Car Wrapping vs Car Painting: What To Choose

Among the many options on the market to take care of your car, car wrap and car paint are strong contestants to consider.

Each one offers its set of benefits and its downsides. It is not so much a question of which one is better, as it is of which one better suits your needs. 

Quick Answer

Car wrapping is the go-to option for people who want to change the style of their cars, add a layer of protection to the surface, and have special designs. Car painting is a great option for owners who want to restore the paint and have a long-lasting job.

Making an informed decision will give you total control over what you will be getting. In this article, I will explain everything you need to know about both options.

Keep reading to choose wisely!

What Is Car Wrapping

Quick Answer

Car wrapping is the process of wrapping your vehicle with vinyl panels. These panels can vary in color, design, and finish. Wrapping a car is a way of changing the style without messing with the paint. The vinyl panels are attached to the surface of the vehicle and can last up to seven years.

There are a variety of options for car wrapping since the panels can be customized almost with anything.

Car wrap became a central part of advertising because many brands started wrapping their vehicles with their logos and colors.

In many cases, car wraps can last up to seven years when cared for properly. However, there are several conditions that could harm the wraps. 

Providing the appropriate conditions to your car wrap will be paramount for making it last longer. Don’t miss my article about car wrapping duration to have all the details, tips, and tricks! 

Car wrap does not necessarily involve the complete car. You could have partial wrapping on a determined part of the vehicle if you wanted to. 

With car wraps, you can give your car a new style and a protective layer.

The vinyl panels would cover the surface of the car, and the paint would not be in direct contact with any scratching item or contaminant.

What Is Car Painting

Quick Answer

A paint job is the process of applying automotive paint to the surface of the car. This process could restore the original color of the vehicle or give a renewed style with a different color. Car paints usually require many layers for the job to deliver all its benefits. 

Before painting a car, it is necessary to remove the existent automotive paint and sand the surface of the car.

Moreover, the car needs to be cleaned and prepared for the paint to bond with the metal.

After that, the process of applying the many layers begins. The actual automotive paint cannot be applied directly on metal, for it would not attach to it correctly.

In this sense, a first or “primer” layer would need to come into play.

Just like when painting a wall, you need a neutral color to start painting on. That is exactly what the first layer is.

After that, the many layers, colors, and perhaps even customizations can be applied to the surface. 

The price of a job paint will depend on the number of layers applied, the quality of the automotive paint, the surface of the car, and any special design. 

Car paint is a great way to preserve the originality of collection models.

With a fine paint job, cars can look as if they were just coming out of the factory.

They can look as new as the day you bought them. 

In some cases, you might be looking just for a quick fix for a small part of your car. For those instances, a quick paint touch up could do the trick for you. 

Car Wrap vs Paint Job: A Comparison

Find a comparison between different aspects of car wrap and car paint in this table:

CriteriaCar wrapCar paint
Durability5 – 7 yearsPermanent
CustomizationFlexibleLess flexible
Application timeA few daysA couple of weeks
Cost2500$ – 6000$1000$ – 5000$

Durability On A Vehicle

When properly cared for, car wraps can last up to seven years. The durability will depend on aspects like weather, road exposure, quality of the materials, and proper application. 

In general, maintaining a car wrap is not so demanding. Avoiding any abrasive contacts would be the first step.

A pressure washer could also cause damage to the vinyl wraps when used too close to the vinyl panels.

Maintaining car wraps is influential to its duration. It is necessary to avoid any extreme conditions so that the wrap can survive longer.

Avoiding direct contact with the sun can improve the lifetime of the wrap considerably.

With car paint, we could be looking at a permanent job. Yes, there will be some damages to the surface and things to fix along the way.

Yet, the paint will hardly ever flake off totally. This is different from car wrap since, regardless of the care, the vinyl wraps will peel off after some years.

For car paint, the most essential thing would probably be applying car wax to the surface of your vehicle.

