There are essentially three major brands and types of vinyl. Additionally, there is printable vinyl, which will not be covered in the article.
What are the three brands and what differentiates them?
The major vinyl brands are 3M, Avery, and Oracal. There aren't any major differences between the three brands. No brand has any major advantage over the other. In our shop, we tend to use Avery Brand as it has the most color options and is easiest to order to our location.
What are the different types of vinyl?
1. Cast Vinyl
Cast vinyl comes in 3 finishes: gloss, matte, and metallic. This premium material has varying lifespans of 3-10 years depending on the color and finish.
2. Wrap Material/Film
Wrap material comes in a variety of finishes and textures including matte, gloss, matte metallic, brushed metal, and carbon fiber. The above color chart of wrap films displays approximately 1/3 of offerings in this category.
3. 22k Gold/Real Silver
Real Gold/Silver is a long-lasting vinyl product that utilizes 22k Gold or Non-Tarnishing Premium Silver, depending on the final color of the material. It comes in a variety of finishes and patterns, as displayed above. It is not distributed by 3M, Avery, or Oracal.
What are the differences in the three types of vinyl listed above?
The major differences between the three major vinyls include lifespan, finish, and use. Every vinyl's lifespan can be extended with regular maintence such as waxing and only hand buffing over graphics. Wrap maintenance is similar, but you are not required to only use a hand buffing method.
Within every category, the lifespan is effected by the finish and UV exposure. For instance, most metallic cast vinyls have a lifespan of 3-5 years, while a gloss finish has one of 7-10 years or a wrap film that is horizontally exposed (like a roof, flybridge, or topside) will have a 7 year lifespan, while vertical surfaces will last up to 10 years. If you have specific questions about which product is best for your project, we recommend talking to one of our sales associates.