How to qualify a wrap shop (or, in other words, is the wrapper any good)?
Over a many years of experience wrapping we have some common questions that a wrap buyer should take time to ask. A wrap is a custom made product and is not a mass-produced item bought off a shelf. As such, wraps are created by craftsmen who are personally and closely linked with the quality of their offerings. When connecting the purchaser of a custom product with the maker of a custom product it is vital to educate and communicate in a way that keeps both parties on the same page. Nobody likes being disappointed in their expectations and nobody likes thousand dollar surprises (on either side).
Dedicated Shop / Facility? Has this business dedicated time & money to creating a controlled & professional environment for providing wraps?
Full Time or Part Time? Is this a professional who feeds his/her family perfecting their craft or a hobbyist looking for extra money on the side? The motivations and vested interest in delivering a quality product can certainly be effected by the answer to this question.
What specific films are they using? A professional wrapper should know precisely the vinyl films they are using and why. They should know the difference between low-cost calendared films and higher priced cast films. They should know the differences and pros/cons of each when it comes to cost, conformability, durability and longevity.
Are they using manufactured specified and matched products? A proper (and warranted) product must be produced using correctly matched manufacturer films. Mixing & matching components may lower the cost but will also lower the quality and destroy any potential warranty claim.
Does the wrap shop provide examples of the specific colors? A custom printed wrap for a commercial project should have a Live Proof for color approvals and a color change wrap should be tied to the manufacturer’s color ship book(s).
Certified Installers? (Just attending a class does not equal certified). A certified installer has to demonstrably prove their ability to properly install using the manufacturers film(s). Plenty of experienced and competent installers do not have a recognized certification; however, they are not able to claim a manufacturer’s warranty if an issue arises. So, not a deal breaker (especially if the shop has an excellent reputation) but a question certainly worth asking.
Fully bonded & insured? Any damage or issues that may arise with your project will be incredibly difficult to resolve if the shop you choose does not have full coverage. No insurance should be a big red flag.
What is their current workload / how long to get the wrap done? Wraps require specialized products, time to process and prepare those products, time to prep the vehicle and, of course, time to do the wrap installation itself. These all impact schedules and a reputable shop should have a clear & reliable picture of their current capabilities. Now the choice is yours… is the best shop in town worth waiting an extra few weeks…?
Do they require you to fully & thoroughly wash the vehicle before arriving? (they should… experienced wrappers do not like wasting hours of valuable time scrubbing bugs and road grime off your vehicle before they can start their work).
Do they warn you about potential issues regarding temperature extremes? In the winter, ambient temperatures will negatively affect bonding. Reputable shops will insist on making sure the vehicle stays in a controlled environment before heading out.
Do they back up their work? What is their policy if something fails, pops loose or peels back? Note, we are not talking about external damage or failure to maintain the wrap here. A wrap shop can not be expected to be responsible for events outside their control.
Is there a clear understanding that a wrap is NOT paint? Vinyl wraps are, by their very nature, a covering going over stable surfaces. The films have thickness as well as limits to flexibility and ability to stretch. Contrary to common misconceptions, the thickness of a wrap film does NOT cover-up surface damage / chips / dings /dents etc. A wrap will actually make that area more noticeable because it is adding a little bit MORE size to the problem.
Does the shop clearly explain how to maintain your wrap? The local weather, road conditions, washing techniques and even the direction you park each day can effect the life of your wrap.
Can I see example(s) of your work that is more than 6 months old? An excellent way to gauge a wrapper’s work is to get a personal look at a project wrapped at least 6 months prior. Look for details like un-wrinkled corners, absence of bubbles/dirt/debris under the vinyl, no failed recesses, clean/straight trims, perfectly controlled seams if present, no white-out or obviously stressed areas, and check for edges that would be typically hidden.
Yes, I know, it’s a lot to take in. Custom products are simply more complicated by their nature. That being said, it is in everyone’s best interest to be as informed and knowledgeable as possible. We all win in the end. Keep Wrapping!