Commercial Wraps vs. Color-Changing Wraps

The difference is in the wrap

When doing full wraps, clients ask about the difference between a color-change wrap and a commercial wrap. There is a lot to this question. Hopefully this page will provide some answers. If not, we are happy to discuss the differences with you.

Side view of a Meridian Hive commercial car showing wrapping techniques.

Purpose of the wrap

One of the big differences is the ultimate purpose of the wrap.

The goal of a commercial wrap is to promote the owner’s business. The vehicle is noticed for a few seconds from a distance, often when moving, sometimes at high speeds. For this reason, the graphics are designed to catch the consumer’s attention and quickly and efficiently promote the business. The person viewing the vehicle does not have the time to notice small or intricate details. Conversely, color-change wraps are all about addressing the fine details.

The goal of a color-change wrap is to look like a paint job. It is to be viewed up close and often in meticulous detail. While it is often appreciated from a distance, the goal is to look exceptional when viewed up close.


Because commercial wraps are about function first, the installation techniques can differ from a color-change wrap.

For a commercial wrap, hardware such as door handles and head lights, is often not removed. Vinyl is cut around the hardware, which means the original vehicle color can be seen around the hardware when viewed up close. For a color-change wrap, the hardware is removed, and vinyl is wrapped behind it, which means there is no chance of seeing the original paint color.

At some point, the graphics will need to be removed. Removal can be a long and therefore, expensive process. Not tucking vinyl behind the vehicle’s hardware helps reduce the amount of time for removal, and saves the business owner money.

Back view of Meridian Hive truck showing gaps in the commercial wrap to allow for movement.

Areas of a commercial vehicle that would put high stress on vinyl are not wrapped, because doing so results in premature failure or peeling. Commercial graphics are often put under more stress than other vehicle graphics. They are working vehicles spending a lot of time on the road and at job sites exposing them to more debris, chemicals and harsh conditions. The fact is, commercial wraps get beat up.

Wrapping some areas of a vehicle offers no ROI (Return On Investment) to the business owner: hard to reach areas and spots not seen or noticed by consumers, like the space between body panels, the inside of the door frame, the space between a truck cab and truck bed, the inside of the tailgate, inside of the gas tank door, etc. Adding vinyl in these areas adds cost, but not value, to the wrap. For the same reason, commercial clients often elect NOT to wrap the roof of the vehicle. The goal is function, not eliminating the original paint color like with a color-change wrap.

Often, but not always, color-change wraps use pre-colored vinyls. These vinyls come in larger sizes to aid in fully covering vehicle panels with a single piece of material, preventing visible seams, which would disrupt the smooth appearance of the vinyl. Remember the goal is to have the color-change wrap look like a paint job.

Pre-colored vinyl is also only a single layer of material. Printed graphics more commonly used for commercial vehicles have a second layer of UV protectant. The vinyl/laminate combination can give more life to the wrap and prevent the graphics from fading.