By Olivia Cahoon
Clients seeking personalized graphic design consider digitally printed wallcoverings for unique images produced to a specific room’s dimensions. This application is found anywhere from retail stores, hotels, hospitals, and corporate offices to the home.
With customization in high demand, home décor is a growing niche for digitally printed wallcoverings. Home owners look to convey their unique style with printed graphics that can only be found on their property. When creating wallcoverings for home décor, print service providers (PSPs) should consider material, adhesive, and installation.
Vinyl, Paper, and Fabric, Oh My!
Wallcovering materials include vinyl or film, paper, and fabric. Lily Hunter, product manager, textiles and consumables, Roland DGA Corporation, advises PSPs to first consider design aspects when choosing which material to use in the home. “For a softer look, go with fabric or matte paper, or even a wallcovering that has texture. On the other hand, if you’d rather a glossy, ‘high pop’ appearance, go with a glossy film or vinyl.”
Vinyl wallcoverings allow clients to choose customized designs, patterns, and images for direct printing. While traditional wallpaper cannot be applied to stucco walls, vinyl has the potential. “Whether the surface of your wall is smooth or bumpy, there are a variety of options to make sure the material not only sticks to the wall, but also looks good,” says Matt Topeff, product development engineer, 3M Commercial Solutions.
For wallcovering printability with most types of print technology, Alan Dworman, president, Catalina Graphic Films, suggests vinyl and textured vinyl. “Textured gives the appearance of a very expensive fabric with a much lower cost point,” he recommends.
Greg Maze, sales and marketing manager, digital and wide format, Neenah Paper, Inc., believes paper-based wallcoverings are the ideal solution for home décor. Paper-based wallcoverings are available non-pasted, pre-pasted, or with pressure-sensitive adhesives in smooth or textured finishes for easy installation.
“Home décor doesn’t usually need to be as durable as commercial décor,” explains Maze. Paper-based wallcoverings are breathable to prevent moisture buildup and potential mold. “This helps promote a healthier environment,” he adds.
For a warm appearance, Jean Luc Lutz, product manager, Senfa, suggests fabric material.
“You might use vinyl as a budget-friendly choice or fabric to enhance the texture and feel of the graphic,” agrees Clay Reierson, director of operations, Xcel Products, Inc. He believes vinyl and fabric are good choices in terms of durability.
Dennis Brunnett, technical service specialist, FLEXcon, believes high-end fabrics coated with adhesives diffuse light better than smooth material and provide easy installation. “Fabrics and heavier gauge vinyl are ideal for rougher walls—they help disguise imperfections,” he says.
According Michael Kirk, sales director, Heytex, fabric material doesn’t use glue and offers limited dirt and dust. “The feel and look of textiles is much more valuable and gives a convenient atmosphere,” he continues.
In addition, fabric offer acoustic benefits. “We have received feedback that fabric wallcoverings help absorb sound. Instead of sound bouncing off a smooth surface, it tends ot hit the texture of the fabric and disperse,” explains Ken Rauch, product manager, Presto Tape.
Installation methods, wall surfaces, and life expectancy determine the ideal adhesive for home décor wallcoverings. Mark Shaneyfelt, director of sales and marketing, printable textiles, Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc., says the wallcovering market requires products that meet pressure-sensitive consumer demands. There are two installation methods for wallcoverings—wet and dry.
Traditional wallpaper is applied with a wet paste that repositions before drying. “Applying paste to the wall is much more forgiving than applying it onto the back of the material, and this is possible only with fabrics,” says Gautier Peers, North American sales manager, Dickson Coatings.
Water-based paste takes several hours to dry while panels are repositioned if needed. After removal, the paste is cleaned from the wall with a wet sponge. Heather McCusker, wide format product line manager, Agfa Graphics, recommends using paste adhesives with strong mildew inhibitors.
Unlike traditional wallpaper, adhesive-backed vinyl is a dry application that adheres to the surface with pressure. Some adhesives allow the wallcovering to be repositioned until firm pressure is applied.
