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Textured Films: Do You Feel Like We Do

Textured films add style, visual appeal to any environment.

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Specialty media such as textured interior films can enhance a retail space or business, allowing users to apply them to available wall spaces for advertising and promotions. These films can also add depth and visual appeal for interior decorating applications.

With textured interior films, surfaces such as concrete and brick walls, structural pillars, stucco and tile can serve as an ideal canvas for branding. These films are flexible and can be molded to surfaces to create crisp, photographic quality images that really pop.

This unique product category preserves the look and feel of the existing surface while providing a better than painted appearance. In addition, parking garages, retaining walls, walkways, and other areas not typically considered inviting can be transformed into areas of beautification as well as ideal branding opportunities for clients. With textured surface film solutions, shops will quickly see that people cannot help but stop admire and want to touch and feel this exciting visual medium.

In this article, S&DG talks to some of the experts in this area about current product options available, top uses for these unique films, installation do’s and don’ts as well as some ways for shops to best promote these unique branding vehicles to potential clients.

Offering a Different Look and Feel

Steve Yarbrough, product support specialist at Drytac, Richmond, Virginia, says that some of the best applications for these unique products are for advertising campaigns for clothing, sporting goods or anywhere a wall needs some texture to help bring attention to a product or design. “I have seen textures to include textiles such as canvas, linen, bamboo, along with others to include sand, wood and carbon fiber. Each texture will give a different look and feel to the project and should be chosen based on what the client is looking for.”

Yarbrough notes a number of current trends in the market. “Right now, I’m seeing applications from anything from complete wall displays for retail space, to these products replacing wallpaper as it is easy to install and remove, as well as magnetic wall displays.”

Attention Grabbing Graphics

“More and more retail stores are trying to find new ways for their signage to standout without adding much cost,” adds Robert Rundle, national marketing manager, Nekoosa/Catalina Graphic Films, Nekoosa, Wisconsin. “Textured and metalized patterned printable/plotter cut films such as our VinylEFX help grab the attention of the consumer while still economically conveying the stores message.”

Rundle says these films work well with integrating a marketing campaign with a textured or metalized film, versus the typical white or clear film,  because it showcases the creative work behind the messaging. “These films can be used in a seasonal campaign or to refresh a company’s brand; both inside the stores as well as on their fleet trucks.”

Colorful Options

Rundle notes that the company’s VinylEFX line offers more than 30 different colors/patterns and adhesive combinations with rose gold and champagne being the most recent additions to the line.

“VinylEFX is available in a decorative (indoor) or durable (outdoor) series; both are designed for wide-format printing and plotter cutting. Augusta 6-mil wall graphic has a linen embossed texture designed for wide-format printing that gives a rich woven look to images.”

He says these films are ideal for storefronts, back walls, counter-top and sides, hanging signs and floor graphics. “And, if they are paired with our floor graphic overlaminate, will draw the customers’ eyes to the store’s message. It’s all about brands differentiating themselves from the rest. Be bold, new and deliver a message people will notice and remember.”

Installation Dos and Don’ts

Yarbrough explains that when working with these films that everything should be tested prior to installation. “You don’t want to find out your installers are putting the graphics up on a highly textured surface when you thought it was smooth. If a wall has recently been painted, that the paint needs to be able to completely dry and outgas before applying any graphic material. Failure to do so will cause poor adhesion. Paints that are low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) low odor, as well as the washable/scrubbable paints, can cause issues with adhesion and will need a prepping step prior to installing graphics. A washing of the walls with an alcohol and water solution will promote the adhesion of the graphic to the painted surface. There are other options for wall washing such as TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate), but the alcohol solution is an easy one to mix and less likely to have any reactions on skin.”

Yarbrough adds that retail and business environments may have requirements for slip resistance, fire ratings as well as other local government requirements. “Make sure to pick the material that meets these codes, and try working with architectural firms, as they will know what building requirements will be and can be a great resource for current and future clients, and they also work with retail clients.”

Drytac’s ReTac Line

He says that Drytac offers several textured print medias that include Retac Sand, ReTac Linen, ReTac Canvas, and ReTac Woodgrain. He explains they are mainly used for wall displays, but can be utilized anywhere that a different look is wanted to differentiate them from other brands.

“The options are endless for these materials, shops could do graphics as small as bumper stickers print and cut, to a 40′ x 300′ wall or bigger,” says Yarbrough. “This is a great opportunity to give a customer options of not only look but feel to a graphic. These products are beginning to replace the magnetic display systems as it is less expensive and is easy to install and remove. These can also be used on vehicles based on their outdoor durability. If a shop wanted to do an old school woody look to a car, they could use the ReTac wood grain textured material,” he concludes.

Customized Spaces

Tammi Johnson, business development manager, 3M Commercial Solutions, St. Paul, Minnesota, says people continue to customize their spaces in truly unique and interesting ways. “They don’t want the same-old, same-old. They want to create environments that go above and beyond what they’ve seen in the past.”

She adds that with products becoming more and more versatile, no surface is off-limits. “When you think of an interior space, everything is fair game. We’re seeing applications on windows, walls, floors, ceilings, fixtures, electronics, office supplies, and more.”

Johnson says these products represent a tremendous opportunity for sign shops. “Many graphics companies typically have operated within a limited market focus of graphic design. Graphics have historically served advertising needs from a branding perspective. Now, we can use graphic films to create completely new environments and experiences for customers. Customer experience plays an increasingly important role in how brands drive sales. For example, in a retail environment, graphics might be added to the sales floor or embedded into point of purchase displays. And when it comes to branded environments, we’re now able to get creative with how we build a company’s logo and vision into an existing space.”

