how much vinyl to wrap a car

How Much Vinyl To Wrap A Car

Vinyl wrapping has exploded in popularity in recent years as a way to customize and change the look of your vehicle. With endless color and finish options to choose from, you can transform your car or truck into a unique ride that reflects your personality and style.

But before embarking on a vinyl wrap project, it’s critically important to determine precisely how much material you will need to purchase for your specific vehicle. Ordering too little vinyl can leave you short mid-job and unable to complete the wrap. Conversely, buying an excess amount is just a waste of money.

So how do you calculate exactly how much vinyl to get for your car or truck wrap? Follow this detailed guide to determine the required square footage and order the right amount of vinyl for a smooth, successful DIY install.

Step 1: Thoroughly Measure the Vehicle’s Exterior Surface Area

The starting point is taking comprehensive measurements of your vehicle’s complete exterior surface area. This will determine the total square footage needed. You’ll need to measure the length, width and height of:

  • All sides (doors, quarter panels, etc)
  • Hood
  • Roof
  • Trunk lid
  • Front bumper cover
  • Rear bumper cover
  • Side mirror housings
  • Gas tank door
  • Door jambs
  • Front grille
  • Any other exterior body panels

For the best accuracy, use a steel measuring tape. Measure each section methodically and record all the lengths and widths. For curved or irregular sections, carefully “trace” the area onto sheets of masking tape, sticker paper or even aluminum foil.

This process will require patience and attention to detail, but accurate measurements are crucial for determining the total square footage of vinyl needed. Take your time and double check all figures. Small mistakes can throw off your material estimate.

Step 1: Thoroughly Measure The Vehicle's Exterior Surface Area
Step 1: Thoroughly Measure the Vehicle’s Exterior Surface Area

Step 2: Calculate the Total Square Footage for Each Section

With all your measurements in hand, some basic math will provide the square footage amounts for each exterior section of the vehicle.

For flat panel sections like sides, hood, roof, doors, etc – simply multiply the length by the width to get the area. For example, if your hood measures 60 inches long by 48 inches wide, the total area is 2,880 square inches. Dividing by 144 converts to 20 square feet for the hood.

For curved areas, use appropriate geometry formulas to calculate the surface area. An online surface area calculator can also help. The front and rear bumper covers have complex curves, so take extra time to get these sections accurate.

Add up the square footage totals for every piece of the exterior body. This will give you the preliminary amount of vinyl for the vehicle wrap.

Calculate The Total Square Footage For Each Section
Calculate the Total Square Footage for Each Section

Step 3: Add at Least 20% More Vinyl for Seams, Edges and Errors

The total so far is strictly the amounts required for each exterior panel section. However, you’ll need substantial additional material for wrapping edges, seams and door jambs. Also allow extra vinyl to account for mistakes during installation or any unusable scraps.

A good rule is to add at least 20% more square footage onto your total. So if your calculations put you at about 50 square feet so far, tack on another 10 square feet for edges, seams, etc. It’s always better to have leftover vinyl than to run short halfway through the job.

Add At Least 20% More Vinyl For Seams, Edges And Errors
Add at Least 20% More Vinyl for Seams, Edges and Errors

Step 4: Consider the Vehicle Type and Size

The amount of vinyl required largely depends on the vehicle type and overall size. Here are some averages:

  • Small/compact cars: approximately 30-50 sq ft
  • Midsize sedans: 50-60 sq ft
  • Full-size sedans: 60-80 sq ft
  • SUVs: 60-100+ sq ft
  • Pickup trucks: 100+ sq ft for crew cab or larger

These are just general guidelines – your calculations for your particular vehicle may differ. Measure carefully for the most accurate estimate.

Add At Least 20% More Vinyl For Seams, Edges And Errors
Add at Least 20% More Vinyl for Seams, Edges and Errors

Vinyl Material Costs

The last key component that makes up a wrap quote is the cost of the vinyl material itself. Quality cast vinyl wrap film ranges in price from around $4 to $25 per square foot. Here are some averages:

  • Basic gloss or matte solid colors – $4 to $8 per square foot
  • Specialty chrome, brushed, or carbon fiber – $12 to $18 per square foot
  • Color shift, pearlescent, metallic – $15 to $25 per square foot
  • Printed graphics and partial images – $10 to $20 per square foot
  • Full photorealistic prints – $20 to $25 per square foo

So for example, wrapping the ~40 square feet of a midsize sedan in gloss black vinyl at $6 per square foot would cost about $240 in materials. A more complex chrome red chrome gradient wrap on that same sedan using $15 per square foot specialty vinyl would run around $600 just for the film.

Vinyl Material Costs
Vinyl Material Costs

Ways to Reduce Vinyl Wrap Costs

For car owners who want a wrap but are on a tighter budget, here are some smart ways to reduce costs:

  • Wrap only partial sections of the car rather than a complete exterior wrap. Just doing the roof, hood, and trunk can save significantly on vinyl usage.
  • Use lower priced vinyls like solid color gloss rather than premium special effect films or printed graphics.

Step 5: Factor in Additional Vinyl for Certain Areas

Some sections of a vehicle require overlapping layers of vinyl or extra coverage to properly wrap them. Be sure to calculate additional material for:

  • Bumpers: An extra 10 sq ft ensures full coverage for the front and rear. Bumpers have lots of crevices and need fuller wraps.
  • Mirrors: Allocate an extra 2 sq ft to wrap mirror housings and extend onto mirror arms.
  • Roof: Add 2-3 extra sq ft for overlapping seams along roof edges.
  • Door handles/trim: Include a couple extra sq ft to wrap door handle cavities and along trim strips.
  • Front grille: Requires about 2 extra sq ft to wrap grille inserts and openings.
Carnexus
Step 5: Factor in Additional Vinyl for Certain Areas

Step 6: Order Extra Vinyl for Potential Mistakes/Re-wraps

Factoring in material for potential errors during the installation is also smart. Even experienced wrappers make mistakes sometimes! Having an extra 5-10% vinyl allows you to re-do sections if needed without running out.

