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Is It Cheaper to Wrap or Paint a Car?

Is It Cheaper to Wrap or Paint a Car?

In the past, if you wanted to give your car a bold new look or make it look ready for the used card lot, you got it a paint job. That was really the only option you had. Now, there is another alternative out there that has become increasingly popular: car wraps. Many commercial vehicles with detailed images have been using vinyl car wraps for years to advertise. You, too, can enjoy wild colors, unique effects, and more with wrap. But that brings about the ultimate question: Is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car? Which option is right for you?

Let’s find out.

Car Wrap vs Paint Job: How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of things plays a major role in the decisions of most car owners these days. You may be considering a car wrap over a paint job before selling your car to recoup some of the car’s value, for example. However, is that the best idea? Or would your money be better spent on a fresh coat of paint?

For starters, the cost of a car wrap is determined by the shop doing the job, as well as the kind of wrap you are using, how much is used, and on the level of complexity for the installation. For most standard model cars out there, like a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, a car wrap using a matte or satin finish is going to cost you around $2,000-$3,000 at auto body shops in South Jersey. A Tesla Model 3 will cost around $3,700. Have a Ford Mustang? The cost is closer to $4,000.

A chrome or metallic finish is going to cost you slightly more, because the materials are more intricate to install. Plus, the wrap itself costs more to make. As such, if you wanted to wrap that same Ford Mustang in chrome, you may end up shelling out between $6,500 and $8,000.

Furthermore, the more expensive the make and model, the more expensive the wrap job. A high-end car, like a Lamborghini or Rolls-Royce will cost upwards of $12,000 to wrap.

The Cost of a Paint Job

Like a car wrap, the cost of a paint job varies greatly depending on the person or shop where the job is taking place, as well as the make, model, and materials being used. If you want to repaint your car the same color it currently is with cheap paint, you may only be set back $300. The current average cost of a paint job is around $500-$600, though if you want a professional quality paint job, you may end up spending $1,000 to $3,500 for paint that shines like it’s fresh from the showroom.

For paint, the more you pay, the better the results. Therefore, you also have to consider any repairs that need to be made prior to the paint getting sprayed on. You may have to remove spots of rust, fix dents, and more. Since this adds both time and resources and labor to the painting process, the bill may be close to $5,000 when all is said and done.

Car Wrap or Paint: Which is More Durable?

The main thing to remember is that, while neither car wraps or paint are fully permanent, one lasts longer than the other. The average lifespan of a car wrap is around 5 years, while a fresh paint job lasts between 10-15 years. Both car wraps and paint can be given protective coatings that increase durability, but that needs to be added into the cost of the wrap or paint job. For example, if you choose a “nano ceramic” coating for your vehicle’s wrap, you are adding $1,500 to $1,800 to the bill. Yes, you get more resistance to UV rays, scratching, and water damage, but that is a hefty addition to consider.

That is not to say that paint won’t chip, crack, and fade. Maintenance can extend the lifespan, however, potentially giving your paint job a far greater return of investment than a car wrap.

Other Considerations When Choosing to Paint or Wrap a Car

There are few other things to keep in mind when deciding on whether a wrap or paint job for your car is cheaper.


Car wraps and paint require the same amount of maintenance. You should hand-wash your vehicle with a pH neutral car wash that does not have any harsh chemicals. If possible, avoid car washes, as the shampoos used are full of chemicals that could damage your car’s wrap or paint.


There is no denying that a professional showroom paint job is unparalleled in appearance. Car wraps have yet to get close enough to the sparkling quality of fresh, unmarred paint. Undamaged paint also increases the market value.

Yet, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You may prefer the carbon fiber look of a specialty car wrap to a fresh coat of paint.


Sometimes, removing the wrap for your vehicle can damage the paint underneath. Both re-wrapping and repainting cars are a similar process. However, if you want to get that damaged paint repaired before the wrap, you cannot ignore that additional cost.

Choosing What’s Best For You

Both car wraps and paint jobs average around $2,000-$5,000, depending on the quality of the paint or wrap, your vehicle, and the complexity of installation. Both car wraps and paint jobs can be cheap or extremely expensive—it depends on what you want. That said, while the overall cost is more or less a tie, you should consider your budget and the look you want. Either way, you will be making an investment.

Looking to get your vehicle’s paint repaired after a collision? Head to the best body shop in NJ: Elmer’s Auto Body. The experienced auto technicians at Elmer’s Auto Body can help restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. Let’s get your vehicle scheduled today. Give us a call or send us a message online.

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