Today, I will share with all of you my first vinyl wrapping experience.
I knew it would be difficult before I even bought the vinyl, but I knew that a few little mistakes would make the car look hundreds of times better than without it. A wrinkle here and there would not bother me.
I brought the car to Jack's house since he wrapped some sections of his STI. We started with the hood. Roughly cut it out, peel back the paper while laying it flat, and squeegee carefully while pulling up the vinyl. Sounds easy and looks easy when you watch YouTube videos. Right way, we had way too many unrecoverable wrinkles. We ended up ripping the first sheet off and trying again.
It doesn't help that I bought this giant roll of vinyl from DHgate, another Chinese supplier like Alibaba. I chose to buy from there because of the cost, only $200. Also, I knew that I wanted to have a pattern, and I did not want anything glossy. This way, if I get any dents or imperfections while applying it, they will probably be less noticeable. I wanted large format snow camo, and this is the best design that I could find. I think it looks great, and in the end, that's all that matters.
Anyway, second time around, we worked more patiently and used the heat more around the corners of the hood. Suddenly, I knew what I was in for. It took us over an hour just to do the hood. After stepping back several feet and looking at the car, I knew that it would be worth it.
The next time we worked on it, I was determined to finish the entire wrap. Starting off the day with the passenger door, and again, it took us about an hour to do. Moving on to the passenger fender, we switched roles. I was working the vinyl and gliding the squeegee, while Jack was working the heat gun and stretching the vinyl. This dynamic was what worked best for us. We finished in about 30min or so, and it was our best looking panel so far! Continuing around the car, we started knocking out the rest of the panels the same way. At the end of the day, all we had left to do was the front bumper, rear bumper, quarter panels, mirrors, and the roof. The roof is already painted black and goes with the camo, so I wanted to leave it alone.
For the third round of vinyl wrapping, I took the front and rear bumpers in the house. This time, my crew member Chris was helping me. I had him do the heat gun work and stretching just like Jack. We had a lot of vinyl to work with for these parts and there were many curvy sections. The vinyl was laid down flat on top of the bumpers, but then needed to be stretched over every curved section. It took us about 4 hours per bumper! For the front bumper, we used Plasti Dip to coat the inner pockets, using vinyl was becoming too difficult and time consuming in those areas. I was happy with how it turned out, but we started running out of time in preparation for Waste Management Winter Rally (WMWR) 2017.
We ended up going to WMWR without the quarter panels wrapped. By the time we finished the first stage, you couldn't even tell - it was covered in mud. After the event, I had my girlfriend help me with the quarter panels and it was much easier now that I learned to lay on the vinyl as much as I can without using heat. Once you use heat, you will probably be using it for the rest of the section because it's been warped.
Was the wrap worth it? Maybe. It depends on who you are. While doing this wrap, I also painted the interior and learned how to use a HVLP paint gun. I could have painted the car in a solid color in 20% of the time I spent wrapping. I was also limited because I had to have a friend help me. For experienced wrapping professionals with quality vinyl, this is not always a problem, but if you have no experience like me, I hope you have some really nice friends. I wanted a crazy design, one that would be hard to do with paint, so this made the wrapping worth it for me. If I just wrapped it in a solid color, I would have regretted it because painting is so much quicker. I am very happy with the wrap though, and I am glad that I was able to complete it with the help of my friends.