Terms of Application
The majority of floor graphics are designed for short-term use, spanning from a single day to up to six months. Because floor graphics are often used to promote a timely, targeted message there is no need to keep them in place very long. Seasonal sales are an example. “At the end of each year, holiday shopping deals are prevalent and retailers rely on floor graphics to lead customers to the specified promotion or sale,” explains Timmerman.
Some areas, however, elicit a longer life span for floor graphics, say one to three years. “Long-term floor graphics are often found in the décor or wayfinding markets,” says Yard.
A solvent-coated fabric test floor graphic appears outside Qué Media’s headquarters and has held up well the last year. “While a little scuffed, it is still visible and serves its purpose,” shares Reich.
To keep floor graphics looking fresh, somewhat consistent replacement is required, as dirty graphics are a poor way to represent a company. Due to the placement of floor graphics, these applications are subject to some of the most intense tests of abrasion and durability. “It is important to understand that floor graphics are temporary and should be removed if they show damage or excessive wear,” states Matt Buckley, marketing and technical manager, FDC Graphic Films, Inc.
Certain measures ensure the longest use. It is a good idea to test the media on the intended surface before the actual install. With so many types of floor surfaces and several types of graphic films to choose, addressing incompatibilities up front is important to avoid wasting time and money.
“Not all media is interchangeable, so it is important to know the surface and its limitations,” cautions Yard.
Rundle agrees. “Know the floor you apply to and ensure the right media and overlaminate are used. Vinyl flooring, tile with large grout gaps, and hardwood with poor varnish adhesion all require different media and overlaminate combinations.”
According to Johnson, installation is the number one challenge for floor graphics since they can be applied to waxed vinyl, sealed concrete, marble, ceramic tile, sealed wood, and terrazzo.
Along with paying close attention to the application surface, proper preparation is critical. Media vendors agree a clean, dry surface free of loose debris deters peeling. Cleaning and maintaining the floor graphic after install also helps keep it looking its best for as long as possible.
Laminate Against Liability
In addition to cleaning and upkeep, lamination helps prolong intended life. According to Sawyer, durable overlaminates for high-traffic areas such as carpet graphics at trade shows are increasing in use, as clients want the material to hold up for the life of the event or the promotion.
A laminate is not just about protecting the graphic, but also the people walking over them. Vendors recommend laminating all floor graphics to provide protection of the printed image against scuffing, abrasion, and lifting, as well as to offer slip resistance.
The laminate should be UL certified for slip resistance. Most corporate retail outlets only use media that is underwritten and classified as UL 410 slip resistant.
Media manufacturers often recommend specific laminate and overlaminate to accompany their product. MACtac, for example, offers five laminates designed and tested for slip resistance. LexJet’s laminates used with LexJet Simple Clear Indoor FloorAd and Simple CarpetAd are also designed and rated for slip resistance. Avery Dennison offers eight laminates that are UL certified for slip resistance.
Other vendors point out that lamination is wise, but is not always necessary, especially if the floor graphic media features a built-in non-slip component. Asphalt Art’s products, for instance, do not require lamination, as they come with non-slip texture built into the product.
“Some PSPs or end users choose not laminate to save money, or because the application is very short term—with some applications only out for the day,” adds Dee Mays, Midwest territory manager, Oracal USA.
Products Fit for Floors
Multiple vendors offer media for graphics applied to various floor types—inside or outside. Below is a selection of products.
3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ162 and 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 3645 is warranted for one year and used for brand identity or long-term promotions. 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film with Comply Adhesive IJ40C and 3M Scotchcal High Gloss Overlaminate 3648 clear is an economical solution for short-term promotions.
Asphalt Art offers five application-specific products for floor graphics—Asphalt Art, SportWalk, CatWalk, ClearWalk, and TexWalk. No lamination or heat gun is needed, and they last from one week to one year. Retail price for the unprinted material varies from $1.25 to five dollars a square foot.
Avery Dennison MPI 2920 Matte Permanent and MPI 2921 Matte Removable are both 3.4-mil calendered films. Partnered with DOL 2000 series laminate, which is a 3.1-mil calendered product, PSPs attain a slip-resistant floor graphic for six months when properly applied. The MPI 6121 Street Graphics Film is for outdoor graphics and features micro-fracture technology.
BLT’s G-Floor graphic is a vinyl flooring material used for direct print applications. Full installation to temporary smaller applications are available thanks to the unique properties of the product line.
FDC’s primary floor graphic product, Series 7243, is a 3.4-mil calendered vinyl film with a removable adhesive. It is designed for use in conjunction with the 6-mil Series 7051 calendered textured laminate that provides abrasion and slip resistance.
FLEXcon’s FLEXmark V 400 F White Opaque A-109 90 PFW base film with FLEXmark OV 600 Frosty Clear Safari V-29 71B PMO-8 overlaminate is one of many floor graphics systems the company offers. The film is designed for removability up to 180 days following installation.
LexJet’s Simple Clear Indoor FloorAd laminated with Floor Gloss Laminate (3 mil) or Floor Velvet Laminate (5 mil) are ideal options for floor graphics. Simple Clear Indoor FloorAd is a 3.4-mil white matte vinyl with a removable adhesive that bonds well to commercial tile, sealed concrete, and linoleum. It is cleanly removable for up to six months. Total solution cost, printable vinyl, and laminate starts at $.62 per square foot.
One of MACtac’s most popular specialty products is IMAGin StreetRAP paired with the Permacolor PermaFlex PF6300 overlaminate. This combination is used for unsealed concrete or asphalt surfaces, such as sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways for short-term event graphics. It is durable up to 90 days outdoors and is easy to install due to its thickness.
Oracal’s Orajet 1663 PVC Digital Media for floor graphics is recommend for use with either Oraguard 250AS Skid Resistant PVC Laminating Film or Oraguard 255AS Skid Resistant PVC Laminating Film for high load exposure.
Photo Tex Group, Inc.’s peel-and-stick printable media is known for its use in wallcoverings, however its suitable for the floor as well. The material does not peel, rip, or wrinkle indoors or outdoors. It can be moved and re-applied repeatedly. According to the company, Photo Tex can be placed on practically any surface.
Ritrama’s Classic Gloss low-tack media with Performance Floor Talker provides performance of six months at a retail price of $.57 a square foot for both products. Ritrama’s low-tack adhesive is ideal for solid tiled floor commonly used in retail flooring.
Ultraflex’s FloorFlex Digital is a textured, 42-ounce printable floor substrate that is suitable for latex and UV printers. This lay-flat material is engineered with a certified non-slip surface and a latex padded backing.
Ultraflex introduced AquaFlex for underwater floors. It is a solvent, latex, and UV printable substrate designed for underwater branding and advertising for pools, ponds, various water features, and aquascapes. To protect ink underwater, UV liquid lamination is recommended.
Floor graphic applications are useful in different environments, from supermarkets to entertainment facilities. As Lisa Humrich, marketing manager, Oracal, points out, “floor graphics rarely have to fight for attention, as there are simply fewer eye-catching distractions to compete with.”
It is time consumers and PSPs consider the floor as part of marketing strategy. With new products, more durable indoor and outdoor applications are possible. Floor graphics’ versatility, positioning, and the ability to provide a creative advertising medium promise high visibility and impact.