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How to Choose Short or Long Term Wall Graphic and Decor Materials

Posted by
May 17, 2021 04:17pm
Posted in: New Products, Tips & Trends

Suede Wallcovering
Retail & POP Graphics

Some Key Points Before You Begin

Before choosing media for your new installation, it is important to be aware of the surface that you will be applying to graphic to.

New low-volatile organic compounds (VOC) and scrubable paints can contain a host of chemicals, including silicone, that make the painted surface more resistant and easier to clean. This may be a good thing for the home or shop owner, however these chemicals that resist dirt, crayon, food and smudges also resist adhesives. The result is that wall graphics go up, and then shortly thereafter suffer from noticeable edge curling or completely fall off the walls. This is not the fault of the adhesive — in most cases, it is the fault of the paint.

Test for Adhesion

To help to mitigate failures, it is recommended that surfaces be tested for adhesion with the product of choice, prior to graphic installation. This can be done through the use of a 3M Wall & Adhesion Test Kit.  Although testing may not always be possible, it will take less time and less money to complete a 20 minute adhesion test, than it will to reinstall the job after a failure occurs.

If the chosen material fails adhesion tests, wall primer can be the solution. A fast-drying, clear wall primer layer can be applied to create a barrier between paint and the adhesive, which can increase the likelihood of success. Possible brands include Shieldz, Kilz and Roman-Pro-909.

Short Term, Promotional Removable/Repositionable Wall Graphics and Decor Options

For end-user installations, repositionable products offer the highest success rate for the best looking final results. These products can be used for temporary stickers, decals, posters or larger panel installations and can be removed and repositioned multiple times, until the installation is just right! They also remove cleanly in the long run.

Product Recommendations:

  • Drytac ReTac Smooth: Drytac ReTac Smooth is a matte, printable, PVC film with ReTac ultra-removable adhesive technology for graphics that need to be removed and repositioned. It is ideal for interior wall graphic applications, including appliques and wall murals. Canadian CAN/ULC S-102 fire rated.
  • Drytac ReTac Textures: a 6 mil printable, matte white polymeric PVC film with ReTac ultra removable microsphere adhesive. It has a variety of embossed finishes that add depth and visual appeal to static, flat graphics. Textures include sand, linen, canvas and woodgrain. Canadian CAN/ULC S-102 fire rated.
  • Drytac SpotOn White:  SpotOn is a 4mil, white or clear matte or white or clear gloss, monomeric PVC film with a dot pattern pressure sensitive adhesive. This feature emulates an air egress product as air can escape around the dots in the adhesive. This makes application and removal very simple. Ideal applications are end user-install window advertising, decals, wall graphics and many other smooth, flat surfaces. Canadian CAN/ULC S-102 fire rated.
  • TextileBrite PSA PVC-Free Wall Covering: a 4oz , PVC-free, pressure-sensitive, knitted, 100% polyester fabric with an adhesive back that is repositionable and removable. It can be used for full wall murals, or contour cut for wall decals. It also works well as a window graphic material!
Retac Smooth Matte Wall Film
Removable Wall Graphics

Short Term, Removable Wall Graphic and Decor Options

For promotional graphics applied to properly prepared interior walls, removable adhesives are a popular choice as they stick well, are easy to install and are easy to remove. They normally leaving little to no adhesive residue if removed up to 6 months after installation. Removable graphics will last for up to 2 years in interior applications, when installed by professional installers.

Product Recommendations:

  • Drytac Polar Smooth: A 6mil, smooth matte or gloss film that requires no lamination. The removable adhesive will remove cleanly for up to 6 months after installation, making it perfect for hoarding boards, rink boards, wall graphics and wall decals. Canadian CAN/ULC S-102 Fire rated.
  • 3M 40C-20R or 3M 40C-10R: 40C films are 3mil gloss or matte PVC films with removable Controltac grey, pressure-activated adhesive for easy sliding and repositioning. 40C has Comply air-egress adhesive for bubble-free installations. Available in white gloss, white matte and also clear lustre.
  • 3M 48C-20R: 3.3-mil, matte white, non-PVC film with a pressure-activated adhesive for easy sliding and repositioning. This films air release channels are not visible and allow for fast and easy, bubble-free installations. Combine with the matching PVC-free laminate for a VOC-free installation on smooth walls.
  • Avery Dennison MPI 2611: a tough 6mil, scuff-resistant, flexible, white premium calendered vinyl film designed specifically for wall graphic applications. It requires no lamination and is good for applications that require easy installation and a removable adhesive. Canadian CAN/ULC S-102 fire rated. Also available in MPI 2610 permanent adhesive. Tips on proper installation of Avery Dennison Wall Graphics can be found in this YouTube video.
  • Neenah DigiScape Stick-R 9mil Weave: Stick-R is a FR rated, PVC-free, removable pressure sensitive wallpaper material, with a paper release liner for easy peel and stick installations. It has a light weave texture and matte finish to help cover surface imperfections.
Neenah EnviroScape Mural at Chipotle
Long-Term Wall Coverings

Long-Term, Paste-up Wall Graphic Options

Paste-up wall coverings in either paper or vinyl, will always give the best result for murals and wall graphics that need to be up for 5 years or longer. Standard adhesives have a two-year shelf life, and thereafter can begin to dry out or become more permanent over time; whereas wall paper pastes overcome this issue. Liquid laminates can be used over the printed face to provide UV resistance, scuff resistance and cleanable protection.

Product Recommendations:

  • Dreamscape Vinyl Wallcoverings: 20oz, textured, commercial grade vinyl wall coverings in a wide array of patterns and colours that add texture and interest to wall murals and full room installations. Class A fire-rated and Type II certified. Can be combined with a liquid laminate for a long-term, cleanable installation.
  • Neenah DigiScape 17mil Smooth or Canvas: A 17mil textured commercial grade paper wall covering available in either smooth or canvas finish with 30% post-consumer waste and durable latex saturated cellulose fibres. DigiScape can support two LEED’s credits and is ASTM E-84 Class A fire rated.
  • Neenah EnviroScape Mural Wall Covering: Neenah EnviroScape Mural is a 10mil, PVC-free paper wallcovering with a water activated adhesive on the back. Available in smooth or textured finish, this material contains 10% post-consumer waste and is dry-strippable for removal.
Terralon PVC-Free Wallcovering
PVC-Free Wall Graphics

Long-Term, and PVC-Free Permanent Wall Graphic and Decor Options

For longer term installs, or for walls painted with low-to-no VOC paints, end users can look to cast permanent adhesive vinyl or non-pvc permanent films. While removal will be more complicated, these films provide the best in high-adhesion combined with the longest life possible.

Product Recommendations:

  • 3M IJ180mC-10: A 2mil cast, high gloss wrappable white print film with slideability, optimized initial tack and non-visible air release pattern for efficient installation. The permanent adhesive is a good choice when dealing with low-VOC paints.
  • 3M SV480mC/LX480mC: A 2mil PVC-free film with an aggressive permanent adhesive and superior conformability. Pairs with a matching PVC-free laminate for a complete PVC-free solution for indoor walls and textured surfaces.
  • Avery Dennison MPI 1105: A 2mil PVC cast, high gloss, white print film with superior conformability to irregular surfaces and corrugations. Patented Easy Apply (EZ) and Easy Apply RS (EZ-RS) features, offer the benefits of reduced wrinkling and air bubbles in the application of decals and full wall wraps for low VOC paints.
  • Avery Dennison MPI 1106 High Tack: MPI 1106 is a 2mil PVC Hi Tack Easy Apply gloss premium cast film that is an opaque, conformable film designed for use in applications that require aggressive adhesives.
  • Avery Dennison MPI 1405 PVC-Free: A 2mil PVC-Free film is made of non-PVC ingredients, however it is highly conformable for rough walls and offers a permanent adhesive. Ideal where VOC off-gassing is unwanted such as in community centres and public spaces. Combine with matched PVC-free laminate for the longest-life possible.


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