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Common mistakes to avoid in vehicle wrapping

We take a look at some of the most common mistakes in wrapping vehicles and the steps that wrappers can take to avoid these issues to ensure a high-quality finish.

Oct 16 2023
By Rob Fletcher
Category Feature
It is no secret that vehicle wrapping is an incredibly tricky and testing line of work. One small error can lead to the entire job failing and having to start the piece all over again, which in turn makes attention to detail and accuracy absolutely critical for wrappers.
The good news is that many of the most common mistakes in vehicle wrapping can be easily avoided. Taking your time during applications and checking, double checking and checking again that what you are doing is correct and accurate will help stamp out any errors that can lead to a costly restart.
Here, we highlight some of the more common mistakes that wrappers make when taking on work and the steps that can take avoid these errors.

Caption: Exterior features such as wing mirrors and door handles can prove troublesome during application 

Bubbles, ripples and more

The application process in vehicle wrapping is a tricky and troublesome one that causes many an issue for even the most skilled wrappers.
Common mistakes and challenges for application include bubbling, whereby the surface of the car is either dirty or the paintwork on the vehicle is in poor condition. How to avoid this? Ensure the vehicle is cleaned properly prior to application so that you have something of a blank canvas to worth with and a smooth surface on which to install your graphics.
There is also the issue of air bubbles for wrappers to contend with. This is when air becomes trapped between the film or vinyl and the metalwork of the car. This can be avoided by using a quality squeegee when installing the wrap, ensuring that the material is fully applied to the vehicle and there is a smooth finish.
Similar to bubbles are ripples, where an unplanned raised line appears on the final wrap due to an error in application. Though not as common as bubbles, these ripples can place the whole job in jeopardy, with wrappers having to often remove the entire wrap and start again due to the damage caused to the wrap. Take your time with application and ensure that the material you are using is stretched properly over the vehicle without any ripples.
Other issues to look out for in application include peeling edges, where the edge of the wrap is peeling off the car. This could again be down to the surface of the vehicle not being cleaned and the material not adhering as expected, but also due to wrinkles that have not been smoothed out properly. 

Caption: Taking care when cutting away excess material can help ensure a quality finish on wrap jobs

Finishing the job

You might be able to overcome these issues but still fall down when applying the finishing touches to a job. This is often where hard work can come undone as wrappers rush to finish off the wrap or even become a little lax with their craftsmanship.
Here, we are primarily talking about cutting and trimming off wraps. After a wrap design has been applied, wrappers will need to trim down the excess material that is not part of the main design. This requires plenty of concentration and a very steady hand; after all, you do not want to have to do the wrap all over again by not paying attention when trimming away the excess material.
As for cutting, getting the wrap to fit around all of the exterior features on vehicles is a tricky process. Be it door handles, wing mirrors of aerials, the wrap needs to be applied seamlessly around these to give the true and full all-over effect. When cutting the wrap around these features, take extreme care! Any lapse in concentration could lead to damaging the wrap, meaning you have to start over, or even damaging the surface underneath the wrap, which in turn could mean you having to pay out some form of compensation to the customer.
Linked in with this is patching. Some wrappers will take to patching up certain areas of the wrap as they were not able to work the wrap around some of the trickier sections and features of the vehicle. Of course, this is not ideal as you do not get the all-over effect that so many customers crave, so try to avoid this wherever possible and educate yourself in how to tackle these jobs. There are plenty of great training courses out there to offer guidance and advice on how to take on tricky work.

Caption: Will wrap designs look the same or continue to have the same impact when doors or windows are opened?

Design accuracy

Before you can get to applying the wrap, you need to ensure the actual design will look the part when installed. Failure to do so can often lead to disastrous, if not rather amusing, outcomes.
Most of us will have seen those old episodes of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson and friends drive about in uniquely decorated cars that spell out unsightly and seemingly unplanned words on the side when the vehicle’s doors are opened. The fact of the matter is that this is a very real consideration for wrappers when designing a wrap for customers. Will it spell out the right message when doors and windows are open, or will the text instead spell out something rude or words that do not make sense?
The same can be said for pictures that often form part of a wrap’s design. Say, for example, you have a smiling face on the side of van; when the sliding doors open, will this still show the same image, or something more unsightly?
It is similar when applying company logos; will the logo always appear on the design even when the doors or window are open? Will passers-by still be able to recognise the brand or service, or will the wrap become moot?
To round off, a lot of this will come down to common sense among wrapping professionals. Wrappers are an extremely talented bunch and have a host of skills at their disposal; by taking care during application, staying concentrated when finishing a job and thinking of the bigger picture when designing a piece, they can cut out many of these errors and save themselves valuable time and money in the long run.

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