Wrapping a car roof with vinyl

I’ve always been disappointed that Lexus didn’t make a glass roof available to the 2014 IS350 F-Sport, because I love the look of them. Especially on a white car. I decided to do something about it and wrap the roof myself to give the glass roof look. Rice? Maybe.. but I think it looks cool.

After reading a few tutorials online, I figured it was going to give me at least some trouble, so I tried to prepare as best I could. The first thing I needed was a black antenna cover. I was going to do this the right way and remove the antenna cover, so I didn’t have a seam near it. I also saw some examples of wrapped antenna covers, and they look horrible in my opinion. So I needed a color matched antenna cover. Obsidian Black is Lexus’s plain black, so I ordered the cover from House of Lexus. Fast shipping and great customer service.

Now I did a bit of research on the type of vinyl to use for an auto external wrap. I ended up choosing the 3M Wrap Series 1080. It seemed to review quite well for both durability and installation. I found the size I needed (5ft x 6ft) on amazon, and ordered it up in gloss black.

I also did some research on cutting the vinyl, since the IS350 roof gutters are molded into the panel. This means there is no trim to hide the vinyl seam under, so I needed something that would give me a nice clean, straight cut. Also after a bunch of research, I settled on the 3M Knifeless Tape. Amazon had a kit that included the tape I needed and some vinly applicators, so I just ordered that.

Roof Before starting.

Time to get started.. I needed to remove the antenna cover first. This proved to be a bit difficult, as I didn’t feel like removing most of the interior trim. So I went with the method of unclipping the headliner from the back, and unbolting the antenna from the inside through the hole from the overhead light.

It wasn’t the easiest, but I got it done.

Bare roof

Now I started to lay down the knifeless tape exactly where I wanted the vinyl edges to be. This stuff is a bit difficult to work with and get it to stick properly, but stick with it…

Now start laying out the vinyl to get the correct orientation to cover the entire roof before peeling off the backing.

Once laid out to your satisfaction, peel off the backing. Since I was working alone, this was tough. It was hard to get the vinyl to stay where I wanted it and get the back off smoothly without the vinyl really adhering to the roof. I ended up with creases and bunches, but the 1080 vinyl works well in unsticking itself until you really push it down.

I started working from a front corner, lifting and stretching the vinyl to get good, crease-less adhesion. Using a [heatgun](http://amzn.to/2BS0Bv3) helped to smooth out the creased vinyl along the way. **Beware** A strong heatgun will melt the vinyl quickly. Use short bursts of heat from a distance. I nearly ruined my vinyl near the edge but using the gun too close:

After much swearing, I finally had the roof covered. Half the battle is over.

Now it’s time to trim. I cut the vinyl as close to the knifeless tape edge as I was comfortable with. After watching some tutorial videos, I needed to really secure the vinyl to the roof on *both* sides of the tape in order to get a clean cut. Then you can peel the line off the tape and slowly pull back at a 30 degree angle to the roof to start cutting the vinyl.

This actually went smoother than I thought, and now I had the sides done.

For the front and back, I sliced the vinyl with a razor leaving about 2mm in front of the trim seam. Then I used a thing store rewards card to push teh vinyl down into the seam between the trim and roof panel. It worked out pretty well. The front turned out great, but I got a little too close with the razor on the back, leaving the tiniest amount of white visible near the trim. Oh well.. I am *not* re-doing this for that small sliver. Black antenna cover was also installed

The sunroof was pretty straight forward. Slice out the middle, and tuck up the ends under the sunroof opening. The heatgun helped here around the corners.

After about 3 hours of intense heat, and much yelling, I think the end product turned out pretty good!


List of purchases for this project:


Qty Product Price Notes
1 3M 1080 G12 GLOSS BLACK 5ft x 6ft (30 Sq/ft) Car Wrap Vinyl Film $56.85
1 Knifeless Vinyl Wrap Cutting Tape Finishing Line 10M Plus 3M Toolkit $19.99
1 Wagner Power Products 1,200-Watt Heat Gun $21.97

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