Good, Better, Best: Wallcoverings

When it comes to digitally printable wallcoverings, you’ve got more options today than ever before. You’ve got a lot of decisions to make — do you want a self-adhesive, a pre-pasted water-based application, or a traditional wall paper paste job? And what kind of finish is your customer looking for? A basic satin for a temporary mural … or a glamorous gold metallic? You’ve got these questions, and we’ve got a few answers to get you started.

In this edition of Good, Better, Best, we’re looking at three different wallcoverings for various applications and installation needs. LexJet Solvent Print-N-Stick Fabric, HP PVC-Free Durable Suede Wall Paper and Vescom Digital Wallcoverings all track around the same square-foot price, and they’re all latex- and/or solvent-compatible, so they won’t need an extra protective coating, unless you decide to add it. Each one could be the “best” answer depending on the application, but we approached this ranking in terms of longevity and variety.

LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric

GOOD: LexJet Solvent Print-N-Stick Fabric. This is a customer favorite for temporary wall murals. Just like the name suggests, it’s a two-step process. Print it and stick it, thanks to the pressure-sensitive adhesive. With a clean, sheen finish, colors really pop on Print-N-Stick, and the fabric texture makes it easy to handle and the special adhesive is very forgiving — making it simple to reposition it and fix installation mistakes. If carrying inventory is an issue for you, Print-N-Stick is also a great solution to stick to windows, metal, wood and even floors.

HP PVC-Free Durable Wall Paper

BETTER: HP PVC-Free Durable Suede Wall Paper. This HP product is formulated to pair with latex inks, which work together to create a scrub- and scratch-resistant surface that stands up to high-traffic areas, like hotels and restaurants. It also carries multiple environmental certifications, including the Type II as well as  FSC®, REACH and UL GREENGUARD GOLD, which make this odorless, mold- and mildew-resistant wall paper a great choice for sensitive environments like schools and hospitals. The wall paper is finished with a pre-pasted glue that can be installed with a simple water technique. Watch this video to see how easy it is to install and remove.

BEST: Vescom Digital Wallcoverings. We offer a glamorous line of finishes in the Vescom line, such as Matte, Leather, Felt, Lay and the award-winning Metallic Sand. These finishes offer versatility in décor style and visual impact – from subtle, elegant finishes to eye-catching, dramatic wall murals.  The high-end vinyl wallcoverings meet stringent environmental standards and work well for corporate or commercial spaces, as well as residential. They’re compatible with latex, solvent, eco-solvent and UV-curable inks, giving you the option to use your preferred print technology.

To learn more about wallcovering options, contact a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538.

5 Digital Printing Trends Every PSP Needs to Watch in 2019

While we don’t actually own a crystal ball, we did take a peek into the future to see what’s in store for wide-format printing in 2019. The segment will definitely continue to see growth, with banners, vehicle wraps, signage, wallcovering and window graphics rounding out the top five most profitable wide-format applications, according to a recent WhatTheyThink report.

The report outlined some key stats, including the fact that wide-format print is growing at a healthy 6.7% CAGR, jumping from $16.1 billion in 2012 to $22.3 billion in 2017. Nearly 3/4 of print providers say their wide-format print volumes have increased, while over 90% of print buyers say their volumes will hold steady or increase in the coming year.

So with all that potential, we took a look at some key activity that will help drive production and sales. Here are the top five trends every print service provider should keep an eye on as the new year kicks off:

Soft Signage Made Easier. Digital textile printing has been a hot topic for the past few years, but it’s far more than garment and apparel applications, especially for wide-format printers. Soft signage will continue to dominate, taking the place of rigid and heavy substrates for trade shows, high-end retail and backlit applications. Currently, only about 6% of textile products are produced digitally, according to an article in December 2018 edition of Printing News, but experts expect that number to get into double digits within a few years. Fabric manufacturers have been hard at work to develop textiles that run smoothly on wide-format options, such as latex and even aqueous printers. Also, SEG frames are essential for attractive soft signage displays, but have often required a lot of installation set-up, especially sewing the silicone edging onto the finished print. Now, with SignComp’s Front Load Soft Signage Frame, there’s no sewing necessary, especially when using a thick textile that works well with SignComp’s patented grip strips. It’s so easy to use that an employee in a retail shop can easily switch out seasonal messaging whenever needed. Check out this how-to video to learn more.