Wall surfaces can affect the adhesive’s efficiency. Hunter says premium paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may interact negatively with pressure-sensitive adhesives. “Most of the time, this interaction will deaden the adhesive, causing even the strongest and highest tack adhesive to fall off almost immediately,” she continues. The interaction may also cause adhesives to have a higher tack, making a repositionable product permanent.
To avoid installation challenges, Topeff advises PSPs to consider if wall surfaces are smooth or textured and how long the wallcovering should last. “Wallpaper is pretty permanent, and no one likes to remove wallpaper,” he adds.
Homeowners that have trouble deciding which media or adhesive to use can look to the final install location for guidance. Wallcoverings used in dining and living rooms may benefit from fabric and wallpaper paste. David Williams, North American market manager, Innova Art Ltd., suggests decorations for children’s rooms be applied with repositionable adhesives. “Since children’s tastes change as they grow older, this would avoid a major project every few years,” he advises.
Marty Davis, director of wide format and graphics, Mac Papers, believes vinyl is the preferred material for bathrooms and kitchens because it’s easier to clean. For formal settings like dining rooms or a feature wall, Davis suggests fabric for an artistic look.
Installation and Selling
Application challenges occur more often during homeowner installations than for trained professionals. Hunter believes most homeowners aren’t properly trained to test and prepare walls, and the type of media selected may be incompatible with wall surfaces or location.
“With this in mind, it’s important that the seller provide his or her customer with clear instructions for preparation and application,” says Hunter. For example, Ed McCarron, national sales manager, Dietzgen, suggests using a washable wallcovering solution to keep the walls clean. “Using a liquid laminate to finish the mural panels prior to installation is a good practice. It allows for cleaning and makes it easier to remove any paste that surfaces during installation,” he adds.
Josh Barnard, product manager, digital print media, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, agrees and recommends homeowners work with PSPs to ensure the correct film and adhesives are chosen and the wall décor is installed correctly.
Home décor wallcovering installations generally occur in smaller areas than in corporate or retail. These locations may have high fluctuations in temperature. “Material needs to handle changes from heating to air conditioning along with humidity from open windows or the bathroom,” explains Walter Gierlach Jr., president, Photo Tex Group, Inc.
The selling of a home décor wallcovering is unique. According to Eric Tischer, president, Verseidag US, “printed home décor fabrics are typically represented and linked together through interior designers. These designers have the relationship with the PSP versus the PSP dealing directly with the homeowner.”
“But as a PSP, you need to get creative—residential doesn’t just mean one home at a time. It can mean multiple units at a time, fill an entire condo or work with a national home builder; often featuring well decorated spaces in model homes or interior décor services in the home building process,” explains Rachel Gamberg, décor market development manager, S-One Holdings Corporation.
Brunnett says selling home décor wallcoverings is different from corporate, sports, and hospital settings. Home décor graphics volumes are smaller by square foot.
“Commercial settings usually require much more approvals and certifications like fire resistance and clean-ability,” agrees Jason Yard, marketing director, Mactac Distributor Products.
Established in 2001, Agio Imaging is a print shop in Kalamazoo, MI that offers grand format printing, design, fabrication, and installation. With 18 employees and a network of subcontractors, the shop operates from a 22,500 square foot facility.
Agio Imaging carries over 200 different substrates to accommodate an array of print solutions with short delivery times. “With an extensive lineup of state-of-the-art printing equipment and range of stock materials, we offer graphic solutions for projects of all sizes and budgets,” says Davina Logan, director of sales, marketing and administration, Agio Imaging.
In 2004 the shop started creating wallcoverings and wall graphics. Agio Imaging partners with Dickson Coatings for home décor wallcoverings. The company’s EverGreen fabrics product line offers an array of styles including Jet Tex and Jet Tex Design textured wallcoverings. According to Logan, the EverGreen fabrics line is an eco-friendly PVC-free material, flame retardant, and features a soft, natural look.
