I completely wrapped my aircraft, had it done by AircraftWraps.com. Here is my VAF write-up on the project from 2015:
Now, 2.5 years and 500 Hobbs hours later, I have a few lessons learned that I can pass on to you.
Cost and Benefit: This design's wrap, compared to the estimate to paint the same design, cost about 2/3rd's less than paint ($9500 vs $13500). It weighs half as much as paint. It is actually a tad more streamlined than paint, since the vinyl bridges gaps and overlays rivets and unimportant screws (which can still be accessed if needed). It is easier to clean: No waxing. I bath the aircraft with Dawn for dishes, and clean bugs with a water/rubbing alcohol solution from a spray bottle.
Build prep: There was no need to prime the aircraft, nor did I need to fill pinholes, but all other fiberglass surface prep was still essential because vinyl will accentuate surface flaws. My concern for water intrusion at wrap gaps has been completely unfounded, because this 3M aviation stuff really adheres nicely. It's UV tolerant and high-sub-mach strong.
Minuses, and Pluses:
(1) Hangar rash. Vinyl is not as durable as paint, and will scuff, rub, or gouge more easily. However, it is easier to repair than paint: With a razor, just cut a shallow outline of the vinyl area to be removed, heat it SLIGHTLY with a heat gun to soften the adhesive, and remove the bad patch. Replace with a new vinyl patch cut SLIGHTLY LARGE than that area (to give edge overlap), smooth it into place (air bubbles), and heat it with the heat gun to activate the adhesive. Results: Nearly perfect repair, except that the edges of the patch will be visible at 1-foot observation.
Compare this to paint: I understand that paint may be more durable in the hangar, but tougher to repair (I'm not sure about this, since the only aircraft I have owned is wrapped).
(2) Rain durability. When I wrapped this aircraft, it was a day/night VFR aircraft. I have since upgraded it (and me) to IFR. The vinyl has problems standing up to the occasional flight into rain, particularly around the more complex curve areas like around the cowling air intakes and on the tire fairings. Again, these can be repaired as discussed above.
Am I glad I did it? Yes.
Would I do it again? Yes, but I think I'd use the approach discussed by others: Paint a simple base color, and accent with vinyl.
Sid "Scroll" Mayeux, Col, USAF (ret)
52F Aero Valley Airport, Roanoke TX (home of DR's Van Cave)
"KELLI GIRL" N260KM RV-7A tipper, YIO-360M1B with dual PMAGs, dual SkyView, GTN-650, VPX, EarthX LiFePO.
Wrap by AircraftWraps.Com. Nose Art by VictoryGirl.com. Smoke by Smoke System Helper.
90% done, 90% to go...
Proud and grateful 2019 -=VAF=- Contributor