Sustainability Goes Mainstream. Get ready for a wave of printable media that offers sustainability characteristics that are either recyclable or made from recycled materials, such as the award-winning HP Recycled Satin Canvas, which uses 22 recycled water bottles for every square meter of canvas. These types of products will become increasingly important to your customer base, as many of them will demand more Earth-friendly options. Plus, you’re going to see more major corporate brands, like Kellogg and Kraft-Heinz vowing to use sustainable packaging that will be fully recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Our S-OneLP team is on the case to provide more sustainable packaging films to those printers, as well. In the textile arena, expect to see more natural fiber fabrics and improved pigment inks to accompany them.

Digital Décor Market Expands. As the typical “sign guy” has tip-toed into becoming an all-around décor expert with everything from photo reproductions to canvas wraps to wallcoverings, you can expect to see digitally printed décor options branch beyond retail and hospitality settings and expand into residential offerings. As print providers become more adept at printing décor materials and the materials themselves become easier to handle (think: LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric for wall murals), the opportunities are going to explode, while consumers catch wind of all the possibilities to customize their homes. And not just on the walls — windows become prime real estate for digital décor displays, as do the floors … and let’s not forget the ceilings.

Ecommerce Gains (Even More) Traction. If you’ve been ecommerce shy with your business so far, 2019 may be the year you finally embrace its possibilities. Offering customers the ability to upload their artwork that you fulfill in a variety of print products gives you a huge advantage over your competition. But if you’re wary of starting ecommerce options on your own, consider the possibility of offering fulfillment services to a number of up-and-coming art houses that are partnering with artists to use their original art to create everything from wall tapestries to canvas wraps to notebooks to t-shirts. A few big online names you may have heard of — Ikonick, Society6, Art.com … yeah, they’re all using digital wide-format services. Go grab those opportunities!

Digital Print for All Surfaces. A few years ago while at SGIA Expo, it became apparent that the new directive seemed to be: Print Everything! And while that was supported by a wide variety of print technologies, today, we’d edit it to say: Print Everything with Digital!  We’re seeing every surface covered with printed media, and more and more of those materials are digital wide-format compatible, such as LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g used to create lamp shades. The key to printing to more surfaces is a wide variety of versatile, all-in-one substrates, such as LexJet Flex Tek, available for aqueous or solvent print technology, and can be used for hanging banners, roll-up banners or even canvas wraps.

Stay tuned throughout the year to discover even more new and innovative products and exciting application opportunities to help you grow your business well into 2020 and beyond!

 

Shift Your Focus on Wide-Format with LexJet at SGIA 2018

As a print service provider and business owner, you know it’s critical to keep your eye on what you do best, while also smartly diversifying your business with new offerings for your customers. Gone are the days that we can get by on banner prints alone! Thanks to ever-evolving print technology and media offerings, new opportunities exists in décor, textile printing and even outdoor graphics.

When you start to shift your focus on what you’ve always done in wide-format printing to what you can do in the future, you’re sure to see a boost in your bottom line and discover new and exciting markets that will delight your customers. Check out these three key ways to grow your business and if you’re headed to SGIA Expo in Las Vegas, Oct. 18-20, be sure to stop by booth 1185 to learn more from our print specialists:

LexJet Flex Tek

Increasing your profits: As a customer-focused supplier of printers and media, we’re always on the lookout for the best products at the most advantageous prices for print service providers. We’re seeing some exciting offerings in outdoor signage, and we’ve brought those to market this year. We partnered with Avery Dennison to provide a full line of exciting vinyl products for a huge variety of applications. We’ve also launched LexJet Flex Tek, a PVC-free, recyclable, non-woven technical fabric that can be used as either a banner or a non-cracking canvas for gallery wraps. Print service providers should be excited about dual-action products like this, and we expect to bring more environmentally friendly, versatile products to market in the coming months.

