated article on how to do it and why.