From the Windows to the Walls

Sign, print and wrap companies uncover design inspiration and installation versatility in vinyl.
At Chando’s Tacos, Palmer Signs (Roseville, CA) turned a request for a simple cement-floor sticker into a full-service job with directional floor graphics, a wall wrap and window graphics for the entire restaurant.

There’s probably no need to go into great detail on the adaptability of vinyl wall, floor and window graphics. After all, this sign medium is meant to be molded, folded, bent and wrapped around just about any surface. And, whether the general public notices that these graphics are actually signs is beside the point; or, rather, the point entirely. 

After all, whether the wraps were used to cover up an unsightly floor while keeping customers physically distanced, for entertaining and educating children or to serve as uplifting art in what would otherwise be just another boring office lobby, there’s no limit to what vinyl can do. 

FALL IN THE (TACO) LINE

COVID-19 has forced almost all businesses across the country to get more creative in the ways in which they find (and keep) business. Palmer Signs (Roseville, CA) was no exception. Since Palmer Signs already had a six-year-long relationship with restaurant chain Chando’s Tacos, they decided to reach out during the weeks spent on lockdown to see what they could do to help, per owner Tony Palmer. “[Chando Madrigal, the restaurant owner] needed a small sticker to cover a concrete repair on the floor,” Palmer said. “That [sticker] morphed into directional floor graphics, a wall wrap and window graphics ... all because I took the time to go out and meet with the client.”

Having completed previous projects with Chando’s – including wrapping all of his five stores’ walls, his six food trucks, three of his delivery vehicles and his personal cars – meant that Palmer was already familiar with Chando’s branding, and only needed to work with their designer to adapt the graphics to fit the current spaces.

At Chando’s Tacos, Palmer Signs (Roseville, CA) turned a request for a simple cement-floor sticker into a full-service job with directional floor graphics, a wall wrap and window graphics for the entire restaurant.
At Chando’s Tacos, Palmer Signs (Roseville, CA) turned a request for a simple cement-floor sticker into a full-service job with directional floor graphics, a wall wrap and window graphics for the entire restaurant.

And, because turnaround time allowed only two days for the art and two days for the installation, Palmer Signs knew they had to hustle. Using Photoshop, Illustrator and CADlink Technology’s SignLab to create the graphics, they were able to convert the initial ask of a simple patch for the marred concrete into a vinyl queue line on the floor and complementary wall and window graphics within the surrounding restaurant spaces. 

For the vinyl wraps, Palmer Signs used many 3M products, including IJ180 with 8518 Scotchcal gloss laminate for the wall; IJ8624 with 8524 gloss laminate for the floor; and IJ170 with 8518 gloss laminate for the windows. They chose CLEAR FOCUS’ ImageVue perforated film for the windows. The shop then printed the graphics on their HP 570 latex printers and laminated them with a Graphic Finishing Partners (Gfp) laminator. They used SAi FlexiSIGN-PRO design software as their raster image processor, a Yellotools hot wall/floor roller and a Steinel heat gun, Palmer said. 

Palmer likes to remind his customers that vinyl graphics are cheaper than paint, are washable, and some, like wall graphics, can last quite a long time.

THERAPY WRAPPED IN EXPLORATION

The University of Virginia’s Children’s Hospital wanted a room where their patients could learn and grow in an interactive way. They tapped the Savannah, GA-based company Frendesign to create a Lewis-and-Clark-themed, interactive therapeutic playroom where children and their families could experience the early 1800’s American West while at the hospital. 

Pulling off the more than 170 feet of murals that encompassed all the windows, floors, ceiling and everything in-between was no easy feat. Frendesign partnered with The Kennickell Group, also based in Savannah, to print and install the new designs. 

According to Lucinda Zittrouer, Kennickell’s wide format director, Frendesign approached them with the idea of wrapping the walls, floors and ceiling for the project, and Kennickell wanted to make sure they delivered Frendesign’s graphics correctly. “We worked closely with ORAFOL for over a year to make sure we were choosing the right products for each application so that they last, and the colors matched between products, etc.” Zittrouer said.

