How to Find a Good Lettering And Painting Service Near Me

A car that looks bad is not fun to drive, even if it runs well. As your car gets older and begins to lose its color, it becomes necessary to hire car painting services near you to restore it to its former glory. A good auto paint job increases your car's aesthetic appeal, which is important if you intend to resell the car. Considering that the prices of used cars in the United States spiked by more than 29% between May 2020 and May 2021, hiring a good auto paint job near you is a worthwhile investment. Similarly, utilizing a good car lettering service near you is a great and cost-effective way to create awareness for your brand as a business owner.

Although painting your car yourself may sound simple and easy, it actually requires more than a can of paint and a brush. Auto body paint requires proper surface preparation, as well as the right equipment and tools, and working without these can expose you to several physical and chemical hazards including, but not limited to, asthma, silicosis, and lung cancer.

Therefore, it is important to always hire professionals to handle any car painting or lettering project that you want to embark on. However, before deciding on any car lettering and paint shop near you, you should ask the following questions to enable you to narrow down your options to the best one available:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    Although professionals that provide painting and lettering services near you are not generally required to be licensed, registered, or certified, certain certifications serve as proof of expertise in the given field. Hiring certified auto body painters or car wrap professionals assure you that these professionals have an ample amount of experience and credibility since obtaining these certifications requires passing tests and years of experience. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the most recognized organization that provides certification options for professionals in the automotive repair and maintenance industry. This institute has certificate options for auto body painters under its Collision Repair and Refinish Certification tests category, and any issued certifications must be renewed every five years. Car wrap professionals can also obtain certifications from associations such as the United Application Standards Group and the Printing United Alliance.

    Before hiring any car lettering or painting professional near you, ask them to provide proof of certification and verify from the relevant professional association.

  2. How Much Does Car Lettering and Painting Services Cost?

    The cost of car lettering services near you depends on the size of the decal used for the job, the complexity of the graphics, the type of vinyl used, and the difficulty of installation. A simple car decal can cost between $150 to $400, while a more complex and elaborate one would fall in the $500 to $1800 price range. Before deciding on the car wrap shop to hire near you, you could get price estimates from at least three wrap shops. By doing this, you can choose a shop with a price that is within your budget. Another way to cut costs when getting lettering services is to take your car to the wrap shop, rather than getting home service.

    Similarly, factors such as the type, quality, and color of car paint to be used, the prep and bodywork required, and the size of the vehicle determine the cost of an auto body paintwork. Based on these factors, a basic paint job that involves little attention to detail and a few coats of synthetic enamel paint typically costs less than $1,000. On the other hand, getting a standard paint job that includes sanding down the body of the vehicle and removing impurities will cost between $1,000 to $3,000. And finally, you can expect to pay $2,500 to $20,000 for a showroom-quality paint job as it involves removing all the paint on the car, hammering out the dents, and adding various layers of paint.

    Unless you intend to display your car in a showroom, you can save money on auto body paintwork by getting basic paintwork. And if you want more standard work, you can also save costs by doing the prep work yourself.

What Are the Common Car Lettering and Painting Expenses?

Before painting or lettering your car, you may need to carry out some auto body repair work on it first. The essence of this is to fix any damages, including dents, pits, gouges, rust spots, and scratches that are on the car to ensure a smooth finish after painting or lettering the car. The cost of this auto body repair varies and can range from $75 to $2,500 depending on what part of your car needs repairs, the extent of damage, and the make of your car. You may also decide to increase your car's aesthetic value by getting some interior work done. For this, you can expect to pay anything from $50 to $15,000 depending on the type of interior work or upgrades that you want to do on your car. For instance, replacing your car carpet can cost between $150 to $500, while customizing the whole interior of your car can cost up to $10,000 or more.

Who Will Do The Work?

Most automotive paint and vehicle wrap shops employ several technicians. Therefore, when consulting with any car lettering and painting business near you, it is important to ask who would be doing the actual work on your car. Find out if this person has the necessary skills and experience required to do a good job. To make sure that you get a technician that does, you can ask for certification. For automotive painters, an ASE certification serves as proof of their knowledge and experience in that area. Always remember to verify this certification by asking the technician for a copy of the ASE certificate.

What Qualifications Should an Automotive Painter or Car Wrap Professional Have?

Automotive painters or car wrap professionals are not mandatorily required to have any degree or certification to provide car lettering and painting services. However, they usually need at least a high school diploma or GED to get a job in an auto shop. Once employed, these individuals generally work with more experienced professionals to acquire the necessary skills and experience needed for their profession. Note that some automotive painters and car wrap technicians complete postsecondary programs or take courses in automotive body and paint technology to get an edge over other technicians. Such certifications or degrees provide credence to the skills and experience of the holders.

