Décor and digital print make an excellent match. As consumers and marketers understand the possibilities of custom digital print, the sky is the limit. In addition to decals and wallcoverings, digitally produced interior elements advance to the next level with special effects and textures.
Peter Spotto, director, sales, DreamScape, points out that textured or finished wallcovering media is desirable for several reasons. Graphics printed on textured wallcovering media further the look and feel of an image, add a third dimension to artwork, and help mask imperfections to the surface it covers.
Spotto explains that light textures range from a smooth semi-matte and luster finish to light embossing such as a cobweb pattern or light stipple to deeper or more defined patterns such as beads and canvas, while heavier textures are beneficial in hiding wall imperfections. “The choice of any of these textures is more of a subjective decision from the designer. Whether it is a photographic image, graphic, or pattern, the designer makes choices on how best to enhance the work or complement the décor of surrounding spaces.”
Jerry Hill, VP, new market business development, Drytac Corporation, adds that textured media offers excellent abrasion resistance. “Consider hotels for example—the halls and walls are covered in textured wallpaper. Why? Because it helps protect high-traffic areas for luggage marks and other damage,” he explains. “Without it, hotels would have a substantially higher need for painting services every few months, which greatly impacts their maintenance costs.”
Desirable and Necessary
One major appeal of textured media is design potential. With new selections emerging, consumers, designers, and print providers benefit.
Designers are presented with new opportunities not attainable in the past. “The idea that you can have an extensive palette of color, finishes, and textures achieved with films and wall décor gives the designer new opportunities for creative applications,” says Kevin Rourke, national specifications manager, Arlon Graphics, LLC.
“Interior designers and customers make use of a texture or finish to accent the design they are creating for the space,” notes, Rudy Herrera, digital wall décor business development, graphic solutions business, Hewlett-Packard (HP), adding that the ability to place a design on a wall with a texture or finish can be much more compelling than a flat, non-textured wallcovering or traditional stucco or printed wall.
Shaun Jaycox, product line manager, LexJet Corporation, points out that many walls already have a textured finish, so special media helps create a custom look that preserves the look of the original. “Although there are several finishes out there, there are only a few that print shops tend to pick on a regular basis,” he adds, noting velvet, pebble, canvas, and stucco as popular options.
Walter Gierlach Jr., president, Photo Tex Group, Inc., adds that textured/finished media helps make a wall fit into the décor of the room, adding soft style opposed to standout alternatives such as neon signage.
Textured wallcoverings serve a functional purpose beyond design. “Generally speaking, when you move beyond a surface that is more textured than drywall, you will want to use materials designed for textured surfaces,” states Tim Boxeth, business manager, 3M Commercial Graphics.
Marcel Medved, business development manager, Asphalt Art USA, adds that texture also helps prevent glare from lighting.
Jaime Sherman, marketing manager, Ultraflex Systems, Inc., also suggests that textured wallcovering media extend beyond aesthetics into functionality. “A matte finish wallcovering is more likely to be used in a showcase or museum atmosphere where there are spotlights and camera flashes, the matte texture prevents glare. Also, a heavy textured wall media is likely to cover imperfections on a wall/surface better then a thin or light texture,” she notes.
Drytac’s Hill predicts that while the market for digital wallcoverings is just starting to take off, it will really explode in the coming years. “Although wallcoverings have been produced for some time, the industry was slow to accept this media because of historical design control,” he adds.
3M’s Boxeth sees textured wallcoverings growing in conjunction with wall possibility awareness, due in part to high-profile projects. He also credits its growth to continued film technology development and “greener” options that make wall graphics more available, affordable, and attractive.
HP’s Herrera sees steady growth for textured custom wallcoverings. “A major reason for this is that traditional wallcovering manufacturers and their sales representatives have done a good job of conveying to architects, interior designers, and customers the significant value a textured look brings to a room design.”
He notes the downsides of the traditional rotogravure printing process, which enables the production of a large number of textures and finishes via etched cylinders. It requires a high setup cost and long runs to be cost effective. A unique SKU must be created for each design, texture, and finish combination.
“The ability of a digital printer to produce custom wallcoverings on demand opens the door to create an almost infinite number of designs on a variety of wallcovering material of various textures and finishes. This enables the designer and customer to go big, bold, and innovative with wallcoverings in ways never before possible,” adds Herrera.
DreamScape’s Spotto points out that the textured, printable wallcovering market has enjoyed steady growth over the last seven years. “Although the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 affected many of the traditional users of commercial wallcoverings—hospitality, retail, corporate, food chain, and museums—we’ve seen a strong rebound by these sectors along with additional growth. The use of printable wallcovering media for custom murals, in-store branding, and custom décor continues to grow. Also, the demand for eco-friendly wallcovering products is growing steadily as more companies institute sustainable programs for remodeling and new construction for offices and stores,” he concludes.
Wall graphics complement a variety of settings, from homes to restaurants. Whether the designer, marketer, or customer is looking for a subtle or high-impact solution, a range of media options help attain the desired look. With the latest textured and finished media options, the outcome is enhanced.