By Melissa Donovan
Digitally printed wallcoverings can be used anywhere there is a wall—indoors or outdoors. Depending on the material—fabric, vinyl, paper, or film—there is an option available for any situation. End users, print service providers (PSPs), and manufacturers recognize their appeal.
Beyond the intended environment, adhesion and installation technique are important elements to consider when determining the best type of wallcovering material for a job.
Adhesive choices range from pressure-sensitive peel-and-stick-like options to traditional wallpaper paste. A more experienced installer may be required for either depending on their knowledge of the material, how to handle multiple panels of media, or whether the wall presents any difficulties.
Find It Here
Digitally printed wallcoverings are found in commercial and residential settings. Whether fabric, vinyl, paper, or film is used depends on the end user’s budget, desired aesthetic, and durability requirements.
“The application and durability of the specific substrate are leading factors in deciding an appropriate wallcovering solution for the individual environment in question,” explains Darren Speizer, VP of sales and marketing, Drytac.
Fabric is commonly found in indoor-based applications, says David Williams, marketing manager, North America, Innova Art Ltd. Customers of the company have created fabric-based wallcoverings used in bank offices, coffee shops, restaurants, and photo studios.
“If the end user desires an ‘upscale look’ then a fabric or paper wallcovering may be more appropriate than a vinyl or film product. However, if the job calls for covering the walls of a playroom or a pediatrician’s office, a high-gloss vinyl or film could be a better choice,” adds Lily Hunter, product manager, textiles and consumables, Roland DGA Corporation.
According to Joey Heiob, technical specialist, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, vinyl wallcoverings are used in hotels, commercial space, retail areas, and exhibitions.
“Vinyl is typically found in commercial applications, such as hospitality, restaurants, or retail due to their Type II characteristics, such as durability, flame, stain, and scratch resistance,” explains Jessica Blevins, product specialist, S-One Holdings Corporation.
Sticking to Matter
There a number of different adhesive choices when it comes to applying wallcovering material. Wallpaper paste and repositionable adhesive are the two most common options. Substrate type—fabric, vinyl, paper, or film—play a role in which adhesive is used, in addition to a number of other considerations.
According to Blevins, adhesive choice is focused on whether the installation is commercial or residential, the required longevity and durability, removability characteristics, environmental concerns, and the method of installation preferred by the end user.
“The intended substrate is really what dictates the adhesive choice, but the length of use and weatherability also play an overwhelmingly important factor,” agrees Jason Yard, marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products.
Fabric-based wallcoverings are typically paired with a repositionable, removable adhesive. Microsphere adhesive technology is recommended, says Rachna Patel, marketing coordinator, Presto Tape, because it can greatly reduce the cost of installation by creating a product very easy to install and remove if necessary.
“These adhesives provide the best control over the desired adhesion and protect against traditional removable adhesives that may increase their bond strength over time and become harder to remove,” seconds Clay Reierson, project manager, Xcel Products, Inc.
Pressure-sensitive vinyl also uses microsphere adhesive in addition to removable and repositionable, removable, or permanent adhesives. Variations of adhesive for this type of vinyl product have evolved considerably as the chemistry has changed in paint commonly found on walls.
“This is in order to provide customers with low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints. These paints are good from a sustainability perspective, but poorly affect the adhesive properties of many products. Vinyl films that once worked with previous paints may now fall off after a single day,” cautions Elizabeth A. Ziegler, AMD technical service specialist, 3M Architectural Finishes – Commercial Solutions Division.
Robert Rundle viscom market manager, Ritrama, Inc., finds that permanent adhesives are becoming more prevalent due to low- to no-VOC paints.
Vinyl with a scrim or non-woven backing commonly uses traditional wallcovering paste. For vinyl wallcoverings requiring a paste for application, Marc J. Moss, director – digital, Korographics, suggests a clay-based adhesive or clear adhesives that are corn or wheat based.
