Custom Designs And Insets In Resilient Materials
Because designed patterns can transform a plain, non-assuming interior into a specific and precisely defined area, they are ideal for departmentalizing sections of a store. Add bright, cheerful colors to this design, and you can create a very consumer-friendly environment.
Increasingly, I’ve been seeing many department and grocery stores adding custom patterns to departmentalize their stores. In some cases, the patterns are simple and passive; in other instances, they are bright and aggressive. These patterns range from simple random spots to intricate designs with feature strips.
Some commercial end users employ colors along with the pattern to signify a certain department. One grocery store, for example, used shades of red for the meat department, greens for the produce area and blues for the frozen food section. The other sections used woodgrains, such as in the housewares department, and custom patterns for the aisles and deli section.
Often, colors are added to patterns to send subliminal messages to the customer. Passive colors create calming effects, and aggressive colors excite customers. Patterns with smooth flowing lines also tend to soothe patrons, whereas sharp, bold patterns help build enthusiasm in consumers.
We tend to think that price is what motivates the buying public. But when people are uncomfortable with a particular environment, they soon go elsewhere. The customer needs to feel good about the shopping environment. Just like music, colors and patterns set the stage for the customer. It’s the ambience they create that brings the consumer back time and time again.
Manufacturers and vendors compete for floor space within a store. More of them are placing custom logos of their products into the floor in front of the shelves their products occupy. We’ve all seen the constant competition between soft drink companies and breweries. How willing do you think they would be to place their logos in a major supermarket chain?
You’ll see this trend in many specialty stores. Throughout Niketown stores, for example, you’ll find randomly placed vinyl composition tiles (VCT) with the Nike swoosh cut into their centers. Fishing tackle shops inset lures, flies, fish, and fishermen designs in their floors. Some hunting/sporting goods stores place animal tracks randomly through their premises.
Even a specialty floor covering stores are getting into the act. I’ve seen some that used the logos of some of the major businesses in their area. Those major businesses all have employees that need floor covering of some type.
The old methods of custom cutting patterns and logos by hand have given way to computer-assisted cutting procedures. Flooring design elements that used to take hours and even days to create can now be fabricated in just minutes. In most cases, it takes longer to assemble the pieces than it does to cut them out.
Today, three methods — employing laser, waterjet or ultrasonic cutting machines — are used to custom cut patterns and designs in resilient materials. Undoubtedly, even more new methods will be introduced soon. The laser, waterjet and ultrasonic machines can cut a wide variety of products, including stone, steel, thin paper, heavy tile, and even fabric.
These machines can produce a pattern as delicate as a flower stem or as bold as a large emblem. The costs of custom cutting floor insets through the use of such devices are surprisingly low compared to the old labor-intensive methods used in the past.
If you wish to pursue custom-cut design work, you need to consider a number of requirements. Among these are the following:
Material requirements. The materials used for the inset(s) and the field of the floor should be the same type. Avoid mixing materials. If you are going to use a felt-backed material, then the entire logo should be fabricated from felt-backed materials. Likewise, if the material is a homogeneous sheet vinyl the entire logo should be homogeneous sheet vinyl as well. Never get involved in mixing materials such as linoleum with vinyl.
Handling of the material once the inset is cut is also important. Most materials are dimensionally unstable, so every precaution must be taken to protect the material from movement. This means the material should be cut to maintain the machine direction to avoid quarter turning of the materials to each other.
The pieces must be cut and put together immediately to avoid shrinkage and curling. Once assembled, the pieces should be held together with a masking tape that is easily removable. (I prefer blue painters tape.) And once it’s been taped together, the inset must be rolled firmly on a cardboard core for transporting.
Adhesive requirements. The selected adhesive must be compatible with the material and substrate, but it may not necessarily be the type that would be used for a normal installation. Many insets are installed with an epoxy-like adhesive. You may want to confer with the manufacturer to determine what is best for your particular circumstances.
Seam requirements. All resilient materials have specific seam requirements. How are the seams of your inset going to be handled? If the materials specified are to be heat welded, will you be prepared to heat weld all of the inset seams? Likewise, if the material is to be seam sealed, are you prepared to seam seal the inset? How will you deal with materials that are designed to have the seams cut slightly open or slightly full? All of these items must be considered when selecting the material to be used for the custom inset.
Installation. Installer selection is of utmost importance to the success of a custom inset installation. The installer must completely understand the handling characteristics of the material, as well as the application and characteristics of the adhesive. Finally, the installer must understand the treatment of the seams in the inset. This requires the most well-honed skills the installation community has to offer.
Custom insets and logos require a special attention to detail and planning. When those requirements are met, the rewards can be great — and so can the profits.