Vinyl wraps are basically a thin colored sticker that is applied to your vehicle. The colors are printed onto the surface on the vinyl, and most do not come with any kind of topcoat. Leaving it completely exposed to the elements. Vinyl is designed to be a temporary addition to a vehicle. To either add stripes or change the color. Though most people who spend the money on a full car color change wrap don’t want to remove it after 6 months to a year.
Often what we see is vinyl wraps damaged from the elements and UV rays. Either rusting, spotting, swirled, or faded. It can take as little as a few weeks for an outdoors only vinyl wrapped vehicle to go bad. A well maintained and garage kept vehicle with vinyl will last longer.
Paint Protection Film
The best option you’re going to come across is wrapping paint protection film over the vinyl if possible. This will add a layer of protection not just from rock chips and swirls, but also for elemental and UV damage. It will preserve the vinyl wrap for as long as it covers it.
This is also going to be the most expensive option. Paint protection film is not a cheap product and requires a skilled installer. It’s a good option if you want the vinyl to be a more permanent thing. The top clear bra’s come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty, offering long-term protection.
One of the newer options on the market is ceramic coatings designed specifically to be applied to vinyl wraps or clear bras. This coating is effectively adding a clear coat to the vinyl wrap.
Ceramic coatings are about 10x stronger than an automotive clear coat. They also offer UV resistance, and hydrophobic properties to bead water off the surface. While this is less tested it will still offer some protection to the vinyl wrap, and certainly more than nothing will offer.
It is also a less expensive option, and probably the least expensive option available. It isn’t permanent though. The coating will need to be reapplied every 3-4 years depending on how the vehicle is maintained.
When ordering vinyl from manufacturer’s you can have an over-laminate applied to it as well. The issue we have seen with this is large pieces of debris stuck between the two layers. Once there is debris in-between the layers there is nothing that can be done.
In theory, the additional layer should help to protect the vinyl film. Though this option does not offer UV protection and is not as resistant to the elements as ceramic coatings or clear bras are.