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Everything you need to start vinyl-wrapping cars

Technically speaking, you can get a car wrapped with just a squeegee and a knife! But if you want to save on time and materials, and set yourself up for the best result possible, these are the core tools/products we recommend:

Squeegees

  • Before you can even think of learning how to become a wrap installer, you’ll have to invest in a squeegee - a reusable, flexible applicator that’s used to apply film to a variety of different types of surfaces. There is a variety of squeegees on the market, so check out our squeegee overview before you buy!

Felt Squeegee Buffers

  • During the install, you want to avoid scratching on the material or the vehicle. The best way to do this is by applying a felt squeegee buffer to the end of your squeegee prior to install. The ideal buffer material for vehicle graphic applications is thin, soft felt, but there are other buffers on the market for wet applications such as paint protection film, chrome, windows and tint. 

Light-Duty Utility Knife and blades

  • When cutting on or near a vehicle while wrapping, having the right knife is absolutely crucial. You’ll want to get a light-duty utility knife with a rounded, plastic front so that you can push the knife against the body of a vehicle and keep a steady hand without fear of scratching anything. You’ll also want to find a multi-cartridge knife, as you should expect to use at least 2-3 blades during a single vehicle install. 

Safety box for blades

  • This one could easily be overlooked while you’re buying your knife and blades, and once you start installing, you’ll need it to click the blade off and store in a safe place until you can discard it properly. 

Tape measure

  • Tape measures are an upfront, essential tool. They’ll help you save time by making sure you get the measurements right the first time and avoid costly reprints and cutting the material the wrong size. There are different types of tape measures that work for different types of installs, so make sure to check out our video on tape measures to find the right one for you!

Cleaning supplies

  • Prepping the vehicle for install is as, if not more, important than the vinyl install itself. To ensure no dust or dirt gets trapped under the wrap, make sure you have the proper cleaning supplies on hand, such as spray bottles and microfiber towels. Click here to see all of TWI’s recommended cleaning supplies. 

Basic Tool Kit

  • You might already have one of these on hand! The right basic tool set is key for removing hardware, and can help immensely in a situation where you just can’t wrap around something. 

Heat gun

  • Heat guns help installers in a variety of ways - from warming the material prior to stretching it, to post-heating to make sure an install sticks, to triggering the memory effect in certain films, the heat gun is a necessary tool for all installers. There are lots of factors to consider when buying a heat gun to find the right combination of price, technology and durability. 

Markers

  • Markers are one of the unsung heroes of wrapping, and they’re super cheap too! To get started, we recommend you pick up some water-soluble and wax markers to help you work smoother and more precisely. 

Masking Tape

  • Masking tape is another unsung hero of the wrap world. It can be used in a variety of ways during an install to help lower surface energy which can help the film tuck under or around objects like door handles, molding and much more.

Magnets

  • Magnets are absolutely key for wrapping solo. Look for a magnet option that won’t damage your graphics or the car, and use it to position and hold panels in place. For some surfaces, such as aluminum and walls, you’ll need to use masking tape, but for many installs, magnets are a huge help.

 

BONUS TOOLS

Not absolutely necessary - but great to have!

 

Knifeless Tape

  • This tool helps safely cut excess film away from a vehicle without having to use a knife. This is especially essential for the beginner or intermediate installer, as this will remove the chance of you cutting on a client’s car. There are four types of knifeless tape available: Design Line Tape, Knifeless Finish Line Tape and Knifeless Bridge Line Tape.

Application glove

  • Application gloves help form film safely into curves and recesses on a vehicle. In addition to prohibiting the transfer of lint or skin oils, they have anti-static properties and excellent friction resistance when moistened with a soap and water solution. 

Snitty

  • This tool often doesn’t get the spotlight, but it’s essential to avoid cutting on the car when cutting away excess film. The blade is encased in plastic, which makes it impossible to cut on the vehicle. You want to make sure you rotate the blade out regularly on this tool to ensure nice, clean cuts. 

First Aid Kit

  • No bleeding no wrapping - this one is a given. In a job where dealing with sharp blades is a regular thing, you want to make sure you have materials handy to deal with a bad cut or two.