Painted On Racing Stripes Versus Vinyl Adhesive Stripes

Painted On Racing Stripes versus Adhesive Vinyl Racing Stripes – (online stores – or

Take a look at the car in the picture.  Are the stripes painted on or are they vinyl?  I will let you know at the end of this article.

When deciding how to stripe your Camaro, Mustang, Charger or other automobile you have two basic choices, “painted on stripes” or “vinyl self adhesive stripes”. Both have pros and cons associated with them.

painted or vinyl racing stripesPainted on stripes are normally created by a body shop/paint shop and will run anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending upon who does the job and the materials they use.  To paint on stripes the shop will tape off the area to be striped exposing only where the paint will go.  Then they will sand the area and spray it using either a standard or base coat/clear coat method.   Painted on stripes will  normally last longer than vinyl stripes.  If done correctly with quality paint they should last as long as your paint does.  Paint will conform over scoops and other uneven odd surfaces better than vinyl so for difficult coutours it is great.  The downside to painted on stripes is the high cost and the fact that they are hard to alter or remove. If you are not pleased with how they turned out you are basically stuck with what you have. This applies to botched up striping jobs as well. I have experienced this first hand. I had a painter with what I was later to find out very poor eye sight paint stripes on my Jeep.  They turned out ok other than the fact that one side was crooked which drove me crazy. Fixing them would have involved a lot of sanding and respraying which would ruin the blue paint as well. I chose to leave them the way they were but was never happy with the way it looked. If the stripes had been vinyl they would have been simple to fix. I would have simply pulled off the bad sections and replaced them.

Vinyl stripes are much less expensive with prices ranging from $25 – $100 for a do it yourself cut to fit kit. Vinyl striping kits can be installed in as little as an hour depending on how complex the application is and how much striping you are putting on.  A hood, roof, rear deck kit may take an hour whereas a full precut bumper to bumper kit may take 3 hours. Once applied vinyl stripes look almost exactly like sprayed on stripes but at just fraction of the price. Since you can put them on yourself you would not have to be without your car for a week. Also, vinyl stripes are simple to apply and will last for years if cared for properly. The life expectancy of vinyl striping depends on what type of material was used, the color, and how much the car is in the sun. Over the past decade tremendous improvements have been made in vinyl production and quality. High Quality vinyl with a 6 year outdoor rating is now readily available whereas 5 years ago this was not the case. Also, a huge variety of colors including metallics are now available. Black lasts the longest followed by white and then the various colors.  Metallic gold or silver have the shortest lifespan especially when over exposed to the sun. (due to the metal in the film)

When your stripes need replacing they are easy to remove and easy to replace. To remove the striping simply heat with a hair dryer or heat gun,  Peel the stripes off.  Then remove any residue with Goo Gone or another adhesive remover.

Another advantage of vinyl is that a computer is used for design work making it possible to integrate in curves, words and other elements that would be difficult to do using only paint.  Plus if you want to add more graphics to your car such as rocker panel striping the same vinyl film can be used to for a perfect match.

In summary, professionally painted on stripes should be considered when contours and obstacles make vinyl impractical. Other than that,  vinyl makes more sense from a practical and budgetary standpoint.  For the cost of one set of painted stripes you can buy at least 10 sets of vinyl stripes. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at

The stripes on the car in the picture are vinyl.  If fact they were applied by a customer who had never applied stripes before.  Nice job.