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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The grey trim pieces in my FJ were starting to look a little worn in a few spots. After 8 years of use, the steering wheel and door handles specifically were showing their age and I wanted to freshen them up. But also decided it would be nice to give the interior a new look, so I started looking at ways to refinish the trim.

I didn't want to use rattle can paint because its too difficult to remove or repair if I don't like the results. And in my experience/abilities the finish you get from a rattle can is fine for the exterior but isn't smooth enough for parts that will be within arms length every day. I guess I could have bought an air gun and learned to paint better but I wanted to keep this inexpensive.

Another option that many people here have used is Plasti-dip. It's easy to apply and can be removed, but isn't very durable for parts that will be touched and scuffed everyday, so I didn't want to go in that direction either.

So I thought I would try vinyl wrap. Wrap has gotten common enough that it seems to be replacing Plasti-dip as the cheap, easy way to add accents and details to the exterior. And lots of companies are now making interior kits for cars that cover the flat or gently curved surfaces. But if you've ever looked closly at the grey trim in the FJ you'll see that most of them are pretty small and actually have quite a lot of contours and details to them.

To be honest, I'm just a beginner at this and thought it would be something fun to learn (old dog, new tricks, and all that) I've watched a few YouTube videos and invested less that $100 in tools and material, so I don't pretend to be an expert. But what I've noticed in the videos I've seen is there are very few that show smaller detail parts, so I thought I would share as I go through the process of figuring it out.

Edit: ***Warning: There is a chance that the vinyl wrap will damage the thinly applied grey paint on the plastic interior pieces when you remove the wrap. See post 36.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Before you get started:

Tools you will need:
1) Heat Gun - Should have 2 speeds and go up to at least 190 degF. A hair dryer is not enough.
2) Scissors
3) Plastic trim tool - This will help you press the vinyl into some of the tighter areas.
4) Trim knife - Exacto-knife is better but I do ok with this.
5) Tweezers - good for picking some of the tiny cuts you will make.
6) Ruler
7) Vinyl Wrap - I used VViVid wrap, which works well and is inexpensive. 3M seems to be recognized as the best (be careful as there are lots of sellers that are selling knockoff 3M product).
8) Rubbing alcohol - to make sure the parts are clean and grease free.



Pros and Cons to using wrap on the interior:

Pros:
1) Inexpensive - The cost of wrap is actually on par with Plasti-dip spray cans. Some may argue this, but especially when using lighter colors to cover dark items it works out. I can buy 30 square feet of wrap for $25, to cover the same area with Dip will take 3-4 cans at $7 per can.
2) Reversible - If you don't like it, or mess it up, it peels off without any residue or damage.
3) Durable - The better films are color impregnated so you would need to wear through the film to wear out the color. You can definitely knick the film if you hit it hard with your keys or drop a screwdriver on it, but for the normal wear and tear of hands, fingernails, and rings it holds up well.
4) Lots of color options - Literally hundreds of color and texture options available from Amazon and ebay sellers.
5) Easy to work with*** - For flat smooth surfaces wrap is easy and forgiving. Most wraps now have air-release channels in the adhesive to make it easy to push out air bubbles, but check for this before buying. See Cons below when you try to cover contours.

Cons:
1) Not practical for heavily detailed parts - Like anything else wrap has its limits. You can only stretch and mold the material so much. If you have lots of small ribs or indents you might have to go back to one of the paint options.
2) Techniques to learn - For contours and features within the limits of wrap there are several techniques to master to make the details look good.
3) Patience - it takes lots of it. I don't want to discourage anyone, it's really not difficult but sometimes you have to work slow and very methodically to get the wrap to stay where you want it.



Techniques to practice:
There are two techniques to practice before getting started on your truck:

1) Cutting the film - By this I mean trimming holes and excess material after you have applied the film. It's important to practice this to get a feel for how little force it takes with the blade to cut the film. You don't want to gouge your plastic or painted surfaces underneath the film. For practice, I used an old tupperware bowl, applied a small piece of wrap to an outside surface and practiced making cuts. It only took a few tries to get the feel for it to get a clean cut without marring the surface underneath.



2) Stretching the film over concave/convex surfaces - It's important to understand that the wrap is like shrink tubing, when you apply heat to it, it wants to get smaller. The adhesive backing will anchor the wrap so that it molds to the surface when you apply heat, but if you stretch the film into a concave feature and then apply heat you'll notice the shrink force will overcome the adhesive and pull the film away from the surface leaving an air bubble. Tension is your enemy when covering concave areas. It takes a little practice to understand where the 'neutral' tension areas should be. Again, I practiced on the same tupperware bowl applying strips of film in various locations on the inside and outside of the bowl. Apply the strip, hit it with some heat, and see where it pulls up.

 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Below are details on how I covered 2 different parts, a switch cover in the door and a door handle, and some of the things I've learned along the way.

Switch cover:

To remove the switch cover from the door, use a trim tool to pry the forward edge of the cover up until it pops loose.



Then pull up and forward to pull it out of the door and expose the wire harness. Disconnect the wire harness to completely remove it from the door.
Next you'll want to remove the switch assembly from the cover. Remove the 3 screws from the back.




Clean the cover first and wipe down with alcohol and a lint free cloth. Then measure and cut a piece of wrap that is 1-1.5" bigger than the piece on all sides. This part has a curved surface so make sure to account for this curve when sizing your piece.



