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Can You Vinyl Wrap Over Faded Paint?

There are a lot of instances where you should not try vinyl wrap including wrapping ABS plastics used in some bo

dy kits, wrapping rubberized areas, or wrapping solar panels, but what about faded paint?

We all know that you can change the color of your vehicle with a vinyl wrap, but could you cover up bad paint with it? Well, it depends on several factors.  

What Caused Your Paint to Fade?

When your vehicle was originally painted, it was first primed, then painted, and then a clear coat was placed on top. This clear coat protects your vehicle from oxidization, the process that causes your paint to fade.

Several things can cause this top layer to become damaged if no paint protection film has been applied. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can heat the clear coating and allow oxygen to get to your paint. Sea salt from living near an ocean or rock salt from living in a place with harsh winters can also hurt your paint. Salt is corrosive, effectively breaking down your vehicle’s clear coat and allowing your paint to become damaged.

Abrasive cleaning, like can happen at some car washes, can have the same effect. If it is only your clear coat that is damaged, and the underlining paint is still smooth, you should be alright to have your vehicle wrapped. You will first have to have the clear coat sanded or feathered to make a smooth surface for the vinyl wrap to stick.

Will the Vinyl Wrap Adhere to Your Paint?

Vinyl wraps are made to adhere to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) factory paint. It is also viewed as per

fectly acceptable to put vinyl wrap over other professional paint jobs that are still in pristine condition. If you do have perfect paint, then the only thing to consider is if a vinyl wrap or paint protection film is best for your vehicle.

If your paint is damaged, dirty, or has rust, the vinyl will stick to the rust or other debris instead of the paint itself and will become delaminated. Although rust can never be vinyl wrapped, you can clean off dirt and smooth out other very minor blemishes to allow your vinyl wrap to adhere nicely. The only paint defects that can be amended and then wrapped are those that are not near any edges. This is because the vinyl is already at increased risk of lifting in those areas.


Is Your Paint Chipped?

With fading often comes other problems. Since fading starts with damage to your vehicle’s clear coating, it is likely that something has been wearing away at the paint underneath or that there was an impact in the area of fading that allowed the oxidation process to start. 

Vinyl wraps are very thin and typically measure between 3 and 5 thousandths of an inch (.003-.005 inches). They are not nearly thick enough to cover up chipped or peeling paint; you will see it right through the vinyl. Many common vinyl wraps will actually make these defects more noticeable.

Deep scratches, big paint chips, and peeling paint can not be covered up with a vinyl wrap. So long as small chips in your paint job from little rocks on the roadway are not left unchecked, these can be fixed and then wrapped. Damaged paint and ensuing rust are some of the many reasons that you should protect your vehicle from rock chips. If it has not gotten to the point of rust yet and is small, a paint pen can be used to fill paint chips in before getting your vinyl wrap installed.


Vinyl Wrap Removal

As much as we may want vinyl wraps to be a permanent feature, they do have a life span and will eventually need to be removed. For example, KPMF’s K71000 Series of wraps last 7 years on vertical panels where they get less sunlight and only 3 years on horizontal panels.

This means that you will be back to your faded paint at the end. More importantly, you may be left with more damage than you started with. As already discussed, the vinyl wrap adheres to your paint. If your paint’s clear coat is damaged, you will risk pulling up more of it while removing your vinyl wrap when it is time to do so. As it is removed, it may even pull off surrounding paint if there is an area of damage present.  

What Are the Best Vinyl Wraps if your Paint Has Minor Damage?

If your vehicle’s paint has minor damage, you are going to want to stay away from any glossy vinyl wraps. A black matte wrap is likely best in this case as it will not reflect light from the edges of the underlying paint blemish. Some carbon fiber films are more apt to cover the damage, and it is probably a good option to seek out wraps that are closer to 5 or 5.5 mils in thickness.

If too much paint was used when you got your vehicle painted and it has resulted in a slight orange peel texture, you could possibly attempt to use a textured wrap to hide it. Since vinyl wraps may cause paint damage to be more noticeable, the best option is just to have your vehicle’s paint touched up by a professional and then have any wrap you want applied after waiting 8 weeks for the paint to cure.

You could also decide to use vinyl wraps in another way that is not impacted by your paint. For example, Los Angeles’s StickerCity provides chrome deletes, where wraps are used to “blackout” your vehicle’s trim and other chrome pieces.

So, Can You Wrap a Vehicle with Faded Paint?

Yes, in some cases. You can wrap a vehicle with faded paint, but you need to consider how extensive the damage is, if the wrap will further damage your paint, and what type of vinyl wrap you will use.

If your vehicle has chips along with fading, the wrap will not cover it. If it is only your clear coat that is really damaged, you can have it feathered or sanded and apply the wrap. Some damage will allow surrounding paint to be lifted when the wrap inevitably needs to be removed, and some vinyl wraps will look worse than others on damaged paint. 

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