Rough surfaces have long presented issues for PSPs when it came to preparing and adhering graphics. Additionally, rough surfaces, including textured walls, often present a problem when it comes to the longevity of adherence. New technology and processes have helped this problem immensely, allowing PSPs to further explore this niche of the industry and to expand this aspect of their businesses. Our experts weigh in on the topic.
Some of the challenges when applying graphics to rough surfaces pertain to walls and the various textures and finishes that have been previously applied.
Jason Yard, Marketing & Training Specialist at MACtac Distributor Products says, “The variety of paints and finishes are the most challenging to overcome. There are hundreds of brands and chemical make-ups of paints, and they all affect how well an adhesive will stick. The other consideration is removability; if a customer want the wall graphic to remove cleanly, it is much harder to select the right product.”
Joe Walton, 3M Commercial Graphics Technical Service states that 3M has been able to address these issues with new products. “3M has two films designed especially for application to textured or rough walls,’ says Walton. “The key to success was developing a film that could withstand high application heat, and quickly and flawlessly conform over uneven texture without tearing or lifting. Once we accomplished that, nothing special was needed to prepare the graphics for such surfaces.”
Avery Dennison also recommends specific products to help meet these challenges; however, pretesting is vital to a successful application.
Ken Halford, Technical Service Representative, Avery Dennison Graphics & Reflective Solutions says, “There are a number of products available from manufacturers. Avery Dennison MPI 6121 Street Graphics product features a unique "micro-fracture" technology that enables the film to conform to very rough surfaces by fracturing and conforming. An application tape is necessary for installation of MPI 6121 Street Graphics product. It is also recommended that print service providers test print and apply premask to confirm compatibility.”
While there are solutions to some of the technical issues, PSPs will find that some substrates are difficult or impossible to work with and are perhaps wise to avoid.
Yard states, “There are many surfaces that are not recommended, such as pressure treated wood, old crumbling brick, plaster, and stucco. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find something to stick. Many of our customers use products like IMAGin® RoughRAP™ and IMAGin StreeRAP™ on other hard to adhere to surfaces like asphalt, unsealed concrete and brick.”
Dione Metnick, LexJet Product Manager, says it is best to avoid: “Extremely rough brick and stucco; basically, surfaces that don't have enough surface area for the adhesive to bond to. In other words, if there are relatively large peaks and valleys in the surface it likely won't accept any material, even one designed for rough and textured surfaces.”
Along with the substrates to avoid, there are a set of preferred substrates that offer the optimum qualities for adherence and duration.
Yard states, “Smooth walls painted with a quality, semi-gloss paint are the friendliest, and accept the widest variety of materials.”
Walton says, “3M films for textured surfaces are intended to be used on low to moderately textured substrates—such as concrete block, brick, industrial stucco, and tile similar to those found in sports arenas, stadiums, restaurants, retail and other public venues. These surfaces can be flat or curved.”
Metnick offers, “We recommend LexJet Simple MTS Adhesive Vinyl (Multi-Textured Surfaces) that has a 2-mil high-performance, aggressive adhesive. The material is a 3.5-mil opaque bright white matte vinyl that's opaque enough to hide existing wall markings and durable enough to resist scuffing, tearing and abrasion.”