I started by applying the film to the forward part of the cover, this is a nice flat area, and smoothing it down until I got to the ribs around the switch opening. After looking at these ribs I figured it would be impossible to get a good wrap on them so my plan was to cut around them and run the wrap just into the finger wells. I cut a flap about 2/3rds the length of the ribs which would give me enough to cover the finger wells and still leave enough the anchor the edges of the back of the openings.



Then I pushed the flap into the finger well and started trimming for the center rib.




Then I applied a some heat and started stretching the wrap around the face of the cover. I made sure the there was no tension on the wrap in the concave finger well surfaces so the edges pulled in nicely with the heat but didn't pull up any air bubbles. A little trimming around the center rib and that part looks nice. Next step is to contour the outside ribs. You can see below how the film pulled out of the corners around the outside ribs. We need to relieve that tension before trimming around the rib.



Use a set of tweezers and your fingers to pull the wrap off the rib itself. Then use the trim tool to push the wrap into the corner. You will hit the area with heat several times during this process to make sure you've eliminated the tension (keep peeling the flap away from the side of the rib) and the film stays in place.



When you've gotten it pressed into the corner correctly it should look like this even after you go over it with the heat gun.



Then use your trim knife to carefully trace the corner all the way around the rib, to give a clean look.



Use the scissors to cut the excess around the edges down to 1/4" - 1/2". Then start working your way around the edges to pull it tight and anchor the film on the back side.





The underside may look a little ugly, but the visible front look smooth with clean edges.



Final step is to cut out the button holes. I've tried several different methods to make this look good but the only one that has worked for me is to cut the material just under the lip of the hole, about 1/32 or 0.5mm from the edge. This is where an Exacto-knife would be a better tool. After the cut, hit it with heat and the film will pull up around the edges of the hole for a smooth look.



Reassemble the switches to get this as the final product. When I started this piece I thought it would be pretty easy, but the ribs and finger well turned out to be way more detailed than expected. In the end I'm happy with it.

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Next part is the door handle. I knew this one was going to test my abilities, it took 5 tries to get a decent outcome. You'll notice on some of the pictures the handle is still attached to the spring assembly and others it is completely removed. I found out that no matter how much I cleaned the handle I kept getting grease on an edge that would prevent the wrap from sticking. Probably because I would touch the grease with my finger without noticing and then transfer it to the handle. Once I removed the spring assembly that problem went away.

First thing I learned after a couple of tries, was that I need to start my wrap on the top surface of the handle. This is where the main concave feature is and I needed to minimize the tension here. So I started by shaping my initial piece to accomodate this.




Pressing the film into the concave area immediately created some wrinkles, but I knew I could remove those with a little heat and pressure with my finger.



Then I heated and stretched the film toward the back of the handle to smooth out the back part of the convex surface.



A little more smoothing with my finger and some heat and the rear part is completed.



Then I trimmed around the top where the lock switch goes, and continued to work the film along the face and over the top of the handle. It bunched up a bit because of the curvature of the handle but a little gentle stretching took care of that.



I continued to work the film around the back of the handle with the goal of leaving the seam at the bottom of the handle where you rarely put any pressure with your fingers. You'll notice I left a section of silver exposed on the inside of handle near the hinge. This part is not visible when the handle is installed and I couldn't find a way to keep tension off this section and keep it anchored after allowing for the concave surface just above it on the front of the handle. So I left it like this.



At the end of your handle you will notice there is a small plastic insert. You can remove this insert by prying on it gently. It is only attached by a small piece of double sided tape. I took it out so I could use the indent to anchor the edges of the film at the end of the handle and then cover them back up with the insert.





Then a little clean up work around the other edges.



And done.




 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Here's a shot of these 2 parts installed in the door.



And one of all the parts I've done so far.



I'm thinking the gauge pod is next! :grin

Hope this will be helpful to someone. I'll follow up later in the year and let you know if the heat of the summer wreaks havoc on the parts or if they hold up.
 

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Hope this will be helpful to someone. I'll follow up later in the year and let you know if the heat of the summer wreaks havoc on the parts or if they hold up.
Thanks for sharing! I've worked with the carbon vinyl before and it's too thick to do any of the contour you're doing but the vinyl will definitely hold up to heat as long as you've rid the bubbles. It's common for people to use it on their motorcycles and those see much more expanding and contracting from heat being that it's around the motor/exhaust. I think it took a year after for my vinyl to start bubbling/lifting from poor prep work. This is a great option as I've been wanting to change my silver to all matte black but it's nice to see how it came out on yours :bigthumb:
 

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That looks VERY sharp!!! Good job!!

:bigthumb:

:cheers:
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Great write up. (even without the pictures as a Mac user).
You can upload pics directly to the forum in your posts and use the paperclip symbol to insert images directly in between text. Otherwise I use Flickr too.

Some of the pics aren't working for me and I have the fix.

@Iconic_ Thanks for the tip! I didn't realize you could embed pictures with the forum tools.
@ZerosFJ let me know if it works now
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well I now see ? in place of the Photobucket error.... vast improvement :lol: :lol:
$&^%*&^%&%$*(&...... Well that stinks! All the pictures are showing up on my home computer, but I just checked at work and I get the same thing as you. I'll try to fix it again tonight.
 
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