What is the difference between clear bra and vinyl wrap?
This is one of the primary questions we get here at HHCC regarding clear bra. We often refer to clear bra/paint protection film as a wrap, as we are technically “wrapping” a vehicle; it isn’t interchangeable with vinyl wraps. Below we will break down the differences between clear bra and vinyl wrap for you by category:
Vinyl wraps are primarily installed to change appearance. They might be used for chrome delete, to change the color of a vehicle, or to accent the vehicle (such as racing stripes, decals, and the like). Clear bra is installed for protection. We do have some fashion paint protection films that change appearance or color, but their primary purpose is still for protection.
Vinyl takes the win here. There are more options for appearance-only than clear bra. However, the great thing about the two is that they can be installed side by side. You could potentially install some vinyl and then clear bra over the top for the protective aspect, and the clear bra would also make the vinyl potentially last longer. This is not an incredibly popular option. Although due to the difficulty manipulating clear bra in difficult areas, many people vinyl wrap underneath to make the edges seamless.
Vinyl wraps provide almost no protection whatsoever against the elements. Rock chips will hit it and show the original color underneath almost immediately. Clear bra’s primary purpose is protection against rock chips, scratches, and other damage.
Clear bra is self-healing. While we discussed this in another video, superficial scratches will self-heal under heat with clear bra. Vinyl, once scratched, is mostly scratched for life and tough to maintain.
In the Texas heat, vinyl will only last a few years. It tends to crack, fade, or peel up fairly quickly. So, while vinyl is less expensive, remember that it only lasts a few years, compared to clear bra, which is warrantied for ten years. The average consumer only keeps their vehicle for about four years, and the average age of vehicles on the road is only about ten years. You will be lucky to see four years from a vinyl wrap in Texas. Some clients have brought us vehicles with wraps less than two years old that are already falling apart.
This relates to other categories mentioned above, but most vinyl is around three mils thick, whereas clear bra is eight or more mil thick. This is what allows it to provide protection. You can see in the video how easily I can destroy a piece of vinyl vs. trying to destroy clear bra. The only easy way to rip up clear bra is typically if there is a weak point, such as a narrow area or a cut from a razor blade or plotter. One advantage vinyl has over clear bra is the ease of installation in tight spaces. Due to the thickness, vinyl is more easily manipulated on sharp edges and other similar areas. It is more challenging to force clear bra on those areas because it’s just thicker (think of trying to crumple up paper into a small waste bin vs. an Amazon box).
Vinyl is typically installed by dry-apply, whereas we use de-ionized or reverse osmosis water and Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo to install clear bra.
As you can see, while they sound similar, these two options are completely different. We do not offer vehicle wraps, and we only provide clear bra. Here at HHCC, we are more concerned about protection than appearance. However, we do like the fashion paint protection film options from STEK and have used them extensively on our vehicle.