Mastering new markets: If you’re a print service provider and you’re not at least sticking your big toe into the décor market, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. We’ve seen a wide array of exciting finishes and designs introduced into our wallcovering lines that are compatible with latex and solvent. But even if you operate an aqueous printer, you can also get in on the action. Décor doesn’t stop on the walls – it includes canvas prints, fine art reproductions, photo enlargements, textile printing and so much more. Dye-sub printers have more options than ever, thanks to advances in outdoor metal panels, like those from the ChromaLuxe EXT line.

EnduraFab Textiles

Answering customer demand: If there’s one thing we’ve been hearing from end users it’s that they want more printed fabric! This started in the soft signage arena but has quickly expanded into trade show graphics as well as décor. PSP’s customers love fabric because it drapes elegantly in retail environments and can be easily swapped out by any employee. Fabrics used for trade show exhibits also quickly pack up and ship for less than films or vinyl. Screen printers cornered the market on printed fabrics for decades, but with the advances in latex-compatible textiles, we’re seeing gorgeous results in specially formulated fabrics for elegant, lightweight, easy-to-handle modern signage.

To discover products in each of these areas and to learn how to shift your focus on wide format and expand you’re offering, visit LexJet’s SGIA Expo booth 1185. We’ll be featuring the latest print technology and helping you to tie it to your customers’ applications.

If you still need a free SGIA Expo pass, we’ve got you covered! To register for your free pass from LexJet, click HERE and follow the instructions.

Our All-time Top Wallcovering Prep, Print & Installation Tips

Any time you’re covering a wall floor-to-ceiling it’s a big job. But with some insider tips and the right products for the job, you can break it down into a manageable task. Here are some of our all-time, most helpful tricks and tips for seamless, professional wallcovering printing and installation:

Do Your Pre-Work: Before you can even think about hitting “go” on your printer, be sure you’ve got your site under control. These means doing a site visit ahead of time, testing the wall surface and taking photos and wall measurements (here’s a handy app, Photo Measures, that makes that job easier). Once that’s under control, you can begin creating tiles that you’ll print. Check out the video on this blog for more pre-printing tips and how to set up your tile files.

Know When to Go Short-Term: This isn’t your grandma’s wall paper, and chances are your clients won’t be planning to leave it on the wall for the next 30 years. There are so many options on the market today for short- to long-term wall murals for a multitude of applications. For a low-cost, temporary solution that can be cleanly removed, there’s no better option than LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric. It’s available for aqueous– and solvent-compatible technologies. Check out this video to learn how we covered a 26-foot wall for less than $2 per square foot.

Understand the Big Picture: If you’re using photography for a customized wallcovering, the photo itself needs to be technically correct to work when it’s printed in a larger-than-life size. We got all the insider tips on photographing for wide-format printing from pro photographer, Billy Elkins. Check out this airport wall mural installation project that he created images for … and all the background on how he made it come out just right.

HP PVC-free Wall PaperMeet Your Client’s Environmental Needs: If you’ve been asked to cover a wall in a sensitive environment like a school or a healthcare facility, the best option for the job is Type II compliant HP PVC-free Durable Wall Paper in Smooth or Suede. This line of wallcovering is engineered to be used with HP latex inks and don’t require top coats to maintain Type II compliance. Unlike some solvent options, this latex-compatible option doesn’t put off odors or fumes that must be degassed before installation. It also meets FSC- and UL GREENGUARD GOLD standards, so it helps designers achieve LEED certification. And because it’s pre-pasted with adhesive, it goes up easily with little more than a water bottle and a sponge. Check out this video to learn how.

Create a Beautiful Finish: Just because it’s made from a digital print and maybe it won’t be installed for decades doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. Our line of customizable wallcoverings, LexJet Premium WallPro™ comes in a variety of elegant finishes to create one-of-a-kind, eye-catching walls. The Premium WallPro line includes a variety of finishes, such as smooth, gold or silver metallic, mylar and linen textures that work beautifully in any residential or commercial space with contemporary or traditional décor.