Logan believes home décor wallcoverings are a great way to completely customize walls and create visual impact. Clients request wallcoverings for photographs, textures, and borders. “Being able to personalize walls and rooms with interior décor items is vastly growing. After all, why select something out of a catalog when you can design a room the way you envision,” she shares.
However, designing home décor wallcoverings does have its challenges. Clients may supply images with low resolutions unsuitable for large scale reproduction. Agio Imaging’s prepress department reviews each image to ensure it prints clearly.
Recently, Agio Imaging was approached by a client that requested a 100 square foot boat wallcovering for a living room. “The final intent was to create something bigger than just a framed piece of artwork, something that would have great visual impact in the room and create a warm, yet iconic atmosphere,” says Logan.
Dickson Coating EverGreen fabrics were used for the soft and subtle texture. The living room included a vaulted ceiling, so Agio Imaging used scaffolding during installation. The shop also protected the hardwood floors from stray wallcovering paste. “The boat photograph became a stunning piece of art and a focal point in the living area of the residency,” says Logan.
Founded in 2007, Dali Decals started as a decal shop in Jacksonville, FL. It originally offered decals from a living room but soon grew to a 7,000 square foot warehouse and studio space. Today the shop offers acrylic, banners, custom printed canvas and wood, pop ups, PVC prints, and wall decals. The shop first created wall decals for a close friend and soon after launched an official website.
Dali Decals has produced wallcoverings for ten years. The shop uses Oracal 631 Exhibition Cal and Oracal 651 Intermediate Cal from Orafol Americas for cut vinyl wallcoverings. “We love being able to create a variety of wallcoverings that are affordable and easily changeable. The creative process is so much fun, and it is constantly changing,” explains Alicia Soret, executive director, Dali Decals.
Soret warns that low to no VOC paint with stain blockers and textured surfaces are the biggest challenge for wallcovering installation. “Beyond that, educating customers on graphics, proportions, and file formats is always exciting,” she adds.
Many of Dali Decals’ home décor clients use decals to liven up their homes and decorate children’s areas. For these clients, the shop offers quotes, monograms, and murals. It typically takes one day for the shop to process a custom order. All orders include detailed instructions for installation, complete with pictures. “Our customers are almost always pleased with the end result, and they usually come back for more,” says Soret.
AAA Sign Crafters
In 1971, AAA Sign Crafters started as a hand painted and woodcraft sign shop in Marietta, GA. It began with three employees and focused on real estate signage. Today, AAA Sign Crafters has five employees and produces vehicle wraps, fleet graphics, and wall wraps.
Hank Cobb, VP/co-owner, AAA Sign Crafters, believes the benefits of home décor wallcoverings are endless. “From kitchen scenes to mancaves, we can produce whatever your heart desires,” he says.
Callie Harbin Baptist Church recently approached AAA Sign Crafters for a 20×4.3-foot wall wrap for the church’s meet-and-greet room. The wrap was printed on Avery Dennison MPI 2611 Matte Removable Wall Film. It is a six-mil white calendered wall film with clear removable acrylic adhesive. It lasts four years outdoors and seven years indoors. AAA Sign Crafters uses Avery Dennison materials for all wrap jobs.
The church wallcovering was completed on time with no challenges and the client was pleased. According to Cobb, “wall wraps enhance any room and eliminate the days of work you would put in painting or wallpapering. We think wall wraps are the best bet for customizing any place and always impress.”
Alison F. Zepp, VP, marketing and strategy, Jessup Manufacturing Company, believes the demand for home décor wallcoverings is driven by the need to make a home a full expression of individuality and taste. Digitally printed wallcoverings achieve this in a number of ways, starting with the material chosen. PSPs offering wallcoverings for home décor should research material selection, adhesives, installation, and selling tips to offer the best product for the job.
June2017, Digital Output