VINYL BODY WRAPS
Make your truck a rolling advertisement for your business with a vinyl graphic wrap
By Tom Jackson
(Photos by the author & Bruce W. Smith)
Most contractors know that a sharp-looking truck is good for business. It’s the first thing prospective clients see of you and it speaks well of your success and attention to detail.
In the old days you could go a step further and hire a guy with an airbrush to paint a logo on your truck and trailer, or buy some magnetic signs and slap those on the doors or sides.
But today with the advent of new vinyl film and printer technology you take any design, no matter how wild or complicated, put it into a computer and output in in giant rolls of film that you then adhere to your truck like wallpaper.
Vinyl graphics instantly turns even vanilla white trucks into attention getters.
For example: In coming up with a look and a theme for our Super Duty project truck we wanted something that looked like it worked in the oilfields. We had ProPickup’s art director David Watson create the mud spattered look with the faded blue to white color scheme you see here on his Mac.
That digital file was then forwarded on to the artisans at Camo-Clad, Inc (www.camoclad.com), in Mounds, Ill., where they added in our sponsor’s logos, scaled the design to “wrap” our 2011 F-250 Super Duty Crew Cab, and printed it out on sheets of 3M Controltac material deigned for automotive use.
A few days later, UPS arrived with several long boxes that contained the entire full-scale truck wrap.
And it’s not just graphics you can play with. You can incorporate photos into your design as well. If it can be created visually on a computer you can make it into a wrap.
The installation of such wraps is easy for those who specialize in such work as we’ll show you. But there are couple points to discuss first:
- Cost: The installed cost of a wrap ranges from about $12 to $12 per square foot. For the average truck today that’s $2,500 to $5,000, according to our installer Richard Trahan, who has been doing this since 1999.
- Durability: Most quality wraps are warranted to 7 years and will continue to look good for most of that time, Trahan says. The products he prefers have a clear overlaminate (top layer) over the printed color layer. This overlaminate is 1.5 to 2 mm thick and helps the wrap last longer. You can find wraps without overlaminate, but Trahan says he won’t install them because they don’t last.
- Paint: One of the surprising aspects about these wraps is that they don’t affect the underlying vehicle paint at all. You can pull them off after years and the paint will look as good as new.
- Color: Wraps normally don’t cover doorjambs, inside fuel doors, the edges of tailgates, or between the back of the cab and the bed. So choose a color scheme for your wrap that doesn’t clash with the color scheme of the truck. A red wrap on a yellow truck will look garish while a white pickup is a fairly safe color since even if it shows it won’t contrast too bad with a different wrap color.
In addition to the creative potential inherent in truck wraps, having a rolling billboard for your business opens up a lot of marketing possibilities.
You can also wrap your tool trailers and park these in front of your business where there is visible to the general public but you don’t have to pay the taxes and fees normally associated with static outdoor advertising. Such wraps are also tax deductible (advertising).
To do the work, on our Ford Super Duty we parked the truck in one of the bays at Tuscaloosa’s Truck Supply and Outfitters.
During the installation, Trahan, owner of Advanced Signs & Graphics, New Iberia, Louisiana, fielded inquiries from half a dozen TSO customers who had just come in to drop off or pick up their trucks.
The interest was so great that by the time he finished our job he had enough work to come back to Tuscaloosa at a future date. That’s how much contractors like these wraps once they get a look at one.
If you are looking for a way for your pickup and company to stand apart from your competitors, turning to a vinyl graphics is a good way to go. A partial or full-body wrap brings a lot of benefits.
Look in your local yellow pages or online for companies that specialize in graphics and printing. Or you can contact manufacturers and find out who their distributors are in your area. Try 3M (http://solutions.3M.com) and Avery (https://www.carwrapforum.net/).
If you don’t have computer graphic skills, that’s not a problem; companies that make the wraps have designers on staff and can take your ideas and run with them. The cost for the design work is minimal, a couple hundred dollars at best, when you’re ordering the wrap from them.
VINYL GRAPHIC INSTALL
The process of applying a body wrap to a truck is much like applying aftermarket window tint films.
It looks easy, but as the countless bubbly windshields we see out on the highway attest, it takes a deft hand to apply a wrap to make it look like paint – and not everybody has that ability.
If you’re keen on trying it though, we suggest you start small and get a feel for the material and the process.
An easy starter project may be to apply a small wrap on one of your construction trailers, or the hood of your truck, or perhaps just to the doors with a design that includes your company logo.
Full vehicle wraps are done that same way – in sections. Trahan did Project Super Crew that way, applying the 3M vinyl in several separate panels: tailgate, bed sides, upper cab, hood, and front fenders and doors.
Here’s how the process unfolds: