Custom Wall Decals: See How We Went Big (& Then DIY)

With Smartpress, The Bernard Group’s online division, custom wall decals are more like custom wall art, with sizes from small to wow, that’s covering the whole wall, plus green alternative materials and an easy install for both messaging and decor. And if that’s not enough inspo, Smartpress graphic designer Nate Johannes shows you how wall decals gave our own space an upgrade you won’t believe. (Seriously… it’s larger than life!)

Custom wall decals covering an entire wall with panels in various colors and printed with Thanks for coming to play and Welcome to the world of Club Kiddo.
Two hands holding a round wall decal with a custom design in black, red and gray and printed with Java Relief and Wake Up Do Good.

Wall-to-Wall Messaging

Whether for your office space or as part of your nonprofit’s aesthetic, Wall Decals decorate with detail. For indoor use on smooth interior walls and glass surfaces, they feature temporary adhesive that lasts up to 18 months and leaves little to no residue, so you can remove and reapply as the mood strikes – or as your marketing strategy requires.

Print wall decals in classic vinyl material or make a sustainable choice with our two green alternative materials: Smooth Paper-Based Wall Decal (FSC) and Textured Paper-Based Wall Decal (FSC). They’re – you guessed it – paper-based, and give you the option of a smooth gloss finish or a slightly textured, matte one that adds even more interest to your decal.

As part of our essential business services, custom wall decals can be used not just as decor, but also branding and messaging. Think retailers and restaurants, nonprofit spaces and manufacturing facilities, plus church and school classrooms. Basically, it’s like this: have wall, add decal.

Hint: Before you do your wall decal printing, get more specs on our eco-friendly options: Sustainable Swap: 4 New Green Alternatives for Eco-Friendly Printing.

Size Up Your Strategy

The thing about designing custom wall decals with us is that they can be truly, well, custom. As small or large as you like, in any shape you can think of (hello, digital die cutting). For brand logos and mottos, abstract designs and artwork, in one single sheet or a multi-piece masterpiece.

For Smartpress’ own production facility, we went for large wall decals that doubled as branding and decor. Like most production areas, ours was full of massive white spaces, so large-scale was the only way to go.

And since Smartpress can accommodate any size with our custom printing services, our own decals measuring 120’W x 12’H and 18’W x 18’H were no problem. (Find more on designing for size in the Q&A below!)

Hint: For any multi-piece project with a final size larger than 149’W x 149’H (yep, that’s in feet), or for decals with cutouts and large quantities, we recommend filling out a Custom Quote.

A man standing on an orange lift in a production facility installing a custom wall decal printed with Create in blue and white.
A man standing on an orange lift smoothing out a blue and white wall decal in a production facility.

So It Seams

How you install your custom decals depends on how you designed it for online printing. Do you want an overlap seam or a flush seam? Is it a single- or multi-piece design?

The most common way to install multi-piece or tiled wall graphics is with an overlap seam, where two adjacent panels fit together and one overlaps the other by a specified amount. This amount can be anywhere from 1/4″ to 1”, with 1/2″ being the most common. Typical panel sizes don’t exceed 50”W, so design your content and artwork with that in mind, knowing you’ll have a seam every 50”.

(Jargon Alert: A multi-piece design is not necessarily the same as a tiled design. While both have more than one piece, multi-piece can mean various decals that are applied independent of each other, while tiled refers to pieces or panels applied with overlapping seams.)

With a flush seam, or butt seam, there’s no overlap between adjacent panels – they’re meant to fit together edge to edge.

One other thing to consider with wall decals is bleed, which can be confused for an overlap seam (spoiler alert: they’re two different things). A minimum of 1” bleed is required all around the perimeter of your artwork, so be sure to keep important elements at least 1” away from the final size.

And as you might have guessed, installation also depends on size. We recommend having a professional installer apply large or uniquely-shaped decals (like we did). If you’re working with just one small wall decal, however, we’ve got your install instructions right here.

“We created something dynamic and bold for the space.”

Q&A with Nate Johannes

So you’re ready to print wall decals for your brewery, lobby or facility. Great! Smartpress’ very own graphic designer Nate Johannes spilled his insider secrets on how to create a double-take decal.

Why were you excited to design these custom wall decals?
Nate Johannes: “I’ve always enjoyed designing things that are larger than life – or at least larger than me – and I love how simply changing a blank wall can transform an entire space. Also, scale is a tool I lean on heavily within my work as a designer, so when I get an opportunity to design something massive, where you can really push the boundaries of size, I get pretty excited.”

What are some considerations you had to make when designing for this large scale?
“It’s important when working on a large-scale project like this to start with a visual audit of the space, taking into account sight lines, obstacles and any constraints that could hinder the overall look of the piece you’re designing.

“Another big consideration is the distance the graphic will be seen from. With these decals, we wanted them to be seen from across the other side of the production floor (which is huge, by the way), so we created something dynamic and bold for the space – I’m talking 12’ tall letters bold!”

Do you have some tips or tricks for designing wall decals of all sizes?
“There are definitely challenges to designing something on a 27” monitor that will end up being on a 27’ wall. Enter our trusty design tool: scale. If you’re able to add an element into your layout, like a silhouette of a person, it’ll immediately help establish a sense of scale that’ll help translate how big different elements are coming across within the design.

“Side note, there also seems to be a tendency to add more things to a design when there’s more real estate to work with, so consideration of whitespace becomes even more important as the scale of the design gets bigger. Try to harness your inner simplicity.”

Why is it important to install elements like these in a production or manufacturing environment? What impact do they make?
“We’re all good at picking up the vibe of spaces we enter, consciously or subconsciously, even if we’ve never been there before. We’re constantly monitoring our surroundings, and retailers around the world know this well. Just take a look around the next time you’re in a grocery store, clothing boutique or hotel lobby.

“All the spaces, all the walls have been considered for maximum impact. When you can bring visual interest into what once was a plain white wall, everyone entering will have a richer experience in that space, too.”

How do you feel about the final result?
“I’m pretty dang excited about how the final product turned out! The quality of the print is top-notch and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the overall result. After seeing this piece IRL, it is clear that a great deal of thought and effort went into ensuring it was perfect.”

Hint: Have more questions? We’re the online printer that’s got your answers: Wall Decals FAQ.

“When you can bring visual interest into what once was a plain white wall, everyone entering will have a richer experience.”

That’s a Wrap Decal

Whether as part of your business signage or nonprofit decor, custom wall decals give you a chance to showcase messaging, marketing, even values and culture. And with Smartpress, you get to design them to suit any industry or idea. So what’ll it be? A massive moment or a small specialty? The choice is yours.