If you’re looking for more tips on creating unique wallcoverings for your customers, give one of our LexJet pros a call at 800-453-9538.

Create a Faux Effect Wall Paper with LexJet Premium WallPro™

We love it when multiple market trends converge — and especially when we can help make them come to life. One recent industrial décor trend, the use of natural materials in interiors such as brick, steel, leather and wood, will continue in 2018 and beyond according to a recent article in House Beautiful Magazine.

Achieving that look by installing new tile or stripping back a wall to brick is messy and expensive. That’s why designers and DIY enthusiasts are turning to faux effect wallpaper. LexJet Premium WallPro™ can be used to digitally print wallcovering with all the style of natural materials in an array of seven realistic looking finishes to complement any design. From wood, to brick or tile, LexJet Premium WallPro™ wallcoverings can create a completely new, realistic texture on walls and may have your customers questioning reality.

Wallcovering printed to look like cork.

We visited Sarasota, Fla., interior retail showroom, Blu Home, where we met owner and interior designer, Chelsea Dunbar, to find out where wallcoverings have been and where they’re going.

Just 10 to 15 years ago, faux painting on walls and columns were all the rage, with painters spending hours creating marble, wood or brick effects with paint. Today, it’s hard for designers to find skilled painters for those jobs. “When the economy crashed, a lot of them left the market,” Dunbar says. Not to worry though, printed wallcoverings are a quick and less-expensive way to “make it look contemporary … and feel high-end,” she says. “Wall paper has gotten so much cooler — and it’s become a replacement for faux painting.”

Digital wallcoverings can make walls look like they’re built from wood.

Digitally printed wallcoverings make the design process faster and easier, too. Print a desired digital file to a richly textured wallcovering vinyl, and apply with traditional wallcovering installation techniques. “This isn’t your grandmother’s wall paper,” Dunbar says. “You can do so much more with it.”

LexJet Premium WallPro™ wallcoverings are a higher grade of vinyl that’s also environmentally cleaner than other products on the market. Suitable for the most sensitive of areas such as healthcare facilities and schools LexJet Premium WallProTM digitally printable wallcovering meet EPA requirements for low-VOC emitting products.

Want more digital décor ideas? Visit LexJet.com/decor.

How to Start Marketing Your Décor Print Services

Deciding to add services like custom-printed wallcoverings and canvas wraps to your business is the easy part. Getting the word out and bringing in potential customers is where the challenge lies. Here are 5 tips to help you get started with marketing décor print services:

  1. Fix your identity. If your operation has always been called a “sign shop,” consider adjusting your business name or adding a new business unit specifically for décor services. Target which services you want to offer (start with one or two) and determine which products you want to print to. Once these are nailed down, the business name and focus will start to fall into place.
  2. Practice and promote. If you’ve decided to add customized digitally printed wallcoverings as your new offering, find a project you can work on as a beta site. Perhaps a restaurant that a friend owns or a business you regularly frequent that could use an update. Offer to print wallcovering for a room for free so you can get real-world experience in terms of the work flow, installation and product performance. When you’ve successfully completed a project, use before, during and after photos on social media and email campaigns to show off your new expertise.
  3. Connect with others. Get to know local interior designers who could capitalize on your new services. Attend networking events and learn about community projects that could allow you an opportunity to show off your work and get free publicity. Focus on collaborating with other professionals who may need the talents of your graphics team to create artwork for canvas wraps or customized patterns for wallcovering — and charge them reasonably for this niche service.
  4. Upsell to current customers. Opportunities are everywhere. If you’ve been creating backlit displays for a retail outlet, ask them if they’re interested in a wall mural to liven up their store. Same goes for restaurants, hotels or corporate accounts that you print signage for. Could they use a fresh accent wall or canvas wraps to add ambiance or elegance to their spaces?
  5. Get your content together. Create a sample book (or web page) of the types of work you can do. Photos with finished applications will go a long way in helping your customers to visualize what you can customize for them.

If you have questions about marketing décor services or success stories to share, tell us about it in the comments below.