Car wax can offer a protective layer to the paint apart from improving the overall looks.

Caring for your paint with car wax will maintain its quality for as long as you want it to last.

In many cases, restorations or repaints are necessary after accidents or any damage to the surface of the car. 

The quality of the paint job will also determine its durability.

In general terms, a quality job and regular cleaning and waxing will make the paint job virtually permanent. 

For both car wraps and car paint, washing the car with the proper items will result in a longer lifetime.


Car wraps could offer a myriad of options to customize the car.

There is basically nothing you can’t do with a car wrap.

From colors to shapes and particular designs, vinyl wraps can be customized following your desires.

Furthermore, you could also customize only a precise part of the car with no problem. The variety of colors is almost limitless, and there are many finishes for you to choose from.

The finishes of the vinyl could also give a different style to the car beyond the color.

Nowadays, there are several companies like Custom Car Wraps that offer all kinds of customizations for your car. You can even design your own wrap on their website.

Another aspect to consider is the removal process.

Although it could take some bucks out of your pocket, you can remove the vinyl wrap whenever you want without harming the surface of the car. 

If you want to sell your car or are simply tired of its looks, you can have the vinyl wraps removed.

The paint will be in the same conditions as the day you put the wrap on it.

Car paint, in contrast, offers less flexibility for customization. Most paint jobs consist of two colors at much to create contrast.

It is rare to find paint jobs with many colors and designs.

When they do happen, the costs of customization are considerably high. Customization with vinyl wraps might be more practical than with automotive paint.

The durability is also something to notice. As I said before, automotive paint is virtually permanent.

Hence, changing the looks and removing it might be a more complicated process. 

Car paint is a long-term commitment compared to vinyl wraps. 

Application Time

Car wrapping is a fairly quick process. Just a couple of days are enough for most car wrapping jobs to be done.

The time will depend on the complexity of the job, the preparation of the surface, and the size of the car.

Even with all these factors, it should not take longer than a week at most.

Speed is one of the appealing characteristics of car wraps in contrast with paint jobs. Vinyl wraps need only one layer, making it a fast process.

Paint jobs are lengthy processes that require up to a couple of weeks to be done.

An effective paint job needs to have many layers. Each layer needs to dry before proceeding with the next one. 

This waiting also causes the process to last longer. Some quality paint jobs have four layers or even more.

Moreover, to ensure the highest degree of perfection attainable, paint job experts take their time each step of the way.

Apart from the many layers, painting a car also requires a more extensive prepping process. This process can increase the time of the paint job.

The result is a quality job that takes a lot of time to be completed. 


Wrapping a car with professionals can cost from 2500$ to 6000$.

The price changes depending on the size of the car, the conditions of the surface, the vinyl wrap, the finish chose, and several other factors.

For smaller cars, professional wrapping will be cheaper than for an SUV, for example.

The shape of the vehicle could be a determining factor too.

Models with too many curves and tricky designs can be harder to wrap. 

Customization can also impact the price.

Customized vinyl panels are more expensive than regular one-color panels.

Depending on how specific your design is, you might be looking at a higher price.

Apart from the professional costs, there is also the DIY option.

All the factors here mentioned can affect the price. In this explanatory article, I break down all the aspects and costs of DIY car wrapping. Be sure to check it!

For car paint, the prices will vary depending on the overall quality of the job. The costs range from 1000$ to 5000$.

More layers usually mean more money. However, you will want to steer clear of any cheap job that uses only one layer.

Using just one layer of paint will result in the car flaking in no time. Rather than saving money, you would be throwing your money down the drain.

Effective paint jobs are those that are meticulously done by experts. The extra money will be beneficial to you in the long run.

Your car will have flashy looks for a longer time. If you have customizations done to the vehicle, the price could also be affected.

In case the surface of the car is too damaged, you might be looking at some money spent on fixing it. 

If you want to know more about car painting and its costs, you can check this post from Car and Driver.

