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Tools Required to Wrap Your Car

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There are a wide variety of tools available in the market today that are designed to help you complete a car wrap. However, there are some key tools that you simply can't do without!

Here are the basic vinyl wrapping tools you'll need to complete a successful wrap:

Essential Car Wrap Tool #1: Heat Gun

A heat gun is critical when working with vinyl wrap materials. It allows you to warm the film to remove creases and conform to odd-shaped panels on your car. The key feature you need to look for in a heat gun is one that can reach the desired temperate quickly while maintaining a consistent temperature and air stream. 

Another key feature to look for when investing in a heat gun is the ability to adjust the temperature. This is important so you can control how much heat you're applying to the film and throughout different stages of the car wrapping process. Several of the medium to higher-end heat guns will provide a temperature adjustment. 

A nice to have feature available on the higher-end heat guns is a digital display allowing you to adjust the temperature precisely based on defined temperatures. They also offer features such as the ability to change between fan settings or switch to cool-down mode.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #2: Squeegee

This step is crucial to the success of your project. Your car must be free of all dirt, dust, debris, and imperfections. Use a degreaser to remove any residue on the car. After the degreaser, go back over the same area with 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. Make sure your work area is clean. Sweep out your garage area before you clean your car to make sure none of the particles settle back onto the vehicle.

Once your car looks clean, put on a pair of gloves and run your fingers over the surface. Can you feel any imperfections? Like paint, vinyl will show every chip, scratch, or bump on the car. It’s possible you may need to do some bodywork if you do not have a smooth surface.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #3: Cutting Blade

Once everything is removed, and the surface appears clean, you will want to measure out your first piece of vinyl. If this is your first time applying vinyl wrap, we suggest you start with a small flat surface such as a quarter-panel. Cut a piece that is roughly 4-inches longer and wider than the panel you are wrapping.

 

If you are skilled, you can trim the material to a smaller size if you are looking to save money on the vinyl. However, for beginners, it is easier to work with more vinyl than less. The vinyl comes in a 60 inch roll by 25 feet in length. Some companies will sell less material based on the project, but the standard roll is 60 inches or 5 feet. Most panels on a vehicle are smaller than 60 inches, but there are times when you have to cut multiple pieces for an oversized hood, roof, or trunk.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #4: Cutting Tape

Double-check that the surface is still free of any dust and debris that might have been floating around while you were taking measurements. If possible, have a second person on hand to help with the application. It’s possible to do it by yourself, but it’s much easier to handle the vinyl when there are two sets of hands. Double-check that your hands are clean and then pull the backing off your cut piece.

 

Once the backing is off, the adhesive will be tacky but will not adhere until pressure is applied. Start in the middle and work your way to the outside edges. Keep the tips off the surface of the car so that air does not get trapped.

Use the squeegee and press down on the film with even pressure at your starting point. Slowly work out from your center point, making sure that the vinyl is smooth.

Once you have all the air released and your wrap is perfectly flat, test your work by using the heat gun on the area that you just flattened. If any air is trapped, it will bubble, and you can push the air out if the vinyl has air release. Heating before you make your cuts ensures that you can lift the material off the vehicle if trapped air is too stubborn to release.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #5: Cleaning Solution

One of the most important things to remember during this step is that the knife you use to cut the wrap will also cut the paint underneath. If you slice through into the car, you could be forced to remove the film and repair the damage before continuing.

Trim the vinyl so that there is roughly ¼ cm overhanging all the edges of your panel. This extra should be enough to tuck around the edges or cover any cracks Always keep the blade off the vehicle. Because of the difficulty involved, you should practice on smaller areas before wrapping the body paint if you are inexperienced with vinyl wrapping.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #6: Measuring Tape

After you make all the cuts, you need to tuck all your edges. This step sounds easy, but it can make the difference between a professional look and a “DIY look.” A proper wrap shouldn’t have wrinkles (fingers), and it shouldn’t lift. If there is too much stretch or tension, the edges will fail.

Unfortunately, if you stretch the vinyl too far, you could be forced to remove the whole panel and start over. Use your thermometer and heat gun to ease the tension on sharp curves. Heating the vinyl to about 90 degrees will soften it enough to help even out wrinkles. Avoid overheating, or you will cause the material to degrade.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #7: Gloves

The final step involves a quality post-heat over what you’ve just laid, cut, and tucked. Post heating the surface will make sure that there isn’t too much tension on any area and will usually reveal warning signs of failure. If the vinyl curls or pops up, you need to re-apply that section. Any failure at this point will only get worse once exposed to the sun.

Once your vinyl wrap is smooth, and all the imperfections have been fixed, then clean it with some alcohol and inspect your work.

Essential Car Wrap Tool #8: Infrared Thermometer

The final step involves a quality post-heat over what you’ve just laid, cut, and tucked. Post heating the surface will make sure that there isn’t too much tension on any area and will usually reveal warning signs of failure. If the vinyl curls or pops up, you need to re-apply that section. Any failure at this point will only get worse once exposed to the sun.

Once your vinyl wrap is smooth, and all the imperfections have been fixed, then clean it with some alcohol and inspect your work.

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