All About Matte Wraps

What You Need to Know about Matte Wraps

One of the most requested vinyls we get for a color change is matte black. Muted, matte wraps just look classy, and we never get tired of the transformations.

Matte wraps are a fraction of the price of a matte paint job. They’re also easy to remove, which means you can quickly go back to your original paint when you’re ready for a change or ready to sell your vehicle. Another great thing about a wrap is that when you do remove the vinyl, the paint is in the exact same condition as it was the day you wrapped it – your wrap will protect your paint.

TYPES OF MATTE WRAPS

We have a catalog of ready-to-wrap vinyls in many different shades (even matte carbon fiber and matte metallic), but can also custom-print any shade you can dream up. We can also laminate any printed design using matte lamination. Feel free to drop in any of our locations at any time to peruse vinyl colors.

COST

The cost to wrap your vehicle depends on the size of your vehicle and the amount of surface to be wrapped. If you submit your vehicle info using our online quote request form, we can shoot you back a quote in less than 24-hours.

LIFESPAN

A properly cared-for matte wrap lasts about 5 years on average. Vinyl manufactures like Avery Dennison and 3M generally warranty matte wraps for 3 years (and note - that doesn’t include horizontal surfaces). If you keep your vehicle outside uncovered on a regular basis, it will drastically reduce the lifespan of your wrap. If you clean the wrap regularly (more about that below) and are cognizant of keeping your vehicle out of the sun and elements when you aren’t driving it, expect a good five years out of your wrap. We’ve even seen some last for seven!

Please regularly take note of your wrap’s condition. If the vinyl isn’t taken care of well (or if it’s just been on a long time) and starts to bake and crack, it’s probably time to remove the vinyl. If you leave vinyl on your car for too long, letting it sit in the sun, your paint has the potential to be damaged during removal.

MATERIAL NOTES

In our experience, matte vinyl doesn’t adhere well to other matte vinyl. For example, a large van (which will typically have a seam) wrapped with matte panels that overlap is risky. The seams that have matte vinyl adhering to other matte vinyl could separate. In those situations, we prefer to use gloss vinyl if possible. Deep insets (like bumpers and around lights) wrapped with matte vinyl also don’t seem to hold as well longterm when compared to gloss vinyl.

CLEANING

Since you’re cleaning for the purpose of keeping the wrap in its original condition (matte), there’s no need to wax or polish. The reason people wax or polish cars is to make the surface shine, which is not going to be your goal.

Most common car wash soaps and detail sprays contain waxes, silicones and optical brighteners included for the purpose of making glossy cars shine when cleaned. So make sure you are cleaning with products that don’t contain these things. Look for products that are specifically for matte care.

Other than waxing, cleaning a matte vinyl wrap isn’t all that different than cleaning any other car. Always use non-abrasive, clean cloths to clean and dry the vehicle and take care to avoid contaminants. Use two buckets - one for water only (a rinse bucket) and the other for your matte car wash soap and water. When drying the car, always use clean microfiber towels.

QUICK TIPS:

  • The best way to keep a matte wrap looking good is to wash it at least twice per month (every two weeks is ideal) and keep it under cover as much as possible.
  • Just like matte paint, it is not recommended to use any polish, wax or liquid protectant on matte vinyl wraps. We don’t recommend waxing matte wraps because the wax fills in the texture and causes the vinyl to appear glossy.
  • Wash your vehicle using a quality matte car soap and hot water. With matte films you can also use a 2:1 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water to spot clean more difficult contaminants.
  • Clean bird droppings, bug splatter and fuel spills off your wrap as soon as you notice them. If you don’t, your wrap could get damaged or stained.
  • Don’t take your wrapped vehicle through car washes that use brushes, as this can damage your wrap and it will void your warranty. Car washes that are spray only (no contact) are okay, but skip the wax to avoid products that contain petroleum distillate, which can damage your wrap. Hand washing is always best.
  • Avoid vigorously scrubbing your wrap as it may gloss up the vinyl.
  • Always clean your vehicle in a shaded area like the garage. You’ll end up with more streaks when you clean in the sun. Only CarNauba Wash and Wax can be applied in the sun.
  • Keep a small spray bottle of a 50/50 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol in your car – great for spot cleaning and preventing long-term damage when you’re on the road.