The Kennickell Group (Savannah, GA) printed and installed more than 170 ft. of murals for the University of Virginia’s Children’s Hospital’s interactive therapeutic playroom.
The Kennickell Group (Savannah, GA) printed and installed more than 170 ft. of murals for the University of Virginia’s Children’s Hospital’s interactive therapeutic playroom.

Kennickell used Orafol Graphic Innovations materials for all of the wraps, including Orajet 3691 removable digital print film and Oraguard 210 matte overlaminate for the walls and ceilings; Orajet 3651 matte transparent digital print film and Oraguard 210 matte overlaminate for the windows; and Orajet 3951HT high-tack digital print film with Oraguard 255AS anti-skid overlaminate for the floors. In addition, the film was printed on wide-format digital HP latex printers (360, 3500 and R2000 Plus). Kennickell used Caldera RIP software for the files, a cold-set laminator to protect the prints and a Zünd cutter for trimming.

Covering every inch of the room with vinyl wasn’t exactly easy. “Any time you wrap something other than a flat surface, it is challenging, and this project had almost every angle you can come up with,” Zittrouer said. “With a project like this, it is not about speed; you want the installers to slow down and really pay attention to every detail.”

Kennickell’s knack for keying on the particulars during install is something that attracted Frendesign CEO and co-founder Stephen Nottingham to them in the first place. “The working relationship between us is that we’re bringing them installations that they personally haven’t done yet, so it’s been exciting for them to be a part of it,” he said. “Also, I have lots of confidence in their install team.”

ONE GOOD-LOOKING LOBBY

When Hot Potato Creative (West Dundee, IL) contracted Inked Wraps and Signs (Spokane, WA) to wrap the walls of a Farmers Insurance call center in Seattle, they knew they’d be in for an exciting project from the get-go, Inked owner Will Oakley said. “We do most of the signage and installation for their call centers and headquarters on the West Coast,” he said. “We have developed a great working relationship with Hot Potato Creative over the last few years and they always have fun, challenging projects for us to work on.”

Farmers asked for a design that would deliver a big impact right when you entered the lobby: graphics that start on the wall and wrap all the way around onto the glass partitions. And, while Hot Potato already had designed the walls, they needed Inked to help them with application materials and installation. 

Oakley said they chose Arlon films for their quality, affordability and user- and installation-friendliness. “We knew that Arlon DPF 4600 would be a great option for the flat-finished wall [but] the glass was a challenge,” Oakley said. “We debated using a clear vinyl like DPF 50WD or if we should use DPF 5200 with color and white ink. We did several print tests with both types of films and different opacities of white ink until we found the right blend of color and privacy. We decided that the DPF 5200 gave a good level of privacy for the office but also still made the graphics pop. We added 50% white ink behind the printed graphics which helped the colors not look muted.” 

Inked Wraps and Signs (Spokane, WA) turned an uninspiring Farmers Insurance call center lobby into an enjoyable space for all their employees and clients.
Inked Wraps and Signs (Spokane, WA) turned an uninspiring Farmers Insurance call center lobby into an enjoyable space for all their employees and clients.

Toggle (a Farmers company) sent along a vector graphic to use, but Inked had to alter the artwork with Illustrator (which was then saved into Roland’s VersaWorks RIP and print-management software) to make it compatible with each material type. This meant adding the white ink opacity to the glass sections, while the wall graphics were able to be printed on the panels as-is.

Finally, they sent samples of different prints and materials to the customers to narrow down the choices on what they were looking for. “It’s definitely a longer process when the customer is so far away, but it was worth it because it was guaranteed to be what was expected,” Oakley said. To print the graphics, Inked used a Roland VG-640 printer with TruVIS INK, a Gfp 563TH laminator and a Roland CAMM-1 GR-640 cutter.

Whether you’re keeping customers safely distanced, offering children an interactive therapy option or making the workplace more enjoyable, it’s important to communicate to the customer why vinyl is a good choice in the first place. “[If] you’re using it as advertising or you [want to] add a pop of color for your staff, wall wraps and window graphics can be a very cost-effective way to market to your customers and to uplift a room,” Oakley said, adding that “Another benefit of wrapping walls and windows is that [shops] can do things with film you can’t do with paint.”

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