If you want to know about the costs associated with getting a car wrapped, make sure to check my in-depth article about it here.

Benefits Of Car Wraps: Summing Up

As we have seen in the above comparison, there are different benefits to car wrapping.

From the versatility to the time-effectiveness, car wraps can be a fantastic alternative.

Car wraps can be used to give a new style to your vehicle without having to commit for life to the colors and design you choose.

You have the added benefit of being able to change it at will whenever you want.

If you are constantly using your car, and you cannot live without it for a long time, then you will be on the hunt for a quick solution.

Car wraps offer a quick turnaround for anybody who wants to change the style without losing their beloved vehicle for a long time.

When thinking about costs, car wrapping could help you save some bucks if you are planning on constantly changing the style.

Furthermore, if you only want a partial wrap, you can enjoy reasonable prices for specific areas of the car.

If waxing the car is something you dread, then car wrapping is for you.

Vinyl wraps do not need wax in order to maintain their quality.

You will need to keep it away from harsh conditions, but car wax will not be in the picture. 

The design possibilities of car wraps are limitless. When looking for a striking design for your car, your imagination is the limit with vinyl wrapping. 

Benefits Of Car Paint: Summing Up

Car paint can offer other fantastic benefits as well. If you are a purist and a car enthusiast, having vinyl wraps will never be an option.

Restoring the paint to its better days will be your number one goal.

Restorations and repaints are an essential part of the automotive world. In many cases, collection cars will need a change of look or a renewed style.

This is where car paint comes in handy.

Although the time to paint a car might be considerable, the benefits last longer too.

Yes, two weeks without your car might feel like an eternity, but the almost permanent paint will be the benefit in return for your patience!

If you only need to repaint a small part of your car, a touch-up paint could do the job without having to sand the car and lose precious time.

This could also be a cost-effective alternative for you. 

Another aspect to consider is the availability of experts. Car painting is an art that has been on the market for a long time.

Finding an expert to perform a fine paint job might be easier than finding an expert car wrapper. 

Regarding the looks, the appearance of a freshly painted car is hard to match.

Not to mention the glossy finish a good car wax will give to your vehicle. Waxing a painted car is a crucial part of its care.

The benefits car wax can offer you are limitless. You would not believe all the things this popular product can do for you.

Curious about it? You can check this great article I wrote covering all the facts.

Which One Should You Choose?

Quick Answer

Car wraps and car paints can offer different solutions when it comes to versatility, duration, application time, and cost. If you prioritize a quick turnaround, wrapping is the one to go. If you prioritize purity, then painting is the option for you.

Car wrapping requires a preserved car paint for the vinyl panels to attach to the surface.

It could be the case that you, either way, need to paint the car before wrapping it. If this is your situation, car wrapping is not even on the discussion table. 

If you are a purist and you want a real restoration of your vehicle, then you should go for a quality paint job.

Otherwise, you will be changing the original looks of your car.

Wrapping a car could also be an alternative to protecting your car paint if you are planning on selling your car in the near future. If this sounds like you, then go get some vinyl wrapping. 

If you want to advertise your brand on your car, wrapping the car can help you put any design you desire there.

Car paint might not be as versatile as car wraps in this regard. Customization and digital designs are simpler to do on vinyl panels.

For DIY enthusiasts, car wrapping could be a challenging task to take on. However, doing the process on your own might not be as easy as they say.

Moreover, you would want to have all the equipment and knowledge to do a marvelous wrapping. 

As you can see, the question is not about which one is better but about what your preferences are and what purpose you want to give to your ride.

With this information, you can make the right call for yourself!

Key Takeaways

  • Car wrapping has a quick turnaround
  • Car painting is a lengthy process
  • You cannot car wrap a damaged paint job
  • Car wrapping is susceptible to direct sunlight
  • With enough care, car paint can be permanent
  • Paint jobs are longer processes with longer duration in return
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge