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Floor, Carpet, and Outdoor Walkway Graphics – Key Considerations

We’re all witnesses to the new normal in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and the like where directional and social distancing signage is present to help ensure everyone's safety.

Of course, floor graphic applications have been around for many years, and market growth for all promotional graphics (floors, walls, windows, etc.) has been at about 4% annually since 2013.  With COVID-19, the demand for floor, carpet and outdoor walkway graphics has skyrocketed, and as more businesses such as movie theatres and sports arenas are reopening around the country, the need to convey social distancing and wayfinding in the current “new normal” is expected to continue. Constant foot traffic will necessitate periodic replacement so as to preserve messaging and maintain an attractive appearance. Furthermore, the opportunity still exists to support the needs of non-retail businesses, for whom the idea of putting graphics on the floor may be new, to act as a resource of information as well as provide product.

How will you assist new and existing customers looking for a solution?

  • Education. Customers that are new to floor graphics may need to be educated on performance features such as durability and anti-slip characteristics.
  • Guidance. Presenting options and guiding customers through the creative and material selection processes will add value.
  • Differentiation. Customers may choose readily available options that meet performance requirements to start, but as this becomes the new norm, aesthetics will have greater importance, presenting the opportunity to differentiate.
Floor graphics in dentist office

Material Selection

FLEXcon Logo Please Keep Six Feet Apart1. Slip Resistance Testing

It’s important to choose products that have been independently tested to industry safety standards such as static, dry method coefficient of friction (SCOF) slip resistance and/or dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) wet method slip resistance. Those approved under UL 410 will achieve this goal to help ensure the safety of patrons.

2. Durability

The level of foot traffic expected as well as the cleaning protocols in place may affect purchasing decisions. Products with high tear strength, and product systems that utilize thicker overlaminates, will stand up better in heavy traffic areas.

The type and profile of the floor or outdoor walkway surface on which the graphics will be placed may be a deciding factor as well. For example, the choice for a smooth tile floor will be very different than one for rough textured open concrete.

Duration of the campaign is also a factor. If the plan is to leave the graphics in place for six months or more, selection of a more durable product will be required. Typically, outdoor walkway graphics are in place for three months or less.

Finally, cleaning protocols will come into play. The CDC is recommending a solution of 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water or a cleaning solution containing 70% alcohol for disinfecting purposes. Products that utilize a solvent-based adhesive will stand up better to such solutions than a water-based adhesive will. Choice of cleaning equipment is also a factor. Abrasive burnishing pads can damage graphics, whereas soft bristle brushes or pads will be kinder. Frequency of cleaning is also a consideration.

3. Aesthetics

The condition of the floor or walkway can impact the appearance of graphics. A fully opaque film will cover dark colors and stains that could detract from the graphic. On the other hand, a clear film on a pristine floor can achieve a “no-label-look,” similar to clear labels on glass beverage containers, providing an enhanced appearance where the floor becomes part of the design. Depending on overhead lighting, use of a matte or lustre overlaminate will help reduce glare.

For customers who wish to achieve something distinctive to match the look and feel of a brand, there are metalized options such as silver and brushed silver.

Managing Volume

While high demand is great for business, customers are seeking very fast response and accurate information, thereby raising the stakes.  To help simplify the finishing process for printers and minimize bottlenecks, some suppliers offer custom slitting and sheeting, which can reduce waste and help optimize processing time by being sized to the specific width and length needed for each job. Anywhere the process can be leaned out will increase throughput.

Buying Direct

Buying direct from the manufacturer provides key benefits, such as:

  • Assurance of fast and accurate product information, including testing to specific surfaces and appropriate product recommendations
  • Expert advice about performance
  • Compliance and content information
  • Sample rolls/sheets for testing
  • Waste reduction by optimizing finished roll or sheet sizes as compared to one or two standard sizes available through a distribution channel
  • Ability to customize product constructions for unique performance requirements or visual effects
  • Lower carbon footprint by elimination of transport to multiple locations

Whether the business opportunity presented is large or small, unique or generic, working with a manufacturer that can support all of these challenges will enable printers to provide the highest level of quality and service to keep new and old customers coming back.

For more detailed guidance on product selection, read What’s the Best Film for Your Application?

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