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Off a Wall


Wallcovering Removal Tips


By Cassandra Balentine


Part 2 of 2

What goes up must come down. The law of gravity also applies to graphics. Digitally printed wallcoverings provide an excellent addition to a home, restaurant, sporting venue, or retail chain. Whether it’s meant for temporary or semi-permanent display, inevitably, the time comes to remove it.



Many self-adhesive wallcovering media products have a suggested lifespan. This should be a determining factor when choosing media for a particular job.


Wallcoverings can be removable or permanent, points out Rick Moore, senior marketing director, MACtac Graphic Products. For temporary wallcoverings—where the wall has been properly prepared and tested—removal comes in varying degrees depending on the product used. The use of heat and expertise may be required for products not specifically designed for clean removal.


Taking off removable wallcoverings is a relatively easy process, asserts Chad Russell, director of business development, Arlon Graphics, LLC. However, time is essential in an easy and clean removing graphic. “Even adhesives designed for easy removal build towards a more permanent bond over extended periods of time,” he warns. Graphics should be changed out within the manufacturer’s recommended removal lifespan.


Robert Rundle, viscom marketing manager, Ritrama, says self-adhesive wall graphics come off clean walls best when the graphic is pulled at a 180 degree angle from the wall with smooth, constant pressure. “A little heat helps older graphics that are leaving some adhesive on the wall, using the same removal techniques,” he adds.


Oracal USA products recommended for wall applications require nothing out of the ordinary to remove, suggests Lisa Humrich, marketing manager, Oracal. If proper installation guidelines are followed, there should be no issues. “Oracal products require no additional adhesive promoters that are sometimes known to cause issues when it’s time to remove a vinyl product,” she adds.


Depending on the level of adhesive used in wallcovering media, removal difficulty varies.


“The adhesive of SeraMark remains just as easy to remove in two weeks or two years. This is very unlike low-tack adhesives on other materials that turn more permanent over time and will require additional work to remove, and possible resurface work as well,” points out John D. Peterman, EVP, Big Systems, LLC.


Walter Gierlach Jr., president, Photo Tex Group, Inc., notes that the Photo Tex product is 99 percent residue free, and therefore does not have a limit on how long it can remain on the surface. “There is no special removal tools needed; simply peel,” he shares.


The same can be said for Top Value Fabrics’ 4 oz. PVC-Free Fabric Self-Adhesive Wall Covering. The removal process is easy as the media is fully repositionable and doesn’t leave residue behind. There are no special tricks or tools needed.


Working within Systems

Wallcovering products come in many forms, including track systems and magnetic systems.


Ultraflex System Inc.’s Descor is a complete track-based wall and ceiling system, sold as a package or in individual components. Descor can be removed from the track/profile system by an end user, as it is not adhered to the wall, but installed with a tool into a track. “You can change the graphics as often as you like by just switching out the fabric but leaving the profile track mounted to the wall,” notes Jaime Giannantonio Sherman, marketing manager, Ultraflex.


Removal of the Visual Magnetics LP systems is as simple as rolling up the graphic and storing it in a tube for future use. The graphic does not get destroyed in the removal process and can be reapplied any time. Additionally, there is no shelf life on the magnetic attractive power of the coatings or magnets.


Melissa Thompson, sales manager, flexible magnetic products, Master Magnetics, Inc., notes that the time frame for removal of the company’s magnetic and magnetic receptive media depends on the size of the graphic and how fast it is rolled. “Ten minutes would probably give most anyone enough time to remove it,” she estimates.


Take it Down

Commercial installs involving a paste method should be simple, and resemble a standard paste up strippable procedure. “Strippable means that the wallcovering can be peeled off the wall,” explains Peter Spotto, sales manager, DreamScape. “Commercial wallcoverings are heavy and will not tear apart like paper wallcoverings. This allows for a quicker removal and faster preparation of the wall for new wallcoverings,” he adds.


Once the wallpaper is stripped off, the remaining hardened paste can be removed with a paste removal product.


“After removal, one should wash/sand the wall to remove excess residue,” recommends Garry Hollis, business manager, KoroGraphics, a division of RJF International Corporation.


LexJet Corporation’s WallPro product requires a steamer for removal.


Removal of Hewlett-Packard (HP) PVC-free Wall Paper is designed to be as easy. “The product features a micro-porous design that makes it breathable and allows for removal without any special equipment or solvents,” explains Ben Matlock, product manager, HP. Installers use a sponge and water.


A new addition to the commercial wallcovering segment is FiberMark’s DigiScape, a PVC-free digitally printable wallcovering. It is a 17-mil thick, 350 gsm, latex saturated, wet strength product manufactured with a combination of 30 percent post-consumer waste cellulose fibers, virgin fibers, and synthetic fibers. It is available in three textures—smooth matte, canvas, and weave.


Thinking Ahead

The focus of a wall graphic is usually on the install. However, it is important to consider removal steps. When determining which media to use for a wallcovering, it is essential to discuss with the client the length of time the graphic will remain up and be sure the recommended timeframe of the media and ink is followed to prevent failures in the field. Thinking ahead saves in the long run.


Click here to read part one of this exclusive online series, On a Wall.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Nov2012, Digital Output  DOWL1211

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