By Lisa Guerriero
Part 1 of 2
Wallcoverings are popular for homes and businesses, from hospitals to shopping malls. Successful wallcoverings add visual impact and withstand everyday traffic.
Choosing appropriate substrates and ink is important in selecting a wallcovering product. Liquid coating is a way to further protect the print. When a wallcovering is exposed to sunlight or installed in a high-traffic area, a coating extends life.
Part one of this article looks at the benefits of liquid coating, how vendors target coatings for wallcovering use, and options for applying the liquid.
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 results 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 wallcovering 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 with wallcoverings in mind. “Liquid coatings can be made just for wallcoverings; they are tailored to the media and inks used as well as the protection needed for the demands of the wallcoverings,” 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 formulated 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, and when dry, can be used safely in close proximity to food.
Paint roller, spray, and machine—either a flood coater or a roll-to-roll laminator—are typical 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 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.
Liquid coating is an asset for a print professional who frequently handles wallcovering jobs. With products geared toward the unique needs of this application, coatings offer increased durability and longevity to wall graphics.
To learn more about the various products available, be sure to read the next article in this two-part series.
Jun2015, Digital Output DOPCW1506