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Wallcovering for Dental Offices-2007

Issue: Summer 2009

With digital printing capabilities, creative designs, and more sophisticated color palettes, commercial wall covering has advanced and become a highly developed design tool.

Today’s wall-covering companies understand that the commercial interior designer is striving for the perfect balance between practicality (durability and ease of maintenance) and creating the soothing, healing surroundings needed in healthcare service environments— for both patients and staff. Providing wonderful, new and refreshing color palettes and patterns assists the designer in creating the comfortable ambience needed to create a relaxed office that calms the patient and eases tensions.

Wall covering will save you money in the long run. Painted surfaces usually have to be repainted every 3 years. Add the cost of labor and wall covering will definitely come out ahead. Wall covering easily lasts 10 years…and then you really should redecorate!

What are the Different Types of Commercial Wall Coverings?

Contract wallcoverings are manufactured specifically for commercial use. They are usually 54 “ wide, and are sold by the lineal yard. They are manufactured to meet or surpass minimum physical and performance characteristics set forth in federal guidelines. The guidelines focus on requirements for flammability, tear strength, abrasion resistance, washability, and stain resistance. In addition, the ASTM has defined standard classifications of wall coverings by durability characteristics for performance issues such as colorfastness, tensile strength, crocking resistance, and tear resistance.

Wall coverings are classified by ounces per linear yard (54” wide). Examples of the most common types of commercial wallcovering used in a dental office are:

• Fabric Backed Vinyl – The backing is laminated to a solid vinyl decorative surface. Generally Type I and Type II are used, with Type II wallcovering being a higher ounce weight per linear yard. Type II wallcovering is recommended for use in the more highly trafficked areas of an office.

• Polyolefin / Synthetic Textile Wall Coverings – These are woven or nonwoven-looking wall coverings that were developed to give the aesthetic appearance of a natural textile while adding an increased value in stain and abrasion resistance. Many are cleanable with bleach and recommended for any high-traffic area.

• Wood Veneer Wall Coverings–Due to characteristics relative to grain matching, wood veneers are narrower in width and more costly. Recommendations: an accent wall, private office, consultation area, along with some other specialty areas, such as large columns.

• Acoustical Wallcoverings–These are designed for use on vertical surfaces where sound reduction is a primary factor. Predominantly made from polyester and olefin fibers, these products are tested for a special sound absorption rating known as a Noise Reduction Coefficient Rating (NCR). Possible use: conference room adjoining an operatory; drawback: solid colors only and not aesthetically pleasing.

• Natural Linens, Silks, Grass Cloth, Woven Papers–These options are good for an accent wall or private office. Interesting surfaces in these wall covering creates handsome to striking looks. Definitely worth a look.

• Digital Printing–Used mostly for borders and murals, where the images can be created, manipulated, and finalized by electronic systems and printed by a computer controlled printer. Only your imagination can hold you back.

Things to Consider When Choosing Commercial Wall Coverings:

Wall Prep

• First, the wall needs to be prepped and primed with wallpaper primer, not the contractor’s low grade paint. All surfaces should be structurally sound. Do not hang wallcovering over ballpoint pen writing, wax crayon, or foreign matter that may be on the wall. These impurities may bleed through the vinyl even a year after installation. It is suggested that lead pencils be used to mark vinyl or walls.

Moisture Considerations

• Vinyl wallcovering has little or no moisture permeability. This characteristic can be an important benefit in terms of cleanability and wall protection and in limiting interior moisture from entering the wall cavity. However, if the design construction or maintenance of a building or other circumstances allows liquid or vapor moisture to accumulate in a wall or wall cavity, vinyl wallcovering can act as a vapor barrier restricting the escape of moisture and increasing the risk of mold growth.

• Buildings that have moisture infiltration problems are at risk for mold and mildew growth and any such problems must be corrected prior to the installation of vinyl wall covering. Vinyl wall covering is intended for use in buildings that are properly designed and maintained to avoid moisture infiltration, condensation, and/or accumulation at wall cavities and wall surfaces, particularly in warm, humid climates.