Paper-based wallcoverings also utilize traditional wallcovering paste. Paper and vinyl requiring wallpaper paste requires “a premium quality, heavy duty, clear adhesive. Use of a mildew inhibitor in the adhesive is recommended and the adhesive should not be diluted,” recommends Heather McCusker, wide format specialist sales representative, Agfa Graphics.
Blevins points out that paper can also feature a pre-pasted, water-activated adhesive in some instances.
Wallcoverings predominately made with film are rare, according to Ted Isbell, graphic product specialist, Piedmont Plastics, and adhesive systems vary depending on the film and the location of the application.
Time to Apply
Install experience levels vary for any application and wallcoverings are no exception. Adhesive, material, intended surface, and additional labor costs all need to be considered before deciding whether the job is for a beginner or expert.
“While many people believe that a standard self-adhesive vinyl is a simple, cost-effective option, these products are more difficult to install than products designed specifically for wall applications. While a wallcovering product may be slightly more expensive out of the box, it can deliver a quicker, easier installation and is more cost effective from an overall labor perspective,” recommends Speizer.
When it comes to installation, certain combinations of adhesive and material should be handled by more experienced installers. “Some of the pre-pasted products—the ones that are self-adhering/pressure sensitive, including some vinyl and films, require very little expertise and are easy enough for a beginner to install. On the other end of the spectrum, heavy duty vinyl and fabric wallcoverings may require special wall preparation, adhesives, and technologies,” says Marty Davis, director, wide format and graphics, Mac Papers.
Special wall preparation includes cleaning all the surface areas before application. “Cleaning solutions vary but we have found that a simple pure water and ten percent alcohol solution works best,” suggests Tyler Reich, director of product development, Qué Media, Inc.
The scope of the project effects install as well. If it consists of large panels or multiple panels, certain skills are required. “Multiple panels on a large wall would probably be best for a skilled installer. Small walls, single panel, or graphic promotional signage could be done by a less skilled person,” shares Angel Georgiou, senior marketing specialist, imaging supplies, Canon Solutions America (CSA).
“The required experience level is actually related more to the size of the graphic than the type of wallcovering material used. Generally speaking, smaller graphics are easier to install than larger wall-to-wall graphics, especially if you have to align the larger graphics at the seams,” agrees Hunter.
“Seams are important to consider. Butt seams versus overlap seams achieve different performance characteristics, and require an understanding of which to use and when,” says Dennis Brunnett, product manager, advertising, product branding business team, FLEXcon.
There are other tips and tricks to take into consideration, which determine whether an experienced or beginner installer is necessary. As a general rule, thicker materials are easier to install, as they hide wall imperfections and smooth materials should only be used on smooth surfaces. “Usually, every wall has imperfections and when a smooth product is applied, those imperfections will be magnified,” cautions Isbell.
Rough walls with brick, stucco, or concrete are challenging. “The installer needs to be familiar with proper heating and foam roller techniques. Special detail needs to be paid to heating the film thoroughly and getting it to conform to the brick wall,” explains Yard.
Besides the time paid out to an installer, additional labor costs can arise during wallcovering application. “These can be associated with post-printing processes, such as laminating and top coating to meet Type II criteria, or pre-installation conditions, such as treating mold or mildew or patching damaged walls,” shares Blevins.
The following is a selection of digitally printed wallcoverings categorized by fabric, vinyl, paper, and film.
Agfa offers Duratex Wall Fabric, a 7-mil low-tack adhesive back product for temporary wall graphics where a rich fabric appearance is desired.
Dickson Coatings USA’s Jet Tex is an acrylic-coated polyester fabric available in widths of up to 122 inches. It doesn’t shrink, installation does not require overlapping, and it features a linen-like texture to make it look like natural material. It requires traditional wallpaper paste to apply.
FLEXcon offers WALLdeco 6770 and 6778, both polycoated fabrics with a removable pressure-sensitive adhesive and a silicone release liner. 6770 is cleanly removable for up to 180 days and 6778 features a two year indoor life durability guarantee.
