Vehicle wrapping vs respray: which is better for you?

By Richard Clark on Apr 21, 2022 5:26:19 PM

6 min read

In this comparison we will break down the advantages and disadvantages of wrapping versus respraying a car or van. Whilst Raccoon is a vehicle wrapping company our aim is not to upsell you on the benefits of a wrap, but to present only the facts, enabling you to make the decision that best suits you.

Wrap or respray? Which is best for you? The key advantage of wrapping is it is cheaper and preserves the original paintwork for resell value, whilst respray is a better option when a vehicle is rusted or damaged.

There is far more to it than just price and condition though, so don’t go away just yet! We delve into a myriad of factors including pricing, design options, project turnaround, and of course the end result!


How much does it cost to wrap or respray a vehicle? 

The cost of vehicle wrapping in the UK depends on a variety of factors including vehicle size, materials used, and complexity. The average cost to wrap a car is between £1500-£2500, whilst the average cost to wrap a van ranges from £1500-£3000. If you are wrapping a fleet of vehicles at the same time, the cost per vehicle will often be less. Check out our pricing guide for more specific information on the factors that affect the price of a vehicle wrap.

The cost of respraying a vehicle is also not a fixed figure, varying according to size, age, make, model and damage to the vehicle. The average price of a full vehicle respray ranges from £1000 - £15,000.



Which will look better; a new paint job or a fresh wrap? 

Wrapping vs respray: Gumball 3000 Rally car transformation | Raccoon

Again we must state our bias here, we think wrapping looks way better! But here is a different way of looking at it, which has the potential to look better, wrapping or respray?

A respray is a permanent aesthetic choice, if you want to change the colour, you will need to have the car stripped of paint and re-primed. A vehicle wrap is temporary, meaning it can easily be removed or changed if you don’t like it, allowing you to refine your perfect end design.

In terms of respray design potential, colour and finish choice is often limited by manufacturers, who will only allow certain brands of paint to be used at an official service provider. Vehicle wrapping has no such constraints, meaning you can have pretty much any design you fancy. If you are looking for inspiration, browse our vehicle gallery, we promise you won’t be disappointed!

Wrapping does have some caveats though, particularly if you want to wrap internally or restore a classic car. Normally wrapping projects focus on the external appearance of the vehicle, producing an end result that looks flawless parked on the kerb. But if you open the doors you will still be able to see the original paint.

Internal wrapping is of course possible, but it is far more complicated, often requiring doors or other vehicle parts be removed for the wrapping process to work. This and other restrictions (which vary from vehicle to vehicle) can cause a drop in quality.

Age is another important factor. Classic cars tend to have a greater number of fused or welded panels, which makes it more difficult to wrap and can result in visible overlap or joins. If you are planning on restoring a classic car we would recommend a respray over wrapping, especially if you want to display the internals.

Vehicle size is the final limitation. The average vehicle wrap is about 1.5m wide so taller vehicles will have more seams and joins. A skilled wrapping company will have a dozen tricks up their sleeve to minimise or hide any joins, but they will be there.


Which is faster, painting or wrapping a car? 

This will depend on the complexity of the project, but in general a car or van wrap takes up to 2 days to complete, from drop-off to pick-up. This timeframe allows for the vinyl to adhere fully to the vehicle. This time frame can double if you want to wrap interior panels. For further details check out our guide on how long vehicle wraps take.

Resprays can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks with the average being 4-7 days. Factors affecting this include complexity, prep work for the project, and repairs to any damaged bodywork.


Should I wrap or respray my vehicle if it is rusted or damaged? 

A rusted vehicle

This depends on the level of damage, but anything more than very minor damage will make it difficult to wrap. Vinyl has a hard time adhering to rust and can make scratches more noticeable because it contours so tightly to the bodywork. It is best to get any damage taken care of for optimal results. If you would like to know more check out our vehicle wrapping scratches and scuffs guide.

Part of a full respray involves fixing such imperfections, with repairs tacked onto the final bill. Fixing imperfections such as scratches costs between £20 and £50 per panel on average. Dents can be taken care of for around £50-£100. Rust treatment price depends on how extensive the problem is, it could be as little as £20 for a small rust spot or several thousand pounds for a large panel or bumper.


Which lasts longer, wrapping or respray?

This will depend on how well looked after the vehicle is, but on average 3-7 years for a vehicle wrap, and 10-15 years for a good paintjob. So in the best case scenario a paint job may last a few years longer.

Vehicle wraps often have a shorter life expectancy due to poor maintenance practices, so check out our guide to vehicle wrap aftercare if you plan on getting the best out of your investment.

Whether a couple of years makes a difference to you will depend on what you want from the end product, if you just want to restore your old paintjob, are looking to sell or aren’t looking to change designs in the near future, paint might be the better option. This tends to be a better option for vintage restoration projects.

If you own a fleet of vans and are likely to update and refresh your brand every 3 years or so, wrapping is an ideal choice. If you represent a company looking to run a promotional campaign, wrapping will maintain the paint underneath, preserving resell value when the campaign ends. If you love customisation and think you will likely be modifying or removing a design in the next 5 years, then wrapping might be for you.


Which protects my vehicle better, wrapping or respray? 

Wrapping will protect your vehicle better than a respray, because the wrap acts as a “second skin” it will take the brunt of any nicks or scratches, helping to protect the paintwork underneath.


Will wrapping or painting my car affect resell value? 

Customisation in general devalues vehicles and makes them harder to sell. For heavily personalised paint jobs this can be doubly costly as it will cost a lot just to return the car to a factory colour.

Vehicle wraps don’t suffer from this issue, because not only will the wrap protect the paintwork, but it can be easily removed too, a real win-win for the piggybank.


So which is better, wrapping or respraying? 

Well… it depends. As frustrating as it is to not be able to give a straight answer, you can see there are a variety of factors to compare and contrast when thinking about whether wrapping or respray is better for you.

At the end of the day you have to think specificity, if you have a customisation or restoration project in mind which medium will help bring your vehicle ideas to life, vinyl or paint? Make a list of pros vs cons if you’re struggling or check out our ultimate guide to vehicle wrapping for an information deep dive.

Richard Clark

Written by Richard Clark

Founder of Raccoon, a graphics company launched in 1992. Still working hard to help businesses and brands connect with their target market!