Make Your Vinyl Applications Work Right to the Finish

Experiential Innovation

Your overlaminate finish matters more than you think.

If you’re seeking a unique way to promote your business, vinyl wraps on your storefront, windows, walls, or vehicles are a bold, effective choice. Well-designed vinyl wrap applications can be eye-popping displays of your brand in all its glory. But before you call it “done,” there’s still another detail to consider: the finish.

Vinyl graphic film can transform everything from auto fleets to office spaces. The right overlaminate — a protective overlay that can protect your vinyl from weather, sun damage, fingerprints, and even graffiti—can add a specific finish to the vinyl that can affect what visitors or customers see, says Mark Elvester, a technical service technologist at 3M. Before you choose a finish option like matte, glossy, or even clear glass, ask yourself the following three key questions.

What’s the goal?

You may be transforming a vehicle fleet into a mobile branding statement or creating an office interior that reflects your company’s hip vibe. Think about how the application should appear to the audience, Elvester says.

Matte surfaces can be good for highly trafficked areas or to ensure that glare doesn’t make the graphic hard to see, he says. Glossy finishes can give an application a shiny, new look while protecting it from the elements, but might make floor graphics seem slippery, causing customers concern. So think about the overall goal of the application.

What’s the design?

Consider the graphic design of your application, Elvester advises. Is it a wall application with soft, muted colors? A matte or soft luster finish will give you the understated clarity you seek. Is the application a bold, sharp image that needs to pop? Then a glossy finish might be best. Clear laminate finishes can create a clean look and protect the vinyl without much impact on its appearance.

What’s the environment?

When considering finishes, especially for interior applications, examine what else is in the space, says Alex Ng, senior project designer at Perkins+Will, a Chicago-based architecture and design firm. You may have furniture, carpeting and other elements that have a specific image and vibe. What finish will best suit the environment?

“You also have to consider things like windows and lighting. Is the application close to light? Will there be glare? That may affect the finish you choose,” he says.

While overlaminate finishes may seem like a tiny detail, they can be an important part of the big picture. Be sure to consider how that finish will affect the design you worked so hard to create.

Explore simple, effective ways to build your brand and business with graphics.

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