At the mercy of the wall

Written by Peter Davidson on 24 March 2016.

pd mar 16It is astonishing just how many suppliers, printers and end users have only just realised that the inkjet printed digital wall coverings market is now really worth considering. Perhaps it’s because the general sign market is so over populated and as a result prices and value are being ground in to the dust?

Working for a company that has been bestowing the virtues of wall coverings for most of its existence the change in focus to this market sector has been very noticeable in terms of increasing orders together with the issues that sometimes come with the territory. Daily we get new enquiries and as part of our ethos we do all we can to inform new, and even old, players to the market of the benefits and challenges they need to consider before they jump in with both feet.

Product wise, as long as you don’t go down the bargain basement route, there is little to fear when it comes to designing, printing and finishing the pre applied materials. However the more challenging aspects can be the wall or surface they are going to apply their investment in materials, ink, time and money to.

It’s really easy to get it wrong when it comes to working with a wall you have little knowledge of. Of course it’s just a wall, it looks OK, feels OK and maybe, if you are so inclined, possibly tastes good as well. However looks can be deceiving, as my mother would say. In our business we are fortunate not to get many issues and when we do they are usually related to a lack of knowledge or experience of applying the wall covering. Due to the general blame culture it is always the materials that are initially seen to be at fault, irrespective of the facts. Emotions can be very strained even before the first question is raised about the application process. After all it’s just a paper, vinyl or fabric used together with a paste or a self-adhesive backing, surely nothing can go wrong?

There are numerous wall based challenges including the regular issue of recently painted walls causing bubbles behind the graphic. Issues such as these are quite often due to a lack of knowledge or tight deadlines or not allowing time for the paint to gas off. The more demanding challenges are when a wall has all the right attributes and look prefect for the job but for some strange reason adhesion in certain areas of the wall is inconsistent.

Most installers will, as a matter of course, wipe down the wall with a damp cloth before they start their work. The more experienced ones, if time and cost will allow, will use a trade primer before applying the graphics and in doing so de-risk their part of the process. The risk of not preparing a wall is exactly that, a risk, and a risk that can cause a large loss of money, customer faith and potentially damage a brand or major project. It is very frustrating and in some ways sad to visit failed sites and then having to spend time trying not to upset someone who had all the right intentions but ran a little too fast in to the wall decoration market.

I dearly hope that the digital wall coverings opportunity doesn’t go the way of being commoditised to the point where the true market advocates and professionals have to consider another more worthwhile use of their diligence, knowledge and skills.

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Anybody who has run a printing business for any time will at some stage ask themselves the question “How do I get more customers?” The trouble with this is it’s a perennial question that has no right or wrong answer. You could always start by learning to think differently and...

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