There isn’t just one factor that determines what type of media is used in a wallcovering application. Environment, longevity, durability, cost, volume, design complexity, ease of installation, printer compatibility, and final removal are important considerations. A product is chosen based on the specifics of a particular job.
Looking at Options
An important driver is useful life and its relationship with the environment a wallcovering is placed in. Short-term projects generally necessitate a calendered or non-PVC film. Removable or changeable adhesives are ideal for short-term graphics. If a customer wishes to use film for a long-term project, a cast vinyl or non-PVC film is ideal, suggests Tim Boxeth, business manager, 3M Graphics Market Center.
Applications that cater to long term include architectural graphics. A PSP may recommend a cast vinyl or non-calendered film because ease of application is less of an issue, points out Mary Ann L. Kucera, product marketing manager, MACtac Graphic Products. This is because most architectural graphics require high durability and are often applied by professionals.
Longevity and environment have a dual hand in determining the material used for wallcovering. “For example, rarely would you see a conference room or lobby of a corporation done with adhesive-backed vinyl. Those jobs are usually longer in duration and require a more appealing finished product, such as fabric-backed wallcovering,” explains Garry Hollis, business manager, KoroGraphics, a division of RJF International Corp.
Lisa Humrich, marketing manager, Oracal USA, provides another example. A wall mural exposed to direct sunlight and applied to painted drywall may require using a permanent adhesive-backed vinyl; rather than the more commonly used removable adhesive-backed vinyl. “It really is dependent on the environment and managing the expectations of the customer,” she continues.
Retail wall graphics require short-term durability to accommodate for changing promotions and products. Although sometimes applied professionally, ease of application and removal is a necessity, which would make a removable or changeable vinyl adhesive an excellent choice.
Consumer wall graphic applications also require easily installable and removable graphics. “For smooth installation, media characteristics should include films that are slightly thicker, which allow for increased ease of handling, and repositionable adhesives so graphics can be repositioned on painted drywall. Durability is less of a priority because they tend to be changed out frequently as consumers’ tastes change,” shares Kucera.
Peter Spotto, manager, international sales, DreamScape, recognizes that vinyl continues to be a popular choice for wallcovering media. PSPs are familiar with adhesive-backed materials and more comfortable with the idea of a peel-and-stick application. However, he suggests that commercial-grade fabric-backed wallcovering media is an ideal long-term solution that provides durability, value, and flexibility for custom wall décor.
Not to diminish other key factors in media decision, color consistency and price point also come into play depending on the environment and application. “Often times wallpaper bids are for large hotels or retail chains, which can result in high volumes so price critical. As for consistency, it is crucial that the white point of multiple media rolls are exact. Wallpaper is traditionally butted up in panels and if the color is off, the project is unsuccessful,” adds Jaime Giannantonio, marketing manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc.
Wallcovering media is truly chosen based on the project at hand. “The product used is mainly dictated by the characteristics required for that specific job. Longevity, environment, printer compatibility, application method, as well as eco-friendly aspects, look, feel, durability, and price point all play major roles in choosing the proper product,” agrees Eric Tischer, director of textiles and specialty products, Verseidag seemee US Inc.
Although a host of factors do play into the eventual decision, environment and longevity are two of the most influential components. Knowing where and for how long a graphic is placed is essential to determining whether a cast or calendered vinyl, fabric, or even magnet is the ideal solution. In the next part of this series a roundup of available wallcovering products is provided.