If you are in the habit of frequenting car forums (Tintdude anyone?), you have no doubt come across the term car wrap more than once. The most common “wraps” include vinyl and paint protection films, but how exactly are they different from one another?
For one, the functions of the two films are completely different. The purpose of vinyl wrap is purely cosmetic; they are designed as a way of temporarily changing the color of your car without damaging the OEM (original manufacturer) paint work. These films are relative thin at around 4-5 mil (0.1-0.12mm), and they don’t really offer much in terms of protection against scratches and rock chips. If a car parked too close to you, for example, and the passengers inside opened their car door with just a bit too much force, slamming it right into yours, the impact will most likely cut straight through the film and leave a scratch or chip on your car door.
Paint protection films on the other hand, are meant to be more practical than pretty. Most film manufacturers and brands offer 2 main PPF options; glossy and matte. These transparent films are not meant to drastically change the car’s appearance. What they do excel in though, is paint protection.
Paint protection films average a thickness of around 8 mil (0.2mm), a whopping double of your average vinyl wrap. The TPU material used in the manufacturing of these films also play a huge part in optimizing their protective function. A majority of these films now come with a self-healing function, which means that if you find yourself in the “close car, door opening” situation, the minor scratches that inevitably result would be mostly absorbed by the clear film. Any marks on the film could also be healed in a matter of minutes, leaving no trace behind.
Another reason why paint protection films are more protective than vinyl wraps is because of their stain resistance. Your car comes into contact into a million different contaminants on a daily basis, mostly in the form of rainwater, tree saps and bird droppings. These substances are corrosive, and if left untreated, can cause severe damage to the car’s appearance in the long term.
Now that we’ve established the difference in function between vinyl wraps and paint protection films, it’s time to address another issue; is it possible to install both vinyl wrap and paint protection film on your car paint? The answer is a resounding yes. The only point of contention is the order in which the films are installed, and in this case, you can choose either to install paint protection film on top of vinyl film, or vice versa. The exact order you choose will be based on your priority and the complexity of your vinyl work.
Let’s say if you are interested in doing a single color vinyl wrap, but you’d also like the added benefit of paint protection film. Which film should you install first, and which film last? That really depends on how long you want your vinyl film to stay on your vehicle. If you’re not 100% committed to the new color for your vehicle, or if you’re planning on switching it up in a few months, then it might be a good idea to first install a paint protection film, followed by your vinyl wrap. The reason for this is so you can protect your original car paint against possible damages during the vinyl installation, and you won’t have to re-apply the PPF layer when you do decide to replace your vinyl wrap.
The same order also goes for any complicated or layered vinyl wraps. These wrap jobs often create small ridges on the car surface. If paint protection film is layered over this vinyl, it would create small air pockets between the 2 layers of films. Now this might not seem like a huge issue at first, but it does affect the aesthetics of the film. More to the point, these small air pockets might expand over time, causing the 2 layers of film to detach from one another. An easier and smarter option would be to first lay down the paint protection film on the car paint, then install additional vinyl wrap on top for best results.
On the other hand, if you’re fully committed to your vinyl wrap color and would like to protect the film finish for good, then you might want to consider installing your paint protection film on top of the vinyl wrap. That way, the colored film will be safe from rips and stains for the lifetime of your paint protection film, which for most brands is around 10 to even 15 years.
Now this is the point where most people will say "Isn't this too much of a hassle? Why can't we just have a colored paint protection film and take care of both problems at once?" The truth is even though colored paint protection films are not an option at the moment, they might very well be one in the near future. For the latest innovation in paint protection technology, stay tuned for updates from OnerPro. We just might have some good news for you!