By Digital Output Staff
Wallcoverings are popular for homes and businesses, from hospitals to shopping malls. Successful wallcoverings add visual impact and withstand everyday traffic. More often than other applications, wallcoverings are placed in areas where the final graphic will be touched by human hands or brushed up against by inanimate objects.
The media used must be durable, as well as the ink. Choosing the appropriate substrates and consumables is important when selecting a wallcovering product. Sometimes additional protection is required. Liquid coating is one method used to further provide a print with durability. When a wallcovering is exposed to sunlight or installed in a high-traffic area, a coating extends life.
This article looks at the benefits of liquid coating, how vendors target coatings for wallcovering use, options for applying the liquid, and provides information on some of the available products.
Wallcoverings are everywhere. Popular applications include retail and restaurant environments, office and home décor, and trade show exhibits. The market is growing because wall graphics effectively engage the public.
However, the high level of engagement leaves wallcoverings vulnerable to wear and tear. Installed in high-traffic locations, they are exposed to damage. The attention wallcoverings attract often result in people contacting them.
“High-traffic areas, anywhere the walls may be touched, and areas where sunlight may be present are environments that would require liquid coating for protection,” observes Nate Goodman, product manager, Drytac Corporation.
Strong or sustained sunlight degrades ink and color quality over time, says John Hickey, North American sales representative, Bordeaux Digital PrintInk Ltd. He recommends UV coating for graphics in this environment as a way to add up to two years to the life of the wallcovering. “Coatings will give you an extended life,” he explains.
Heather McCusker, wide format specialist, Agfa Graphics, recommends print professionals apply a coating to wallcoverings that are placed “anywhere to protect from marks, scuffs, scrapes, and staining.” Agfa recently began selling DreamScape products.
Most vendors agree a protective coating is especially important for long-term and outdoor applications.
Many coating vendors believe that liquid topcoats are a good option for wall media versus a laminate film. “Some wallcoverings are textured and a laminate would hide most of that look whereas a liquid coating would enhance it,” points out Goodman.
Price and effectiveness are both reasons to opt for a liquid coating, according to several vendors. Liquid protectors “are the lowest cost option, and compared to applying a pressure-sensitive laminate, the process is much faster and generates less waste,” suggests McCusker. On textured walls, she adds, pressure-sensitive laminates don’t usually hold up—they tend to peel over time.
Some coating products are formulated to be multipurpose. These are designed to accommodate the substrates, inks, and environments of multiple applications in addition to wallcoverings.
Other vendors offer liquid coatings designed for wallcoverings. “Liquid coatings can be made just for wallcoverings; they are tailored to the media and inks used as well as required protection,” admits Goodman.
Chuck McGettrick, North American sales manager, Marabu North America, says his company’s ClearShield Wall Armor is specifically formulated for digitally printed wallcoverings. Marabu formulates it to be cleanable as well as protective. The company also accounted for typical wallcovering environments—the product earned a Type II certification for commercial applications from the American Society for Testing Materials.
DreamScape’s DreamGuard Protex 3 also accounts for safety issues that arise from wallcoverings being installed in highly public settings. The product is free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and when dry, can be used safely in close proximity to food.
Tools such as a paint roller or spray device; and machine—either a flood coater or a roll-to-roll laminator—are common ways to apply liquid coating. Most liquid coatings are compatible with more than one of these application methods.
However, some vendors recommend using an automated coater or laminator to ensure complete saturation of the media. Marabu suggests its StarLam roll-to-roll liquid laminator. “This is going to give the most consistent finish while ensuring a uniform film thickness across the entire surface of the wallcovering media,” explains McGettrick.
Goodman recommends using a flood coater for Drytac products, which prevents roller marks and spray patterns that may occur through human error during manual application. “It also gives a consistent application so you know exactly how much protection is being applied,” he observes.
Other vendors suggest manual application. “The advantages of liquid coating wallcoverings include the ability to coat vertically after installation,” observes Greg White, director of sales and marketing, Premier Imaging Products.
Lisa Schultz, operations manager, DreamScape, agrees that print professionals benefit from having the option of applying the liquid before or after installation, with the graphic either flat or vertical. DreamGuard Protex 3, for example, “can be applied either by hand using a quarter-inch nap paint roller or by a machine,” she notes.
A Collection of Coatings
Print professionals continue to capitalize on the growing trend of wallcoverings. Liquid coatings are a useful tool for this application, especially when placed in high-traffic areas. Some vendors manufacture coatings exclusively developed for wallcoverings, while others offer multiuse options.
