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Wallpaper Printing Gearing Up for Big Comeback

After a year of COVID and cash-strapped delays, sign companies are on the verge of printing money.

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THE CURRENT WALLPAPER market is going to experience a resurgence and has the potential of becoming “the next big disrupter in the design space,” according to Kelly Taylor, CEO of Metropolitan West (Long Beach, CA). “This is largely due to the ease of customization that sign companies can deliver for clients,” she said. “New reproduction capabilities enable a client to have a vision for their space that can be delivered with their personal expression, messaging and branding.”

Dedicated wallpaper-printer Flavor Paper out of Brooklyn, NY, sees it similarly on the east coast. “Commercial projects are surging as [businesses] are expecting a big return after people have been cooped up, so we see that market at least returning to normal levels,” said Jon Sherman, the company’s founder/creative director. “Many restaurants and hotels have been struggling through this, so they may not want to spend right now on improvements, but those that had cash reserves are using the downtime to make improvements.”

Glancing Back and Ahead

The pandemic dampened some sign company wallpaper work even as the home design market exploded, Sherman said, as so many people were forced to spend more time than usual at home and had disposable income due to being sedentary. “We saw major growth in DIY products, but not traditional wallpapers, as those require an installer and [outside installation] was not possible in most places,” he said.

Taylor agreed that the market did shrink during the past year, largely due to three factors: supply chain disruption, closure of distribution channels and a decrease in advertising. However, she believes the market will expand during the next 6-12 months. First among the factors is that real estate transactions are booming. “More people are purchasing homes, which will lead to home repairs and renovations resulting in an increase in demand,” she said. “Additionally, as people gain confidence in the economy and the end of the pandemic, they will be more inclined to spend money and invest in projects to beautify their homes.” Taylor also expects offices slated for reopening in September soon rushing to get those spaces branded. “[That] should be happening early in the summer,” she said. “Finally, new product development, such as custom designs, new texture options and ease of application will entice homeowners to select wallpaper for their wall choices,” she added.

What’s Important

Flavor Paper currently runs a couple of Mimaki UV UCJV300s, an HP 3600 and a Canon Colorado, and prints on more than 50 different materials. When it comes to preparing jobs for sign companies, “Our biggest concerns are typically the provided dimensions being correct and the skill level of the installer hired to hang the wallpaper,” Sherman said. “Either one being less than required is a disaster!”

“We rely on HP, Roland and OKI Data printers. They each have a different use in our shop,” Taylor said of Met West. “We do many projects that require glass graphic work, which we use the Rolands for. We also rely on many different types of media and work with many material manufacturers, including Dreamscape, 3M and Lintec.” As simple as it may sound, her biggest concerns are wall preparation and installation instructions. “We [don’t want to] go to great lengths to ensure that the vision of our clients are met, only to have the final product be compromised due to a lack of proper wall preparation or not following the instructions,” she said.

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Mark Kissling is ST’s Editor-in-Chief. Contact him at [email protected]

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