Step 7: Choose a Quality Cast Wrap Vinyl

When ordering vinyl, use high grade cast wrap film. Cast vinyl is soft and extremely pliable, allowing it to stretch and mold to complex curves much easier than lower-grade calendered film. High quality cast vinyl like 3M Dinoc and Avery Supreme Wrapping Film are ideal for DIY installs.

Step 8: Consider Optimal Vinyl Thickness

Vinyl wrap film is available in different thickness grades, measured in “mils”. While thinner vinyl is cheaper, it can be quite challenging to work with and install properly. The recommended thickness for DIY wrapping is 2 mil up to 3.5 mil. This provides sufficient pliability while still being thick enough for durability.

Step 5: Factor In Additional Vinyl For Certain Areas
Step 8: Consider Optimal Vinyl Thickness

Step 9: Order from a Reputable Vinyl Retailer

Order your vinyl from a trusted retailer that provides free shipping and easy returns in case you don’t use it all. Companies like MetroRestyling.com have vinyl wrap kits available with free color samples to help get you exactly the right amount of material for your project.

Step 10: Carefully Plan the Design Layout

To get maximum usage from your vinyl supply, carefully map out the complete design layout before starting the wrap. Plan how you’ll cut and apply the vinyl pieces for least amount of waste. Make templates from paper or painter’s tape to conceptualize the design.

With some advance planning, you can create a unique vinyl wrapped car using precisely the amount of material required. Just take thorough measurements, order quality cast vinyl with some extra, and install the wrap with care. Soon you’ll be cruising around in a custom ride reflecting your personality and taste.

Step 8: Consider Optimal Vinyl Thickness
Step 8: Consider Optimal Vinyl Thickness

FAQs

Is 25 yards enough to wrap a car?

25 yards of wrap may be enough to cover a small or midsize car, but is probably not enough for a full wrap on a large SUV or truck. The amount needed depends on the size of the vehicle, as more surface area requires more wrap. For a full wrap you likely need at least 50 yards, though an estimate based on your specific vehicle’s dimensions is best. Partial wraps require less.

How many ft does it take to wrap a car?

The amount of feet needed to wrap a car depends on the size and dimensions of the specific vehicle. Smaller cars like compacts may require around 150-200 feet for a full wrap, while midsize sedans need 200-300 feet typically. Full size sedans and small SUVs usually require 300-400 feet of wrap film. For large SUVs and trucks, you may need upwards of 500 feet for a complete wrap job. The vehicle’s curves and contours also impact the amount of film needed.

How many feet does it take to wrap a Jetta?

For a typical VW Jetta sedan, you will likely need approximately 250-300 square feet of car wrap film for a full vehicle wrap. The Jetta is a compact sedan that is around 180 inches long and 70 inches wide. Accounting for the windows, bumpers, curves and contours of the body panels, a complete wrap will require 8-10 yards of film which equals between 250-300 feet. The exact amount depends on the specific Jetta model and options.

Is it hard to wrap a car yourself?

Wrapping a car yourself can be challenging if you have no experience. It requires meticulously measuring each panel, cutting the film precisely, and carefully applying while avoiding bubbles and wrinkles. The curves and angles of a car’s body can make it difficult to smoothly adhere the film. Patience and attention to detail are critical. Most DIY installs will have some imperfections. Hiring a professional wrap shop is advisable for high quality, long lasting results, but with practice an amateur can learn to wrap a car acceptably. The degree of difficulty depends on your skill level.

Is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car?

Getting a car wrapped is generally cheaper than a high quality professional paint job. A full car wrap with printed vinyl film costs $2,000-$5,000 on average, while a high end paint job can be $10,000 or more. However, wraps need to be replaced every 5-7 years as the film wears, while a paint job can last over a decade. For short term customization wraps are more affordable, but paint is a better long term investment if keeping the car over 10 years. Wraps also allow changing colors periodically. Overall wraps provide color changes for less, paint gives a more permanent solution at higher cost.

How many feet does it take to wrap a Jetta?

For a typical VW Jetta sedan, you will likely need approximately 250-300 square feet of car wrap film for a full vehicle wrap. The Jetta is a compact sedan that is around 180 inches long and 70 inches wide. Accounting for the windows, bumpers, curves and contours of the body panels, a complete wrap will require 8-10 yards of film which equals between 250-300 feet. The exact amount depends on the specific Jetta model and options. More film may be needed for larger sizes like the Jetta Sport wagen. Consult a professional installer for an estimate based on your exact vehicle.

Conclusion

In summary, the amount of vinyl needed to wrap a car depends on several factors. The most important considerations are the size and shape of the car, as more curved surfaces require more material. Full vehicle wraps require 20-30 yards of

vinyl whereas partial wraps of just the hood, roof and trunk need 10-15 yards. For a mid-sized sedan, plan on needing 25-30 yards of 54-inch wide vinyl to complete a full wrap. When estimating material, add at least 5% extra vinyl to allow for mistakes, seams and trimming.

Other factors like the complexity of the graphics design, amount of contours and trims, and installer skill level can also impact the yardage needed. Carefully measure the surface area and use wrap

calculators to determine the square footage. Allowing for extra vinyl on the initial estimate ensures you end up with just the right amount of material for a smooth, flawless car wrap.

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