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Dangers & Pitfalls of Cheap Vinyl Wrap

Why Use Avery & 3M

We’ve all asked the question, why should I spend $800 in materials on 3M or Avery Dennison vinyl wrap when I can buy the same color and style on eBay for $200? A plethora of Chinese manufactured vinyl wrap has become available on sites like Amazon and eBay as well as a host of discount vinyl wrap supplier websites. We’re well aware of the cost difference, we get at least five sales calls and emails a week from manufacturers overseas trying to get us to carry their vinyl wrap. Unfortunately, the adage of “you get what you pay for” could not be truer when it comes to vinyl wrap.

It can be a difficult pill to swallow, spending considerably more money on vinyl wrap material for what seemingly is the same material. I mean it’s just a big sticker, right? How different could the materials really be? The truth is you might as well flush that $200 you dropped on a roll of vinyl wrap from a Chinese supplier right down the toilet. We’ve wrapped thousands of cars over the years and we can say with 100% confidence that it is not worth the time or money to wrap a vehicle with cheap vinyl wrap. Beyond the shortfall of the material, there is a real risk that you could be causing serious damage to your vehicle’s paint job.

So why is cheap vinyl wrap such a bad investment? Here are a few key factors to consider:

Bubble, Bubbles, Bubbles

If you’ve ever tried to wrap something, you’ll be able to appreciate how frustrating air bubbles are. Cheap vinyl wrap is breeding ground for air bubbles. 3M Graphics and Avery Dennison have both developed sophisticated air release channel technology built into their vinyl wrap which allows the vinyl to breathe during installation. The air release features are invisible to human eye and will save you countless hours of frustration when performing a vinyl installation. There is nothing more infuriating than lying the perfect piece of vinyl on a large panel only to discover an air bubble smack in the center!


Wrinkles are the second most frustrating challenge to overcome when performing a vinyl wrap installation. Wrinkles will ruin a good piece of vinyl leading to waste, cause lifting of the wrapping material from the vehicle, and cause ugly ripples and distortions in your final product. 3M and Avery Dennison have both developed vinyl wrap that is resistant to wrinkling and provides a thick enough material to reducing wrinkling effects. They also employ vastly superior heat capabilities which allow you to heat a piece of wrinkled vinyl wrap back into its original shape so it’s still usable.


Cheap vinyl wrap is notorious for cracking, especially when exposed to the harsh elements of the sun which Arizona has no shortage of. The materials used to manufacture cheap vinyl wrap will dry and crack under even mild sun exposure. This will leave your car, truck, or SUV looking cheap, old, and run down.


When vinyl wrapping an entire vehicle there will be seams. Seams are part of the vinyl wrap process, there simply is no way to completely avoid them. Unlike cheap vinyl wrap, a high-quality vinyl wrap like 3M or Avery Dennison offers a thick, conformable material that makes it possible to hide seams in such a way that they aren’t noticeable unless you look very closely.

Tears and Ripples

When applying vinyl wrap, the goal is to get a tight stretch on the material to provide a smooth, glass like final product that looks exactly like paint. 3M and Avery Dennsion vinyl wrap is developed using the cast method and employing materials that allow it to hold up to stretching and manipulation. This allows you to pull, stretch, and conform the material to the surface of the vehicle without risk of tears, ripples, and color distortion.

Cheap Vinyl Wrap on the other hand, is prone to tears and ripples the minute you try to stretch it to apply it to the surface of your vehicle. It is also notorious for tearing after you have applied the vinyl wrap. Imagine you finish your Vinyl Wrap job, step back to take in its beauty and watch in horror as the vinyl starts to tear and lift away from the vehicles surface.


Cheap vinyl wrap is notorious for peeling both during the installation and well after the installation is complete. The adhesives used in cheap car wraps are a low tack material. It doesn’t take long for a cheap vinyl wrap to start peeling at every seam and tuck point. Your vehicle wrap investment will look like a cheap knock-off job in no time.

Water Damage

The adhesives and materials used in the manufacturing of cheap vinyl wrap are highly prone to water damage. 3M Graphics and Avery Dennison have developed vinyl materials to stand up to years of abuse by the elements without damage. Cheap vinyl wrap, on the other hand, will dry out, lift, wrinkle, and tear the moment it is exposed to a good rain or snow.


Discoloration is one of the worst features you’re buying with cheap vinyl wrap. A vinyl wrap installation requires the material to be stretched and heated in some cases multiple times. That cheap vinyl wrap may look great on the roll when you first receive it, however, the minute you stretch it or apply any heat to it, the color will distort, discolor, and streak. 3M Graphics and Avery Dennison Vinyl Wrap, on the other hand, can be stretched, heated, re-stretched and heated again and it will retain its original color and texture.

Paint Damage

The most crucial pitfall to note about cheap vinyl wrap is the potential for serious damage to your vehicle’s factory paint. Have you ever tried to remove a manufacturer’s sticker from a new product that would just not come off? You grab a corner of the offending sticker and give it a yank only to have it tear into a million little pieces or just pull the top laminate layer off the sticker. After several minutes and a few choice words, you finally relent and pull out the goo-gone to let the citrus work it’s magic only to find that your efforts resulted in scratches all over the new shiny DVD player. Now imagine that amplified by a thousand across your entire vehicle.

The adhesives used in cheap vehicle wraps are similar to that horrible parking sticker that was slapped on your illegally parked car or that cheap UPC label on the DVD player from Walmart. Removing cheap vinyl wrap is not only an incredibly frustrating process, it will also commonly come off while still gripping a piece of your expensive paint job. Avery Dennison and 3M Graphics have gone to great lengths to develop safe release features into their vinyl wrap adhesive. These safe release features alone are worth every extra penny you spend on a professional quality vehicle wrap.


When all is said and done, it all really comes down to whether or not the manufacturer stands behind the products they produce and sell. There is nothing more infuriating than dropping a $2,000 on the material and labor to install a vinyl wrap only to have the material discolor, fade, rip, tear, and fall off a few weeks later. At Apex Customs we only use 3M and Avery Dennison materials because we know they stand behind their products and back them with industry leading warranties.