GPA distributes General Formulations’ Series 234 GraphiTex, Series 252 WallTux, and Series 250 WallFrog. All are coated polyester fabrics with repositionable, removable adhesive.
Innova’s YouTac is a 100 percent polyester textile fabric with repositionable adhesive. Two versions are available—YouTac Textile ES for eco-solvent, latex, and UV and YouTac Textile AQ for aqueous inkjet. It is available in rolls up to 60 inches wide.
Photo Tex Group Inc.’s Photo Tex, Photo Tex Opaque, and Photo Tex EX are all 100 percent polyester fabrics with a special adhesive that enables a simple peel-and-stick process allowing the media to be repeatedly repositioned. Photo Tex features a Class A fire rating and is also non-toxic.
Piedmont Plastics offers Piedmont Sign Grade WallTex fabric-based wallcovering media as an option for interested buyers.
Presto Tape has three products in its fabric line of wallcoverings, PrestoTex, WallFab, and CanvasTac. They are available in unique finishes and include a removable and repositionable microsphere adhesive. All three products are PVC-, phthalate-, and lead-free.
Qué Media recently launched Eztaque, a fabric-based wallcovering. The semi-rigid fabric was in development for a few years but is ready for market and features removable adhesive.
Roland promotes its WallFlair Removable Fabric with pressure-sensitive removable, repositionable white adhesive.
S-One represents LexJet Corporation and its Print-N-Stick Fabric is a bright white, adhesive-backed fabric wallcovering material that is easy to print, install, reposition, and remove. LexJet Solvent Print-N-Stick Fabric is similar but compatible with solvent ink and features a 94 percent opacity and satin sheen.
Xcel’s X-Wall Fabric is a woven polyester with a microsphere wall adhesive. The slightly textured weave finish provides a high-end look and feel. It installs easily and resists edge lift.
3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3 is ideal for long-term decorative and branded graphics on smooth walls. It offers slideability, positionability, and a pressure-activated adhesive. Other vinyl products from 3M include 3M Scotchcal Graphic Film for Textured Surfaces IJ8624, 3M Controltac Print Film 40C, and 3M Scotchcal High Tack Graphic Film IJ39-20.
Agfa’s Duratex Wall Vinyl is 6-mil and equipped with a removable adhesive for ease of install and removal.
Arlon Graphics, LLC offers DPF 6700 for showing the texture of the wall through the graphic and DPF 8000 for short-term hard-to-stick surfaces such as brick or cinderblocks. Both use a high-tack, permanent adhesive.
Avery Dennison’s MPI 2600 vinyl wall film portfolio includes three new digital textured wall films in addition to MPI 2611, a non-textured, matte finish film. The new textured wall films include Pure Canvas, Crushed Stone, and Natural Stucco—available in either permanent or removable adhesive.
Continental Grafix USA, Inc. offers panoRama Walk&Wall, a textured vinyl with fabric backing and high-tack, repositionable adhesive. The solvent acrylic adhesive works well on painted drywall, concrete, and tile.
CSA’s WCVCA Wall Covering Vinyl Embossed Canvas with ultra-removable adhesive is ideal for a canvas textured look with easy install. Another vinyl product is WCCL, Wall Covering Vinyl Classic, a 6-mil traditional vinyl wallcovering that requires an installer. VL6R is a 6.5-mil white matte vinyl with removable adhesive.
DreamScape categorizes its wallcovering products as vinyl. It offers vinyl face with either nonwoven or woven fabric backings requiring wallpaper paste. It also offers the self-adhesive WallWrap series with a peel-and-stick backing.
Drytac offers ReTac Wall, an easy-to-use 6-mil vinyl product, its sister product is ReTac Textures, also 6-mil and vinyl, but offered in embossed textures like sand, linen, and canvas. Both include removable adhesive technology.
FLEXcon WALLdeco 6730 is a 6-mil white vinyl best suited for indoor wall applications. Per the company, it is cleanly removable for up to 180 days. The removable pressure-sensitive adhesive uses a silicone release liner.