Bordeaux’s line of UV coatings, Clear Wide, includes two options that are suitable for wallcovering applications. Clear Wide FG Flex Gloss and Clear Wide FM Flex Matte are compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV printing. They are for indoor and short-term outdoor applications, and both offer chemical and scratch resistance.
The company designed Clear Wide FG Flex Gloss and FM Flex Matte for use with most vinyl and wallcovering applications. It sells the coating in five or 55 gallon quantities, as well as nine pound samples. The products are available through resellers, which can be found on Bordeaux’s website. Users can apply the UV coatings inline—either flood or spot coat depending on machine—or offline by roller or spray, according to Bordeaux.
DreamScape offers DreamGuard Protex 3 Liquid Topcoat, available directly through the company’s website or distributors. The product is compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, latex, and UV printing. DreamScape designed the coating specifically for vinyl wallcoverings, including its own heavily textured wall products.
DreamScape sells the coating at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $11, $75, and $315 for one pint, one gallon, or five gallon containers, respectively. A gallon of DreamGuard Protex 3 covers approximately 800 to 1,000 square feet depending on the texture of the media, at an average cost of eight to ten cents per square foot, the company estimates.
Users can apply the coating by hand using a paint roller with a quarter-inch nap or by machine. In addition, DreamGuard Protex 3 may be applied with the graphic lying flat before install or vertically after the graphic is on the intended wall.
Drytac offers three coatings for wallcoverings—EnduraCoat UltraMural, EnduraCoat Color Capture in Wallpaper Matte, and EnduraCoat Transit Matte. The products are available directly through the company or dealers.
Drytac typically sells its coatings by the gallon, with prices of $109 per unit for EnduraCoat UltraMural, $115 for EnduraCoat Color Capture in Wallpaper Matte, and $123 for EnduraCoat Transit Matte. The company estimates the cost per square foot at 15 to 20 cents for an average application. Most application methods are acceptable, but Drytac recommends using a flood coater for consistent coverage.
EnduraCoat UltraMural offers an ultra-matte sheen and is compatible with solvent and latex ink. The aqueous-based coating is for indoor and outdoor use, and is designed for wallcoverings as well as murals and backdrops.
EnduraCoat Color Capture is an aqueous acrylic coating meant to protect from the stretching and scratching associated with canvas and fine art printing, as well as color and image protection. Drytac designed the EnduraCoat Color Capture Wallpaper Matte version for wall use. It is meant for aqueous ink—which is relatively rare for a wallcovering coating—as well as latex, solvent, and UV.
EnduraCoat Transit Matte, though designed for vehicle wraps, benefits wall applications that require UV protection. It is compatible with UV ink and offers extra durability for outdoor graphics.
Marabu formulates ClearShield Wall Armor specifically for wallcoverings, providing stain and scratch resistance as well as cleanability. Sold through the company’s dealer network, the product is compatible with latex, UV, solvent, and eco-solvent ink.
ClearShield Wall Armor is available in quarts, gallons, five gallon buckets, and 55 gallon drums. Marabu says the price per square foot varies widely, depending on the quantity purchased and how it’s applied, but estimates the cost at eight to 25 cents on average.
The company suggests using its StarLam roll-to-roll liquid laminator to apply the coating, to ensure uniform film thickness and a consistent finish. However, print professionals can also apply ClearShield Wall Armor with a roller—high-density foam or short nap—or with a gravity-fed spray gun.
Premier Imaging manufactures two types of coatings, both available through the company’s dealer network. The solvent-based PremierArt Print Shield is useable on canvas or paper-based media. The company designed it to protect graphics from UV, moisture, and scuffing while eliminating gloss differential. PremierArt Print Shield is available in spray form, an aerosol can of 400 milliliters, or a bulk bottle of five liters.
The company’s other coating is PremierArt Eco Print Shield, designed for water-resistant media and inks. The water-based coating is available in matte, satin, or gloss. It offers scratch, light, and moisture resistance. Premier Imaging guarantees it will not yellow, crack, or become brittle. Low in VOCs, it is available in quarts, gallons, or 55 gallon drums. Application methods include roller, brush, or spray gun.
A Coat That Fits
Liquid coatings are as varied as the wallcovering substrates they cover. Some products are geared for indoor or outdoor use, and others target specific types of ink and media. Print professionals looking to add a layer of protection are presented with quality options to select a coating that best suits the needs of their project.
Jun2015, Digital Output