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Beyond Décor: Rachel Nunziata

Printing Interior Décor: What You Should Know

Breaking down the three common standards and certifications.

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I REMEMBER MY HEAD spinning when I learned how many building codes, standards, certifications, and third-party test methods existed, and how important it was to understand them. Any fellow wide-format PSPs relate? Whether you’re new to the industry or seasoned, I can say with confidence you are not alone.

A good example is commercial Type II wallcovering. Substrates undergo multiple third-party tests to achieve Type II classification in accordance with criteria of the WA-102 standard. Tests range from the Wyzenbeek oscillatory cylinder abrasion method, to flame spread and smoke development in the Steiner tunnel, to a more realistic full-scale room corner burn test. Necessity of testing for interior or textile products is ultimately based on its intended end-use, building codes, and industry standards. Don’t glaze over just yet. I speak from experience that having knowledge in your back pocket is a sure way to posture yourself as the expert.

From the print industry’s perspective, our first concern is the relationship between ink and media: how the media will receive ink, how it will image, dry, cure, or bond, and ultimately the print’s longevity from exposure to the elements based on location of final installation. Depending on the market you serve, technical data sheets pointing out ink and media attributes may not resonate with your clients, or their customers, especially in the décor market. That’s why it’s important to understand technical specs for printers and product specs for designers: environmental, sustainability, indoor air quality, and ingredient transparency for health and wellbeing standards.

Architects and designers naturally strive to use quality materials to impress clients and elevate their brand, but they also specify products with attributes that contribute to various certifications. Your goal is to be keenly aware of these standards so as you consult through the sales process, you’re increasing your value and leading clients to the right solution. To keep it concise and easily digestible (I could write a book) let’s break down three common standards and certifications.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), or better known as LEED v4, is the newest iteration of the LEED green building standard, overseen by USGBC. Within the LEED v4 standard, there are seven “Impact Categories,” such as sustainability and water consumption, and four levels of certification with Platinum representing the most number of points accrued. In short, there are different rating systems depending on the type of project, but ultimately each project registered for LEED v4 potentially becomes a certified building. For interior finishes, wallcovering can contribute toward LEED points with low-VOC inks, substrates, and post-consumer content with a nonwoven backing to name a few. Tip: Keep all substrate and ink manufacturer documentation on hand when your client needs copies to submit with their project.

UL GreenGuard Gold. If this one looks familiar that’s because you most likely recognize “UL,” a certification company with safety labels on products like wall chargers. However, the GreenGuard program specifically refers to chemical emissions for ideal indoor air quality using health-based criteria. Also, the UL GreenGuard certification is a submittal for the LEED v4 building certification and its criteria is much more stringent than CA 01350, better known as California’s CDPH Standard Practice for VOC Testing for schools. Products with low-VOC are ideal for hospitals, schools, and other sensitive environments. Ask your ink manufacturer for their GreenGuard GOLD certificates so they’re ready for your clients.

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Oeko-Tex. Lastly, if you’re dabbling in the world of textiles, a very complex space, you’ll start noticing Oeko-Tex labels. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label represents a product whose parts have been tested for harmful chemicals. It’s most common to see this label on newborn clothing, bedding, or blankets. Another in-demand Oeko-Tex standard is Made in Green, which is different from Standard 100 as it refers to a traceable product ID for products manufactured using sustainable practices. Textile supply chains are lengthy, arduous to navigate, and many phases require harsh chemicals and tons of water waste. Standards that address entire product life-cycles vs. self-declared documents or certifications based on ingredient transparency alone require more investment from the manufacturers, but depending on project specs they may hold more value.

Rachel Nunziata is a digital print business and market development specialist with an undeniable enthusiasm for interior and home décor segments. She is a graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, and has a knack for enabling synergies between artists, interior designers, and industry experts. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @RachelNunziata.

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