GPA distributes General Formulations’ Series 226 WallMark and Series 229 WallMark Canvas. Both are vinyl-based, semi-rigid products designed for ease of application with a microsphere beaded adhesive. The canvas version features an embossed canvas face.
Korographics sells vinyl wallcoverings requiring wallpaper paste adhesive used in commercial environments.
Most of Mactac’s wallcovering offerings fall under pressure-sensitive vinyl. Its most popular include IMAGin Roodle, a 6-mil matte white removable vinyl; IMAGin wallNOODLE, a 6-mil matte white ultra-removable vinyl; Rebel RB528H, 4-mil matte white high-tack vinyl; IMAGin DecoFresco, an 8-mil organically textured white removable; IMAGin DecoMural, a 15-mil canvas-like, textured white semi-permanent vinyl; and wallCHALKER, an 8-mil black textured removable vinyl.
Ritrama offers a variety of vinyl wallcoverings ranging from its 6-mil Wall Action and Ultimate Wall Action self-adhesive vinyl series to its 2-mil Ultimate Rough Wall Cast Vinyl.
Roland WallFlair Removable Vinyl features pressure-sensitive clear ultra-removable adhesive. It is a 6-mil matte calendared vinyl.
S-One’s LexJet WallPro by York is an embossed vinyl wallcovering for traditional paste application. It is available in 14 different textures and custom embossing options. It is Type II, Class A, with low VOCs and suitable for residential, commercial, retail, and corporate environments.
Xcel offers X-Wall and X-Wall Premium from its vinyl portfolio. X-Wall is a 6-mil PVC with microsphere adhesive. X-Wall Premium is an 8-mil PVC with microsphere adhesive.
Coveris Advanced Coatings’ Magic line of products includes Mural Pro/DMiBOP, an 11.3-mil latex-based, nylon reinforced, wet strength paper. The product keeps it shape and requires wallpaper paste to install. In addition, the company offers Magic SLEEK—a 6.7-mil pre-pasted wallcovering reinforced with polymer for strength and durability. The product features a water-activated adhesive.
Innova Wallpaper Smooth Paste-Up is a paper-based wallcovering with a scratch-resistant ink receptive coating. Standard PVA-based wallpaper paste is recommended. Install is similar to adhering traditional wallpaper. It is available in rolls up to 60 inches wide.
Mac Papers distributes Monadnock Paper Mills, Inc.’s wallpaper and wallcovering backing products, which are polymer-reinforced papers and non-woven wallcovering backings.
Monadnock’s Envi Wallgraphics are paper-based with a water-activated adhesive. They contain ten percent post-consumer waste fiber and are PVC free.
S-One offers two paper-based wallcovering products through Brand Management Group. HP PVC-free Wall Paper is a pre-pasted, water-activated, paper-based wallcovering. It is FSC-certified, ten percent post-consumer waste, Greenguard Gold certified, and REACH compliant. HP PVC-free Durable Smooth Wall Paper is a paper-based wallcovering with scrim backing for traditional paste applications. It is suitable for residential, commercial, retail, corporate, school, hospitals, and sensitive environments.
3M Envision Print Wrap Films LX480Cv3 and SV480Cv3 are non-PVC films for long-term decorative and branded graphics on either smooth or textured surfaces. Both feature a slideable, positionable, pressure-activated adhesive. They are rated for up to 11 years expected performance life.
GPA distributes AlumiGraphics Smooth from FloorSignage. It features a coated aluminum face. Designed for outdoor wall graphics, it offers ease of application with conformity to rough or uneven surfaces.
Flourish or Fail
It is important to recognize just how vast the selection of wallcovering media is. There are a number of combinations when it comes to material and adhesive to ensure success wherever placed. Understanding fabric, vinyl, paper, and film; the combination of permanent or temporary paste or pressure-sensitive adhesive; and where each flourishes or fails is essential to delivering a quality product. In addition, comprehending your limits as an installer can help avoid costly rework. Wallcoverings are a worthwhile business, and knowing your facts makes it even more rewarding.
Jun2016, Digital Output