Automotive painters with at least two years of experience in auto body painting or at least one year of automotive painting training that meets the Institute's standards can also obtain certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Note that applicants must pass a written examination to become certified. Also, this certification is not permanent and has to be renewed every five years by taking a recertification exam, which usually involves about half as many questions as the original exam. Similarly, car wrap printers and installers may also obtain certifications from associations such as the United Application Standards Group (UASG) and the Printing United Alliance. Applicants must meet certain requirements to become members of these associations. For instance, a car wrap printer and installer must have proof of being in business for three years, worker's compensation insurance, and liability insurance to become a UASG certified member.

Will You Provide References?

Checking references before hiring an automotive painter and car wrap professional near you is very important. It helps you verify the claims of the technician as to their skillset and experience. Therefore, you should ask the technician for three to five references for jobs done in the last six months. Any technician that cannot provide this may be the wrong person to hire. When you contact these references, make sure to ask them questions about the quality of the technician's work and the technician's conduct and professionalism.

Also, although most professionals typically have a portfolio of their previous work on their websites, it is not a good idea to rely on that only. You should also search third-party review sites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Google Review to see if the technician has had any complaints and if the problems were resolved to the customer's satisfaction.

Quick Facts about Painting and Coating Workers

2020 Median Pay
$38,740 per year, $18.63 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
2% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Lettering and Painting Services

What Are Car Decals?

Car decals are letterings, graphics, or images made from self-adhesive vinyl materials that can be placed on any type of vehicle. These decals typically come with a removable lining that can be peeled away leaving the adhesive backing. There are generally five types of car decals, and these are clear, perforated, lettering, opaque, and permanent decals.

  • Clear decals: Clear decals come with a clear background and are directly printed onto a clear vinyl material with UV-resistant ink. These types of decals are best used on vehicle windows.
  • Lettering Decals: These types of decals have no background but are cut to the exact shape of the letters or objects from sheets of solid-colored vinyl. They are suitable for doors, windows, and other painted surfaces.
  • Perforated decals: These decals have perforated backgrounds with small holes cut into the decal making people unable to see the inside of the vehicle from the outside while allowing those inside to see the outside.
  • Opaque decals: Opaque decals usually have a white background and can either be cut to the shape of letters and objects or printed directly onto a white vinyl material with UV-resistant ink. This type of decal is most suitable for doors and other painted surfaces of a car.
  • Permanent decals: The main difference between permanent decals and opaque decals is the type of vinyl material used for them. Permanent decals are printed directly onto a high-adhesive vinyl material and are for permanent use on painted surfaces of vehicles.

What Is the Difference Between a Sticker and a Decal?

Car stickers and decals are often used interchangeably when describing a car sign with a sticky or adhesive backing. The difference between both terms is the group of people that use them. Car signage experts generally refer to the car signs as decals while laypersons call them car stickers.

Are Decals Bad for Car Paint?

Decals do not typically damage car paint either during installation or removal, regardless of the type of decal used. This is because the acrylic adhesives used in making most decals do not have any effect on the chemistry of the car's paint. Instead, they serve as a form of sunscreen and protect the car's sheet metal, causing the paint to retain its shine for a longer period compared to the other parts of the car that are exposed.

Note that if these decals are not professionally removed or if a poor quality paint job is done on your car, then these decals may cause damage to your car paint. As such, it is always a good idea to visit a professional auto lettering and painting service near you to handle any decal-related matters that you may have.

How Long Do Car Decals Last?

Car decals that are installed by professionals using the correct materials will last an average of five years. Generally, the lifespan of a car decal depends on various factors, some of which include:

  • Environmental conditions
  • Application methods
  • Selection, preparation, and condition of the substrate
  • Angle and direction of sun exposure
  • Surface texture
  • Cleaning and maintenance methods

Does Lettering Leave Traces on Paint after It Is Removed?

Generally, lettering will not leave traces on the car paint after it is removed. However, if the lettering has remained on the vehicle for a long time, usually up to five years or more, then it is likely to leave some glue residue. To avoid this, you can remove the decal by applying heat to its surface using either a hair dryer or heat gun. Doing that will loosen the grip of the glue, enabling you to easily peel off the car decal. If some glue residue remains, you can use glue remover to wipe off the glue.

Can I Wash My Car with Stickers on It?

Car stickers are made with materials that are resistant to water and most light cleaning products. As such, you can wash your car with stickers on it. However, abrasive cleaning products and high-pressure washing can damage the decals. You should contact a car wrap professional if you are unsure as to the cleaning products you can use.

How Long after Painting a Car Can You Decal It?

While the length of time to wait to decal a car after painting depends on how long it takes for the paint to dry, the general practice is to wait for at least 30 days after painting your car before you can decal it. Note that paint drying and curing time typically depends on factors like the type of paint used, the number of coats applied, and the number of additives added to the paint. Therefore, you can ask your auto paint technician to provide you with a specific time frame on how long you should wait before you decal your freshly painted car.

Can You Paint over Decals?

Yes, you can paint over them with any brush or spray paint. However, to ensure that the vinyl material used for making the decal does not crack the dry paint, it is advisable to add a plasticizer to whatever paint you intend to use.