Door Trim Wrapping

When I had my exterior black plastic trim painted, I held back on getting my interior trim done. Later I decided to get that gone too and went in for a quote. Whoa! over $500 at current exchange rates. Granted there is some time consuming work to remove the trim and to prep it for painting, but for that little bit of painting, I decided against doing it.

So I then thought about getting it wrapped in vinyl, after all, it could be done without removing and treating the plastic trim, so it should be a lot less expensive. Whoa! They came up with the identical quote the body shop wanted to paint it — €450. I was shocked by that. The nice thing about vinyl or carbon is that you can change your mind, but if I spent that kind of money it would be permanent, and of course getting it done in metallic laser blue would made a lot more sense than vinyl or carbon all else being equal.

In general, I’m not a Do-It-Yourself person, I’d rather leave it to those with plenty of experience, but after checking out ebay I discovered the wrapping materials would be about 10% of the quote from the shop. So I figured it might be fun to try.

I watched a lot of YoutTube clips and read a lot. Here’s the bottom line:

PROS:

1. It cost me less than 10% of the quote.

2. If you have a metallic laser blue Mini, the high gloss blue metallic available on ebay is a VERY close match.

3. The carbon design looks really good.

4. If you want to give it a shot, it only took me 3 to 4 hours working alone and doing it for the first time. (Hair dryer, plastic cleaner, felt-tip smoothing tool, exacto knife, and scissors is what I used.)

CONS:

1. Working around curves looks easy when you watch the YouTube clips, in reality it is difficult, and I found it almost impossible to get a smooth corner. Clearly I lacked the necessary experience.

For that reason, the quality of my first-time effort is probably about 75 to 80% of a “proper” job. It’s okay for some summer fun, but on close inspection it isn’t what it should be. If I did it again, I suspect it would be easier, but there was one more problem which is the next point.

2. The carbon wrap that I bought is described as self-adhesive, and on perfectly flat surfaces it is probably sufficient, but it doesn’t quite do the job on curves and corners. There is a primer you can use with it, but once you do that, there is a permanency.

As you see the photo above, I also wrapped by arm rests in the doors with a checkerboard pattern.

I think this is a great idea, but my execution wasn’t successful. I found a very good online company that printed out the vinyl for me, if you are in Germany check out Print & Click .

This was my very first use of vinyl on my own (done before I did my trim). The quality of the vinyl was excellent, and in contrast to the carbon wrap I got from ebay, it adhered well to the plastic part. But it was extremely difficult on the curved surfaces, and it was made worse because I couldn’t get a proper hold on the part.

On this vinyl a water/soap mist on the surface of the plastic would have been a good idea, because as soon as the vinyl touched the surface it was really stuck, and there were some serious creases that proved impossible to completely eliminate. (I tried this on the carbon wrap and it was a no-no, adhesion was already a problem, this made it worse. Because of the water, I had to redo it with a fresh strip of wrap.)

So, back to the checkerboard vinyl — after I finished and trimmed it, I knew it would not work as it was, so I got a second pair of hands and removed the vinyl and heated it with the hair dryer. Then I spray-misted the plastic surface and tried again, this time (with help holding it) I was able to pull a lot harder. This second attempt was much better, but because I had already trimmed it, it didn’t quite work out. Quality of my wrapping was at about 66% of what it needed to be.

Also, I didn’t use my arm rest, I bought some from ebay for €19. Too bad you can’t buy the base plastic component. I guess I could have bought some primer adhesive and tried to wrap the faux leather, but I figured it would hold better on the smooth plastic. That turned out to be a real job getting rid of all the glue on the plastic. As I mentioned, it would be great to simply buy the cheap plastic base part. BTW, these arm rests are super easy to pop in and out (an exception to the rest of the trim.)

The final piece of the puzzle turned out to be a waste of time and money.

Ironically, I had expected this to be the most challenging part of the project, and it actually turned out the best — big but is coming. Because I don’t think I’ll keep the door trim (I’m expecting the adhesion to deteriorate with time, cold, and moisture) I don’t want to attempt to remove this dash trim. On the glove box side I removed a couple of screws and thought I could simply remove it. No, and I don’t have a clue how to get it out. I’ve seen a YouTube video which shows the dash trim behind the steering wheel being removed: he simply pries it out with a screw driver and a lot of force. I’m concerned there are clips underneath that I would damage.

So because this isn’t going to last, I don’t think it is wise to swap it out, too bad, it looks pretty good.

Anyway, if you want to spice up for Mini for while, this was fairly easy, even for a non-DIY person,

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