Let’s Talk Shop: Partial Vehicle Wraps

Considering budget and design in partial wraps

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Budget and design, and often a combination of the two, are typically why we do a partial wrap instead of a full wrap. The customer’s budget will often dictate how much of the vehicle can be covered.

The effectiveness of a wrap, as a form of advertising, isn’t as dependent on the amount of coverage as how well it is designed. Professional wraps should combine equal amounts of experienced design and high-quality installation.


If you offer vehicle wraps, you’ve inevitably received a phone call asking, “How much do you charge to wrap a car?” Of course this question is met with a bunch of clarifying questions: What kind of vehicle do you have? How much of the vehicle do you want to wrap? What is your budget? What is your business type?

I always request to see the vehicle before offering a firm quote. If the person is serious about wrapping their vehicle then they should not only take the time to bring the vehicle in for a professional evaluation, but they should also be checking out my company.

We may offer a ballpark range over the phone, “You could expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for this type of wrap depending on coverage and design.” This lets them know that vehicle wraps are pricey but also that there is room to work within a budget.

Many of the vehicles we wrap and letter are standard white vans. To help speed up the pricing of van wrapping, we created a sheet with four coverage options broken down by graphics, with and without perforated film on the windows, and installation. This allows us to easily show the customer how much coverage they can expect at different price points.

If you see that your company wraps quite a few of the same types of vehicles, you may want to create this handy sales chart. This also creates consistency among salespersons.

Wrap Dimensions Guide

Art Station Vehicle Templates offer a Wrap Dimensions guide that has a large selection of vehicles with the measurements already broken down for you. These templates are a great starting point as each side, including the roof and windows, are broken down separately with the measurements.

We broke our van coverage down into four different coverage options with pricing. You can take one of the vehicles in the guide and break it down in the same way.


When our customer’s budget won’t allow for a full wrap we then start thinking of the best placement of the graphics to maximize their budget. When working with cargo vans, box vans and many types of boxy cars, we can usually expect the best placement on the sides and back of the vehicle. On cars and pickups we’ll usually plan to wrap the long section along the sides and possibly the back window.

We often incorporate a large wrapped section with spot graphics on the cab doors and rear of the vehicle. This is a great way to tie the whole vehicle into the advertising.

The cab of the vehicle is usually the last area of the vehicle that we bring into the wrap equation. While the doors offer a decent section to wrap, the hood and fenders provide minimal areas for effective advertising.

Our pricing is broken down by graphics, installation and design. The cab coverage may not add up to a lot of square footage in graphics, but installation on the cab is much more time consuming than wrapping the sides of a van or box truck.

If you’re wrapping the entire cab, keep in mind how much time will be spent wrapping the hood, fenders and around windows. These areas need more heating, tucking and trimming.

Fleet Jobs

For fleet jobs we may have a set budget per vehicle or for the whole account. In this case we break down how much coverage each vehicle will get based on how much visibility that particular vehicle will receive, depending on its route, and what kind of advertising we can get out of the type of vehicle.

We recently removed a five year old wrap from a customer’s Unicell van and rewrapped it with a partial wrap down the side along with large cut vinyl above the side wraps and cut vinyl on the back.

This customer has also had us letter a couple utility trucks, with cut vinyl on the sides and rear window. A large trailer that is used for hauling equipment was fully wrapped as the sides and rear provided large flat sides for maximum advertising. Both the budget and design was taken into consideration on this fleet of vehicles.


Once the budget and vehicle type have dictated coverage, now you have to create effective advertising to fit the space. For the design to be effective it has to go beyond just catching the consumer’s eye and must also create an impression.

We talk to our customers about branding their company. Whether we’re incorporating an existing logo or we still need to create one for their company, we explain to them the importance of creating an overall brand for their company.

The company’s reputation and values go into the brand of their business. This is what the company creates. A consistent color scheme, logo, slogan and effective visual statement is what we can help them create.

Not every customer is going to understand the importance of this, at least not right away. Display examples of finished work, explain what you want to accomplish for the customer and show them that you are interested in their success.

Help the customer narrow down what is included in the design to the company’s name/logo, tag line or slogan that should explain who they are or what they do and contact information. Any extra information like bullet lists, extra contact information or photos should be used sparingly.

Consider placing bullet lists on the back of the vehicle where they have more time to be read. Better yet, help the customer to narrow down a list of services to three or four words that encompass their biggest “sellers” or main service. I find myself saying often “as a consumer this is how I would see this…”

Any photos that are included should complement the important information, not distract or be unnecessary. Consider one simple photo over multiple small ones.

Since a partial wrap does not cover the entire vehicle, be sure to also consider how the wrap will finish on the vehicle. A stripe, swish or using a natural break on the vehicle are all good ways to blend in the wrapped area.


In college my major went from architecture to interior design before I found myself in the world of graphic design. Luckily all these majors overlapped in some ways.

While I was pursuing interior design we talked about “interviewing” the customer to determine their needs, vision for their space, color preference, etc. Helping a customer to create an effective wrap design starts in much the same way.

I start with the budget and coverage questions because this is going to determine the space I have to work within. Then we move onto any existing artwork, colors and slogans the company is currently using.

This information is evaluated based on how effective it has been for the company and if there are any changes they want to make. The type of company I am working with is also taken into consideration as we choose font styles and colors.

Before the customer leaves my shop they should feel confident that I have a complete understanding of what they want, but they should also feel that the process has been clarified for them as well. Using a printout of a template of their vehicle I will often sketch out a few rough ideas as we’re talking.

As a very visual person I can visualize the wrap before I sit down to design it in the computer. Many customers are not this way, so having my ideas, based on the interview with them, roughed out on paper helps them to visualize the direction I’m planning to take.

Charity Jackson

Charity Jackson is owner of Visual Horizons Custom signs, a full-service commercial sign company based in Modesto, Calif.  She has been in business since 1995 and specializes in vehicle wraps, design and project management and workflow. You can visit her Web site at www.vhsigns.com.

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