From simple wall words to extensive full-room wraps, consumers are installing graphic products like never before. In response, manufacturers are researching and developing new décor products while tailoring existing product lines to reflect color palettes that are most in demand.
As the popularity of graphic products expands in the consumer market, there is a growing misunderstanding that anyone can install graphic products. To a layperson, installation seems as simple as applying a sticker. In some cases, this is basically true, but not always. Assuming that graphics applications are all the same can cause problems, and education is needed to avoid failed installations or disappointed customers.
The job of educating consumers on the nature of graphic products often falls to the sign or print shop that sold the product, rather than assuming the end-user knows what they are doing.
Know Your Indoor Décor Applications
One of the first things consumers should know about interior graphic products for the home is that they are not just limited to wall words—there are many ways to customize the look of a home with graphic products.
Consumers should not feel limited by product availability when customizing their homes with graphic products; they are essentially only limited by the bounds of their imagination. Application types they might consider include:
- Posters, wall words, and chalk walls: Popular products that bear words, artistic accents, chalk or marker boards, and small images are usually designed to be easily applied to a wall by the average consumer. For instance, two- to three-foot long wall graphics or one- to two-foot long wall words printed on easy-to-use products feature a removable adhesive that can typically be installed by just about anyone.
- Large wall murals: Wall murals are a great way for consumers to add a bit of personality to a space. There are various vinyl products that are ideal for this, but there are also alternative graphic materials that can make a space stand out. When it comes to wrapping entire walls, installing multiple graphics, or layering graphic products (where an overlaminate is applied to a graphic), it is a good idea to have a professional do the installation.
- Furniture, ceiling, and other surface wraps: While consumers may be familiar with wall graphics, they may not realize that they can wrap other parts of their home to add personalization or a realistic, textured finish. Graphic products can even be installed on ceiling tiles as long as the right sort of product is used.
- Window graphics: In the commercial space, window graphics are commonly used for advertising, but consumers can use them just as easily to decorate a space. Designs on some bubble-free adhesive products make window graphics easier to apply. It is still important for the installer to be familiar with proper installation procedures to ensure the graphic will last.
- Floor graphics: Floor graphics are not just for tradeshows, schools, and hospitals anymore—they can also make for interesting additions to home décor. To ensure these graphics will stand up to the wear of being walked upon and will not cause slipping, it may be best to have a professional install them.
Considerations for Lasting Graphics
The complexity of any graphics application is typically determined by the type of graphic product being installed, the size of the graphic, and the conditions of the surface to which it will be applied.
Every graphic product has specific installation instructions that lay out the conditions under which the graphic product should be applied, the type of substrates to which the adhesive will stick, and how to prep those surfaces.
Environmental conditions as simple as application temperature can affect how well a graphic will last and how good it will look. Minimum temperatures for installation are often around 50°F, for example, and installation at lower temperatures may decrease adhesive effectiveness.
Not all adhesives are created equal, even for the interior home décor market.
Some décor products feature high-tack, aggressive adhesives to allow fast adhesion, whereas others are meant to be removable and repositionable. Consumers often won’t know the difference, and they need to be informed about the type of adhesion they can expect.
Surface preparation is a point lost on many consumers who see graphic products simply as giant stickers. Realistically even wiping down a surface before applying a graphic can make a big difference in the longevity of that graphic. Make preparation instructions available to consumers or suggest a professional assist them.
Also worth addressing with consumers are any safety considerations of which they should be aware:
- Are they choosing products that will not support additional burning or smoke generation in a fire? Vinyl can be hazardous when it burns if not properly treated during design, and homes are as vulnerable to fire as commercial buildings.
- Are consumers choosing floor graphic products that are slip-resistant, or do they know to apply an overlaminate that will make it less slippery?
- Do consumers know not to install large, dark window graphics in locations that receive a large amount of sun because the window could shatter as the glass absorbs extensive amounts of heat?
These things may seem obvious to professionals, but to the average consumer, they may be less clear.
When it comes to serving the needs of décor-minded consumers, the number one thing to remember is this: Nothing should be taken for granted.
Sign and print vendors may be the best source of information consumers have when choosing graphic products. Do not hesitate to reach out to manufacturers and suppliers with questions and concerns to ensure your customers will be content with the graphic choices they make.
By Jason Yard, marketing manager for MACtac® Distributor Products. With expertise in graphic design, printing, and installation, he is responsible for marketing to MACtac Graphic Products’ large customer base and leading the Application Nation program in training them on the details of application techniques.
All photos: MACtac Graphic Products.