FAQ

If my wrap gets damaged and I need to replace a panel in the future, will the color of the replacement vinyl be noticeably different?

It depends! Wrap films are just like paint, there can be slight variations from one batch to another, but variations in color and appearance due to UV exposure and general wear and tear will be far greater than any difference due to batch variation. So really it depends on the age of your current wrap and how well it has been cared for. But either way – we have some tricks up our sleeve to help match panels, so don’t worry too much about this.

I can see fingerprints all over my matte wrap! What do I do to keep it clean?

People love to put their hands on matte wraps! We feel your pain. Use a 2:1 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water with a clean microfiber cloth. Keep a spray bottle in your garage or in your car as this solution is especially good for removing greasy fingerprints from a matte surface.

I really want to wax my car!

There are some wax products specifically designed for matte and satin paint and/or vinyl, however we do not specifically recommend them because the wax will make your wrap’s finish gloss up. However, some people have told us they quite like the look of their matte wraps after waxing. The wrap looks a little less matte and the color gets a little deeper, so it all depends on your preference! Try one of the waxes designed for matte paint on a scrap piece of vinyl before applying to see if you like the look.

I have some minor door dings. Will a wrap hide them?

A matte wrap will hide them better than a gloss wrap, but you will still be able to see the door dings if you’re looking for them.

How does caring for a white matte wrap compare to a darker-colored matte wrap?

Lighter colors like matte or carbon fiber white are prone to showing more dirt than other colors. If the alcohol and water mix mentioned above doesn’t cut the dirt, you can try using a hot soapy water solution. Sometimes soap and water can remove contaminants better than isopropyl alcohol. You can also try an all-purpose cleaner such as Simple Green. Also remember to use a white microfiber cloth - colored ones can leave marks.

Do I need to wait a certain amount of time after install to wash my vehicle? 

You can start washing your car as soon as 48 hours after your wrap has been installed. For general washing, use a good quality car wash soap and water. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly with a clean microfiber cloth to avoid spotting.

I see some small scratches on my matte wrap, is there a way to remove those?

Light scratching can often be removed with a little heat. A hairdryer on the hottest setting (keep it 6-12 inches away from the surface) will do the trick if you don’t have a heat gun. The wrap will eventually smooth back out.

Can I use Meguiars Ultimate Quick Detailer on my matte wrap?

We wouldn’t recommend this type of product for matte wraps. Detailing products like these can leave wax/other compounds on the surface that will change the appearance of the wrap. Using the Ultimate Quick Detailer would make your matte wrap darker and more glossy where the product is applied.

My car is wrapped with matte white vinyl and I’ve noticed some slight dark discoloration from daily use below the doors and along the bottom of the car. What can I do to clean it up?

3M recommends that you try the following cleaners in this order:

  1. Hot, soapy water
  2. Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) & water mix (2:1 ratio)
  3. Household chlorine bleach - followed by IPA/water mix
  4. Mineral Spirits/Mineral Turpentine - followed by IPA/water mix

My vehicle wrap is turning brown or rust colored. What should I do?

Wraps turn brown due to prolonged exposure to acid from pollutants in the air. This is typically a result of neglect and failure to follow the above mentioned cleaning/protection procedures. If you notice brown, discolored or rust colored areas on your wrap, it is best to remove the film from your vehicle to prevent damage to the paint beneath it and reapply a fresh wrap. Oftentimes it’s only necessary to replace the affected panel.

CLEANERS

As we primarily use Avery Dennison vinyl, here’s a list of products that they recommend using with matte vinyl. Make sure to take a look at the instructions on the bottle to see if it’s meant to be a waterless wash, wax or waterless wash/wax combo.

  1. Aquanil Waterless Wash by Croftgate (use the version for matte films)
  2. Isopropyl alcohol diluted with 50% water
  3. Simple Green (you can find it at your local hardware store)
  4. CarNauba organic cleaner and wax

NEVER EVER

There are a few products you should never use on your wrap, including: engine degreaser, oven cleaner, oil-based solvents, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, orange oil, or solvents.

Published: 
November 21, 2016