• Vinyl wall covering permeability can be increased through perforation. The actual permeability of any particular perforated wall covering will be impacted by the thickness or weight of the wall covering, the specific type of embossing, and the type of backing. In addition, the permeability of an interior wall (without wall covering) can be affected by several factors, including wall construction, wall conditions, and wall surface preparation (including the type, thickness, and number of layers of paint or primer). If a wall already has low or no permeability, then installing perforated wall covering will not provide any permeability benefit to the wall system. Some manufacturers will recommend a new wall surface be left unprimed to improve the permeability of the wall system. This may increase the overall permeability—but may create other difficulties when wall covering is removed or replaced.

Installation of Commercial Wall Covering

• To get professional results, it is recommended that only an experienced commercial wall-covering installer be used, not a residential installer, as the installation is different. The wall covering is typically 54” wide, not 27”, and more difficult to install correctly. The commercial installer will also understand the requirement to test for and eliminate sources of moisture accumulation prior to the installation of wall covering. Also, most 54” commercial wall-covering adhesives are applied with a pasting machine, which residential installers might not have.

• A commercial wall-covering installer will know which adhesive to use based on performance characteristics such as: level of wet-tack, solids, open-time, strippability, and ease of application.

• All wallcovering adhesives contain a biocide system. These systems are designed to prevent bacteria contamination and mildew / fungal infestation both “in-the-can” and in the dried adhesive.

• It is always recommended to use a releasable adhesive for ease of wallcovering removal years later.

Environmental Considerations (from Website):

• Recyclability and disposal issues: Vinyl wall coverings have a long useful life. As such, they compose a very small fraction of the materials that are disposed in landfills each year. In addition, most vinyl wallcovering manufacturers are actively recycling to minimize waste related to the manufacture of the product. Due to conditions in landfills, studies have shown that most materials, including wallpapers, do not biodegrade when discarded. Although the conventional assumption is that biodegradability in a landfill is an environmental benefit, it actually could pose a threat to the environment. When materials biodegrade, they can release chemicals into the landfill that potentially can reach the groundwater. Vinyl is so stable in landfills that vinyl membranes have been used as landfill liners.

• Energy efficiency: Compared to other plastics, the production of vinyl requires far less of the world’s limited fossil fuel resources. The energy required to manufacture vinyl wallcoverings is only half as much as the amount needed to produce the same amount of paper wallcoverings.

• Indoor air quality: Vinyl wallcoverings have a relatively low potential for odors or emissions, and have not been identified as a source of “sick building syndrome.” In fact, studies show considerably higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from paint than from vinyl wallcoverings. Painting a room with oiland/ or solvent-based paints can result in emissions of approximately nine times the amount of VOCs released by vinyl wallcoverings that incorporate water-based adhesives and inks. Tests have shown that the initial odor in vinyl wallcoverings, attributed to stabilizers and plasticizers used in the manufacturing process, will dissipate much faster than the odors of most paints.

• Other: The wallcovering industry has been proactive in the reduction and elimination of heavy metals such as Cadmium and Mercury, previously used as pigments, stabilizers, and biocides. Manufacturers of commercial wall coverings have re-engineered their processes, components, and inks to reduce or neutralize the materials that can be the source of VOCs. Low-emissions certified products help improve the indoor air quality Look for Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified wallcoverings for your office. These products have undergone pollutant emissions testing. Versa wallcovering is the first to offer post-consumer reclamation of vinyl wallcovering.

Cleaning Commercial Wallcoverings (Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines when cleaning wallcoverings).

• “Washable “ wallcoverings can withstand occasional sponging with a prescribed detergent solution.

• “Scrubbable” wallcoverings can withstand scrubbing with a brush and a prescribed detergent solution.

• Stains should be removed as soon as possible to eliminate any reaction between the stain and the wallcovering, and to prevent permanent discoloration. Ordinary dirt spots can be removed with a mild soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Blot dry with a soft lint-free towel.

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