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Window and Wall Graphics: Getting it Right the First Time

When it comes to large scale window and wall graphics, there is very little room for error, unless you are prepared to pay for it. In order to get it right the first time, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent any errors upon printing and installing.  If you are a Chicago business owner and are looking to get your large format graphics done right, check out the steps below. Here at Alphagraphics Chicago North, it is always our goal to get it right the first time!

Site Survey

Window and Wall Graphics: Getting it Right the First Time-1 Window and Wall Graphics: Getting it Right the First Time-2A site survey is critically important when you are dealing with large scale window and wall graphics. Whether you are doing one wall or window, or multiple, it is crucial that you have a professional install team measure the space and survey the wall surface. It is also important if you are installing your graphics in a hotel or other corporate venue, given that there will likely be a protocol the install team will have to follow upon the install/removal of graphics. A site survey will ensure that your graphics are printed to size and that the material will comply with each surface area. There is typically a charge for a site survey, however this is guaranteed to outweigh the cost of having to reprint your graphics if they are the wrong size or printed on the wrong material.

Window and Wall Graphics Test

If you are going to have a professional install team perform a site survey, you should also ask that they perform a wall test while they are there. Even though you may have an idea of what material you want to use to wrap the walls, you need to make sure that the adhesive is not going to damage any wall surface that the graphics will be applied to. Say you are installing your graphics in one of Chicago’s hotels or convention centers – one of the worth things that could happen would be to damage the interior upon removal of your graphics! The great thing about Alphagraphics Chicago North is that not only do we work with an excellent team of professional installers, but we are able to supply wall test kits which can be used during your site survey. A wall test consists of the following:

  • Select an area that has little visibility and can be easily patched in case the material damages the surface
  • Apply a material from the test kit that is comparable to the material you are looking to use on the wall
  • Apply the material and wait at least 24 hours before attempting to remove (this will allow you to see if the material will peel off the wall without any applied pressure)
  • Measure the amount of resistance it takes to the remove the material (hardware provided in kit)

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The test kit will allow you to see if the material will potentially damage large surfaces of the wall, whether it be peeling away paint, pulling plaster or drywall, or stripping a wood surface of a clear coating or finish. It is critical that you take care of this before your install to avoid any major damage when it comes time to remove your graphics. This will help you to understand if you need to use a vinyl that has a much lower tac adhesive or if it is even possible to apply graphics to the given surface.

Preparing your Graphics for Print

Once you have received your dimensions from the site survey, you can then prepare your files for print. At Alphagraphics Chicago North, we require print-ready PDF files for production. This means that your file must be sized appropriately for print and include crops and bleeds. If you are printing large scale graphics for a wall, your file will likely need to be paneled. This is because the standard roll width for materials is 60 inches wide. Say for example your wall is 96” wide x 120” – We will need to panel your artwork into (2) pieces sized at 48” x 120”. Being that the panels will need to overlap, our install team will have provided your measurements to include this. That way, when you sized your art files, they will be all set for production. If you are printing large scale graphics, it is also highly recommended that you apply an overlaminate. Not only does this help to protect the graphic during transport, handling, and install, but it also makes the graphic easier to manipulate. If you choose not to apply an overlaminate, you run the risk of scratching or fingerprints becoming more visible from handling.

Window and Wall Graphics Install

Once your graphics have been printed, our large format team at Alphagraphics Chicago North will prepare them for install. It is very helpful to label each art and have the graphics prepared on a roll. That way there is no confusion when it comes time to start install. Our professional install team comes prepared with all the necessary tools do get the job done right. Window and Wall surfaces are prepped as necessary depending on what type of material is being applied. Some wall graphics are installed using a bit of heat which helps to manipulate the material. You will also find that some window graphics are applied using a “wet application” technique. This allows the material to become repositionable upon install. All you have to do is squeegee out the excess water. Removable vinyl should always be used on window graphics.

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Graphics Removal

Depending on the event to which your window and wall graphics apply, you may require removal in a few days, a week, or even a month. When it comes time to remove, it is imperative that you have a professional install team take care of it. If removed correctly, you should have no issues with damaging your window or wall surface. If done improperly, you run the risk of damage or leaving adhesive behind. At Alphagraphics, our professional install team comes prepared to remove graphics the right way, and in a timely fashion. They are some of the best in Chicago and they get the job done right, every time!

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