Top 5 Best Practices When Applying Floor Graphics
Throughout the pandemic, and as the economy reopens, floor graphics have emerged as an important, effective, and easy-to-use communications tool. Often called “peel and stick,” these versatile, easy-to-apply graphics are being used to instruct customers about in-store health and safety, provide directional guidance for new traffic patterns and pickup areas, and communicate brand messages and promotions with ads or QR codes.
Consumers and corporations are increasingly looking for decorative, non-permanent graphic solutions for their homes, showrooms, trade show booths, and workspaces. Vinyl floor promos are an inexpensive way for grocery stores, gyms, takeout restaurants, salons, and other places of business to create standout advertisements.
Floor graphics are often included as part of a branding package, along with more traditional signage and graphics. As a result, floor graphics are showing up in retail stores, hotel lobbies, airports, bars, restaurants, and sports facilities. In addition, they are being used for décor applications such as faux rugs, accents, and even for wrapping entire floor spaces in graphics that simulate tile, hardwood, and other flooring products.
All of these applications mean that print shop professionals are being called on to design, produce, and install an increasing number of floor graphics, which must be both engaging and durable. Here are a few tips to help ensure your floor graphics are up to the task.
Go With the Pros
Manufacturers have responded to the surge in demand for floor graphics with complete graphics solutions including templates, equipment, and media. The templates make designing impactful floor graphics easier than ever, with specific packages for restaurants, retail, safety, and point-of-service signage.
Floor graphics that are part of a branding solution are especially easy to provide when using one of the latest printers. The expanded color gamut available with newer eco-solvent printing equipment allows easy reproduction of exact brand colors, and new RIP software tools help provide consistent color management. With today’s UV printers, you have the option of adding gloss ink effects to mimic real wood or to add textures and patterns to your prints.
Floor graphics media are also more advanced than ever, with hundreds of options available, including specific media for all types of indoor and outdoor applications. Review the media manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure your floor graphics media’s adhesive is appropriate for the surface you are installing on.
Prepare the Surface
The first step in applying any type of graphic is to clean the surface, and this step is especially important when applying floor graphics. A clean floor without debris, oils, or contaminants will aid in your graphics’ adhesion to the surface. Use the products recommended by your flooring manufacturer to thoroughly clean the floor area you are using. We also recommend you clean a wider area than the graphic actually requires so you have additional flexibility in the exact placement of your graphics.
Careful Installation Saves Time
Although it can be tempting to just use your hands, using a squeegee when installing floor graphics will help prevent any air pockets from forming. During installation, use overlapping, firm strokes with your squeegee, working from the middle line to the outer edge to minimize wrinkles or trapped air.
When installing on vinyl or tile, try not to place your graphic over a grout line or tile edges, which could house air bubbles and endanger the longevity of your floor graphic. When installing on wood or wood laminate, avoid installing over floor end joints as they can make your graphics look bumpy and uneven.
Apply an Overlaminate
Protecting your client’s floor graphics investment with an overlaminate will go a long way to ensuring customer loyalty — even if your graphics are only meant to stay in place for a few weeks. Today’s overlaminate materials are often multifunctional, with ratings that prove they are durable enough for floor graphics and equally useful for window and wall graphics. An optically clear overlaminate adds a beautiful, smooth sheen that protects your graphics and incorporates anti-slip properties. Embossed floor overlaminates, like Roland DGA’s GuardLam Embossed Floor Overlaminate, also deliver outstanding protection as well as nonslip grip and stability.
Give it a Day
Most professionals recommend allowing eight to 24 hours before permitting foot traffic on floor graphics, depending on the specific surface and materials. You want to give your adhesive sufficient time to adhere to the floor, reducing the chances that the edges will lift prematurely. When the suggested drying time has elapsed, you can be confident your graphics will remain vibrant and adhered to the flooring.
Follow these best practices to create floor graphics that make bold, clear statements, while staying securely in place for the display’s intended duration. Your customers will thank you for it.
Related story: Tread on Me: The Floor Graphics Opportunity
Lily Hunter currently serves as senior product manager for Irvine, Calif.-based Roland DGA, where she manages the company’s textile and dye-sublimation printer portfolio, media offerings, and e-commerce. Prior to joining Roland DGA in 2013, Hunter held various sales support and product management positions over a 14-year period with Arlon Graphics.