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(May 2012) posted on Thu May 03, 2012

Digitally produced wallcoverings are transforming empty spaces into a venue for marketing, rebranding, and self-expression.

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By Mike Antoniak

When it comes to digitally printed wall graphics for the home, McLaughlin at Converd says material should be easy to print and install while still offering great value to the end user in terms of cost, look, and durability. The company’s primary offering in this category is its EnviroScapeMural Plus! 6-mil wall covering for solvent, UV-curable, and latex inks. Converd reports it will soon add its EnviroScape Mural EasyUp with removable adhesive to meet demand for a product that can be easily installed and removed.

Sawyer at FlexCon credits the “muted upscale look” of her company’s self-adhesive fabrics for the enduring appeal of its Walldeco white poly-coated fabric and 6770 and 6772 fabric film. For larger graphics in office and retail settings, FlexCon offers the Walldeco 6730 white vinyl with removable adhesive. The company also has added “green” options to the Walldeco line with several non-vinyl wall coverings featuring a repositionable removable adhesive. The lineup includes the Walldeco 6710 6-mil polyolefin and 6714 4-mil polyolefin for UV and solvent screen and UV inkjet printers, and the Walldeco 6772 6-mil white woven fabric for UV and solvent inkjet (as well as screen).

“There continues to be a need to print on non-vinyl materials because users want more sustainable options and to lower their carbon footprint,” she notes.

Untapped opportunities
Sawyer also sees untapped opportunities looming in highly customized projects in both home décor and commercial installations of digitally printed wallcoverings. “Print service providers should look for the opportunity to use solutions with specialty materials to meet ‘one-off’ requests,” she says.

Spotto urges those who want to share in the growth of the digital wallcoverings market to take the initiative and talk up these services. “Start locally and find out who are the top designers, interior decorators, and architects in your area,” he says. “Then talk to them, explain your capabilities, the materials available, and show them samples of what you can do. People have to know what you can print before they see how they can take advantage of it.”

Opportunities await those who pursue them. “We expect the growth to continue in wallcoverings with the interior-design segment of this market to have the most rapid growth,” predicts Coyne. “Many designers are now fusing wallcoverings, floor graphics, and window graphics together to create a unified appearance.”

With the variety of wall media, and their digital print capabilities, “Print service providers can work with clients to create some beautiful imagery specifically tailored to them to showcase the new opportunities for brand exposure.”

But whether the client runs a business, or simply wants a distinct look for a more personal space, “Sell the opportunity to be clever and give the end-user an experience provided by the product,” says McLaughlin. “Make it easy [for them] and have fun selling something new.”

Freelance writer Mike Antoniak is a frequent contributor to The Big Picture magazine.

A Resource Trio
Three associations to be familiar with if you’re tackling wallcoverings on a regular basis or just want to become more familiar with wallcoverings in general:
• The Wallcoverings Association ( Trade association representing wallcoverings manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers to the industry. Its official mission is "to advance the welfare of members engaged in the manufacturing, distribution, and sales of wallcoverings. Our vision is to have residential and commercial consumers think of wallcoverings as their interior product of choice.”
• IGI Global Wallcoverings Association ( Worldwide organization headquartered in Belgium, information source on the entire wallcoverings industry.
• National Guild of Professional Paperhangers ( Organization of wallcovering installers, “dedicated to superior craftsmanship in the hanging of every type of wallpaper.” Maintains a database of professional paperhangers (searchable by city, state, zip).