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The Dos & Don’ts of Prepping Walls Before Installing Vinyl Graphics and Murals

Companies use custom wall graphics and murals to showcase their brand within their facilities and engage customers as they enter the doors. Adhesive-backed vinyl graphics can be printed in an infinite number of colors at high-resolution to create impactful murals and spot graphics to enhance the “WOW” in your brand. 

There are multiple steps taken when designing and installing vinyl wall graphics. However, wall preparation is one of the most significant parts! Here are some steps to take before allowing a team of experts (us) to apply your new custom graphics.

Custom Mural installed by 12-Point SignWorks

“Decor printing” is another term for this type of design installation. It is now commonly used because of the ability to create custom-printed, short-run graphics as an alternative to traditional wallpaper.

Cleaning Time!

We cannot stress enough the importance of properly cleaning your walls. We suggest following 3M’s Enhanced Adhesion Cleaning Method (description is shown below).

3M Company Enhanced Adhesion Cleaning Method

Credit: 3M Company

Wiping the wall down thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol is a significant part of this process. It removes much of the adhesion-fighting chemical compounds from the paint’s surface.  

Damage Control

It is common to have damage to your walls. Whether it’s furniture scuffs, water damage, cracks, or a random hole, we have all questioned “How did that happen” at some point. Although vinyl graphics are “big stickers” that cover a place on your wall, they cannot hide all physical flaws.

These high-performance vinyl products are relatively thin; therefore, the flaws can be seen through the vinyl even after the graphics are applied. We recommend that you prepare your walls with a Level 5 finish – the highest level of drywall finish in regards to smoothness and lack of flaws.

12-Point SignWorks team prep for experiential graphics for a office space

A sneak-peak of how we prepare an office space before installing wall graphics and other experiential designs.

Primer & Paint 

According to 3M, you should prepare your walls with specific primers and paints to provide a superior surface for the adhesion of vinyl graphics. 3M suggests the following paint + primer pairs.

Suggested Paints and Primers from 3M Company for a wall graphic or mural installation

Credit: 3M Company

After you have applied the primer and paint, we recommend allowing the paint to cure before applying the adhesive-backed vinyl graphics. A minimum of two weeks of cure time achieves better quality adhesion results.

12-Point SignWorks Installer Peeling Paint off walls

Remember that drying and curing are not the same. Drying is the evaporation of the solvent to form a solid film, but can still be damaged from washing or touch. Curing is when the wall surface has reached optimum hardness and can resist installation damage.

You may be familiar with features that make newer paint formulas “less stinky” and more scrubbable for ease of cleanability. These are chemical compounds, particularly in newer zero-VOC and low-VOC paints, that tend to reject adhesives over time, resulting in your custom graphics potentially peeling away from the wall surface.

A Tip for Mural Installations

If you are installing a mural for your facility, we suggest printing the mural in vertical panels with extra bleed material on the top, bottom, and the far left & right edges. However, you should hire a team of experts (us again) to install your mural, because it requires an extra level of experience and effort to achieve good results.

Custom Wall Mural for Pastaria in Nashville installed by 12-Point SignWorks

Installation of the final graphics for a wall mural can be done with overlapped seams or with butt seams. Photo Credit: Greg Rannells

It takes a lot of preparation and work to create murals and spot graphics, but the ending results are worth it! 

If your business could use an extra “WOW” factor to enhance your customer experience, give us a call at (615) 595-6564 or click on the button below.

Click here for a free consultation and estimate for your custom branded graphics!

Don’t forget to check out our gallery to see examples of our custom wall graphics and murals. Hopefully, they inspire your next project!