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Business + Management: Marty Mcghie

Working Better Together: Print Shops and Wallcovering Installers

10 tips on how print providers can communicate with installers to achieve the best outcome.




Print shops and installers all have the same goal in mind: create an eye-catching end product that will be durable, enhance its surrounding environment, and please the customer. Sometimes, however, the communication and working relationship between the shop and the installer breaks down – and the result is something less than ideal.

Chris Johnson, the public relations committee chair of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers (NGPP), asked his committee and several guild members – who do quite a bit of work with digitally printed wallcoverings – how print providers can better work and communicate with the installer when it comes to achieving the best installation. Here are 10 tips they’ve suggested.

1. Be sure to allow adequate “bleed” for both seaming and perimeter, which would include top, bottom, and sides of the digital graphic. Every installer has their preference, but 2 inches is usually preferred.

2. Top coat with a liquid laminate prior to shipping to the installer. Today’s water-based and eco-friendly inks are sensitive and can scratch easily.

3. Provide a print layout/drawing indicating each panel with seam placement and true center point of graphic.

4. Print shops need to be aware of the space to be covered as they tile the material. Allow the installer to do a site visit to assist in this, so there are no seams too close to certain elements – inside or outside corners, windows or doors, signage, built-ins, change in elevation, or any other obstacle. The installer might request varying panel widths or a specific seam placement.


5. Take care in packaging the completed material. Custom digital prints must arrive on the job in pristine shape. We are unable to cut out bad material and crushed ends with one-of-a-kind panels.

6. If one of the panels in the set is damaged or has a misprint, we recommend reprinting the entire mural. Odds are, printing a replacement at a later date will produce an unacceptable shaded piece.

7. Develop a common verbiage with the installer – keep in mind that we may not be well-versed in printing lingo. Communication is critical.

8. All wallcoverings require a smooth, primed wall surface. Although those working with PSV might install over less-than-ideal walls, wallcovering installers will find this unacceptable. Although this is not necessarily the print provider’s responsibility, if they are providing installation they should be aware of the need.

9. Please get the installation pricing hashed out early in the process. Printers will often print and bill in square feet, while some installers bill at more of a day rate. Allow the installer to provide a quote before labor is discussed with the client.

10. Check out the “Find a Professional Paperhanger” section of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers website ( for a list of qualified installers in your area. The NGPP is implementing a “Trained Installer” designation for pasted and self-stick digital installations, thereby allowing manufacturers to refer trained installers of their process/product.




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