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May 15, 2018 Staff

Should You Paint or Wrap a Food Trailer?

If you’ve landed here, you’re no doubt trying to decide whether it’s better to wrap or paint a food truck or trailer. If you’re grappling with this decision, the answer is simple: Get your food truck professionally wrapped. Inside this post we’ll outline our supporting evidence into the paint VS wrap decision, but for the majority of folks out there this should be an obvious choice.  Almost every gourmet truck you see on the road has used a wrap instead paint due to the numerous visual benefits. Learn the many reasons why below!

Sprinter Van built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks with a custom wrap.

What is a Food Truck Wrap? 

Food truck wraps are vinyl graphic coverings usually produced by 3M or Avery. These wraps completely cover the outside of the vehicle from top to bottom. A boring and bland looking white food truck can be transformed in an afternoon by installing a bright vehicle wrap.

Before you get your food truck’s wrap produced, you’ll work with a designer to produce a wrap that’s right for your business. Typically, we recommend using bright colors that stand out from the competition, along with your brand logo and name of business. You can work with your own designer or companies that specialize in custom vehicle wraps will typically have a designer on staff that you will work with. We recommend at the very least consulting with the vehicle wrap companies designer. Due to their experience working with vehicles, these designers will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls.

As a added pro tip, we recommend including contact information  like your telephone number, website or Facebook URL prominently on the vehicle as well. This transforms you mobile business into a rolling billboard that can help you book future events. Some past customers report that by simply including their website and phone number on their vehicle they’ve been able to get catering leads while driving to the grocery store for supplies. The example below is a BBQ trailer for one of our past customers. Note the telephone number, logo, and website clearly displayed on the unit.

Beautiful yellow wrap on this BBQ trailer.

The Cost and Lifespan of Wraps

The cost of a wrap will be in the $3,000 – $5,000 range. The cost depends largely on the company applying the wrap and the design resources needed to execute your vision. The size of your truck or trailer will also determine cost. The larger the truck the more wrap that needs to be applied. Most wraps will have a lifespan between 5 – 7 years until they begin to fade and show their age. Consult your custom wrap company to identify ways to increase the lifespan of these units.

One simple way to identify if a vehicle wrap company will do quality work is to see if they have photos of past wraps. Many companies publish these wraps on their website so you can view past work. Take a close look at these images to confirm there are no visual bubbles or air pockets within the wrap. Another question to ask is whether or not the company is a 3M certified installer. This certification ensures that the employees of the company have received a certain level of training.

After the vinyl wrap is installed the maintenance of these is easy. You should wash regularly with soap and water just like you would any other car to make sure it’s clean. Be careful with waxing the unit, however, as some brands are too harsh for wraps. Other than that the ongoing care is minimal. These wraps also will not affect the underlying paint in anyway even if removed in the future.

Should You Paint a Food Truck?

These days it can be difficult to find a modern food truck that’s been painted. Why? It’s difficult to get bright graphics, fonts, and colors exactly the way you want when you paint. If you’ve ever tried to paint a bedroom in your house a specific shade or gray, you understand how difficult getting the exact color you want can be. The color you selected, can different after being brought home and applied to your walls depending on lighting. One the other hand wraps can be extremely precise with logos and color. The design is produced on a computer and printed out to your exact specifications.

There’s less room for error with paint as well. Even for the most skilled vehicle painter, it’s going to be a challenge to get a phone number or other text on the truck without smudging a few corners. With a wrap, everything is much more precise. In the event that a certain piece of the wrap is applied incorrectly, a new piece can be printed out for use. No harm, no foul.

When does painting make sense?

There are some rare scenarios that may make you elect for paint instead of a wrap. The first is that you can usually paint your unit for slightly less than you would get a wrap produced. You can usually get a basic food truck painted in the $2,000 range. Of course, the more complex your vision for the outside of the unit, the more costly it will be to execute and you might end up paying about the same amount as you would have for a custom vehicle wrap.

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we don’t believe in overpaying for equipment or services. With that being said there are folks try to save money at the long-term detriment of their businesses. For example, we’ve seen some do-it-yourself food truck paint jobs on YouTube and they aren’t pretty. Sure, the owner may feel smart that they “saved” $5,000 on a wrap and painted the truck themselves. But the flip side to that is they now own a unit that isn’t appealing to customers. If prospective customers are turned off by the outside of your vehicle, they’ll never have the opportunity to try your food. People eat with their eyes first and having an attractive and welcoming external vehicle is essential for success in this business.

In rare instances you may have a vision to produce a paint job that is artistic and really stands out from other vendors in the area. If you have a unique artistic vision and a master artist this is the only scenario we would give our stamp of approval for paint.

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