Applying a wrap to a surface is not extremely difficult, but it needs practice and experience to do it properly. You need to able to see and feel what you have to do. Although the guide below does NOT contain everything you need to know, it can serve as a starting point. If you get better at it, you will slowly learn how to do a better job.
Wrap with or without water
Although there are several different to do it, every approach meets the same question: do I work with or without water? The water is used to form a layer between the surface and the wrap. It allows you to move the wrap a little bit before it gets stuck to the surface. By moving a squeegee tool over the wrap, you press the water out from underneath the wrap and the wrap will get stuck to the surface. This can be very useful when you are still learning. It can also help to avoid air bubbles underneath the wrap.
The choice between using water or not using water is often guided by the level of experience, the difficulty of the shape and the material used.
Wrapping your car
The steps below will help you to get a starting point in applying a car wrap. It does not guarantee that you’ll achieve a flawless finish, and this list will not make you a professional within a day. However, it will help you on your way to understand the basics. From here on you can perfect your skills and slowly get better at it.
The safest method
- Make sure the surface is clean. Washing, claying and polishing is often recommended
- Make sure you are working in a clean area. Working outside is possible, but not recommended
- Working in the sun is not recommended because the surface might get very hot
- Take a piece of wrap that is cut to length, and position it over the surface you are working with, do not remove the backing paper
- Move the wrap around to see how to position it so that it fits perfectly
- When you think the wrap is positioned perfectly, tape it in place around the edges
- Devide the piece of wrap in half, doing this in the length works best on most surfaces. On a roof this means halfway between the front and the rear
- Tape off the wrap extra securely on one side of that half (for example, the front). Make sure the wrap is being kept tight
- Remove the tape on the other half. Because you taped one side securely into place, it shouldn’t go anywhere
- Peel the backing paper back till you get to the point between the front half and the rear half
- Cut the backing paper away on the line the seperates the front half and the rear half and fold that half of the wrap back over the half that is still taped into place
- You should now have one side that is taped securely to the surface, but still has backing paper. The other side of the wrap is folded back, and has no backing paper anymore (the sticky side shows)
- *Spray a liberal amount of water, mixed with soap (like dishwashing soap) on the surface you are working at
- Take your squeegee and start to rub the center at an angle of roughly 45 degrees, where you cut off the backing paper. Make sure to keep the taped part of the wrap very tight and flat. Because the part that is about to touch the surface, is the point where you start to apply the wrap and is difficult to correct later on
- Use the squeegee at 45 degrees to push out the water between the surface and the wrap (if you used water), and squeeze the wrap onto the surface
- If the wrap is to stiff, or feels to tough to make it follow a shape, you can use a hair dryer to warm the wrap up. Making it warm will make it easier to work around corners or difficult shapes
- Start in the center, push forward (carefully) for a few centimeters, and then work your way side ways
- If you’ve done the first few centimeter along the width the surface, start in the center again and repeat step 13 to 17
- If you’re done with one half, remove the tape from the other half and peel off the backing paper.
- Fold the wrap back over the half that is already stuck, and repeat step 13 to 17
- Take a very sharp blade (hobby shops often have these, they look like scalpels) and cut off the excess wrap
- Do not put a lot of pressure on the blade. The weight of the blade itself should almost be enough to cut through the wrap. Putting to much pressure on it can damage the paint underneath
- Make sure you leave a little extra at some edges to wrap around the corners, like with wheelarches, the bootlid and doors
- After you are done, use a hair dryer, or heat blower to raise the temperature of the wrap to 65 degrees. This will set the shape of the wrap and prevents it from peeling back under tension
* = an optional step
Video of a very similar process above:
The slightly more advanced method
- Make sure you work in a cool and closed environment. It is not recommended to do this outside
- Make sure the surface is perfectly clean. Washing, claying and/or polishing can be best
- Wipe the surface with or similar to make sure there is no residue whatsoever on the surface
- Take a big piece of wrap and (with the help of somebody else) position it close to the surface
- Don’t let the wrap touch the surface yet, make sure it is positioned perfectly first
- Choose a safe place to start (usually a flat part in the center)
- While keeping the wrap tight at all corners, apply it over the surface. If the piece you are using is very long, it helps to have somebody in the middle to hold the wrap as well
- Start at your chosen starting point, and rub the wrap onto the surface. Make sure to follow the shape of the surface
- If the wrap won’t go over certain corners, you can use a hair dryer to warm up the wrap, and make it easier to work with
- Try to work from the center outwards, and try to prevent any air bubbles. You might need to pull the wrap off for a few centimeters sometimes, to get the bubble out
- Use a squeegee to rub the wrap smooth over the surface. Make sure to keep following the shape
- Cut off the excess, but leave some to wrap around the edge
- When you are done, use a hair drying or heat blower to raise the temperature to 65 degrees to set the new shape of the wrap
Things to keep in mind
- A hair dryer can be used to heat up the wrap and make it easier to work with
- A warp is under tension after it is applying, especially with difficult corners and shapes. Heating it up to 65 degrees will fix the shape and remove the tension
- Use a very, very sharp blade and avoid putting pressure on it when cutting the wrap. You could damage the paint underneath
- The result might look heaps better when you remove trim
- Always leave a little extra at edges to wrap around the corner
- Air bubbles can be rubbed out, but if they don’t go away, you can try to make a very small hole in the wrap
- Many air bubbles will disappear within days, because the wrap is not 100% airtight
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