Textured Options from 3M

Johnson notes that 3M offers a number of product options in this area. “The 3M Décor Overlaminate 8600 Series is a fantastic opportunity to add texture and depth to printed graphics and really take them to the next level. There are a number of unique patterns that can give the impression of classic artwork, for example. They include: classic linen, knit, white fir and plaster.”

She adds that 3M’s DI-NOC Architectural Finishes are another great opportunity to add texture to a variety of surfaces. “This product line makes it possible to refresh and reuse existing materials, like cabinets and countertops, and give them a whole new look. Texture options include exotic wood, marble and even a metallic finish.”

Johnson says that 3M’s Fasara Glass Window Films can replicate etched or sandblasted textures, among others. She notes that these films do double duty by offering privacy to a conference room, for example, and also sprucing it up with decorative textures.

“Finally, our very popular 3M 1080 Wrap Film Series has traditionally been used for vehicle applications. However, we’re now seeing these materials being used on other surfaces in creative ways. The bold colors can really make a surface pop. Applications for these products and more can range anywhere from on-premise to mobile assets, to retail structures and electronic gear. We’ve even seen applications in healthcare environments, where medical and cleaning equipment has been wrapped to make it appear a little less scary for kids. Design elements like cartoon characters can make the environment warmer and friendlier. As long as the surface and film construction are compatible, the opportunities are truly limitless. This makes testing before application critically important, to make sure that the film will adhere to a surface,” she points out.

Johnson notes that opportunities abound for these products. “It could be anywhere. Retail, healthcare, hospitality, office complexes – the list goes on and on. The possibilities aren’t limited to any space. So, it’s really what that shop owner wants to do to stand out from the competition and go after something that he or she is comfortable with. We’ve seen people who’ve taken some of these textured films and created niche specialty areas, like electronics and luxury suites, for example. They’re watching the trends that are emerging and figuring out how they can pair them with these materials,” she says.

“At the end of the day, it’s really about finding something that’s in their comfort zone and that they’re passionate about. If shops use that as a compass, they’ll find opportunities to create unique and exciting experiences,” Johnson concludes.

More Imagination from Mactac

Another major player in this area is Mactac based in Stow, Ohio. The company makes a number of products in this category including IMAGin DecoMural and IMAGin DecoFresco for the wall decor market.

DecoMural DM032 and DecoFresco DF052 are adhesive solutions specially designed for installation on smooth interior walls and can be digitally printed with UV, latex or solvent technologies. Both products provide the look of commercial wallpaper or decor wallcoverings and can be used in applications including accent walls, wall murals, replicated canvas prints on boards and general or upscale signage.

DecoMural DM032 and DecoFresco DF052 are said to be made easy to install because of a robust facestock and aggressive adhesive. These products offer an alternative to wallpaper, without the difficult water-activated installation often associated with it.

“DecoMural and DecoFresco offers a range unique finishes that can be used on almost any smooth wall,” says the company “Both products offer a deep texture which provides wallpaper or textured aesthetics, coupled with the convenience of digital printing capabilities.”

DecoMural DM032 is said to be ideal for providing a long-term textured permanent wall mural to any smooth wall and is also inkjet printable with a medium texture and feel, allowing for a clean, rich-looking graphic.

DecoFresco DF052 is an embossed PVC with an organic brushstroke texture and a robust removable adhesive. Its 90# liner makes it easily printable on almost any inkjet printer, while providing a unique finish to any decor application.

Photo Tex Sticks to it

Another specialty media that is 100% polyester fabric for the temporary graphics market is available from the Youngstown, Ohio-based Photo Tex Group. The company manufacturers an adhesive-backed printable fabric material that’s said to be easily removed.

“Temporary graphics have transformed over the past few years into home décor with custom graphics, murals,” says Walter Gierlach Jr., owner of Photo Tex Group. “We are also continue to see the growth of photography and fine arts sector using material such as our Photo Tex fabric in art and museum displays. With the constant upgrade of printers and our media, shops can print beautiful images and display them in public arenas or museums and safely remove the material by themselves.” 

Photo Tex self-adhesive is said to be simple to apply and remove. Its capabilities to handle any temperature change along with handling all the latest low and no VOC paints makes it one of the leading indoor wall murals or wallpaper used in the world. “Photo Tex also does not have a life expectancy when it comes to when it has to be removed. As for outdoors, the Photo Tex Original version is used on the windows for short-term use.”

Gierlach notes that the company offers two types of coating to handle any inkjet printer, and trending over the past few years has been the Newer Opaque/Block Out version that hides the overlap when paneling/wallpaper.

“There has been a huge increase of use with Latex and UV inks. Shops are utilizing our products for event graphics, special sales promotions, short term-wraps and trade show graphics,” Gierlach says.

He adds that clients like the fact that it’s so easy to work with.

“I love this product, you don’t need to be a professional installer to get terrific results,” reports Shawn Fogle, vice president, display and graphics at Swift Print Communications, St. Louis, Missouri. “Photo Tex is one of my favorite products because it’s an easy to remove wall fabric which our customers love to buy and sell,” adds Jackie Rivera at Grimco Inc., in their Lowell, Massachusetts office.

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Bill Schiffner

Bill Schiffner is a freelance writer/editor based in Holbrook, N.Y. He has covered the imaging industry for 25 years and has reported on many evolving digital imaging technologies including wide-format printing and newer electronic digital signage. He was the editor for a number of imaging publications and websites. He can be reached at bschiffner@optonline.net.

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